Design School by Havertys

Crash Course in Color Theory

Gone are the days spent sitting cross-legged in elementary school learning about how the primary shades of red, blue and yellow run the world of color. Our Crash Course in Color Theory series will show you how to use the science of color to your home décor advantage. Part One is all about taking the color wheel for a new spin to create a cohesive look for your space.

  • High Contrast (complementary)

    colors opposite one another on the color wheel

    High Contrast High Contrast(complementary)

    colors opposite one another on the color wheel

    Complementary schemes are simple but bring a lot of drama. Choose a duo of shades that is striking, but blend them in subtle fashion. To achieve this look, you can pair a statement piece with an accent piece in a complementary shade, like a blue sofa with a pale yellow, patterned pillow.

  • Mixed Monochromatic (analogous)

    colors appearing on either side of another color

    Mixed Mono Mixed Monochromatic(analogous)

    colors appearing on either side of another color

    If you’re already a fan of monochromatic looks that focus on one color family, give an analogous scheme a try. Using colors next to each other on the color wheel gives a harmonious vibe that translates well, especially when you use this principle for mixing accents like lamps and tabletop décor.

  • Balancing Act (split-complementary)

    two adjacent colors & their complementary color

    Balancing Act Balancing Act(split-complementary)

    two adjacent colors & their complementary color

    Balance is the key for this look, so keep in mind leaning more toward either warm or cool palettes dictates the entire mood of your space. Warmer hues tend to create an atmosphere of energy, while cooler tones promote relaxation - find your perfect split-complementary mix for the best of both worlds.

Design School Tip:

When using any of these color schemes, it’s wise to choose a base color, then use the remaining colors as secondary or accent colors.
  • Red

    Boost the energy in a room with a rush of red to stimulate conversation. It speeds up your heart rate and breathing, while increasing blood pressure, so stick to an accent wall or entryway and avoid use in an office or bedroom.

  • Orange

    Enthusiastic shades of orange create a feeling of excitement well suited to a home gym. You can even use this bright hue in child's study area to enhance energy and focus.

  • Yellow

    Though bright and cheerful, take caution when using yellow. This color works well for increasing appetite in a kitchen or dining room, but is linked to negative stimulation in an abundance, especially in nurseries.

  • Green

    Restful greens provide a sense of comfort, wellbeing and stress relief, making this cool tone perfect for virtually any room in your home.

  • Blue

    With the opposite effect of red, blue tones create a sense of calm and are shown to decrease the heart rate and blood pressure. Use lighter shades of blue throughout your home and use dark shades sparingly as they can evoke sadness.

  • Purple

    Regal and dashing, shades of purple are sure to please in any space. Use rich, darker shades for a more majestic mood and incorporate purple into areas you'd like to use for boosting creativity.

  • Neutrals

    Neutrals are famous for their flexibility. Use blacks, whites and browns as base colors so you can go all out with furnishings and accessories, or use the lighter neutrals for sophisticated, monochromatic approach that opens up your space.

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