Remember the color wheel from art class? Most designers use it as a starting point for paint palettes. That’s because it holds the key to the three types of color schemes: Monochromatic (shades of a single color), Analogous (colors that are adjacent on the wheel) and Complementary (colors that are directly opposite one another on the wheel).
Want to keep things simple or stick to a favorite color? Monochromatic schemes use tints and shades of a single color. Neutral monochromatic schemes, like shades of beige and mocha brown, are popular because they’re easy to work with. You can still add color to a mono scheme; imagine a room in tints and shades of denim blue with pops of sunny yellow – brightening a cool palette with a warm color.
This fail-safe scheme uses two or three colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. Usually, one color is dominant while the others add interest. Consider the yellow, orange and red; now picture a yellow painted kitchen with orange counter stools and curtains, punched up with red countertop appliances and placemats.
Complementary color combinations are everywhere: red poinsettias with green leaves, orange stitching on blue denim and gold trim on royal purple robes. You don’t have to go bold, though. A complementary scheme can also use variations: for instance, pale pink walls in a girl’s room with grass green furnishings.
Dark vs. Light
The color of walls and ceilings can dramatically change the atmosphere. Dark colors can make spaces feel small and cozy, while light colors can make rooms feel larger and more open. A room flooded with sunlight will wash out the wall color; a room that lacks natural light can turn colors grey or muddy.
Hue is the name used to identify a color, such as red. Intensity describes how saturated it is. Value refers to how light or dark it is. Most palettes use three values: light, medium and dark – and this can be an easy way to translate your palette to your room. A light color is often used as background on walls and ceiling. Medium tones are popular for carpeting or large pieces of furniture. A dark floor will ground the space, while a light one can visually open up the room.
If your floor plan is open and rooms flow into one another, choose your main color and paint the adjacent room a shade or two lighter or deeper. For example, if the living room connects to the dining room, different shades of the same color will define each room as a separate space but keep them visually connected.