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Home Color Guide for Beginners

Introduction to Color Theory

Choosing a color palette is one of the first steps to decorating a space. When picking a color scheme, start with pure hues of color: blue, red, and yellow. From there, build your palette with tints (for lighter values) and tones, also known as shades (for darker values). A color wheel can help you visualize which hues coordinate to create a well-balanced and unified space. Once you've learned the qualities of these color combinations, you will be able to create a color palette that will set the perfect mood throughout your home. 
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Primary Colors

  • Red, yellow, and blue
  • These three colors cannot be created by mixing colors. They are their own colors. 

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Secondary Colors

  • Green, orange, and violet
  • These three colors are made by mixing together two primary colors. 

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Tertiary Colors

  • Yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-violet, red-orange, blue-green, and blue-violet
  • These are color combinations of a secondary color and a neighboring primary color. 

Monochromatic Colors

A subtle palette made of several shades of one color, this color scheme varies from light tints to dark tones, all while staying within the same hue. 

Example of a Monochromatic Palette: Sea Foam

This bedroom's use of many shades of one color creates an intensity that isn't overwhelming. It's a success because it combines hues that are the same level of subtlety.  If we tried, for example, to match a neon green with this pale green, it would seem too bright, and there would be a major disconnect in the space. 

Complementary Colors

Made up of two colors, this dynamic, yet simple palette is created by combining colors that sit opposite of each other on the color wheel. Here are a few complementary color examples: red and green, yellow and purple, and blue and orange.

Example of a complementary palette: Yellow, Violet, and Beige

A popular color palette, this blend of yellow, violet, and beige create a feminine space. Even though the majority of the space integrates softer yellows and beiges, the hints of purple really help soften of the room. A complementary color scheme, such as this, provides a clear separation of colors and is often used in more formal spaces, such as dining rooms and living rooms. 
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Design: Jute Design

Analogous Colors

Considered a contrast palette made up of two to six colors, these color schemes sit next to each other on the color wheel. They're some of the easiest schemes to create. Simply choose one of your favorite colors, and then pick one to four of the colors sitting next to it.   

Example of an Analogous Palette: Green, Blue, and Cream

Green, blue, and cream create a calming and restful nursery. This analogous color scheme is an ideal combination for a restful space, such as a bedroom or family room, because there are no boldly contrasting colors.

Triad Colors

These color schemes are made up of any three colors that form a triangle in the center of the color wheel. For example: red, yellow and blue. If mixed correctly, the combination of these colors will make a bold, yet balanced statement.

Example of a Triad Palette: Green, Orange, and Magenta

This triad color palette of lime green, vivid magenta, and orange hues, creates an energetic and bright living area. Though the three colors make a bold statement, the room is tamed with neutrals, such as the cream walls, gray sofa, and beige pedestal stand.

Tip! 60-30-10 Rule

For a cohesive look when decorating your space, try the 60-30-10 rule.

  • 60% of the room should be dominated by one color. In the room below, the walls are painted in a powerful dark charcoal. 
  • 30% of the room is the secondary color, commonly used for upholstery and rugs. Here, creamy neutrals are the secondary color. 
  • 10% of the room is an accent color. Here is an opportunity to be a little risky. The burnt red coral artwork completes the room.
    Accent Pillows
    Area Rugs
    Wall Art

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