Imagine (now just bear with me for a moment) a man dressed in a smashing navy blue suit, crisp white shirt and a classic red tie. Perfect color usage proportions. The ensemble looks pleasing and balanced.
Why? The 60-30-10 guideline. ( No rules, remember, we have “guidelines”). The main color in a color scheme should appear on 60 percent of the surfaces, the secondary color on 30 percent and the accent or metal color on the remaining 10 percent.
This proportion works for clothing and equally as well when designing interiors. Most modern color schemes are two colors, maximum. So, the main color should appear on the walls, drapes, floor and major piece of furniture; on about 60 percent of the room surfaces.
Variations on color is fine as long as the color stays true; for example: soft gray walls, wood flooring with a gray undertone, drapes that pick up the wall color and a charcoal leather sofa.
Shades (black added to the color) and tints (white added) are OK as long as you stay on the true color. Textures are good. The coordinating color should appear on 30 percent of the surfaces – the accent upholstered pieces, the side chairs for example, and as an evident color in any prints or patterns. Think area rug.
Once again, stay true to the color, no mixing blue-reds with orange-reds unless you really mean to. Use the remaining 10 percent for the metals or, if you are opting for a 3-color scheme, as the main color in the accessories such as cushions and lamps.
There you go. It really is that simple. But, please, please, please, remember that this is a guideline. If you want the room to be all purple, then you just do it and be happy in your space. Do not allow anyone else to tell you what is right and wrong in your cocoon.