Introduction to Basic Color Schemes and Color Theory
1. How To Use The Color Wheel
The color wheel is probably one of those things that you learned about as a young child and haven’t thought about since. However, to really understand color, you need to understand the color wheel.Simply put, the color wheel provides a visual representation of which colors blend nicely together, it removes all the guesswork. Don't worry if you haven't memorized the color wheel just yet, there are tons of ways to access it digitally. Adobe Color CC is a website that will let you create your own color scheme from the comfort of your computer screen and ColorSchemer offers the same capabilities in an app that's available for iphone.
2. What Are The Basic Colors
There are at least 12 shades on every color wheel. Here’s how things break down:
- Primary Colors: Red, blue, and yellow. Cannot be made from mixing other colors.
- Secondary Colors: Orange, Purple, and Green. Can be made by mixing the primary colors together.
- Tertiary Colors: The six shades that can be made from mixing primary and secondary colors.
If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to decorating a colorful interior, one of these 12 is often a good jumping off point. Pick one and it will help you narrow down your selections until you settle on the exact shade that you love.
3. Changing Colors With Neutrals:Once you’ve selected a basic color, it’s easy to create many different versions within the same family. All you need to do is combine that color with a neutral in order to make it lighter or darker. In interior design, this is known as tint, shade, and tone.
- Tint: The act of lighting a color by adding white to it.
- Shade: The act of darkening a color by adding black.
- Tone: Slightly darkening a color by adding gray.
4. Understanding Color TemperatureYou may have heard colors described as having a temperature. A dining room may be decked out in warm tones while someone else may have chosen a cool color to finish off their space. These temperatures also describe where the color falls on the color wheel. Reds, oranges, and yellows are often described as warm colors. They are typically more vibrant and seem to bring a sense of liveliness and intimacy to a space. In contrast, blues purples, and most greens are the cool colors. They can be used to calm down a room and bring a relaxed feel. When choosing color temperature for a space, you should also consider the size. Using a warm color in a small space could make things feel a little claustrophobic. However, using cool colors in a larger room could leave things feeling stark.
5. Complementary Color SchemeWhen it comes to color schemes, complimentary is the simplest. It uses two colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Typically one color acts as the dominant shade and the other as an accent. This means combinations like red and green, blue and orange, or yellow and purple. This color combo is extremely high contrast, which means that it’s best used in small doses and when you want to draw attention to a particular design element. You could use it to make your powder room really pop or to bring extra vibrancy to your home office. If you choose a complimentary color scheme, you really need to embrace neutrals. They will provide a place for your eye to rest and keep you from becoming overwhelmed in the room.
6- Split-Complementary Color Scheme
If you like the idea of a complimentary color schemes, but are afraid it may be a little too bold for your tastes, split complimentary is a safer choice. To make this color scheme, you would first choose your base shade. Then, instead of choosing the color directly opposite of your base, you choose the two shades on either side of the opposite color. Those two shades will provide a much needed sense of balance to the room. You’ll still get the visual impact of bold color, but you’ll be able to incorporate more of it instead of relying heavily on neutrals to calm the space.
Split-complimentary works best when you use your base color as the dominant. However, instead of choosing a saturated shade, try to focus on a color that is more muted. Then, go bold with your other two shades in the room’s accent pieces. Split-Complimentary color schemes are often calmer versions of their complimentary counterparts.