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Home » Design Ideas & Inspirations » Color Theory Basics: How To Use Color Theory in Interior Design?

Color Theory

Most of us have an affinity towards specific colors when it comes to our interior spaces, based on what comes naturally to us or after research. But did you know that there’s a process for understanding colors and pairing them well? 

If you’re an interior designer or look at design as a hobby, this is a crash course in color theory for home design. So go on, get that color palette right!

What is Color Theory?

The color theory derives from the color wheel. That’s right; it isn’t just a randomized palette of colors. 

Specific definitions, guidelines, and rules in visual arts allow designers to communicate with their users by appealingly mixing colors. In other words, color theory is the science behind which colors go well together and the art of putting them together. 

The color wheel was developed by scientists and artists and has also been attributed to Sir Isaac Newton (the ROYGBIV colors). Artists and designers learn about colors to create a proper framework and foundation for their artwork or design. The comprehension of the color wheel is the basis for the color theory.

Read also – 11 Amazing Home Decor Trends

How Color Theory Helps in Home Design?

When it comes to home design, understanding color theory helps with color harmonization. It becomes imperative to choose the right colors as the hues can influence moods, add to the ambiance, and affect how a person feels.

Colors play a role in human psychology and emotions to a considerable extent. People often design various parts of their homes in different color schemes to create varied ambiances and moods. For example, they use lighter colors to create a calm and open feeling or darker colors to make a bold statement. 

It can be stressful and exciting while deciding a color scheme for interiors. It’s important for Interior designers to have an excellent grasp of the color wheel.

Read also – 5 Ways That Interior Design Influences Your Mood

8 Color Theory Basics for Use in Interior Design:

1. Color Wheel

The color wheel comprises:

  • Primary Colors

Red, yellow, blue form the foundation of colors. 

  • Secondary Colors:

Combining primary colors creates secondary colors, such as purple, green, and red-orange.

  • Tertiary Colors:

You may create tertiary colors by combining secondary and primary colors or primary colors in a ratio of 2:1.

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2. Color Schemes

The creation of logical combinations of colors through the color wheel is known as a color scheme. A scheme provides the right aesthetics when it comes to color style and color appeal. Examples of color schemes are as follows:

  1. Monochromatic:
    A variety of tones out of the same hue create a single or monochromatic scheme.
  2. Analogous color scheme:
    You can create it using colors that find a place next to each other on the color wheel; for example, an ombre color scheme.
  3. Triadic:
    You can create this triadic from hues that are spaced out equally on the color wheel.
  4. Complementary:
    These are colors on opposite sides of the wheel. Upon mixing two of these colors, the result will be a muddy brown color.
  5. Tetradic:
    Variants of dual colors are distributed evenly across the color wheel.
  6. Split Complementary:
    These are two colors on opposite ends of the color wheel, with one of them split into two more adjacent colors. For example yellow-green.

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3. Color Temperatures

In a color wheel, warm hues are present around a particular color. In determining a color temperature, one is mindful of the placement of the color on the wheel and how close it is to blue and yellow.

  • Warm Colors: Yellow, Reds
  • Cool Colors: Blue-Green

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4. Color Combinations

Adding any three primary spectral colors (red, green, or blue) to any other color, along with white, creates a color combination. Creating combinations involves the color wheel, starting with the primary, and moving to secondary and tertiary colors.

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5. Psychological Effects of Colors

Did you know that colors evoke emotions, influence moods, and set the tone?

Warm colors like red, yellow, orange are often associated with love, passion, anger, and happiness. Cool colors like blues and whites are associated with peace and tranquility and have a calming effect.

Read also – Psychology of Colors

Here are some examples below:

A) Blue:

Blue is a tranquil color associated with serenity, peace, and calm. It is considered a sign of reliability and security and has a gentle effect, lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety. In interiors, blue depicts visuals of the ocean and the sky.

blue color psychology

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B) Green:

Green is a dominant color that expresses abundance, peace, rest, and refreshment. It is a soothing color and can help uplift your mood. Used to visualize nature, and has a relaxing and youthful vibe.

green color psychology

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C) Pink:

Calming and feminine, pink stands for love and kindness. In interior design, pink is used in living rooms, bathrooms, or young girls’ bedrooms to create a joyful and blissful atmosphere.

pink color psychology

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D) White:

Innocence, purity, and completion — these are the words used to describe white psychologically as well as in interior design. White helps a space look large. The right shade of white can make a room look modern and stylish.

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E) Yellow:

Proper use of yellow in interior design is crucial. Yellow can evoke feelings of dullness if not used sparingly. In color psychology, this color is considered both energetic, as well as negative. Yellow rooms can kindle negative feelings of frustration on people.

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6. Color Context

According to color context, color has different meanings in various settings. Therefore, colors can evoke diverse feelings and emotions and have different implications in various contexts.

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How successful a color scheme ends up depends entirely on the context. This context includes physical space and the psychological mindset to create the perfect atmosphere.

