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Choosing Colors for Your House? 4 Keys to Color Theory

Color Wheel

For most people, choosing a paint color for their home involves going to a paint store and looking at color swatches. But to really make the best choices possible, you should understand a little of how colors work alone and together. Not only will this help you find the right shades, but it also helps you choose combinations that will look great in any space.

To get you started on your color palette education, here are four basic keys to understanding color.

1. The Color Wheel

The color wheel is a tool designed to help you see how colors relate to each other. It generally has twelve colors in total, starting out from a base of the three primary colors. These primaries are red, blue, and yellow. The primary colors are placed as triangle points, and the colors filling in the circle between them blend from one to the other. 

Colors are often described as being warm or cool depending on their placement on the wheel. Cool colors include blues, greens, and purples. Warmer tones are greens, yellows, oranges, and reds. Cool colors often relax a space while warmer hues feel more vibrant or lively. 

2. Combinations of Colors

How can the color wheel help you choose hues for your interior or exterior? The placement of colors on the wheel gives a clue as to which colors will look good alongside each other one. There are five basic types of combinations: Complementary, Analogous, Rectangle, Square, and Triadic. 

Complementary colors are those that are directly opposite one another on the color wheel. These colors provide a bold way to accent a room or exterior but will complement each other very nicely. Examples of complementary colors include yellow and purple or blue and orange. 

Analogous colors sit right next to each other on the wheel. This could include shades of green that blend in with neighboring blue hues, for instance. Analogous colors are generally very soothing and casual. 

A Triadic scheme chooses three points on the wheel that form an equilateral triangle, such as red, blue, and yellow. This type of decorating palette is generally very bold and vibrant. 

Rectangle and Square color schemes are formed by drawing either shape on the color wheel and using the shades at each corner point. Rectangles create a palette with two sets of two shades that are closer to one another, while squares are evenly spaced. This method provides a nice balance of warm and cool colors but should be used with care not to become too busy. 

3. Adjusting the Colors

You can also adjust any colors on the color wheel to create different shades, tints, and tones. Although you often hear these words used casually in conversation, they actually have an identifiable definition. 

Tints are created by adding white to a color. Shades are adjusted by adding black to the color. And tones are the result of adding gray to darken a color. Making each adjustment will change the color's appearance and feeling. 

4. Lighting Changes

Finally, you do well to understand how lighting can change the colors on your walls. Walls with natural lighting will appear different than those that feature more artificial light sources. The direction of the windows could also change the way colors appear. South-facing walls, for example, tend to make colors appear brighter while north-facing light could make shades look subdued. 

With the wide variety of possible colors and combinations, you may find it hard to decide what will look best in your house. Our color experts at Elite Painting & Wall Covering, Inc. are happy to help you navigate the choices and find the perfect decorating style for any space.