Decorating with Analogous Color Schemes

Coming up with a color scheme for a room can be hard. Say you want to use your favorite color—what colors will look good with it? It sounds obvious, but the color wheel is the best place to start. There are a few almost foolproof types of color schemes you can create. You can go with a monochromatic scheme and use different shades of your favorite color. You can use a complementary color scheme and choose something opposite it on the color wheel. Or, you can choose to use colors next to it on the color wheel to create an analogous color scheme. Today, I’m going to discuss analogous color schemes.

Basic Color Theory

First, let’s back it up a little and discuss colors. I knew all those art classes I took in high school would pay off some time.

Colors fall into three basic categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors together. Tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color. You can see this demonstrated in my (rough) color wheel below.

Cool. What does this all mean? Honestly, it’s just to demonstrate the relationship between colors. We’re getting to the good stuff.

If you’d like to read more about color theory, I suggest this post from Color Matters.

Analogous Color Themes

An analogous color scheme is created using colors next to each other on the color wheel. Take a look at the graphic below. It shows different combinations of analogous colors.

Analogous color scheme graphic
Michael Stillwell via Elle Decor

So, why do analogous color schemes work? Because the three colors used are family—they get along, but the outside two still provide some tension. Let’s look at the one labeled “Blue” as an example. All three colors (blue-green, blue, and blue-violet) have some blue in them, They’re related. That common thread helps tie them together and provides harmony. However, the small bits of violet and green in the outer two colors play off each other to create interest and provide visual tension.

Once you get the hang of analogous color schemes, you can add in various shades of each color to add even more interest.

Analogous Color Scheme Examples

If you’re anything like me, seeing pictures really helps with visualizing concepts. Let’s go through some.

Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet, Red-Violet

Purple analogous color living room
Elle Decor

Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green

Grandmillenial sunroom
Southern Living

Green, Blue-Green, Blue, Blue-Violet

Blue bedroom
Cynthia Collins

To sum it all up, analogous color schemes are frequently used in interior design. They are a great balance between creating harmony and adding visual interest to a room. Check back next week to read all about complimentary color schemes.

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