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#########Monochromatic
#########Neighboring
#########Neutrals
#########Complementary
#########Warm and Cool
#########Composing by Color
When you're starting off on your decorating project, you might wonder what a color scheme is and what it can do for you. If you understand the basics of color schemes, you'll be able to decorate your home with your individual style.

Simply put, a color scheme is any combination of colors that look good together. While you've surely seen other color schemes that suggest ideas for your home, remember that you're not limited to a scheme you've seen before, nor are you restricted to the following suggestions. Decorating your home is a good chance to try something new, a good chance to make your home as individual and distinct as you.

Monochromatic  return to top
A monochromatic scheme takes one color family (hue) and shows it in various tints (lightened by white), shades (darkened with black), and saturation (degree of difference from gray). This is the easiest kind of color scheme to plan, giving your home a smooth, relaxing, and expansive look. You'll create visual harmony in your home by using different values of the same color.

While monochromatic schemes start with warm, cool, or neutral tones in one hue, adding another hue can bring contrast. A variation of a monochromatic scheme is a monotone scheme. In a monotone room, you'll use texture and patterns instead of an additional hue to keep your room from becoming boring.

Your choice of a color scheme ultimately depends upon how many colors you want in one area. A simple monochromatic color scheme will work well in almost any room. If you're new at decorating, you might prefer the ease of working within one hue.

Neighboring
Neighboring schemes, which are colorful and active looking, are composed with two or three wedges on either side of a color. For example, if blue-green is your favorite color, then try a room dressed in soft blues and greens and anything in-between the two. Neighboring schemes create harmonious, non-contrasting rooms.

Complementary  return to top
If you want to create drama and contrast in your room, select wedges directly across from one another on the color wheel. Because they combine opposites, complementary color schemes are livelier than monochromatic or neighboring schemes and are good for rooms with a lot of personality. Some examples of complementary colors are: red and green, blue and orange, and yellow and purple.

If you combine complementary colors in the right proportions, the colors will neutralize each other and look very good when combined.

Warm and Cool Colors
One might understand the difference between warm and cool colors by understanding the color wheel (see above illustration). Warm colors, which include red, yellow, and orange, are referred to as daytime or sun colors and can energize a room. They work well in dining rooms and other areas of activity. Certain tones can also give a room a feeling of warmth and coziness.

The cool colors, green, blue, and purple, are the other half of the color wheel. Cool colors inspire relaxation and calm and create the illusion of open space. They are generally recommended for dens and bedrooms.

Remember that these are merely guides and don't be afraid to experiment. Lighter and more saturated colors tend to be more lively, whether they be warm or cool.

Neutral Colors  return to top
White, black, and grays are the neutral colors. They are neither warm nor cool because they are not to be found on the color wheel at all. They can be mixed with colors to create more variation (see monochromatic for more) within that color. Generally speaking, adding neutrals, especially gray, dulls a color, making it stand out less in a room's overall design scheme. Neutral colors generally work well with most other colors. This is why so many people default to whitish carpets and walls - it guarantees future additions to the room will not conflict with the walls and floor.

Brown is also sometimes considered a neutral color, as it too does not appear on the color wheel. Because of this, wood furniture, blinds, and accents can work well in a large variety of color schemes.

Composing by Color  return to top
For a more harmonious and unified appearance, colors should be repeated through a room's scheme. You might start with your favorite piece in the room - a piece of artwork, a decorative lamp, even the fabric of a chair or couch. Study the color combinations in that piece. Seeing the colors that an artist has combined is often a way to find appealing combinations of color. Then make sure some of those colors repeat throughout the room. Some examples include:
  • If you're hanging a reproduction with a splash of red in your dining room and find a set of napkins in that color, try to find a vase or a window treatment in the same shade of red
  • Sew throw pillows from fabric matching your wallpaper.
  • Buy or create curtains or a top treatment in colors similar to a central couch or chair.
Contrast too can be a useful design element. Highlight your favorite piece of a room by creating a more neutral backdrop in its immediate vicinity. Clever lighting can light up not only your new piece but the wall behind it, creating a brighter background for a darker item, or it can throw shadows behind a light object.

If you've adding a new piece to an already existing room and are worried that it might not match, try to find accessories that bring the piece's colors into your room to lessen the impact.
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