Decorating Color Schemes
By Jill Black
A change of color is one of the most exciting ways to transform a
room. When decorating picking a color scheme can be a daunting
experience. Many people feel out of their depth and worry that they
may pick the wrong color and need to start the decorating project all
For many people the starting point for a color scheme is likely to
come from something you already own such as a sofa, rug or perhaps a
Color is all around us and we only need to look to nature as a source
of inspiration. The visually appealing organic hues of nature are
currently a very popular color trend. Think of the brilliant color
hues of a sunset or sunrise, the colors of the rainbow, flowers,
trees, the mountains and deserts. These colors all provide a color
palette ready for use in your own decorating schemes. Different
colors will have a different impact according the characteristics of
your space. Views outside the home often have an influence on the way
a room appears. For example, if you live by the sea decorating with
sandy pale tones or pale blues and greens creates an expansive
feeling of merging with the colors outside the room.
Color is classified and organized on what is known as the Color
Wheel. Choosing color combinations is easier once you understand the
the color wheel. The color wheel determines what colors are
complimentary to each other. Colors that are opposite on the color
wheel are always perfectly balanced. The secret to everything is
BALANCE and the color wheel helps us sort things systematically.
There are three basic groups that comprise a color wheel. They are as
The primary colors are Red Yellow Blue and when used in decorating
color schemes offer a strong feeling to your room.
Each of these three colors must come from nature and are of primary
It is from these three colors that all the other colours are derived.
Primary colors cannot be mixed by blending the other two colors
Secondary colors are made by combining a primary color with a
neighboring secondary primary color on the Color Wheel.
The three secondary colors are Orange Green Purple.
* Orange is made by mixing red and yellow. A variety of oranges can
be made depending on how much red and yellow you choose to use.
* Green is made by mixing blue and yellow.
* Violet is made by mixing of red and blue
The tertiary colors are the combination of a primary color and the
closet secondary color. The six tertiary colors are:
Red-orange, yellow-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green,
For example: yellow-orange is made by mixing the primary yellow with
its neighboring secondary color orange.
Even though the color wheel is an important tool in choosing
complimenting colors we must also consider the mood that the colors
emit and create.
Cool colors have the appearance of receding (being further away) and
work well in small narrow rooms giving the appearance that the room
is a more generous size than it actually is. Cool colors can be used
to make a low ceiling appear higher. Human emotion can detect the
effects of cool colors by evoking a sense of cool, tranquil relief.
Sea Green, Violet, Blue, light blue and cyan are all cool colors.
Warm colors tend to advance (appear closer) and dominate a rooms
presence. Warm colors are a good choice for large uninviting rooms
that you want to make appear more inviting and welcoming. Warm colors
are psychologically associated with happiness and comfort and produce
warm, inviting and cozy feelings. Like the colors of the flames of a
cozy winter fire or the warm orange of terracotta. Red Orange Yellow
magenta and yellow-green are all warm colors
Some colors are referred to as being neutral. Neutral colors include
beige, brown, gray and white and are neither activate or calm in a
room. They merely act as a combination between warm and cool colors.
Colors can be termed by how they are grouped together with decorating
schemes falling into one of the following color families -
Monochromatic, Analogous (harmonious) or Complimentary (contrasting).
Monochromatic (single color) combinations
Monochromatic means one single color (mono=one). Monochromatic
schemes are one of the easiest to put together. Different shades,
tones and tints of the same color can be used to give the impression
of different colors and provide variety and interest. A single color
is considered unified, peaceful and harmonious. Single colors are
effective for establishing an overall mood and tying things together
but are considered dull because of the lack of color variation.
Single colors can be lightened by adding white also known as a "tint"
or darkened by adding black known as a "shade". Monochromatic schemes
are enhanced by the use of texture and are best suited for small or
Analogous (side-by-side) combinations
The analogous combination are colors that are side-by side on the
color wheel. Analogous combinations are versatile and eye catching.
This scheme uses two to three related colors next to each other on
the color wheel to create visual appeal. The color is often a
dominant color while the other is an accent color. The wide selection
of possible combinations makes this a versatile scheme to use. For
example: A selection of purples and blues or oranges and reds can be
used to create this scheme. The similarity of the related colors
makes the scheme harmonious. However, the use of more than three
colors can dilute the overall effect on this scheme.
Complimentary (opposite) combinations
Also called Contrasting colors. Complimentary colors are opposite in
the color spectrum or a warm color will be combined with a cool color
to create some interesting combinations For example yellow and
purple, red and green, blue and orange. They are generally found to
be visually pleasing to most people.
Color effects how we feel and react just as much as the way something
looks and each color has its own mood and influence in decorating
Red - Symbolizes passion, empowers, stimulates, warms, dramatizes,
promotes movement and activity. Red is often used in halls, play
rooms and dining rooms. Red makes rooms look smaller.
Orange - Stimulates appetites, conversation, charity, warm, cheerful
and lively. A good choice for highly active and social areas such as
kitchens, play rooms and family rooms.
Yellow - Increases energy, expands, adds a fresh lively feel to the
room. Yellow is often used in kitchens, living, family and dining
Green - Encourages emotional growth, balances, refreshes, cooling,
calming, tranquil. Often used as a neutral shade to bind different
colors, as they do in nature. Often used in kitchens, bedrooms, study
and in hot rooms.
Blue - Produces peaceful moods, relaxes, enlarges, cools, soothes.
Useful for hot or highly active rooms, small rooms, and often used in
bedrooms and nurseries for its relaxing sedative quality.
Brown - Nurturing, safe, earthy. Often used as an accent color.
White - Purifies, energizes, cooling, airy, clean. Often used as an
accent color, in hot sunny rooms and kitchens.
Color selection is an important element that effects people
emotionally and mentally on the subconscious level. Note color
combinations you find naturally occurring in nature that you find
pleasing to the eye. Also look at the colors other people have used
and ask yourself what it is you find appealing about them or what you
don't like about them and you will soon get a feel for color and
color combinations for your own decorating schemes.
Jill is the owner of Netwrite-Publish Home and Garden. For more ideas