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Designer Tip: How to Decorate with Color



Decorating with color can often times feel overwhelming. Even if you know what color scheme you want to use, it can be difficult knowing how much color to use and where to apply it. There is a general rule of thumb that designers use. It is the 60-30-10 ratio for color usage. Find out how to put this helpful ratio to use!

Basically, the main color should be used approximately 60% throughout the interior. To achieve this portion of the ratio, start by painting the walls the main color of the color scheme. The walls are a very big portion of a space. Painting the wall is the easiest way to achieve 60%. This main color in a scheme should be subdued, not the boldest or the brightest. Pick a subtle color that will set the tone for the color scheme and help tie in the other colors you want to use.

The second color should be used about 30% of the color within the space. This color can be slightly darker than the main color, however, don’t depart far from your first choice. For instance, using a light neutral grey for the 60%, use a darker grey – either warm or cool.

When trying to decide on the source for your second color, consider finding a large area rug for the space that has this color as the main color on the rug. It is fine for the item to contain other colors, as long as the majority of the rug is recognized as the second color of choice. Use this secondary color in accent pillows and artwork.

The last color of a color scheme is the accent color. This color is generally the boldest or the brightest color within the scheme and is the place to cut loose and have fun.  To further the grey example from above, an accent color of bright yellow or a deep purple would be striking and surprising. Use this color sparingly, approximately 10%. This can be done by using this color for occasional accent pillows and in accessories.

The goal for a space is to have a design theme that is in harmony with itself and the room. Trust your instinct. If something feels wrong to you, it will most likely feel out of place by others. If the space feels right to you, others will also sense the harmony.