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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
A gorgeous violet and yellow combination below shows the dramatic effect, and the grays anchor the space.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The trick to decorating with one main hue is to mix it up with textures and patterns.
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?).
Happy color coordinating!