A red and blue room

Types of Color Combinations

I know you understand contrast and you get undertones, and what a muted color is, and that you should not mix clear and muted colors. So here are a few other things that will help you choose a color scheme if you have painted the walls first. Once you understand the types of color combinations,  you will find color choosing much easier.

Get out your color wheel.

The location of complementary colors on a color wheel

Complementary colors make each other more vivid.These are the colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Red makes green more vivid, as do blue and orange or purple and yellow.





A red and blue room



If you want a really punchy color scheme  use complementary colors, or traditional combinations like red and blue.  These colors work well with white or off-white as the the third color if you want a three-color scheme. If you are using muted colors rather than clear, use off-white as the third color.

This combo —  the red and blue —  is part of a triad color scheme which is three colors spaced equally apart on the wheel. Yellow is the third color in this one, which is why the yellow fruit on the table looks like it belongs.

The locaton of tetrad colors on a color wheel


Choose a tetrad scheme for a youthful room; three colors spaced equally around the wheel. Red, yellow and blue; purple, orange and green.


Yse complementary colors to tone down a yucky plaid

The business about complementary colors  explains why red-based cushions on the yucky green plaid  sofa make the green more vivid, not “tone it down” as you maybe thought it would. In this instance, add some green cushions; they will tone down the green by making the red-based color more vibrant. Honestly.




Where analagous colors sit on the color wheel.


If you want a calmer color scheme, choose two or three colors beside each on the color wheel. Green, blue and yellow, for example, or three gradual steps of one color; green, green-blue and blue green. Mute the colors or keep them clear, shade them or tint them. These are analogous colors.









Analogous color schemes tend to feel more modern, complimentary or tetrad color schemes tend to feel more traditional.

Pick the boss of your scheme based on the 60-30-10 rule. Don’t mix muted and clear, keep cool and warm in mind, shades and tints are OK as long as you stay true to the original color.

And one more thing. Rooms that face north and east tend to be feel cooler to the inhabitants, and warm colors work best in these rooms. Rooms that face south and west tend to feel warmer, and cool colors work best here. Don’t believe me? Think of a blue north-facing room, or an orange room that gets the afternoon sun.

There. That should about cover it.

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