Oct 14 2009

Learn Color Theory for Your Home

Published by at 1:10 pm under Interior Design & Decorating,Painting

Want to create a mood in your home that complements your personality? By analyzing your home’s colors, you can find a decorating solution to create the perfect atmosphere.

Color Wheel

Designer Color Lesson

The color wheel provides an easy way to visualize how all the different hues relate to each other. Traditionally, red, yellow, and blue are considered the three primary colors from which all the others on the wheel can be mixed. Although this is true in theory, in the studio an artist can’t actually get a pure green or purple from the primaries, as the mixed color won’t retain the intensity of the parents.

When designing a room, however, you need only be aware that purple relates to both red and blue, whereas green derives from yellow and blue. These relationships insure that the colors will harmonize with each other.

Reading the Wheel
The color wheel generally displays the pure hues of colors, such as red, blue, and green. However, in your home more likely you’re going to be using tints (lighter values) and tones, also known as shades (darker values). When painting the bedroom, for instance, you probably won’t use an intense pure green. Rather, you’ll probably go with either a soft sage or a deep hunter green.

On the wheel, colors that lie opposite each other are complementary. When paired together, complementary colors make each other appear more vivid. Hues next to each other are analogous, which means they always look good together because they share a common hue. Any three equally spaced colors on the wheel are known as triads and yield a lively yet balanced color combination. One color must dominate, however, or the scheme may feel a little jarring. Use the other two in lesser amounts or as accents.

Stir Emotions Using Warm and Cool
The color wheel can also help you identify warm and cool hues. Warm colors are stimulating and advancing, and take up half of the color wheel, from red to yellow-green. Giving these hues the description of “warm” reflects emotional associations such as the sun looks yellow, or fire is orange and red. But the “warm” designation actually has a basis in physiology. The eye cannot simultaneously focus on both the red and purple ends of the spectrum, so to solve this it perceives red to be nearer or advancing and purple to be farther or receding. The other half of the wheel is comprised of those colors that are considered cool, which generally appear to recede. Receding cool colors such as blue, green, and purple, can visually open up the walls in a small, cramped room.

Here are a couple of suggestions to follow when working with warm and cool hues. Add a dollop of a cool hue to a warm color scheme make things feel well-rounded and complete–think of the effect a green plant has in a yellow room. Equally, a jolt of warmth will really liven up a cool scheme. Thus, a shot of red will really perk up a room done in blue and white. Some interior designers consider green and purple neutrals, since they either advance or recede depending on the context and thus can go with any color scheme.

Discerning Value
We are attracted, not only to the specific hue of a color (such as red, blue-green, or orange), but also to particular values of those hues (pink, teal, or terra-cotta). When you’re talking about values, you’re referring to the lightness or darkness of a color. To lighten a pure hue, add white; to darken, add black or umber (a blackish brown). For example, sky blue and robin’s-egg blue are both light values of blue, whereas navy and cobalt are dark values.

Balancing with Accents
Light and medium values live most comfortably with each other. However, light-value schemes can be boring. You can avoid this by including an accent of a darker value. For instance, to both ground and give depth to a color scheme combining light blue and light yellow, try a touch of navy or cobalt blue.

Understanding Intensity
Intensity and saturation are two important elements of color. The most intense or saturated expression of a color is known as its pure hue. When you add the hue’s complement, you muddy the color so that’s it’s softer, more muted, and less intense.

In general, lower-intensity colors create a calm, restrained mood that’s subtle and serene. Conversely, a higher-intensity or more saturated color will generate more energy. The color will feel dynamic or richly elegant, depending on the specific colors and style of your furnishings.

Equal Partners: Achieving Color Balance
Balance is a key component of any successful color scheme. If you’re going to choose a strong color, it’ll need a strong partner, and this applies to both value and intensity. For instance, if you’re going to go with a navy blue wall, you’ll need an equally intense yellow or red to create a balanced scheme.

Intensities should be kept equal or nearly equal. A saturated red calls for an equally intense green or yellow-green. But for a muted red-orange or lower intensity, you’ll need a muted yellow-green. By pairing colors of different intensities, you create a feeling of imbalance.

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