A spread of Pantone color swatches arranged in a circle.

With Spring finally arriving after a tumultuous Winter we are fully embracing the warmer weather and sunshine! The renewal of nature is a great opportunity to embrace color in our homes, but sometimes it can be a little tricky to know where to start. Today we’ll start with a familiar tool that most of us have grown up with, the color wheel! 

The color wheel was actually created by Sir Isaac Newton with his experiments with the visible color spectrum! If you need a refresher, the color wheel shows the 12 colors that make up every color. The wheel includes the three primary colors Red, Yellow, and Blue, and the three secondary colors Orange, Green, and Purple. Between each of those six colors are the tertiary colors which are created by adding a primary color to a secondary; Red-Purple, Blue-Purple, Yellow-Orange, Red-Orange, Yellow-Green, and Blue-Green.

From there you’ll want to know about Hue, Tint, Shade, and Tone. Hue is the pure, saturated color on its own without anything else added to it. Tint is a hue with white added, what we often refer to as pastels. Shade is a hue with black added which darkens the color. Tone is a hue with gray added to mute the color. True hues aren’t used very heavily in home decor as many can find them overwhelming or childish according to The Interior Design Student, but they can pack quite a punch as an accent color!

Now that we know what colors we are working with and how to get the chroma we want, let's start talking about color harmony groups!

Accented Chromatic Color Scheme

Achromatic - The simplest color harmony as it has no color! This harmony uses only white, black, and shades of gray. Luckily gray has been a popular home decor color for a couple decades so this can be an easy place to start

Accented Achromatic - A black, white, and gray color scheme with an accent color. Again, a great start if you’re tired of gray everything but don’t want to overwhelm yourself with pairing colors.

Monochromatic - Using only tints, tones and shades of one color. Blue is a popular choice for a soothing beachy feel. Or go with pink for some whimsy!

Monochromatic Color Scheme

Analogous - 2 to 4 colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel, like yellow-green, green, and blue green.

Accented Analogous - An analogous color scheme plus the complementary color of the central color of the analogous range, like red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, and blue.

Complementary - The colors directly across from each other on the color wheel, like red and green. No wonder this color combo is a hit during the Holidays!

Split Complementary - Using any color along with the colors on either side of its complement, like green with red-orange and red-purple.

Split Complementary Color Scheme

Double Split Complementary - a double-date of two pairs of complementary colors, like blue and green with red and orange.

Tetrad - Any 4 colors that are evenly spaced from one another on the color wheel, like green, blue, yellow and red.

Triadic - Any 3 colors that are evenly spaced from one another on the color wheel, like green, purple and orange.

Clash - One color and the color directly to the left or right of its complement, like yellow and blue-purple.

Clashing Color Scheme

A tip many interior designers, like those at The Spruce swear by is the 60-30-10 rule! 60% will be the dominant color of the room, such as the walls, a sofa, or a large area rug. 30% would be a color that supports your primary color, while still being different enough to be interesting, an analogous color or split compliment to your primary would be great here. This color would make up roughly half as much space as your dominant color and be reserved for spaces like an accent wall, window coverings, or an accent chair. 10% is the accent color used for accessories like vases or pillows, this would be a great option for a bold complimentary color!

It’s always OK to throw a neutral somewhere in the mix to give the eyes someplace to rest. A simple combination could be sandy beige walls with a caramel brown leather sofa that leans towards orange with blue throw pillows and pottery. Or, for a softly colorful palette you can paint your walls with pistachio green, use a turquoise for your drapery and have blush pink pillows and floral artwork. To balance the color you can use white or cream for your other furniture and accessories.

Adding color to your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming or chaotic! By knowing which colors play well together and how to proportion them your home can look like it’s been featured in a magazine or design blog. Color wheels can be found in any arts and crafts store, so pick one up and start coloring outside the lines!