Sometimes we know what we like but we don’t know how to achieve it. You might feel that way when you browse through pictures of beautiful homes and wonder, “How did they do it?” If you break it down, the beauty of a well-designed room comes down to harmony and balance, both of which can be thrown off kilter with the wrong choice or emphasis on colour.
A guiding principle used by designers is the 60/30/10 rule, which stipulates that 60% of a room can be filled with a dominant colour, 30% with a secondary colour, and 10% with one or two accent colours.
Tamara Naleway, principal designer at Stem Interior Design in Vancouver, B.C. says it’s important to create balance, even if it’s not exactly 60/30/10. “Too many colours competing with each other becomes a visually loud space.”
Once you know the rule, you can apply it to one of the four major colour schemes:
• Monochromatic (one colour that varies in tone and intensity),
• Related (colours appear side by side on the colour wheel)
• Complementary (colours lie directly opposite each other on the colour wheel)
• Slit complementary (one main colour and two complementary colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel)
Applying the rule to the scheme will help create balance and harmony.
Many paint companies offer tips on what other colours you can use in a room to complement or work with the main colour you’ve chosen.
In a complementary colour scheme, if you’re using a bold colour in the 60% portion, its complementary colour (on the opposite side of the colour wheel) will add vibrancy, as long as it’s not the same intensity as the main colour. Choose a softer hue for the 30% colour, in either a medium hue for more subdued drama or even pastels for a spa-like effect. Avoid using all three colours at their most intense, unless you’re going for a child’s playground effect.
It’s also important to understand that the 60/30/10 rule applies to furniture and accents in a room, not just paint colour. The largest amount of colour, 60%, is what appears on the walls. Rugs and furniture account for 30%, in addition to paint trim or focal walls painted in a secondary colour, leaving 10% for accents. If you‘re still not sure how to proceed with your room, take a picture of it and break it down into sections. The largest portion would consist of the walls and ceiling, 30% would consist of all textiles, carpets, and lampshades, and the final 10% would consist of artwork, photo frames, and other accessories.
Using this as a guide, now you’re ready to bring a designer’s touch to every room in your home.