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60-30-10 Decorating Rule of the Interior Design

60-30-10 decorating rule is a basic rule of the interior design, which helps people create professional grade color solution for the given space. Reading this article will give you both the theory and practice. It also provides an overview of the designer's tools required to implement your creative ideas.


Decorating the given object with a selection of three different colors produces pleasant visual impact, when each color in this selection has its own predefined function use and it is applied in the certain amount as explained below:

60-30-10 Decorating Rule

Dominant color
Rough 60 percent of the given space should be the dominant color. In the interior design terms, this color is for walls. Neutrals are the good choice for painting walls.
Secondary color
Next 30 percent should represent secondary color.
Accent color
The remaining 10 percent of the color scheme is for accent color. Accent color should be attractive. Warm vivid colors are good accents.

Different Terminology in the Web-Design

In the web-design and computer graphics dominant color is a background color indeed. Because of this, term subordinate or base color is used instead of dominant. And the secondary color becomes dominant or main color. Accent color may be referred as highlight color. But the rule itself remains unchanged.

Balancing Colors

The balance between colors can be achieved by selecting appropriate saturation for each color. It's not too hard to write a simple equation for balancing colors in accordance with this rule.

0.6 Sd = 0.3 Ss = 0.1 Sa; where S is the saturation of the specific color.

In terms of Color Theory, this formula is pretty easy:

  • Use the tints of the given color for dominant colors
  • Tones are for secondary colors
  • Accent color should be vivid, almost pure color.

Using Color Harmonies

Color wheel

You can create harmonious combinations of color using split-complementary color scheme, which exactly conforms this rule.

Split-Complementary Color Scheme

This rich color scheme contains three different colors. One of these colors is complementary color, which should be used as accent color. Select dominant color and secondary color on the opposite side of the color wheel.

Example: Dominant = very light grayish yellow-green, Secondary = very light blue-green, Accent = light red.

Note: Find out more details about other classic color schemes on our web-page, which describes Theory Of Colors.


Introducing Fourth Color

Combination of three colors works well for the straightforward room decorating. However, you may want to apply more than three colors in your design, thus making the resulting color space more interesting.

60-15/15-10 Decorating Rule

The only way to introduce a new color, is to split one of three colors. We should not split the accent color, because we do not want to lose accent.

Instead, we can split secondary color without breaking the rule. While the hue of the secondary color remains unchanged, we can add a shade of the original color, thus preserving the whole harmony.

Exterior paints

You might find this "60-15/15-10" rule useful when selecting exterior paints for your house.


Remember, "60 30 10" is a recommendation. There is nothing wrong to use 65-25-10 or 60-29-11 proportions. Furthermore, you can adjust colors to fit them to the requirements of the particular project. Click the following link to read the article, which explains how to finetune colors.

60-15/15-10 Decorating Rule


Paint Colors

Computer monitors and printers vary in how colors are displayed. On-screen and printer color representations may not match the paint's actual color, because they are not an exact representation of the real world colors.

Always select the final color with color cards from your local retailer. Where possible, take home some paint samples to test on your walls before you start actual paint job.

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