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How to Decorate with the 60 30 10 Rule for a Harmonious Home Interior

Find out how decorate with the 60 30 10 rule to achieve a balanced and harmonious look in your home. Learn tips and tricks to master this timeless design principle.

My sister is a self-confessed color addict whose passion can get a little overwhelming for most people’s taste. More is definitely more with her!

However, I admit that I find more than four colors in an interior overstimulating. The good news is, there is a designers’ rule of thumb called the 60 30 10 color rule. What is it, and how do you use it to decorate?

The 60 30 10 color rule is an interior design tool for choosing and using three colors in a balanced and effective way. Use the anchor color for 60% of the decor (usually the walls), your secondary color for 30% (often furnishings and rugs), and the accent color for 10%, such as accessories.

Pink throw pillows on an orange chair, green wall and text overlay that says, "How to decorate with the 60-30-10 rule".

People are often a little nervous about color in their homes and lack the confidence to decorate with more than one color. With this simple rule, you can’t go wrong and will create appealing and attractive color palettes every time. Let’s look at how to use the 60-30-10 rule to decorate.

What Is the 60-30-10 Color Rule?

The 60 30 10 decorating technique helps you assemble a balanced color scheme based on three colors. The rule sets out how you use the three colors in different proportions for a harmonious effect:

  • 60 %: Use your first color for 60% of the decor. This main color is the backdrop for the room and anchors your color palette.
  • 30%: Your secondary color represents 30% of the color in a room, so it is used half as much as the anchor shade.
  • 10%: The tertiary color forms 10% of the room’s color.

For a color lover like myself, these three colors could be mustard yellow for the walls and sofa (60%), teal for the rug and accent chairs (30%), and rust for accessories (10%).

In the less outrageous kitchen below, the rule provides a balance of light blue (60%), white (30%), and dark blue (10%).

Blue and white kitchen.

For a completely different color palette, this feminine living room has been decorated with purple (60%), dusty pink (30%), and cream (10%).

Purple and pink living room.

Designers love using the 60-30-10 design tool because this proportion of colors creates a cohesive color scheme where the secondary and tertiary colors complement the anchor.

This creates a balanced, grounded effect that doesn’t overwhelm or bore the eye.

The technique is flexible and versatile. It works with a neutral palette as well as a monochrome or bright one.

The 60-3-10 trick works effectively in both large and small spaces. It can be used in single rooms or entire homes, and is easy to apply to most design aesthetics.

How to Decorate with the 60 30 10 Rule

Anyone can apply the 60-30-10 technique if they can choose three colors. The steps are simple: paint, buy, furnish!

Choosing Your Colors

The hardest part of the 60-30-10 rule is choosing your three colors, especially if you’re anxious about which colors will work together. Here are four ways for color novices to choose their colors.

Choose Your Favorite

Living room with green wall,


The best way to pick a color is to go for one you love. What color dominates your wardrobe? What color do you tend to reach for in gift wraps, flowers, tea towels, and pillows?

My go-to is green, which I find reinvigorating.

You might already have a beloved item that will inspire you. An heirloom quilt or a beloved painting may contain a color you’d love to use in your decor.

My sister has a rug she bought in Turkey years ago that she has carried from house to house. And that always inspires one room’s color palette. The red in the rug can be the anchor color, the secondary color, or just the gorgeous accent.

A large room with Turkish rug and recliner.

Do Some Research

Do some productive scrolling through Instagram, the web, or design magazines. Look at what is trending and see if that appeals to you.

This season’s earth tones and greens may be perfect for you. Or you may fall in love with the trending coastal grandma vibe with its beach and seaside hues.

Use the Color Wheel

Color wheel.

Another excellent place to start is the color wheel. Using the color wheel, begin with a possible anchor color and work out a color palette. For example:

  • Choose analogous colors: These are colors that lie next to each other or adjacent on the color wheel. For example, yellow lies between yellow-green and orange.

If you choose yellow as the anchor shade, yellow-green and orange could be your secondary and accent colors.

  • Choose complementary colors: These colors lie opposite one another on the color wheel, so they are full of energy and appropriate for family or playrooms.

For example, you could choose yellow and purple, then a color adjacent to one of them, like violet or orange.

  • Choose monochromatic colors: This means choosing colors within a single color family, like three shades of green, or cream, white, and beige.

These tend to have more tranquil color palettes.

Choose Your Anchor Shade

Yellow throws on gray couch, painting on gray wall.


This is your color palette’s main or background color, covering about 60% of the space. You could use this color for the walls, large furniture items (e.g., sofas), drapes, and area rugs.

Lighter colors like white, cream, and pale gray are popular 60% options, as in this gorgeous living room, where light gray, yellow, and white harmonize.

White is also an excellent choice if you want your bright secondary and tertiary colors to have a massive impact. In this living room, teal and pink shine against a white background.

Choose Your Secondary Shade

This shade adds a layer of interest to your interior. So you can decide whether you want it to contrast, complement, or blend in with your dominant shade.

How you introduce this color is up to you. Many people will use the secondary color for furnishings, drapes, rugs, artwork, bedding, an accent wall, or wallpaper. Remember that this color appears half as much as the anchor shade.

In this colorful family room, green is the foundation color (60%), contrasting orange is the secondary (30%) color, and pink is the accent (10%) shade.

Room with green wall, green throw blanket and pink throw pillows on orange chairs, flower on a side table.

The 60-30-10 rule works with gentler color palettes, like a coastal scheme. In this tranquil living room, gray is the anchor shade, light blue as the secondary color, and taupe the subtle accent.

Blue and gray living room.

Choose Your Tertiary Shade

Although this color is used the least, it is often the most impactful because it functions as an accent or pop of color.

Use your third color for accessories like lamps or soft furnishings like pillows, artworks, or throws.

The accent color doesn’t need to match the others — a bright, fun color works well as a complementary shade.

In this elegant living room, the foundation color is warm beige (60%) for walls and furnishings, vivid red for drapes and cushions (30%), and cheeky yellow in an accent piece (10%).

Colorful living room.

However, you can choose a muted accent shade if you love neutrals. For example, gray and beige are layered against a cream anchor color in this serene living room.

Add interest through textiles and textures, rather than through color.

Neutral living room.

Final Thoughts

The 60-30-10 color rule is a handy interior design technique for selecting and balancing a room’s color palette. Choose one anchor shade for 60% of the room (usually the walls and sofa). A secondary color for 30% (furniture and rug), and an accent shade for 10 (decor and accessories). This tool ensures a harmonious effect, whether you’re a color fan or prefer gentle neutrals.

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Throw pillows on a white couch, blue wall and text overlay that says, "Decorating with the 60-30-10 rule".

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