How to Use the Visual Color Wheel to Decorate Rooms

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A color wheel can proove a simple tool for selecting color combinations. The first version was invented by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, and while there are many different types, the most universally used wheel consists of the primary colors of red, blue and yellow with complementary colors of green, orange and purple. There is a warm and cool side to the wheel for color combinations that appear energized or calming, respectively. In addition, there are ways to combine colors in specific ways to create rooms with a certain type of visual feeling. By using a color wheel to decorate, color selection becomes easy, and the results are rooms with color balance and harmony.

Creating harmonious room color combinations using a color wheel.
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Step 1

Choose cool colors. The color wheel divides into cool and warm colors, with cool hues, such as green, blue and purple, being the colors that impart a relaxing and serene feeling. Use these colors to create a room with a sense of visual calmness.

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Step 2

Select warm colors. The warm side of the color wheel includes hues, such as red, orange and yellow, that give a room a feeling of warmth and energy. Use this type of color wheel choice for vibrant spaces in the home or as a way to create a sense of light in a room with little natural sunlight.

warm red hues
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Step 3

Create a monochromatic color scheme. Monochromatic color wheel design focuses on different values, or intensities, of one hue. Add interest with various intensities of color and different textures.. These type of decors are visually calming and make a space feel large and expansive as well.

monochromatic samples
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Step 4

Choose a complementary color palette. Complementary color wheel combinations are hues that are opposite each other on the color wheel. The combination of these colors creates a space that feels energized and vibrant. Complimentary colors are used to bring a sense of drama and visual intensity to a room and are perfect for the public areas of a home.

analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel
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Step 5

Select analogous colors. Analogous colors are located next to each other on the color wheel. Use them to design spaces that feel calm and relaxing. Because they relate so closely, this color wheel decorating combination creates a soothing appearance to any space. Bedrooms are especially a good candidate for an analogous color scheme.

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel.
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Step 6

Decorate with a triadic color combination. Triadic color wheel combinations take three hues that are spaced equally apart on the color wheel. The result of this type of color mixing is a decor that is visually more balanced and harmonious than a complementary scheme while still providing an intensity and feeling of energy as well.

Triadic color combinations are harmonious.
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Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, do not mix warm and cool colors in an analogous color scheme. The result is too visually confusing and jarring to the eye.
  • When choosing a triadic color scheme, use one color predominately and fill in with the other two colors in lesser degrees for visual balance and harmony.

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