5 Classic Color Harmonies Defined

published Aug 20, 2008
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When designing the look of a room, deciding on the color palette can sometimes seem overwhelming. The task of coordinating the decor to the furniture to the flooring to the walls in just the right way can seem challenging. Thoughts of “Where to begin?” or “How” to begin?” can easily takeover.

One place to begin is understanding a bit about color theory and how different color harmonies can create the feeling, look and overall tone of space. Check out these 5 classic color harmonies that can help guide you in picking your color palette. Of course these are just ideas and a starting place. If these combinations don’t work for you, then create your own color combination that feels right for you. Click here, here and here if you are interested in learning more about color theory.

Basic Color Wheel: (clockwise from the top) Red, Red-Orange, Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet, Red-Violet.

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow and Blue are equally spaced on the color wheel and can combine to make any color.

Secondary Colors: Green, Orange and Purple. Combining two primary color creates one of three secondary colors.

Tertiary Colors: When you combine one primary color and one secondary color, you create a tertiary color. For example, Blue and Green creates Blue-Green.

Analogous Colors: Grouping three or four colors that fall in a row on the color wheel.

Complementary Colors: These two colors are directly opposite on the color wheel and when combined as a color scheme in a room, it works. For example, Red and Green.

[Color wheel images via hue consulting]

For more color ideas: