Color is an essential aspect of any interior design scheme, as it simulates mood and enhances the quality of a space. It also provides the perfect way for you to put your own unique seal on your home.

So, how do designers go about selecting and combining colors to create harmonious palettes? Here are some top tricks of the trade that will help you work the color wheel and add vibrance to your interiors.

The color wheel

An important tool for interior designers and decorators is the color wheel – a circular diagram consisting of the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), the secondary colors (green, purple, and orange), and the tertiary colors (red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, and red-purple) arranged in a specific order.

The key to using the wheel is to know how to choose palettes according to the position of the colors. The famous French-Russian artist Marc Chagall had the perfect analogy for these positions: “all colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” We’ll start out by looking at the “lovers” of the color wheel, which are called “complementary colors.”

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The complementary color palette

Complementary colors are those situated directly opposite each other on the wheel. There are three main combinations: red with green, orange with blue, and yellow with purple. These combinations go perfectly together and have an energizing effect when placed alongside each other. Choose these interior color schemes to create bold, vibrant interiors. This room uses the yellow/purple combo to spice things up:

complementary colors

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The harmonious color palette

Want to create more of a harmonious, relaxed interior? This can be achieved by using the “friends” of the color wheel – those colors that sit directly next to each other. This warm and unified bedroom interior is a great example – it uses the cinnamons, terracottas, and warm beiges that can be found grouped together in the red and orange segments of the wheel:

The tonal color palette

There’s one more palette left to consider, which we’ll call the tonal or “loner” palette. This type of interior palette is created by selecting just one color (or segment of the wheel), and using all the tones of that color. Sound a little dull? This type of interior color scheme palette can actually look fabulous and sophisticated if you play with different amounts of each tone, and add a lot of texture and pattern. Here’s a chic example that uses blues:


tonal color palette

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Here is an infographic for your quick reference.

MORE: How Colors Affect Your Mood. Infographic.

Color Wheel for Beautiful Interior Color Schemes was last modified: November 9th, 2018 by Lucy Attwood

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