To achieve balance in a color scheme, a strong color is paired with another strong color, in terms of both value and intensity. Lower intensity colors create a calm, restrained mood that’s subtle and serene, while higher intensity colors create a more energetic vibe. Intensities of paired colors should be equal, or nearly equal. Light and medium values work well together. To liven up a light-value schemed room, include an accent of darker value. A room with a light blue and light yellow color scheme with a touch of navy blue gives depth. Adding the complement of a pure hue will make it softer and less intense, thus achieving balance.
An achromatic or neutral color is any color that lacks chromatic content, including white, black, and all grays. Near neutrals include browns, tans, pastels, and darker colors of any hue or lightness. Neutrals are achieved by mixing pure colors with white, black, or gray. Black and white combine well with almost any other colors – black reduces the saturation or brightness of the color paired with it, while white shows off all hues to equal effect. In color theory applied in interior design, neutral colors are those that are easily modified by more saturated colors next to it, so that the neutral color would appear to take on the hue complementary to the saturated color. When a bright red sofa is placed in a room with a gray wall, the wall will appear distinctly greenish.
For a room to feel well-rounded and complete, an accent of a cool hue is added in a room with a warm color scheme. An example is placing a green plant in a yellow room. For a room with a cool color scheme to be more alive, it needs a little bit of warm color, like an accent of red in a blue and white room.
In interior design, the concept of warm and cool colors is particularly applied. Warm colors are hues of red through yellow-green, including browns and tans. Cool colors are hues of blue-green through blue-violet, including most grays. The use of the contrast between warm and cool colors reflects perceptual and psychological effects. In interior design and fashion, warm colors are used to stimulate the viewer, and cool colors to calm or relax. Warm colors are also advancing, while cool colors appear to recede, ideal for small rooms.
Complementary colors are colors that lay opposite each other on the color wheel. When complementary colors are paired, each color will make the other look more vivid. Hues that lay beside each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors. These colors share a common hue, so rest assured that they will always look good together. Triads are any three equally spaced colors on the color wheel. They create a lively yet balanced combination. Triads are more effective if only one color dominates and the other two are used in lesser amounts or as accents.
The color wheel is the easiest way to visualize how hues relate to each other. Traditionally, the primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – are the colors from which all other colors can be mixed. Consulting the color wheel is helpful in distinguishing the relationships of colors and the way they harmonize with each other. However, the color wheel only generally shows pure hues of colors and interior design and decoration are also likely to use tints (lighter values) and shades (darker values).