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Color Wheel Chart - Color Theory

Color is the first choice when decorating. Either you feel confident about choosing a color scheme or not, take the time and read the principles that follow.

Understanding these fundamentals will help you to alter the space in a room, to set a mood, or create a color scheme: monochromatic, with related or complementary colors, or triadic color schemes.

While some know instinctively how to choose paint colors or color combinations, the majority of us need to use a color chart wheel and color theory to select their color schemes.

So, why not understand how it works and make the right choice?

color wheel chart

Color Basics

When talking about color, everything revolves around the color wheel chart. It tells us how the colors works, and what are they made of.

  • We have three primary colors: yellow, red and blue. They are powerful colors, too powerful to be used on a large surface such as a wall.
  • color wheel chart
  • Orange, green and purple are secondary colors. They are formed by combining equal parts of two primary colors-for example, by mixing yellow and red you get orange. Notice they are not as powerful, or in other words, less strong than the primaries.
  • color wheel chart
  • Finally they are six tertiary colors which is a primary color combined with the secondary color next to it. These are turquoise(green and blue), lime green(yellow and green), crimson(red and violet), red-orange(red and orange), yellow-orange( yellow and orange), blue-violet(violet and blue).
  • color wheel chart

    In color theory you will find these terms:

  • A hue is the actual color with its qualities of yelowness and blueness. Intensity is the degree of purity, or saturation of the color.The more intense a color, the more of the pure color is added.
  • A tint is a color mixed with white. The more white in a color the lighter is the value of it.
  • A shade is a color mixed with black. The more black is added to the color, the darker is the color's value.
  • A tone is color mixed with grey.
  • Related colors are located one next to the other on the color wheel chart: like yellow and orange.
  • Complementary colors are opposite to each other on the color wheel. An example of complementary colors is red and green.
  • Neutral colors are grey, white and black; beige and cream are often considered part of neutrals.
  • Sometimes colors are refered to as:

  • Warm colors - these are yellows, oranges and reds. They convey energy, and will induce a cozy feeling, having a warm psycological effect on us.
  • Cool colors - they are blues, greens and violet. The have a calming effect on us, and convey a relaxed mood.
  • color wheel chart


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    Keep in mind that in almost all cases, when choosing a color scheme, all colors are altered and combined to soften their impact and create a mood.

    Monochromatic or Complementary? Other Color Schemes

    Once you understand the color wheel chart and see how different color combination are formed, you can make your own decorating scheme, using one or more colors.

    Generally speaking you can have a monochromatic scheme, or one comprised of complementary colors.
  • Monochromatic schemes(or single-color schemes) use one color and its variations for intensity and values. Neutrals are also considered part of monochromatic color schemes. Using this scheme, rooms look unified; to create even more interest, it's good to use some contrast.
  • In Harmonious Schemes, colors lie on the same side of the color wheel chart, hence the name "harmonious". Yellows and oranges, or greens and blues are two examples of harmonious combinations.
    A room painted in harmonious warm colors: red and gold, can make you feel more relaxed; a small room finished in cool harmonious colors can make it feel more spacious.
  • Creating a room with complementary colors, is one of the hardest decorative challenges. To make sure they will armonize fine, paint first the largest areas in your chosen hue. One of the complimentaries can be lightened while the other darkened, so the overall tone is varied.
  • Other color schemes using in interior decor are:

  • Analogous schemes(or related color schemes) bring colors located one beside each other on the color wheel. Even though this scheme is easy enough to acomplish, to avoid a flat overall room, use one or two light dominant colors and for the third one choose a darker shade as accents.
    An example of related color scheme would be blue, blue-violet and blue-green.
  • Triadic color schemes as the name says, this scheme uses three colors(hues) all at the same distance one from another on the color chart.
    An example of triadic scheme is yellow, red and blue. Because they are unrelated, in order to avoid a harsh overall effect, use their tints and shades.



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