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How to Choose Paint Colors with a Color Wheel

by Guest Post on Apr 27, 2010

Ever seen someone dithering over the rack of paint samples at a home improvement store? That's a home decorator in agony over how to pick paint colors for his or her home.

Without a doubt, selecting paint colors can be one of the toughest jobs in home decorating. That's because the human eye can discern some 7 million different shades of color, and paint manufacturers seem determined to produce all of them! Unfortunately, paint companies don't always give help on how to combine those colors in harmonious ways in your home. The answer to this problem? A color wheel.

A color wheel is a tool that takes the seven colors of the visible spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – and places them on a 360-degree circle. The circle is set up with three primary colors, red, blue and yellow. These colors combine to create three secondary colors, orange, green and purple. The colors that remain on the wheel are known as tertiary colors because they mix some of the secondary colors, such as blue-green or red-orange.

The color wheel is an indispensable tool for painting. It helps painters and decorators locate complementary color combinations that bring out the best in one another. Because they complement each other's ray of light, the colors look better together than they would if used separately.

Learning how to use a color wheel will give home decorators the ability to mix and match colors together for a room that achieves balance, or harmony, one of the keys to successful home decorating. Here are some examples of complementary colors that make attractive color schemes.

Red and Green: No, this isn't the bright reds and greens of Christmas. Complimentary red and green use more muted shades to bring out each other's best qualities. For instance, consider a kitchen that has mahogany cabinets and woodwork. Mahogany is a wood with a strong reddish cast to it, so it wouldn't be wise to put just any color on the walls. (In fact, it's smart to take a good look at the woodwork in any room when choosing to avoid clashing with the wood's tones). With a strong red in the wood, painting the kitchen walls in a pleasing shade of green is just the ticket to draw everything together in beautiful harmony.

Red-Orange and Blue-Green: Another thing to remember about using the color wheel to choose paint is that two complementary colors don't have to have an equal emphasis in order to work well together. Select one color as the primary shade and use the other as an accent, or add it into the room through accessories such as rugs and pillows. It's surprising how much little pops of red-orange can spark soothing blue-green without overwhelming its calming effect.

Orange and Blue: Unless your lucky enough to have the resources for a complete home makeover, the likelihood is that you'll be keeping the furniture you already have when choosing new paint colors. It's essential to keep your furniture colors in mind when considering a new color scheme. For example, a room with blue-upholstered furniture could benefit from an accent wall painted in peach or some pillows in citrus orange. Try to carry the color scheme into the next room in a muted fashion that makes the rooms look tied together.

So don't be intimidated by the thousands of colors on paint samples. Just whip out your trusty color wheel and come up with some combinations that will make your rooms come alive.

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