The Color Wheel. Revisited.

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My most recent occupation was Homeschooling Mom. (Technically, I have one more year to hold this title.) I tried hard to make sure my boys received a well-rounded education and that included art. 

Not only did they grow up in a house filled with drop cloths and continuous projects, paint samples everywhere and a fabric stash that literally held our bed off the floor, the boys have talented grandparents who can only be classified as artists. 

We all had our own color wheels. (I also have issues with my love of office/school supplies.) And, for actually painting, they are useful. A color wheel can be useful when choosing color palettes for your home as well. BUT. . . they are not a complete tool.  There is no white, no black, no gray and no brown on the color wheel. Think about your house . . . (Jeopardy theme song playing while you think.) 

Right? You cannot come up with a comprehensive color scheme without the neutrals. Well, I suppose you could if you were Steve from the old Blue's Clues. In the real world, people use brown, gray, black and white as a base for their decorating. So, what's the deal? 

The deal is called color theory and there are books upon books written on the subject. I'm just going to give you the basics. 

  1. HUE - The hue is what makes a color a color. Yellow is yellow. Blue is blue. 
  2. TINT - A tint is a hue + white. Pink gets its own name. The rest of the colors are light blue, light yellow, ets.
  3. SHADE - A shade is a hue + black ->->-> dark blue, dark green . . . 
  4. TONE - A tone is a hue + gray. Adding gray makes a color less saturated and intense.
  5. 4 COLOR WHEEL - if you feel the urge to work with a color wheel when making decisions about your home's colors, pick one that includes the 3 primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and also adds green. The addition of green helps you see colors as they really are. The green is also helpful in determining if a color is a warm or cool color. 
  6. COMPLEMENTARY COLORS - colors that sit directly opposite each other are complementary. A quick look at a color wheel will reveal that these colors are also colors commonly chosen for corporate logos and sports team. Use complementary colors if you want to make a bold statement. To make a "split complementary" color scheme, use the two colors adjacent along with the opposite color on the wheel. 
  7. ANALOGOUS COLORS - Colors that are next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous.  This is where you get combinations called "coastal," "forest," or "autumn." 
  8. MONOCHROMATIC - In decorating, a monochromatic focuses on just ONE color but in different hues. The effect can vary from calming to electric depending on your color choice. 

Like I said, there are books upon books written on this subject. This article covers the subject in much more depth.  That said, I find it handy to have a color wheel at home (I love the ones that spin). Moving the colors around can help you to narrow down choices and to think about color in new ways. I use it not only for decorating but for gardens, figuring out holiday decorations and even, sometimes, for makeup.  

Give it a try!