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Choose Interior Paint Colors and Schemes

Choose Interior Paint Colors and Schemes

Decorating is a great way to give your home some personality. There are many elements that go into decorating, but the most important is color. The color wheel is a valuable tool that can help you decorate your home. Thousands of color combinations are possible, but you can use basic color information to create the color scheme best suited for your home and your personal taste. Always choose the colors you like best for decorating success.

Basic Color Terms

The Color Wheel

The color wheel identifies color families and how they relate.

Primary Colors

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 other colors. Mix all three together in equal amounts to produce brown.

Watch How to Choose Paint.

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).

Tertiary Colors

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
  • The hue of a color is the basic color. For example, blue is the hue in light blue and dark blue.
  • Tone describes the color's density and reflective quality. Tone is important when choosing a color scheme.
  • The value of a color describes the amount of white or black in the color. The value ranges from light to dark on a gray scale.
  • The saturation of a color refers to its pureness and boldness.

The Effects of Color

Different colors affect our moods in different ways. You've decided emerald green, your favorite color, is going to be the main focus in your room. Before you buy 5 gallons of emerald green paint, consider the effect it will have on the appearance and mood of the room. Use the following descriptions as guides to create your color combination.

Warm and Cozy Colors

Warm and cozy colors, located on the right side of our color wheel, convey a message of togetherness and strength:

  • Varying shades of red are commonly found in dining rooms and libraries, but are becoming popular in kitchens and bedrooms as well.
  • Pure orange is an extremely warm color. It's very hard to tone down and is often used as an accent color only.
  • Yellow has different effects depending upon its tone and value. A sharp yellow can create a feeling of deterrence, as with police tape at a crime scene. But a pale yellow, such as cowslip, can create a bright and pleasing environment.

Cool and Soothing Colors

Cool and soothing colors, located on the left side of our color wheel, provide a sense of calm and feelings of trust:

  • As you may have noticed, most hospitals and doctors' offices decorate with green. Green is one of nature's most prominent colors and blends easily with any room.
  • Blue is generally a peaceful color. Light blue can make a room appear bright and refreshing, while a deep blue can create a sober mood. Use blue in any room of the house.
  • Violet is getting more and more recognition due to its connection to romance. Violet is also being used in bedrooms and living rooms to communicate an air of serenity.

Pastel Colors

Pastel colors are the result of adding a large amount of white to colors. Because of the lightness of the color, there's little concern of clashing. Pastels create a comfortable, airy feeling in any room.

Neutral Colors

Neutral colors include shades of white, gray and black. Neutral colors are the easiest colors to use for one obvious reason; they blend easily with most surroundings. Builders typically use neutral colors on the interior of a home to accommodate the new home owners' wide range of tastes. Neutral colors can be stylish and dramatic. For instance, black and white are neutral colors that create a wonderful palette for additional colors.

Various Color Schemes

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

Complementary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel; for example — red and green, yellow and violet. 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 for using when layering a faux finish.

Related Colors

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

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.

Tips for Choosing a Color Scheme

Planning can allow you to create many different looks using color.

Planning and Inspiration for Color
  • The most natural setting for observing color is in nature. Flower gardens, produce stands and your own backyard provide the purest representations of color.
  • Plan ahead by creating a scrapbook or sample board of color swatches, wallpapers and styles you find attractive. Lowe's has a variety of take-home samples available. Mix, match and test the samples in the room you're decorating at different times of day.
  • Be color-consistent throughout your home to create continuity. With the doors of your rooms open, determine how much of each room you can see from the adjacent room. Plan your color scheme in relation to how much of each room is visible from another room.
  • Pick the colors you like best. Four core colors and two patterns should be the maximum; more creates too much visual stimulation. Use as many accent colors as you like, and select a dominant color from the core colors to start. Use a particular color scheme, either monochromatic, related or complementary.
  • If you decide to start with a favorite pattern, match your colors to the pattern. Colors that are dramatically different in the pattern can be accented with light or dark tones of the same color. You can also use one main color with several tones to create an energetic color scheme.
  • The wall color is usually the most dominant in the room, so if you're choosing paint for a wall, make sure you know what it will look like. Paint a 2-foot-by-2-foot color test and allow it to dry. Paint usually dries ont to two shades darker. Imagine that 2-foot-by-2-foot section expanded throughout the entire room. A light peach, for example, can make a room very pink in a particular light.
  • Decide where you're going to use the colors in the room. The general rule when decorating is to use three different values: light, medium and dark. Walls and floors are usually done in light colors, depending on the effect you're trying to create. Floors should be a little darker than walls to keep them from floating. WIndow coverings and large pieces of furniture are often done in a medium value to pull the light walls and floors together. The darkest of the colors should be used as an accent color scattered throughout the room.

Using Color to Create an Illusion

Use colors to create an illusion in any room by contrasting different values; light and dark, warm and cool:

  • You can visually lower a ceiling by painting it darker than the walls.
  • Make the ceiling seem higher by painting it a lighter color than the walls.
  • Use dark neutrals or warm colors on walls and floors to visually scale down a large room.
  • Make a small room look larger by using light, pale colors on the walls, floors and ceilings.

Using Accent Colors to Change a Room

If you enjoy changing the color scheme in your home often, use neutral colors on your walls and floors. Use accessories in a bold accent color to enhance and change the appearance of the room. For instance, a neutral room can be brought to life with electric blue pillows, curtains, scarves and area rugs. Whenever the redecorating mood strikes again, simply mix, match or change the accessories completely. Other ideas include:

  • Use one wall in a room as a focal point. Paint the wall a complementary color or a darker shade of the main color in the room.
  • Add white to a room to make patterns and colors appear lighter. If you add a dark color, such as black, the darkness of the pattern comes out.
  • Paint your walls in two bold colors to tie in with a pattern on a rug or chair.

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