How to Select Compatible Colors for a House Interior

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When you’re decorating your home and manage to get the color palate just right, it’s a joy and pleasure to live among the flattering hues, tones and shades. But if you screw up and use the wrong colors together, you’ve going to have to get the paint brush back out and start all over again. Living with an atrocious color or horrible combination of colors will drive you crazy. With some tips, you can get the color palate right the first time and end up with compatible and complementary colors in your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Color wheel
  • Decide if you want a “warm” room or a “cool” room. Warm colors include red, pinks, yellows and oranges. Warm colors can brighten a room, but too many warm colors can be overwhelming. Don’t get carried away. A cool room would be decorated in shades of blues and greens. Cool rooms appear larger than warm rooms, because cool colors recede. Use accent colors such as tan and sand and neutrals like white and cream in your warm red room. In your cool blue room, effective accent colors are yellow and dusty pink or neutrals such as ivory and beige.

  • Liven up your interior with contrasting colors. Pull out your color wheel—available at most home improvement stores—and find out what contrasts with the yellow that you’ve decided to paint your wall. However, don’t use contrasting colors in equal amounts, because they will vie with each other and the result won’t be pleasing to the eye. Blue contrasts with yellow and makes a dazzling statement. A nice accent color would be green.

  • Look at your color wheel and note that colors that are next to each other are considered harmonious colors and can be used together effectively. If you’re planning on a cool color scheme, you could use blue, green, blue-green and blue-violet together to achieve a well-balanced effect.

  • Consider pastels, which are gentle, calming colors. A pastel is achieved when a pure color is infused with white. For example, red becomes pink. Because the pastel color is created by the infusion of white, a pink pastel will look good with a blue pastel or any other pastel.

  • Go for the subdued look by using colors that have had black or gray added to them. Sage green is a true green with gray or black added to mute the color. Spice up the subdued décor with a splash of a brighter color. A complement of sage green would be a tone of red-violet.

  • Remember that contrasting colors can complement each other. Also keep in mind that one key, or predominant, color combined with the same color in a different tone (the key color combined with gray) or tint (the key color combined with white) or shade (the key color combined with black) can create a beautiful but understated color scheme.

Tips & Warnings

  • Go to your local home improvement center and grab a bunch of paint chips. Many paint chips now come in strips of complementary colors. Often there are directions on the back of the paint chip telling you what color or colors to combine it with.

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