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Understanding Colour

Understanding Colour

Use this guide to the power of colours to help you choose the best ones for your home.

Use this guide to the power of colours to help you choose the best ones for your home.

In this article:
The colour wheel
Primary colours
Secondary colours
Complementary colours
Analogous colours
Shades, tints and tones
Monochromatic colours
Effects of colour

The colour wheel

The colour wheel represents the basic colours (or hues) of the visible spectrum. All of the colours seen above are of full intensity, meaning no white or black has been added to them. The colour wheel shows 12 colour gradations, though there are actually an infinite number of gradations possible between each colour on the wheel.

The colour wheel is also separated into “warm” and “cool” colours. Red, orange and yellow are considered warm, and green, blue and purple are cool. Variations, like pink and peach are still considered warm, while pale blue, mint and lilac are cool.

Primary colours

The primaries are three pigment colours red, yellow and blue. They cannot be created by combining other colours and all other colours are derived from these three.

Secondary colours

The secondaries are green, orange and purple and are created by mixing two primary colours.

Complementary colours

Colours opposite each other on the colour wheel, such as red and green or blue and orange are considered “complementary” to each other.

Example of complementary colours: A lovely pale room with soft blue accents is predominantly neutral, but the colour of striking orange-toned curtains provides a complementary or balanced effect. There are countless options of duos that will add interest and give a lift to your surroundings, like a pale lavender chair and yellow lamp. The orange curtains and yellow lamp are just accents, but they complete the room and are pleasing to the eye. Complementary colours look best when both are of equal saturation.

Analogous colours

Three colours located side by side on the colour wheel are called analogous. They create a fresh and cohesive palette without looking too dramatic. Analogous palettes are more effective when the colours are either all cool or all warm. Use analogous colours as accents in monochromatic rooms.

Shades, tints and tones

Shades are colours mixed with black, while tints are colours mixed with white (pastels are tints). Tones are colours mixed with different values of grey.

Monochromatic colours

A monochromatic colour scheme consists of various tints and shades of a single colour.

Effects of colour

Implementing colour into a room can have a huge impact on how it feels. Painting a small room a very dark colour will make it seem even smaller while painting the same room a pale colour will visually enlarge the space. Consequently, painting a ceiling a darker colour will appear to decrease its height, making the room feel more intimate.

 

Photographer: 

Michael Graydon

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