Color Theory Will Help Harmonize Any Decor

By Scarlett (Australia)

Color is one of the key qualities of successful home decorating. Yet many decorators go into a makeover project without a clear understanding of color theory and how it affects the way rooms look.

Color Theory uses a set of basic principles to create color combination’s that are harmonious with one another. Since “harmony” is another of the basic ideals of successful home decorating, a good working knowledge of this principle can be essential to any decor makeover.

Harmonious color combination’s employ two colors- any two- that are opposite one another on a device known as a color wheel. This tool represents the spectrum of visible colors wrapped around 360 degrees to make a circle.

Two-color relationships aren’t the only harmonious mixtures on the color wheel. Three colors that are spaced equidistantly around the wheel form a triangle, while four colors make rectangle that’s actually two color pairs facing each other. These combination’s a are known as color schemes or color harmonies. Further subcategories of combination’s have been developed as a way to harmonize colors more accurately.

  • Monochromatic: Variations of light and saturation of one color form a monochromatic color scheme. Monochromatic colors match well, producing a relaxing effect that’s elegant and clean. A monochromatic color scheme is restful especially when using blue or green hues. Imagine a room painted with light blue on the walls, navy blue furniture and possibly blue rugs combining the two shades.
  • Analogous: Colors adjacent to one another on the color wheel form an analogous color scheme. One color dominates while others enhance the scheme. An analogous scheme resembles a monochromatic plan, but provides more nuanced mixtures. For instance, a bright cheery kitchen might combine pale yellow walls with touches of orange, such as orange rugs on the floor.
  • Complementary: Two colors directly opposite one another on the color wheel are consider complementary. Typically this scheme combines a warm color with a cool color, such as red versus blue-green. This is a naturally high-contrast scheme and often is used in children’s rooms, outdoor spaces or areas where a high-energy look is desired.
  • Split Complementary: This variation on the typical complementary scheme employs one color as a dominant and two colors adjacent to its complementary color. The result of this combination gives high contrast, but mutes the strong tension typical of a complementary scheme. For instance, if blue were dominant, then shades of orange, next to blue’s complementary of red, would form the scheme. Once again, this combination could be used for a child’s room or a game room.
  • Triadic: Three colors spaced equally around a color wheel create a triadic color scheme. Artists favor a triadic scheme because it balances visual contrast with richness and harmony. A good example for a room color scheme would be a combination of blue-green, purple and orange. While this sounds gaudy, the trick is to choose one color as the dominant – say the blue-green – and then use purple and orange as accents. Adjusting the lightness or saturation of the colors in a triadic scheme helps the balance. A transitional rug that blends the three colors in an abstract or floral pattern could serve as a focal point in a room of this scheme.
  • Tetradic (Double Complementary): The scheme uses two pairs of complementary colors, making it the most flexible and diverse and the most difficult to harmonize. With a color scheme of this type, it’s essential to choose a dominant color and use the others as accents, or subdue the secondary colors.


Finally, it’s important to remember that color theory doesn’t pay attention to shades, tones or tints of colors; it only analyzes pure colors. Therefore it may be possible to use unusual color combination’s by adjusting their lightness or saturation.

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