Complementary Colors

Colors that lie opposite each other on the wheel are complementary. The complementary color for yellow, for example, is violet. For orange, it’s blue. Pairing a color with its complementary color will make both colors more vibrant.

Analogous Colors

Colors that lie beside each other on the color wheel are analogous. They can be mixed without clashing because they share a common color or hue.

Monochromatic Colors

Each single color on the color wheel has a variety of shades. The color violet, for example, can range from a deep eggplant to a light lavender. Using various tones of a single color creates a monochromatic design.

Triad Colors

A combination of three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel is known as a triad. These combinations can create a bold, yet balanced decorating palette.

Warm Colors

You’ll often hear discussions about the relative temperature of a color, whether it’s cool or warm. The color wheel tells you which.

Half of the color wheel–from red to yellow-green–is considered warm. These colors appear as if they are advancing toward you, appearing nearer. They can help create a warm, cozy atmosphere.

Cool Colors

The other half–from green to red-violet–is considered cool. These colors appear to recede, as though the space is expanding.

Green and violet may appear to advance or recede, depending on the colors used with them. So some interior designers consider them neutrals that can complement any color scheme.

Can you mix warm and cool colors? Absolutely. In fact, a warm color scheme often benefits from at least a hint of a cool color to create balance. And a cool scheme may need a burst of warmth to liven it up.
The combination of warm and cool colors generally intensifies the relative temperature of each. One room featuring a predominantly warm color next to a predominantly cool room can make the rooms seem more intensely warm or cool. Consider this effect when selecting your flooring or carpet.

Other helpful definitions:

Hue: Another name for color
Value: the lightness or darkness of a color
Intensity: the brightness or dullness of a color
Tint: color + white, resulting in a lighter value
Tone: color + grey, resulting in a darker value
Shade: color + black, delivering the darkest versions of color