Using the Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is based on the three primary colours - yellow, red and blue. As you go around the wheel, mixing together two primary colours make the secondary colours of orange, green and purple. These in turn can be blended together to produce all the other shades around the wheel.

Would You like To Create a Colour Scheme?

Single Colour scheme

The ‘Single Colour’ or ‘Monochromatic’ scheme is the most basic in decorating. It uses only one colour…tints, tones or shades of that colour, and possibly black or white.

This colour scheme is the most restful and uncomplicated of all the schemes because there are no other colours competing with the colour. Use this scheme in areas where you wish to create a calm, tranquil setting. It also assists in creating a more uniform appearance in any given space.

Areas that are most suitable to this scheme include bedrooms, bathrooms, small spaces, hallways and other areas where you wish to incorporate a more calming atmosphere.

Contrasting Colour Scheme

Two colours opposite each other on the colour wheel are a ‘Contrasting’ or a ‘Complementary’ scheme.

This scheme delivers an exciting interplay of colour. Depending on the strength of selected colours, the look may range from playful to dynamic.

Areas that are most suitable to this scheme are entry areas, living rooms, children’s rooms and kitchens where you wish to create a more spirited interplay of colour.

Consider using the colour wheel if you would like to create a scheme that could be used in one room, or throughout a home for additional colours and accents. We have listed the most basic colour schemes below as a reference point for any decorating project.

Harmonious Colour Scheme

Three colours neighboring each other on the colour wheel represent a ‘Harmonious’ or ‘Analogous’ scheme.

This scheme incorporates colours that naturally fl ow from one to another creating a harmony or rhythm of colour. For inspiring combinations look to textiles, artwork and accessories.

Areas that are most suitable for this scheme may be those that are next to each other in your home or those where you would like to create a fl ow of colour from one space to another such as living and dining rooms, family rooms, study areas and bedrooms along with adjoining spaces.

Dynamic Colour Scheme

Three colours forming a triangle on the colour wheel represent a ‘Dynamic’ or ‘Triadic’ scheme.

This combination brings together colours that are signifi cantly different from one another…therefore creating one of the most dynamic colour schemes.

Areas that are most suitable for this scheme are those in which you would like to incorporate colour with greater diversity. Brighter tones will invigorate a space, while softer colours will result in a subdued and unique palette. Areas include: the family room, playroom, kitchen, or spaces in which you would like to create an active atmosphere.

Dimensions of Colour
Colours have three elements that identify them…

  • Hue
  • Value
  • Chroma

Each of these three qualities create each colour in the spectrum.

This is the actual colour. It is what distinguishes red from blue, orange from yellow and identifies one colour from another.

Light Reflectance Value
This is the lightness or darkness of a colour. In the illustration below you will see that white is at the top of the axis with black at the bottom; varying shades of gray then stretch between the white and black.

This indicates the strength of the colour. These colours that have less chroma or intensity are located more towards the center of the axis. Colours that have more strength are located around the outer perimeter of colour space.

Note: The three factors above are what give a colour its unique ‘character’ and begin to identify it as soft or strong, pastel or deep.