6 Easy Ways to Coordinate Color

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 Permalink 0

You’ve already decided what you’d like as the main color in the room, but how do you know which accent colors work best, which colors will give you the greatest color harmony? Here are 6 great tips to help you make harmonious color choices.

A basic understanding of the color wheel is a great place to start.

Here’s what you need to know:
  • Primary colors are red, yellow and blue
  • Secondary colors are green, orange and violet
  • Combining 2 primary colors creates a secondary color
  • All the other colors on the color wheel are made from primary colors mixed with secondary colors and named for the combination – for example blue-green
Basic Color Wheel

Basic Color Wheel


1. Adjacent Colors

Looking at a color wheel it’s easy to see that colors side by side on the wheel will go together. For example, if you’re using red, then both red-violet and red-orange compliment the main red nicely.

Adjacent Complimentary Color

Adjacent Complimentary Color

A perfect example is in the image below with the red, orange and violet. The magenta is also an adjacent color which isn’t showing on our basic color wheel but it would fall between the red and the violet making it adjacent.

Adjacent Color Scheme

Adjacent Color Scheme – Image Courtesy of HomeDSGN


2. Opposite Colors

Opposite colors are also complimentary. For example blues go well with oranges and violets go with yellows. This gives you the boldest contrast between colors that go together.

Opposite Color Wheel

Opposite Color Wheel

A gorgeous violet and yellow combination below shows the dramatic effect, and the grays anchor the space.

Opposite Color Scheme - Image Courtesy of Sophie Robinson

Opposite Color Scheme – Image Courtesy of Sophie Robinson


3. Split Complimentary Colors

Another way to use the color wheel is by looking at split complimentary colors. This gives you that strong contrast without the severity of the direct complimentary color. Starting with a color, look at it’s opposite then pick the color on either side.

Split Complimentary Colors

Split Complimentary Colors

Below is an example of gorgeous split complimentary colors with the red wall, the teal in the chairs, the throw cushions with teal, green and red, and finally the sofa with a yellow/green.

Split Color Scheme by Miles Redd - Image Courtesy of McGrath II

Split Color Scheme by Miles Redd – Image Courtesy of McGrath II


4. Triadic Complimentary

The triadic color scheme goes with three colors equally spaced on the color wheel. This maintains a bold contrast but provides a greater balance and harmony between the colors.

Triadic Complimentary Colors

Triadic Complimentary Colors

The following example has the triad red, yellow and blue. The triad can be bold but you can tone it down by using muted variations on all hues. You’ll get even better results if you let one color dominate and let the others accent. All three colors with the same dominance can be overwhelming.

Triadic Color Scheme - Image Courtesy of Design Shuffle

Triadic Color Scheme – Image Courtesy of Design Shuffle


5. Monochromatic Color Schemes

For a clean and elegant look, use accent colors in lighter and darker shades of the same hue. This hue has a touch more violet in it than the first room below. The room is a bit cooler leaning.

Blue Color Scale

A Hue of Blue Color Scale

The trick to decorating with one main hue is to mix it up with textures and patterns.

Blue Monochrome Room by Anna Mårselius - Photo Courtesy of Blog Lovin

Blue Monochrome Room by Anna Mårselius


6. Color Picking Tools

Technology is also here to help and guess what, there’s an app for that. Since you’ve got the rules straight, using the apps will be that much easier and they’ll make more sense. All the paint companies have helpful tools, Benjamin Moore has a really nice one. Most paint companies also have visualization tools where you can see rooms painted with different colors.

As a stand alone app with no corporate brand affiliation there’s, Color911 from Amy Wax, an award-winning color consultant and author of books specializing in color. With Color911 you can create your own colors and palettes, choose from existing themes, and save your palettes with notes. I strongly recommend this app if you’re serious about color in designing your space (who isn’t?).

Color 911 App

Color 911 App

Happy color coordinating!

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