By: April

Decorating can sometimes seem daunting but as I learned, understanding the color wheel goes a long way in taking the mystery out of what colors go well together and how to play colors off each other.

Below are a few tips on how to use the color wheel to think about color schemes



The Color Wheel

First, it helps to understand the basic constitution of the color wheel illustrated above.

  • Primary colors – Red, Blue, and yellow. These colors are the base from which all other colors are made.
  • Secondary colors – Purple, Green, and Orange. Colors that are made up of two of the primary colors.
  • Tertiary colors – Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Purple, Red-Purple, Orange-red, Yellow-Orange. Two secondary colors mixed together.


Once you have a basic understanding of the color wheel, the following tips are a good starting point.

  • Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are called Related Colors. An easy trick is to build color schemes around two or three related colors.

EX: Terracotta, orange, and gold. One hue will dominate the room the other two will play up to it.

  • Colors located directly across from each other on the color wheel are called Complimentary Colors. These colors enhance each other in decorating schemes. These are often considered very bold and daring color palets.

EX: Blue and Orange. One will be subtle; the other will be dominant.

  • The three colors located at an equal distance from each other on the color wheel are called Triad Colors. These colors can be vivid and pure or muted and neutralized.

EX: Red, Yellow, and Blue. Most people might think it’s too much to combine these colors, but for kids rooms or playrooms this color scheme is a great option.


Also keep in mind that colors also convey/stimulate moods and it’s important to think about that when selecting color schemes e.g.:

  • RED: Strong, aggressive, hot, angry, and stimulating.
  • BLUE: Cold and calm.
  • YELLOW: Light hearted and friendly.
  • ORANGE: Warm, comforting, welcoming, and energetic.
  • GREEN: Cool, soothing, and refreshing.
  • PURPLE: Luxurious, royal, and sophisticated.
  • BRIGHT: Light, airy, and relaxing.
  • DARK: Dramatic, serious, and rich.