Monday, March 4, 2013


There is no disputing that there is an element of science to colour. Colour is defined as a function of refracted light and how is it perceived by the human eye. Scientific yes, but choosing colours for your home need not all be guess work with the help of a colour wheel.
Most decorators refer to the colour wheel as a tool for choosing colour schemes, while other professionals use the colour wheel for inspiration or problem solving.


A colour wheel is a circle of hues (or colours) that show how colours relate to each other. One half of the wheel is made up of warm colours - from red-violet through the reds and oranges to yellow. The other half is made up of cool colours yellow-green through violet.
Red, Yellow and Blue are the primary colours, the colours which all other colours are derived from. If you drew a line to connect these colours on the wheel you would have a triangle.
When you blend any two primary colours together you get secondary colours e.g. yellow and blue make green, blue and red make purple, red and yellow make orange.

Mix a primary and secondary colour and you get a tertiary colour: example: red and orange make red-orange, orange and yellow make yellow- orange etc.

When talking about colour we also need to consider it's value or saturation. A high saturated colour is a colour with a lot of pigment (think fire engine red) while pink (a pastel colour) would be considered a low saturated colour. Adding white to a colour will make it it lighter, while adding black will make a colour darker. Lighter and darker versions of the same colour are called shades.

Colours that are side by side on the colour wheel are called Analogous. Colours that are directly opposite each other are called Complements. The colours that are to either side of any colours complement would be its Split Complements.

Here are a few simple methods of creating colour schemes based on a colours position on the colour wheel, while there are more complex combinations, using these basic relationships to come up with combinations is helpful.

Analogous Schemes:
Analogous schemes involve using multiple shades of the same colour (or colours that are side by side on the colour wheel) an example of this would be using shades of yellow-green, green, and blue green for your colour scheme.
Complementary Schemes:
While Green is a complement of Red, the trick to using this combination in the home is to look for ways to vary or tweak this combination,  instead of using true red with true green, a nicer combination may be Red with a beautiful sage green or try using a lighter softer shade of green in combination with pink in a little girl's room. Another example of the Red and Green scheme may be offset versions of this scheme such as  blue-green in combination with red-orange.

Split Complementary Schemes:
Split complementary colour schemes involve using three colours.The colour of your choice and the two colour that sit on either side of its complement. In keeping with Green as an example, a split complementary scheme would be using Green with the colour Reds neighbours red-orange and red-violet.
Adding White                               Adding Black

Using these basic relationships on the colour wheel to come up with colour combinations will help you create spectacular results in your home.