One of the first things that people think about when it comes to interior design is color, whether it is paint or fabrics it is always on the forefront of everyone’s mind. So lets talk about it. Interior designers use either a color wheel or the theory that comes from a color wheel to help create the right mood for a space. If you are unfamiliar with a color wheel it is simply a circle that shows where the colors fall based on primary and secondary colors. This will show you what colors are warm or cold, your complimentary colors, and what goes into each color.

So what are warm colors? Warm colors are the colors that have a red/yellow base so they have a warmer feel to them. So this would include red, yellow, and orange for the primary and secondary colors. But it also includes all of the in between such as pink and lime green.

How about cool colors? These are going to be the on the other side of the color wheel – blue, green and purple. And of course everything in between such as aqua and magenta.

Now you may have noticed that some of these seem to overlap. Well in a way there are points in which they touch. The greens and purples can pull to either side depending on how much yellow, red, or blue they contain.

Now onto complimentary colors. These are the colors that are across from each other on the color wheel. These are the colors that create wow, pop, and tension when put together. These are red-green, purple-yellow, and orange-blue. If you notice these are some pretty popular color combinations. Red-green is probably best known for Christmas. Yellow-purple and blue-orange are well-worn sports uniforms. They are selected for the impact that they create. They do not create a calming effect but more of a “look at me”. These will also be the color combinations that get the biggest reactions, both positive and negative. For instance, I personally hate, yes hate the combination of blue-orange. I know, I know all the Gator fans around here in Florida are all upset. But really color is personal and is one area that creates the biggest emotional reactions. Do you have a color combination that drives you crazy? It may be because it arises a memory.

So what are typical color schemes that we use in the home? Well it is always going to depend on the client and how they want their home to feel. But there are some directions that one can go. There is the monochromatic look. This is a combination of different values of the same hue. An example of this would be light blue, spa blue, and dark blue.

The next scheme is mono plus one. This is exactly as you think a monochromatic palette plus one color. This could be created with whites and creams and a pop color of red.

The next common color scheme would be a multicolored. And again this is pretty self explanatory, but may be one of the hardest to get the right flow. This is the reason that I went into all the detail about the color wheel. Because to get this to work correctly you need to know if the colors will pull warm or cool and which ones you can mix together. Popular multicolored schemes are ones like red, gold, and chocolate or blue, green, white and chocolate. The reason that they work so well and have become popular is that they stay within the warm or cool palettes. And you may have noticed that the chocolate is in both combinations. This is because it is a neutral that can be a filler color to both warm and cool color schemes.

So if you are looking for an easy tool to help remember what colors mix the best think first about what mood you want to create. If you are looking for POP and WOW go with complimentary colors. If you want calm and relaxing then cool colors are for you. And if you want a rich passionate feeling then warm tones are your arena.