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Using the Color Wheel for Your New Home

If there were only 12 colors in the universe, choosing a decorating scheme wouldn’t be difficult, but it’s the millions of variations of the color wheel that complicate matters.  Since Sir Isaac Newton first invented the color wheel in 1666, primary, (pure red, blue, yellow) secondary (green, purple, orange) and tertiary (blue green, etc.) hues have become familiar friends.  

The wheel is useful in determining color harmony - that colors opposite each other on the color wheel are complementary, - colors next to each other are calming, and so on, but how does that help you choose colors for your new home? Knowing how colors are created may help. 

Colors, hues, tints, shades, tones

ColorWheelArtist.com explains that color is the term we use to describe every hue, tint, tone or shade we see, including white, black and gray. A hue is the dominant color that describes any color we’re looking at. The various colors that comprise the color wheel are called hues, the point at which any color is at its true clearest. As pure color, hues are energetic, attention-grabbing, and bold. 

If you add white, you soften the hue, lighten it and turn it toward a pastel version of itself, otherwise known as a tint. Tints are like the early buds of spring - youthful, delicate and gentle, like painted Easter eggs or baby clothes.  

If you add black to any hue, you deepen and darken the hue, which is known as a shade. Shades tend to be rich, mysterious, and sophisticated, like fine red wines and midnight blue skies. 

A tone is composed of a hue with added grey or white plus black. A tone takes the brightness and vividness of a color to a calmer and more neutral color. These colors are relaxing, comforting and popular for home décor because home is a sanctuary. These colors are like twilight and mosses and rocks under streams.   

Color and mood

Colors have the power to energize or to relax you, to annoy you or to soothe you. The impact they have on how you want to feel is largely due to how much color you use and where.  

The main color

To choose a main color for your décor, think about how you want to feel when you’re in the room. A stimulating color such as red is terrific for dining and entertaining areas, while a bedroom or master bath may be more restful in a hue of blue or green.  Depending on how light and bright you want your room to be, you can choose a hue with a tint, a shade or tone.  

Accent colors

Whatever you choose as your main color, you can punch it up or tone it down by putting other colors around it. For example, you may choose a neutral beige or tan for your couch and draw attention to it with a bright orange throw or accent pillows. Colors that are opposite or triangulated from each other will offer bolder contrasts. 

Placing color for effect  

Start by choosing the color family you want based on your favorite hue, such as blue. Choose whether or not you want the color on the walls to be dark or light, and that will tell you whether or not you want to go in the direction of a tint or a shade. 

The beauty of the color wheel is that you can use almost any color you wish in a home, in the right amounts.