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color wheel Color is one of the strongest tools we have. It doesn't cost any more to paint a room a deep plum than to paint it white. A carpet costs the same in a deep rich color as it does in beige.

For people who are "color phobic", add color to your spaces slowly. Paint would be a good place to start. It is inexpensive and you can easily change it if the color is not what you envisioned. Purchase a quart or one gallon of a paint color you would like to incorporate into your color scheme. Paint one wall of the room, or at least an area that is 8' X 8', with at least 2 coats of paint and live with it for a while. This gives you a much better idea of how the color will look in your home. You can do the same thing with wallcovering. Purchase one roll of a wallcovering you love, but your unsure of because of its bold design and hang several strips of it from floor to ceiling. Just be sure that you have written down the dye lot number because if you love it and decide to do your entire room, you'll want to purchase the rest of the wallcovering in the same dye lot number. Color is fun and when you begin experimenting with it on your walls, its less "permanent" than a carpet or upholstery on a sofa would be.

If selecting a color scheme seems overwhelming, learn the basics of the different types of schemes and why they work. Color affects our moods and responses more than we realize, read about the meaning of color and how it affects us. The glossary of color terms can help you intelligently discuss and make color discussions with the best of painters and designers.

An Excellent Book on Color is available through Amazon Home Color Book, by Melanie and John Aves

Selecting a color scheme

When selecting a color scheme you should begin with your own preferences on color. The most frequently used color combinations are:

Complementary Color Schemes - These are rooms that are built around two colors that are on the opposite sides of the color wheel. The colors will intensify each other and make for an exciting and stimulating room.

Examples: red and green or yellow and purple

Triad Color Schemes - When three colors on the color wheel that are located at equal distances from each other are used.

Example: red, yellow and blue

Analogous Color Schemes - A color scheme that uses two or three adjacent hues on the color wheel. This is a very harmonious scheme and is soft on the senses.

Example: yellow, yellow-green and green

Monochromatic Color Schemes - When only one color family is used in a room. Different tints and shades of a color can be used throughout the room.

Monotone Color Schemes - A room that has a monotone color scheme uses only one hue throughout.


Meaning of Color

Color means many things to many people. Some color meanings are well known and used by marketing executives to convey a message to the public. Red is used by many restaurants because it excites and increases the appetite. Deep green conveys a richness and luxury that many private communities and condominiums use in their logo. Orange can mean a savings or a bargain, therefore many discount stores will incorporate orange into their signage.

Color responses are learned through our culture, but some feelings on colors are purely individual. Red can expresses excitement and vibrancy. Pink hints at trustworthiness and sweetness. Blue reflects a calm environment, while green is associated with nature and growth. Yellow represents happiness, however, large proportions of it can lead to tension. Brown conveys contentment and comfort. Purple is a regal color which denotes nobility. Orange symbolizes spirit and action. White implies virtue and innocence, while black is bold and dominant. Gray depicts a sedate and composed environment. And taupe communicates conservative thinking.


Glossary of Color Terms

Chroma - the intensity and purity of a color

Color Wheel - the arrangement of colors in a circle in the order of the spectrum. It shows primary, secondary and territory colors.

Complementary - opposite colors on the color wheel. Complementary colors will produce a neutral if mixed in equal amounts.

Cool Colors - Any color which contains a blue base

Hue - the pure state of a color

Intensity - the amount of lightness or darkness to a color

Monochromatic - A color scheme in one color with variations in value

Neutrals - typically beige, gray or off-white, but any color can be a neutral if it is lacking a brilliant hue

Off-White - A white that contains a very small amount of another hue

Pastel - a very light tint of a color

Polychrome - a color scheme which contains many colors

Primary Color - one of the three pigment colors on the color wheel - red, yellow or blue

Secondary Color - a color created from a combination of any two of the primary colors on the color wheel.

Shade - a color which has black added and is darker than its normal value

Spectral Colors - colors such as are produced in a rainbow

Tertiary - a combination of a primary color and a secondary color from the color wheel

Tint - a color which has white added and is lighter than its normal value

Tone - a softened color that is created when white or black are added to the pure hue

Triad - a color scheme of three colors that are all three equally away from each other on the color wheel

Value - the lightness or the darkness of a color

Selecting A Color Scheme For Your Home

Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin when it comes to decorating a room, but the easiest way to begin is not to study the color wheel, but to simply keep your eyes open. Look for color combinations in fabrics, rugs, scarf's, wallpaper or your neighbors garden. You don't have to use the actual item you are inspired by in the room, but it gives you a jumping off point.

Find a print or color combination of at least 3 colors. It may be 3 completely different colors or it may be have different shades of the same color. The only thing that matters at this point is that you like the way the colors compliment each other. The print is your reference point for all of your finish selections. If it is a fabric it can even become a part of the decorating scheme, by upholstering the sofa in it, or using it for draperies or even just accent pillows. Select one of the colors for your walls. This doesn't mean you have to use paint, you can use the color as the background for a wallpaper. If your using wallpaper that has several colors in it though you want to make sure that they are the same as your color scheme. Select another shade for upholstery, or possibly a bedspread if the room your decorating is a bedroom. Use the third color for draperies, etc. Most successful color schemes for rooms are at least 3 colors plus a neutral, so you can use the neutral for any of the previous finishes.

Neutrals are best used on finishes that are going to be around a while or would be expensive to replace every few years. Therefore, it is wise to select a neutral for carpet, ceramic tile, or countertops and save the colors for items that you can easily switch out for a different look in the future.

In an open floor plan you don't have to use the same color throughout. Just select a print with several colors in it that you want to use and paint or wall cover each area in a different color. There are two rules that you need to follow to keep the flow in an open floor plan with different colors in each room. First, keep all trim work painted or stained the same and keep the value (the lightness or darkness) of the colors consistent. For example, don't paint one room peach and another room forest green. Use the print fabric in a central location so that it pulls all the colors together.

So look at the colors around you and how they play off of each other. Once your inspired, go for it!

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