Home Improvement: Colors, Combinations, and Color Wheels

In the home, few improvements are as easy and have as big of an impact as changing the color of the paint does. With millions of colors to choose from, the possibilities are virtually unlimited and if you do choose the wrong color, it is no big deal. All it takes is a few extra dollars and a free weekend to dramatically change the look and feel of your home.

Since there is virtually no limit to the different colors you can choose from and create, often picking that right color can seem a little daunting, especially for those that are not overly artistic.

To help make the process of choosing the right color and, as importantly, choosing the right color to complement it, knowing a little bit about colors is important.

Guide to Understanding Colors

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Colors

When you break a color down, any color, you can ultimately describe it as a combination of red, yellow, and . These three colors are the A primary colors and are used to create any color in the rainbow.

However, having only three colors would be kind of boring and just by looking at nature, you can tell that there are actually millions of different colors. So, primary colors are basically just building blocks that are used when creating colors.

The Secondary Colors are Orange, Green, and purple, which are created by using equal parts of any two primary colors.

Tertiary Colors are made up by using a combination of a primary color and its adjacent secondary color, using equal parts of each color. This ultimately ends up with some rather descriptive, yet unimaginative names, such as Yellow-Orange and Blue-Purple

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Understanding a Color Wheel

To make understanding how different combinations of the primary colors create other colors, a color wheel is usually used. The Primary Colors are placed at an equal distance from each other in a circular shape. In between each Primary Color, you have the secondary color you get when you mix the two primary colors.

So, for example, in between Yellow and Red, you have Orange

Tertiary colors are also usually represented on most color wheels and are located between the corresponding Primary and Secondary Color. So, for example, in between Red and orange, you have the Tertiary Color Red-Orange.

In addition to having the pure colors on the outside of the color wheel, there are also often inner-circles that are based off of the outer circle, but with white or black added to the colors to change its hue, shade, or tint.

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Using a Color Wheel

Color wheels aren't just useful for understanding how combinations of different colors can be used to create new colors, but they can also be very useful when choosing a color combination, such as for painting a two tone room.

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Basic Color Combination

There are actually quite a few different combinations that can be used, all of which are visible on a color wheel and can be found by comparing the location of one color to another.

  • Complementary Colors: Complementary colors are located directly opposite one another on the color wheel and help to balance each other out, as they are in effect polar opposites. Red and Green, which are commonly thought of as Christmas Colors, are one example of complementary Colors.
  • Split-Complementary: Split Complementary colors are similar to complementary, except instead of taking the color that is exactly opposite, you use the two tertiary colors on either side of the complimentary Color. So, instead of using red and green, you would use red, yellow-green, and blue-green.
  • Analogous Colors: Analogous Colors refers to three colors that are directly next to one another on the color wheel. Since the colors are closely related, they blend together better, with yellow, yellow-orange, and orange being an example of analogous colors.
  • Triad Colors: Triad Colors are three colors that are spaced equally apart from on-another on the color wheel. So, of course the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue, would be an example of triad colors. Triad colors can be quite festive and active, so it is generally something that should be used with a great deal of thought.

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Advanced Color Combinations

While the basic color combinations do require some thought, it is generally not very hard to go wrong. There are, of course, a number of more advanced color combinations, which require not only choosing the right color, but also ensuring that the homes furnishings blend in and fit the combination.

  • Monochromatic Colors: A monochromatic color scheme uses one base color and then varying degrees of this same color, which are made stronger or lighter. Different paint textures can also be created, which ultimately can give the room a very high-class look.
  • Neutral Colors: A Neutral Color Scheme uses a mix of white, black, and off white colors to mix into the chosen colors.
  • Double-Split Complementary Colors: Double-Split Complementary Colors are basically just split-complimentary colors on both sides of the wheel. So, in the above example of red, yellow-green, and blue-green, which are split-complementary colors. Instead of using red, you would use the two colors on either side, ending up with red-purple, red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-green as Double-Split Complementary Colors. This is one of the most difficult combinations to pull off.

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