Color schemes are ways to group colors. For instance, a Monochromatic color scheme focuses on one color, or a color (hue) and its variations (tint, tone, shade).
A color can be
- a hue (the pure color itself),
- a tint (the hue plus white),
- a tone (the hue plus grey), or
- a shade (the hue plus black)
h-t-t-s = hue – tint – tone – shade = Hank – tries – two – sherbets.
When you pick colors for a room, look at what’s already there – the dominant colors in paint, wallpaper, patterned fabric, floors and floor coverings, ceilings and decor, crown moulding, and the color impact of adjacent rooms like a kitchen that opens into a dining area. What might be a highlight color now might surprise you by turning into the main color for the room. (We’ll do a little experiment with room colors at the end of this post…)
Popular Color Schemes
- Monochromatic – a single color, or a color and its variations
- Complementary – two colors across from each other on the color wheel
- Split-complementary – one color and the two next to its complementary color (for instance red, green-blue, green-yellow)
More Complex Color Schemes
- Analogous – three colors next to each other on the color wheel (for instance red-orange, red, red-yellow)
- Triad – three colors the same distance from each other around the wheel (for instance red, yellow, blue)
- Tetrad – four colors the same distance from each other around the wheel (for instance red-orange, violet, blue-green, yellow)
You don’t need to memorize all these color scheme terms, but it’ll help to know them in case somebody starts firing color scheme terminology at you from behind a Queen Anne chair upholstered in a monochromatic blue floral watered silk with cabriole legs and pad feet. You just never know.
Ready to Try a Color Scheme Experiment?
Take a look at this dining room
and then answer these questions:
- How many colors are in use in this dining room?
- How would you describe the color scheme used in this room?
- What’s the main color of the room?
- What would be considered the first highlight color?
- If you were to change the highlight color, what would you pick?
Let’s hear what you come up with, in the comments below 🙂