7. Color Mixing

As an interior designer or a homeowner looking to spruce up their home, it is vital to know what colors go well together and how to derive more shades from the base of each color.

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  1. Hues:
    Hues refer to colors on the color wheel.
  2. Tones:
    The proportion of black and white added to a color saturates it and creates a tone.
  3. Tints:
    When you add white to a color on the wheel, it lightens the color, giving it a pastel or less intense shade. This lightening of color is referred to as a tint.
  4. Shades:
    Adding black to a hue on the color wheel gives the color a shade. Shades depend on the proportion of black added to a given color.

Read also – Bohemian Interior Design Style

8. Square Color Scheme

A square color scheme uses four shades of colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. Each square color scheme will comprise a primary and secondary color and two tertiary colors, irrespective of their positioning on the wheel.

The intensity of the chosen colors may vary depending on whether the colors picked are bold or neutral. Like the triadic color scheme, interior designers typically try to achieve an equal variety of warm and cool colors by selecting a dominating shade and three shades that accent the dominating shade.

Read also – 14 Best Living Room Interior Design Ideas

10 Tips to Use Color Theory Basics for Interior Design

1. Pick any color

That’s right; pick a color, and begin!

Use color psychology to understand the client’s requirements or the ambiance that the space needs. Once you pick a color, then use the color wheel to choose a complimenting color.

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2. Pick a color scheme from the largest pattern or element in the space

Many interior designers pick colors based on patterns or elements available within a space.

For instance, if a large pattern is red or pink, they’d go with colors that complement it.

Read also – 14 Best Fireplace Decor Ideas

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3. Dark to light — vertically

Many interior designers use the dark to the light method in a vertical manner across a space or room. This approach generally means using darker colors for the floors and medium and lighter tones and shades for the walls. This strategy gives the area an enlarged illusion.

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4. Refer to the color wheel

The color wheel is an interior designer’s best friend! The color wheel provides excellent help when determining, which colors go well together. If you’re confused about which colors suit or complement each other, use the tips discussed above.

Read also – Expert Tips for Modern Home Office Design

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5. Don’t be afraid to go gray!

Grays are considered some of the most trendy neutral colors. They work well with various interior styles: modern, victorian, plush, simple, etc. You can also pair grays with contrasting pop colors.

Read also – Types of Interior Design Styles

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6. The 60-30-10 rule

Every good interior decorator knows that the home decor space is divided into 60-30-10. This rule means 60 forms the dominant color of the walls, 30 is the secondary color, typically for the upholstery, and 10 is an accent color used for accessories. This ratio helps maintain balance.

60-30-10 rule

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7. The contrast between warm and cool

As an interior designer, you can never consider neutral colors as dull! Neutral colors help provide a sense of balance and harmony to a surrounding and can be paired well with warm and cool tones. For example, pair grays with warm honey tones.

Read also – Best Kitchen Design Ideas

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8. Monochromatic looks

Small spaces tend to work wonders with monochromatic looks. For example, if a bathroom or study space is small, consider using a single color and deriving its shades to paint the area.

monochromatic looks

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9. Be inspired by personal style

What differentiates one home interior from another — the way one decorates it. Take inspiration from your client’s style to decorate. Assessing individual styles helps to arrive at color combinations and understand the color context.

For example, personal styles can range from modern pop to subtle victorian influences — use these ideas to develop a color palette for dining or living rooms.

Read also – Best Traditional Living Room Ideas

color paletter for living rooms

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10. Use color based on emotions

Many interior designers pick colors based on emotions. As discussed above, different colors have different emotional connotations and influence the ambiance and mood of a space. For example, darker shades of purple are associated with richness and royalty, whereas lighter shades of blue are associated with calmness.

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Ever thought colors could have so much significance?

Color theory is highly essential and valuable to understand how to put colors together. An interior designer spends considerable time learning how to use the color wheel to their benefit. Effectively using the color wheel expertly to combine colors in the right context and create the perfect color palette for each room and space within a home, immensely benefits anybody.

Are you excited to put colors together?

Now that you’ve mastered the color theory, it’s time to delve into the infinite world of colors!

If you have the right business tools, each stage of the interior design process will be easier and more efficient.  Foyr Neo is a one-stop-shop for all your design needs. The multifaceted design software has so many features to choose from that it makes it easier to visualize your design ideas more effectively. 

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How do you use color theory?

You can use color theory by creating a color wheel comprising primary colors, mixing them to create secondary colors, and then mixing primary and secondary colors to create tertiary colors.

How do interior designers use colors?

Interior designers refer to the color wheel to pick colors that best emote and influence their clients’ requirements. They choose warm and cool tones in a way that enhances space aesthetics and best attracts related elements.

How is a color theory used in character design?

The primary consideration in character design is using complementary colors that help create a sense of balance and harmonization.

What is color theory interior design?

In interior design, color theory refers to designers’ rules and guidelines to communicate with their clients and users by appealing color combinations and schemes through visual interfaces.

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Nichole Samuel

Interior Designer

Blog Reviewed By

Goddess Interiors LLC

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