Color Wheel - Friend or Fo?

Okay, so the color wheel is totally your friend.  Just throwing that out there right away so you don't wonder.

A while back, I posted about how to choose your color scheme.  Ever color-phobic, my sister-in-law is trying really hard to choose a color scheme for the public spaces in her home (i.e. living room, kitchen, dining area).

Truly, she's not "color-phobic" quite so much as she's non-committal.  Can you relate?  I know I can!  There are just so many color palettes and combinations (let alone style and design themes) that it almost hurts to choose just one (ouchie).

If you already have a basic understanding of what style or look you're going for, or at least what you don't like, then you might want to take a gander at some color wheel inspiration.  So, with help from HGTV (images), I whipped out my old Interior Design knowledge (thanks to second semester "Color Theory")!


We all know what our primary colors are, right?  Can't get more basic than Red, Blue, and Yellow (except Black and White)!


Secondary colors are easy, too: Violet, Orange, and Green.  They are the basic colors that develop from mixing two primary colors together (Red + Blue = Violet).


Tertiary colors are always my favorite.  They are created by combining a secondary color with the primary color next to it.

Okay, now for the scheming:


If you're nervous about adding color to your home (or wardrobe!) try beginning with a favorite hue that makes you happy and at ease whenever you see it.  Make things a bit more interesting by adding versions of your color that have more or less black and white.


If you're feeling a bit more brave, or want the look of a Monochromatic scheme but with more interest, try an analogous color scheme in your home.

By choosing between two and six colors that are adjacent (i.e. next to each other) on the color wheel, you get a very harmonious look that still adds some fun to your decor.  This also makes shopping for items in your color scheme easy to find since you're only looking for one to two colors in varying degrees of saturation.

 Looking for some contrast?  Pick two colors like blue and orange, red and green, purple and yellow - these are all complementary colors (located directly across from each other on the color wheel).

Now let's get a little trickier, but also much more interesting! 


(click image for source)

A fun twist on the standard Complementary theme, Split-Complementary uses three colors to create a Y-shaped palette that's more complex.  Choose a key color, then follow across the color wheel to find it's compliment.  But don't stop there!  Now go both left and right of that Complementary color - those are your second and third color options.

For example: You choose violet as your main color.  A standard Complementary color would be yellow, but instead, go to the right and left of yellow to choose a yellow-green and yellow-orange (maybe you can call it Apple Green and Saffron when someone asks you about your home colors!). 


A Triadic scheme uses three colors that form a triangle on the color wheel.  Make it even more interesting and use Tertiary-esque colors (ex. Fuchsia, Lime, and Teal).

Remember:  When decorating, you're colors can come from a variety of places.  Let's say you choose a Primary Triadic scheme (red, yellow, blue).  Perhaps you use red and blue as your main decorating components in fabric and decorative items, and the yellow comes from a yellow-based wood, like your coffee table, trim, or bookcases.  The yellow isn't coming directly from a typical decorative source like painted walls or upholstery, but you feel it's warmth coming through in other design choices.



Okay we're stopping there with the color cram session.  There are a couple other themes you can create, like Intermediate and Double Complementary, but I think you get the idea.

Next session: Warm vs. Cool colors and Aspects of Color (Hue, Tint, Shade, Tone)


Q:  Do you guys find this stuff helpful or just more confusing?  Have you used a color wheel to plan out your home decor, wardrobe, maybe your wedding?  Do you wish you had?