Expert Advice: Rules When Using Color


Painting with proper proportions of color.

Paint color can transform and revitalize your home. Color expert Kate Smith from Sensational Color realizes this and uses color to engage and create welcoming home environments. One way to do this is with proper proportions of different hues and shades of color. Kate advises on how much color to use when painting a room.

The 60:30:10 color palette theory is one of the basic rules to having a harmonies end result.
The 60:30:10 color palette theory is one of the basic rules to having a harmonies end result.

60:30:10 rule

Color is one opportunity where it’s OK to play favorites. After using a test board to decide which three hues will best complement the room, decide which color will be the dominant. Equal amounts of every color in your scheme will result in a spotty visual view. Even proportions of color surprisingly result in a more unbalanced look.

After choosing three shades, break them down into the 60:30:10 rule for a cohesive look — 60 percent dominant color, 30 percent secondary color and 10 percent accent color. This idea can be translated to the relatable cohesion of an outfit: 60 percent is invested one hue, unifying all three. The 30 percent provides visual interest, with shoes and a handbag. The 10 percent, the jewelry, provides the sparkling details.

So, when painting a particular room, divide the colors proportionally in this way:
60 percent of a dominant color
30 percent of a secondary color
10 percent of an accent color

What other painting rules do you follow?

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2 Responses
  1. M

    60/30/10 Theory-does that translate in to 60 on walls, 30 as ceiling and 10 as trim? or do you mean the entire room contents including accessories that are not “painted” but have color?

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