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A Complete Color Guide: Color Wheel Theory, Mood Color Chart & More!

How to Use Color

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The Right Color for You!

Color is one of the most exciting elements of design. It has the power to alter the personality of a room, and establishes the entire mood of a space. Choosing from an endless possibility of color options can be overwhelming, but understanding Basic Color Theory, Color Charts and The Color Wheel, will help you choose a great color to convey the desired feel for the room. When picking out your color, it's important to consider Mood, Style, Space, & Lighting. They all have a direct connection to how a color is perceived.

This Color Guide Includes:

  • How to Use The Color Wheel- with pictures
  • Warm Colors and Cool Colors- what's what?
  • A Mood Color Chart- learn color moods
  • Tint, Tone and Shade- the difference
  • Color Schemes and Color Styles- with color chart

Color Mood

Mood: Warm or Cool?

  • Before painting a room, consider how the space is going to be used. Certain colors promote energy and excitement, while others create a more relaxed atmosphere. Basically, colors effect the mood of a room, so it's important to consider what kind of energy you want the room to emit. It's best to use a color that compliments the activities of the space. So before you paint, ask yourself... Warm or Cool?

Color Wheel- Warm Colors

This half of the color wheel contains warm colors

This half of the color wheel contains warm colors

Warm Colors

  • Warm colors range between yellow and red-violet on the color wheel. They are associated with energy, excitement, and Passion. Warm colors are often used in conversational dining rooms, lively kitchens, and common spaces. These colors demand attention.

Color Wheel- Cool Colors

This half of the color wheel contains cool colors.

This half of the color wheel contains cool colors.

Cool Colors

  • Cool colors range between violet and yellow-green on the color wheel. They are associated with relaxation and calmness. Cool colors are often used in bedrooms and bathrooms, but also in common living spaces and kitchens. These colors tend to demand less attention than warm colors

Warm & Cool Color Chart





Warm ColorsCool Colors

Yellow

Violet

Yellow- Orange

Blue- Violet

Orange

Blue

Red- Orange

Blue- Green

Red

Green

Red- Violet

Yellow- Green

Mood: Individual Colors

As warm and cool colors give off certain moods, each individual color also creates a certain feel or personality in a room. The chart below relates the basic primary and secondary colors to their associated mood.

Primary & Secondary Colors

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, Blue Secondary Colors: Orange, Green, Violet

Primary Colors: Red, Yellow, Blue Secondary Colors: Orange, Green, Violet

Mood- Color Chart

The ColorThe Mood Warm/Cool

Red

Passion, Elegance & Royalty

Warm

Yellow

Cheeriness, Energy & Youthfulness

Warm

Blue

Formal, Coolness, & Professional

Cool

Orange

Warm, Inviting, & Cozy

Warm

Green

Earthy, Fresh, Naturual

Cool

Purple

Rich, Eclectic, Romantic

Cool

Space: Tint, Tone, & Shade

  • Color directly affects how we perceive the size of a space. Darker colors can make a small room look even smaller, and bright colors can make a small room look open and expansive. It doesn't matter if the color is warm or cool. Defining a space is all about tint, tone & shade.
  • Shade refers to the amount of black in a color.
  • Tint refers to the amount of white in a color.
  • Tone refers to the amount of grey in a color.
  • When choosing a color for a space, consider how changing its tint can affect your space. Let's say you want to make your small bathroom look more expansive, try adding a cool color, with low shade and high tint. Here's a chart to help explain.

Space: Tint & Shade Chart

Open & ExpandClose & Confine

Color + White

Color + Black

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Lighting Alters Color

  • Color is directly dependent on light. When choosing a color, consider the amount of light in the space. You may have found the perfect shade of green in the well lit paint store, but if you buy a gallon right then, and go home to apply it to a poorly lit room, you may be surprised how dark the color appears. It may look nothing like the color picked out only moments earlier. So, when your deciding on a paint color, be sure to look at your sample in the space you'll be applying it, before making a final purchase.

Color Invokes Style

  • Color is associated with different regional designs and design styles. When choosing a paint color consider the design styles that are associated with that color. For example, if you want to create an Italian style kitchen, a color like pink or baby blue is not appropriate to compliment your style. Instead, consider a toasted yellow.

Style- Color Chart

Design StyleAssociated Colors

French Country

Foamy Green, Rusty Red, Bright Yellow, Gold, Light Blue, Soft Pink

Victorian

Deep Red, Gold, Rich Purple

Western

Green, Blue, Red, Yellow

Zen

Soft Green, Cool Blue, Red Accents

Post Modernism

Red-Orange, Mint Green, Peach, Avacado

Art Deco

Pink, Orange, Chinese Red, Dark Green, royal Blue

Types of Color Schemes

Once you've determined your desired mood and style for the given space from your color wheel and color charts, the room should start taking shape as you begin to develop a color scheme. Understanding the different kinds of color schemes can help you decide which colors go best with your wall color. Here are the different types of color schemes.

  • Complementary colors are opposing colors on the color wheel. Each warm color has a complementary cool color and vice versa.
  • Split Complementary uses any color with the two colors on each side of it's complement.
  • Triadic uses three colors equally spaced from each other on the color wheel.
  • Tetradic uses a combination of four colors that are two sets of complements
  • Monochromatic uses any tint tone or shade of just one color
  • Analogous uses colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Use more than two, but no more than five consecutive colors.

Color Scheme Chart

ColorsComplementSplit ComplementTriad

Red

Green

Blue-Green, Yellow-Green

Blue, Yellow

Red- Orange

Blue- Green

Blue, Green

Yellow- Green, Blue- Violet

Orange

Blue

Blue-Violet, Blue-Green

Violet, Green

Yellow- Orange

Blue- Violet

Blue, Violet

Red-Violet, Blue-Green

Yellow

Violet

Red Violet, Blue Violet

Red, Blue

Yellow- Green

Red-Violet

Red, Violet

Red- Orange, Blue-Violet

Green

Red

Red- Orange, Red- Violet

Orange, Violet

Blue Green

Red- Orange

Red, Orange

Yellow -Orange, Red Violet

Blue

Orange

Yellow -Orange, Red Orange

Yellow, Red

Blue- Violet

Yellow- Orange

Yellow, Orange

Yellow- Green, Red- Orange

Violet

Yellow

Yellow- Green, Yellow- Orange

Green, Orange

Red- Violet

Yellow- Green

Yellow, Green

Blue- Green, Yellow- Orange

color wheel

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Comments

Leone Vidoni (author) from Portland, Oregon on August 14, 2012:

Hi perry! Red and purple are the two main colors associated with passion. Hope this helps!

perry on August 14, 2012:

hi i jst wana know that which colours are for pasion?

Sueswan on May 05, 2012:

Hi LVidoni5

I have tried painting and I don't like it so I hired a professional. The hardest part was picking the colors. I knew didn't want dark colors because my place is small. I went with Lemon Chiffon and was happy with the results.

Voted up and away.

Have a good weekend. :)

Sudhir Pawar from Pune, Maharashtra on May 04, 2012:

i must say really good work