After the 60-30-10 rule, what’s this 80-20 rule in interior design all about? Whereas the 60-30-10 rule is helpful for how you can combine colors in a space or for the wall paint design, the 80-20 rule is about how to combine architectural styles.

You’d think there are enough rules that we don’t need to add one more. But this is important especially for the DIYers who have so many ideas and want so many different styles. Can these be combined in a space?  Yes! But limit yourself to only two and read this post first before rolling up your sleeves. Just like we want to be clear about who we are, we also don’t want our homes to suffer a split personality disorder.

The 80-20 Rule

I get attracted to many different interior styles, especially if they’re well-designed as well as wonderfully and coherently curated that they give me a delicious feeling every time I enter them. It doesn’t really matter if these are homes, hotels, restaurants or other public places.  There were times in my life when I wanted too much in one space. Raise your hand if you had or have a similar experience.

The 80-20 rule in interior design is a very good guideline to help you out of this confused state: “As long as 80% of your interior is unified by the same style, period, or philosophy, you can deviate with the other 20% (Source: American Institute of Interior Design).” In other words, pin down your main interior style first before adding the other through your accent pieces.

But for me though, check the architectural style of your home even before you consider the 80-20 rule. Just like you cannot make a swan out of a duck, you also cannot make an American-inspired bungalow out of a nipa hut, or vice versa. So if your architectural style is distinctly Spanish colonial for example, then don’t add shoji doors and tatami mats to make a Japanese-inspired home.

Of course, if you’re building from scratch, then it’s straight to the 80-20 rule for you!

Modern Meets Filipino

New owners know what they will be getting with their new homes. Realtors, developers, architects and interior designers come up with renderings, layouts, mood boards, even swatches to let you know what to expect when you get the keys. If you are having a home built, you will see the actual process of the build as often as you like. Read this to find out what you can expect from a contractor.


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The 80-20 Rule in Interior Design - Palette 1

In urban areas in the country, most new builds are modern in design. For condos, you get a box and it’s up to you to give it your own individual stamp. The easiest route is to keep the modern vibe and add a Filipino flavor to celebrate your roots. You can add the Pinoy element in furniture and furnishings and use heirloom pieces as accents.

You will see that the open, airy space above is primarily modern in design with its horizontal and vertical lines. The wall paint design is very simple. A matte white paint coats the walls, giving the space a fresh and open ambience. A polished, grey, tiled floor grounds the space. Adding a rustic feel are the touches of brown from the natural materials like ceramic vases, frames and wooden table. Bringing in a whiff of the tropics are the long, lobed philodendron leaves. The glass doors open to a garden and gives the living room that airy, cool and relaxed air of tropical homes.

Filipino Meets Modern


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The 80-20 Rule in Interior Design - Palette 2

I love this room! It’s unmistakably Filipino to the bone with its tiled floor, wood furniture and the antique sugar grinder rimmed with wood cogs. Also the calado, or pierced wooden panels on the upper part of the walls, add such an elegant, old-world feature to the room. These wooden panels, that sometimes have intricate lace patterns, were installed to allow light and air to come in, and for embellishment as well. Modern touches can be seen in the coffee and console tables, the sleek ceiling fan, and the flush mount ceiling lights. Instead of the usual wood paneled wall, or wooden walls painted in yellow or beige, the wall paint design is a very simple white. The modern touches bring this room to the 21st century.

Scandinavian with a Tropical Twist


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The 80-20 Rule in Interior Design - Palette 3

This condo which is located in the megacity Manila, has a cool Scandinavian vibe with a tropical flavor. What are the usual elements of Scandi interior style? Like the two rooms above, this dining room has a very simple wall paint design as well. You’ve got white, white, and more white! The understated and muted palette is very much in keeping with the Scandi look. Also clutter-free, minimalistic and pragmatic are hallmarks of this interior style. A big difference is the floor. Scandi interiors usually have floors made of ash wood or some light-colored wood, unlike the floor in this apartment.

For this condo, the wood elements in the furniture and pendant lamps give the space a tropical twist. Bringing in plants adds to the tropical flavor too.

Wall Paint Design and the 80-20 Rule

To help you achieve a consistent design, do remember this 80-20 rule if you want to combine two interior styles. One has to dominate, while the other is used as an accent. Here you can also factor in your wall paint design. I’ve given three examples above with a very basic white as the backdrop for the two interior styles so you can clearly see how they are combined.

However, it is possible to use bolder wall paint ideas if the interior styles that you’ve chosen call for something more complex.


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The 80-20 Rule in Interior Design - Palette 4

The details in this boudoir are exquisite! Ladies, listen up. Can you imagine if this is yours, complete with bottles of booze just to give you a buzz while you do your toilette? Hahaha. Maybe not if you’re getting ready to go out. You might not be able to put your makeup on properly.

At first glance, it looks like an African inspired theme, but then after a closer look, the only thing African about it is the reference to the zebra and panther on the wallpaper. Also the fringe on the stool channels Africa. Think Zulu male headdress made from springbok or impala hide. This one is made from horsehair.

It’s not so much the animals per se but what they symbolize – the wild and free spirit of the zebra and the strength and power of the panther. Because of these, I’d call this style The Jungle Queen, a space which is perfect for a passionate, powerful, supremely confident sophisticate who knows what she wants and is bold enough to get it.

The wall paint design is fairly simple. It uses a dark green paint on the left wall. The striking wallpaper and subtly-veined white marble are used for the right wall . By the way, if you want to use wallpaper, make sure you do the right surface preparation.

What 80-20 rule is it using? I would say Avant-Garde with a touch of Out of Africa. What do you think?

Do those friends of yours who are also doing a makeover a favor and share this post with them. Use the share buttons right after this article.


Annie is the Managing Editor of Let it B | MyBoysen Blog. An unrepentant workaholic, she runs this blog and her own company Talking Lions ( She thrives on collaborating with people who are good at what they do, and working together with them to create something special. Annie learned interior styling while managing her own wholesale business in the Netherlands, importing high-end, handmade home furnishings to stock four outlets and a showroom in the country.

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