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Kitchen Design – The 60-30-10 Rule


A Simple Kitchen Design Rule

Have you ever walked into a kitchen and it just felt right, but you couldn’t put your finger on exactly why? Chances are that proportion was a key factor.  

The kitchen designer paid careful attention to balancing needed function with the colors used and the scale of the kitchen cabinets and other fittings. A simple but powerful design rule that can help achieve this balance is called the 60-30-10 rule.  It can easily be applied to color choice and cabinet layout in kitchen design.  


What is the 60-30-10 Design Rule?

First studied in ancient Greece 2,500 years ago, the Golden Ratio is an equation for scale and proportion. The ratio is- roughly-60/40.  We expand on this information on our website here if you want to read more about the actual math behind the rule. 

Interior designers have further broken down the 40 percent part of the ratio to create the 60/30/10 rule which can be applied to the relationship between any 3 elements in a room – including the scale of the kitchen cabinets and the colors used to provide a balanced look to your kitchen design. 

Using the Rule for Kitchen Cabinet Layout

To make a large-scale kitchen—such as the one pictured above—function aesthetically, you have to create a human scale while still adding design elements that will fill the volume of the room.

It is important to keep functional scale in mind – customizing cabinets to a human scale.  Large cabinets that extend to cathedral ceiling height look amazing in photos but no human is ever going to be able to reach that top shelf.  

In the featured example above, the kitchen area’s drop ceiling allows for a smooth fitted line of use-able height kitchen cabinets.  The kitchen island is also designed to be about 30 % of the whole kitchen space. The pendant lights complete the visual balance.  

Using The Rule for Color Choices

We are using black, white, and grey examples in this article to make the 60-30-10 choices obvious.  Once the rule makes sense to you, you can use a tool like this Adobe Color Wheel to see what other combinations you like.  

In the featured image, 60% of the surfaces are white, 30% are black, and about 10% are silver.   These choices feel visually balanced. Other popular trios in kitchen colors include blue/silver/white or even white/black/orange.  

Create a Kitchen You Love

Having a grasp of the basic vocabulary of design will help you work with a kitchen designer.  When the 60/30/10 rule, you’ll know why a room doesn’t quite come together. And better yet, you’ll know how to design a room that will feel good from the get-go.

Thanks for reading our quick introduction to the 60-30-10 color rule. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, check out our projects on Houzz to get more ideas. 



This designer color board features the Bellmont Cabinets Vero series – a contemporary Euro-style flat panel door  – in Porta  – Nero Super Matte. This color board reverses the featured image color proportions using 60% black, 30% soft grey, and 10% white as the accent color.  All counter top, back splash, accent, and floor tiles are from our partners at Arizona Tile