Interior Design: The 60-30-10 Rule


Since my husband and I purchased our first home back in August, I’ve frequented interior design websites and blogs on my quest to make our house gorgeous.  I came across an amazing color tip: the 60-30-10 rule.  According to HGTV, “Decorating a space in terms of color is as easy as 60-30-10. […] Why this works is anybody’s guess. Perhaps it is the human tendency to see an overall theme in the 60 percent hue, unifying the coloration. The 30 percent provides visual interest and the 10 percent, not unlike jewelry, provides that little spark of sparkle” (Source).

HGTV explains that when it comes to interior design, the 60-30-10 breakdown is similar to a man’s business attire: “60% of the outfit’s color is the slacks and jacket; 30% of the outfit’s color is the shirt; 10% of the outfit’s color is the tie” (Source).  It’s most certainly an interesting concept.

I thought this rule could also be applied to slide design.  Color is important to audiences; they pick up on the meaning behind the color.  A black and white image is more elegant; an all-red image is energetic and stimulating; a green image could hint at nature or at the green-eyed monster of jealousy depending upon the context.  To learn more about the psychological effects of color, Color Wheel Pro is comprehensive and easy to understand.

So let’s look at two slides I am currently working on in light of the 60-30-10 rule:

I think this is a stunning example of color, and I gravitated toward this photo because of the bright yellow pop against the blue sky background.  While the proportions are not precise, I think the 60-30-10 rule is at work.  Most of the image is blue – our 60%.  Next, we have the visual interest, the yellow, making up about 30% of the photo.  Last, the white is the perfect accent color.  I went for white text to match the white cloud wisps along the bottom of the picture.  The white makes up about 10%.

This one is a little tricky because of the two accent colors.  The rosy pink/brown/yellow-hued sky comprises 60% of the image.  The medium brown of the field easily makes up the 30%.  And then we have two accent colors – the pink/red of the boy’s shirt and umbrella as well as the black of his tie/suspenders and the text.  Are they 5% each?  I think the 60-30-10 rule is still in play here because of the overall color scheme of the image.  Just like in interior design, an unexpected extra accent color in that 10% can be a beautiful thing.

What do you think about the 60-30-10 rule?  Do you use it in your home to decorate your spaces?  How else do principles of interior design translate to slide design?


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