Color Fundamentals

Stop! Don't decorate a room without knowing the relationships of colors.

After devoting an entire section to color, we'd be remiss not to discuss the basics. So what exactly are the relationships and effects that one color has on another? By referring to the adjacent color wheel, you'll see that within this wide spectrum, there are three dominant and pure colors, called "primary colors": yellow, blue, and red. Because mixing two of these produces secondary colors (red + yellow = orange, for example), it's no coincidence that the primaries are located at equal intervals on the color wheel. All other hues, known as tertiary colors, result in varying combinations of the primaries and secondaries. Remember these points when using a color wheel for updating your home.

  • Complementary colors are located directly opposite one another on the wheel. So, if you're looking for something that goes well with blue, pick orange. Likewise, green looks good with red.
  • Colors adjacent to primaries are also trustworthy. For example, blue can be well suited to a range of both greens and purples.
  • The terms "shade" and "tone" refer to the intensity of a color. To make paint darker, add black. To lighten a color, mix in white. Varying shades or tones of the same base color can work together as well.