A fashion stylist once told me that if I don’t know what to wear for an evening event, the best option is to dress in black and use a lot of make-up… The opposite is the case in decoration: when anybody does not know how to “dress” the house , usually they opt only by neutral tones. Thus, many color lovers are trapped in a white, beige and gray world…

In this post we tell you the basic rule to add colour in interior design that practically all decorators follow when they begin to plan a project.

decorarcolores1This room is a neutral box where color has been added with art works and fabrics. Light green sofa is by Blasco & Blasco. Green and yellow armchairs are designed by interior designer Beatriz Silveira. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

 The rule of 60-30-10

Surely you have ever heard of this rule, one of the most important in interior design. This formula to add colour in interior design works because it conveys harmony and balance. It is also believed that our brain tends to look for and recognize an overall theme (60%), a part with special interest (30%) and a little surprise (10%).

The percentages apply as follows: 60% for the dominant color + 30% for a secondary color + 10% for an accent color.

Translated to an outfit, it means: dress (60%) + stockings and shoes (30%) + collar (10%). Although the possibilities are endless in decoration, it works like this:

60%: walls

30%: fabrics and furniture

10%: accent pieces

decorarcolores2In this living room decorated by Living Pink, the walls, floors, ceiling, carpet and the main furniture (as the sofa from Blasco & Blasco, the sideboard and the coffee tables) are white. It´s the dominant color. Pink in the art work (by José María Yturralde) and the circular sofa is the secondary color. Yellow is the third color and we see it on stools (Anmoder), armchairs (Tesla) and golden elements. Small touches of black enhance the whole set. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

How to Apply the 60-30-10 Rule

To add colour in interior design remember that neutral tones are usually chosen as dominant colours, because they transmit serenity to the room, are easy to combine and do not tire us over time.

The walls represent the largest surface of the room and therefore 60% of the color of the room is usually there. That is why walls are usually painted with a neutral or light tones. As we always say, there are no fixed rules in decoration, only formulas that guide us. If the walls do not cover this 60% (for example, because we have a large shelf full of books that occupy a whole wall), we can complete it with the floor or curtains.

Painting the celling in white is like a mantra in interior design, as it will bring luminosity, amplitude and avoid that the spaces are very recharged.

decorarcolores3White walls and ceiling provide the dominant color, as does the large sofa (model Cliché by Blasco & Blasco). Textiles are often reserved for secondary color, such as these blue velvet curtains. Photo: Casa Decor

 The secondary colour represents 30% of the room and is mainly on the fabrics and / or furniture. This is where we can introduce a more vivid color without fear of being wrong.

The remaining 10% is the accent colour that give us the accessories, paintings, lamps, cushions… These elements are easier to change, so with them we can follow the latest trends and risk more.

decorarcolores4The complements bring color in this environment dominated by the white on the table, floor and furniture. Armchairs Nadia by Blasco & Blasco.

Extra Bonus: The Black! In interior design one tip that always works is to add some element of this colour to define, highlight and improve the other colors of the room. Try it with small accessories: a box, some picture frames… It works!

Nature can also inspire you

Mother Nature is the great master mixing colours and humans try to imitate her to add colour in interior design. Notice that the darker colours are normally used below (ground), the middle colors are mid-height (trees, mountains) and lighter tones are on the cellings (sky, clouds). Keep in mind this vertical scheme when decorating your house.

add colour in interior designDecoration imitates nature. Lounge chair by La Europea. Console by Anmoder. Striped blanket by Blasco & Blasco. Project by Andina & Tapia. Photo: Nuevo Estilo

The light in the room also counts

Dark colors will look even darker in rooms facing the north. And the opposite is true for rooms facing the south, where the colours will appear lighter.

A good tip is to try before you buy. Get samples of fabrics, carpets or wood finishes and leave them in the room for a couple of days to see how their colour looks with different kinds of lighting. Note how the samples look when the room will be used more. If you are in the living room especially at night, with artificial light, take a look at the colour in the late afternoon and evening hours. If the room is used by day and has lots of natural light, check out during those hours with more sun.