Do You Follow the 80/20 Rule?

Yesterday I watched this video posted on Apartment Therapy about an 80/20 color rule. The video explained that when designing a room you should use 80% neutral color and 20% accent color.  I do remember learning in design class about the 60/30/10 rule (60% main color, 30% secondary color and 10% accent color) but 80/20?… this I have a slight (okay big) problem with. Now there is certainly nothing wrong with following this advice if that is the look and feel you are going for but to call it a rule…I beg to differ.

80/20 color "rule"



After all, when choosing color we’re always told to look to nature for color inspiration? Nature certainly doesn’t limit itself to 20% color.



Often times in nature,the more colorful something is,the more desirable it is.


Then as fate would have it, this morning I saw Designer Tobi Fairley being interviewed about her bold use of color in the bedroom she designed for the 2011 Hampton  Show House.


Tobi Fairley 2011 Hampton Show House


Tobi said there are two kinds of people; color lovers and neutral lovers. She is obviously a color lover just like me.  So in support of all of the other color lovers out there I thought I would share a few fabulous interiors that break the 80% neutral and 20% color rule with much success.


Elle Decor




Suzanne Kasler



Jamie Drake


Pottery Barn



kelly Wearstler


So what do you think of the 80/20 rule?  Are you a color lover or a neutral lover?


If you would like help creating or breaking the 80/20 rule, give me a call.


8 Responses to Do You Follow the 80/20 Rule?
  1. Sheila Zeller Reply

    I’m also a little sceptical about the 80/20 rule… it feels like something is missing!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      I agree Sheila, it is lacking energy and life..almost too perfect.

  2. Jil Reply

    80/20 rule be gone! :) gosh, gulp, i just looked around my home and see I have used the 80/20 rule – but don’t do that for clients. Very interesting. Still feel the 80/20 rule is much to rigid and doesn’t allow for our creativity. Great article Linda!

  3. kristie@thedecorologist Reply

    I’m a color-lover, of course. Good post, Linda!

  4. margaret ann innis Reply

    Hi Linda – perhaps they are confusing it with the Pareto Principle: 80% want color & 20% want neutrals.
    We vote for color!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      That must be it Margaret!

  5. Shelley Armella Reply

    Color lovers unite! Great post and pics Linda.

  6. Dana King Reply

    Amen sister. rules shmules. 80/20 or 60/30/10 are only a couple ways to achieve color harmony. There are many other ways as you have pointed out. The most dynamic rooms, neutral or colorful, are those that are fearless and/or take their inspiration from nature.

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