When you’re decorating your home, choosing the right paint colors is the most important decision you’ll make. As fun as choosing colors can be, this part of the planning can be overwhelming. Thousands of combinations are possible, but by having a basic understanding of color you can create a scheme you love.
The Color Wheel
The color wheel identifies color families and how they relate to each other. Read more about the Color Wheel.
All colors, with the exception of white, come from primary colors. Blue, yellow and red are the primary colors; combinations of these three colors produce secondary colors.
Mix equal amounts of two primary colors to create secondary colors. The results are violet (red and blue), green (blue and yellow) and orange (red and yellow).
Mix one primary color with larger amounts of another primary color to create tertiary colors. For example, mix one part blue with two parts red to make red-violet.
Other Color Terms
Different colors affect our moods in different ways. Let’s say that you've decided emerald green, your favorite color, is going to be the main focus in your room. Before you buy gallons of emerald green paint, consider the effect it will have on the appearance and mood of the room.
Warm and Cozy Colors
Warm and cozy colors, located on the right side of the color wheel, convey a message of togetherness and strength:
Cool and Soothing Colors
Cool and soothing colors, located on the left side of the color wheel, provide a sense of calm and feelings of trust:
Pastel colors are the result of adding a large amount of white to colors. They create a comfortable, airy feeling in any room.
Neutral colors include shades of white, beige, taupe, gray and black. Neutral colors are the easiest colors to use for one obvious reason: they blend with most surroundings. Neutral colors can also be stylish and dramatic. For instance, black and white are neutral colors that create a wonderful palette for additional colors.
If you choose neutral colors, use bold-colored accessories to accent the walls and add interest. When you’re ready for a change, simply change out the accessories.
A color scheme is any set of colors that work together to create a visually appealing layout. The following are suggested combinations, but the possible combinations are limitless.
Complementary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel. Each color brings out the richness in the other. When using complementary colors, one color should be subtle and the other color should be more dominant. For example, an intense, dark violet should be paired with a medium to light yellow.
Split Complementary Colors
Split complementary colors offer a wild and daring color palette. Select a main color. Next, find the complementary color and select colors from each side of the complementary color. These colors are excellent when layering a faux finish.
Related colors are located next to each other on the color wheel. These colors produce a less contrasting effect than complementary colors. For example, a dark blue-green combined with a light blue can give the feeling of floating in a blue lagoon.
Monochromatic colors are colors with the same hue but different tones, values and saturation. For example, a paint swatch card has several different values of one color. Using two or more monochromatic colors creates a stylish and pleasant look.
Use colors to create an illusion in any room by contrasting different values; light and dark, warm and cool:
Use accent colors, whether bold or subtle, to pull a room together:
Remember that to the human eye most colors on paint chips look a shade darker when applied to real rooms. If you're worried that a color is too dark or bold, consider one shade lighter.