Back in our introduction to color article, we focused on starting with your paint colors and building décor from there. But there’s another great way to pick a color scheme! Allowing inspiration to flow by starting with an essential decor piece is a wonderful way to build a room that feels inviting and well-thought-out. You can start with a vintage or vintage-like rug or a fantastic piece of art that you love. Using hues from these items and simple design rules of thumb you can create a cohesive and delightful color palette that will pop in photographs and create a happy place for your guests.

The Design Rule of Thumb

One simple interior design maximum for color palettes is the 60-30-10 rule. Generally, your walls and larger accent pieces such as upholstered furniture would make up 60% of your room. This gives a consistent field or backdrop for your space. The 30% is made up things such as window treatments, linens and or painted furniture. The 30% color should coordinate and compliment the 60% color, and should definitely be different. The remaining 10% is for punches of color on throw pillows, accessories and/or artwork.

Example 1: Start with a Rug

A rug is a great place to start, because it is essentially starting at the bottom and building up.  Here are a few examples of color palettes based on a beautiful rug (1). Applying the 60-30-10 rule with this Manteo Hand Knotted Rug we’ve chosen this color palette:

   60: Off White/Neutral
   30: Aqua
   10: Purple

For the living room, use Sherwin Williams’ Drift of Mist the walls with High Reflective White trim (2), and a lovely linen sofa (3) with a round wooden coffee table (4). We’ve chosen the aqua for the 30% color, such as these aqua chairs from article.com (5),  pretty aqua lamps with beige shades (6) and a sweet pale aqua basket (which would be adorable on the coffee table holding remote controls) (7).

Pull it all together with the 10% color, purple, like these, purple accent pillows (8) and a smashing fabulous purple focused artwork (9)  by Emanuela Carratoni from Minted.com.

Example 2: Start with Wall Art

Alternatively, art can be the inspiration for a room’s color palette.  Minted.com is site full of great pieces that are unique and affordable.  Find a piece that speaks to you and expresses your brand. They even offer pairs of paintings that would make a dramatic focal point in a living room or foyer.  We were struck by this pair (1) of prints by artist Caryn Owen. Not only do we love the dramatic seascape, but also want to live in the color palette.

For a living room this combo calls for layered whites with splashes of green and blue.  Using the 60-30-10 rule, here’s the coordinating color scheme for these paintings:

   60: Off White/Neutral or Pale Green
   30: Teal
   10: Brass

We love the idea of a pale wall, for a traditional look Sherwin Williams Spare White (2) is a great wall choice, but if you want to bring in more of a spa feeling Waterscape (3) has a very peaceful feeling.

Again, we recommend sticking with neutral colored upholstered furniture.  A sectional sofa (4) is a great, especially for rentals that can accommodate a large number of guests.   A round natural wood coffee table (5) fits nicely with the color scheme and beachy feeling of the painting.

We found a rug (6) that feels like you are floating on the ocean and provides a perfect 30% accent.  This sets the tone for other pieces in the various shades of teal from light to dark for nicknacks, such as this fun green basket (7) for wrangling throw blankets and other clutter. We found these pillows (8) on Etsy.com that will tie the perfect bow on this design.

The painting calls for brass colored accents, which we chose for the 10% color.  We were excited to find this super-stylish media console (9).  We also added a brass colored floor lamp (10) over the sofa.

A Word of Caution
It is important to say that the 60-30-10 rule is a rule that is meant to be broken! While it is a helpful framework for organizing your approach to creating a color palette with confidence, If you find it too restrictive, toss it out and go boldly on your way. Hopefully these examples will help inspire confidence as you pull together lovely spaces for your guests.