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Beginner’s Guide: Using a Color Wheel

ColorwheelOne of the most exciting parts of remodeling is choosing the colors for your rooms. There are some color lovers who want to fill their rooms with brilliant colors, and there are others who want to stay fairly neutral. One of the most important tools every interior designer uses is their color wheel. The color wheel is a very simple tool, but color itself can be very complicated. Many artists and interior designers spend weeks just studying colors, and the color wheel is an important part of color study.

Different Kinds of Color

For the first part of this post, we will explain how a color wheel is created and the 3 different varieties of color. More complex colors are made by adding white or black to these colors to make them lighter or darker. The three varieties of color are primary, secondary, and tertiary.


The primary colors are Red, Yellow, and Blue. You cannot mix any colors together to create these colors. They are the most important colors on the wheel. You can create any color, except for white, using these colors.


Secondary colors are made by mixing the primary colors. The secondary colors are Orange, Green, and Purple. Orange is created from Red and Yellow, Green is created from Yellow and Blue, and Purple is created from Blue and Red.


Tertiary colors are made from mixing a primary color with a secondary color. The names are fairly self explanatory on how they are created. The tertiary colors are Red-Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Purple, and Red-Purple.

Different Color Schemes

Now that you understand the different colors on the color wheel, you can understand a little bit more about color schemes and why interior designers choose certain colors to go together. This is the reason why so many different looking kitchens, even if the cabinets are made from the same color of wood. These are some fairly common color schemes that interior designers like to use.

Analogous Colors

These are made from 3 colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. This is why Red tends to be a fairly popular color for kitchens. Many wood tones are a Red-Orange, so Red is right next to that color on the color wheel so the two colors work well together. Many Interior designers may also use a light Orange to accent the color scheme.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are colors from the opposite sides of the color wheel. Some common complementary color schemes tend to be Blue and Orange, Red and Green, and Yellow and Purple. So let’s say you install a vanity into your bathroom that is made from a deep orange toned wood, a nice color to complement it would be a light blue. It will make the orange in the wood pop just a little.


Triads are colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. The most popular triad is the primary triad of Red, Yellow, and Blue. However, there are many triads on the wheel that are useful for any room.

Color is a very complicated topic, and you don’t want the colors to be too overpowering in any room. Talk with a professional interior designer when you are discussing paint colors for your home. You don’t want to go through the effort of painting a room and then decide later that the colors don’t really go well together.


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