The color wheel is a beginning when thinking about how to organize color in an environment. Many designers think in terms of warm (reds, oranges and browns), and cool (blues, purples and black). This is important for the tone or feel that one is trying to elicit within a room.
Primary colors: Blue – Red – Yellow
They have complimentary colors, which are opposite on the color wheel.
Blue – Orange
Red – Green
Yellow – Purple
All complimentary color combinations will work.
Red and green, think Christmas
Blue and orange, think Howard Johnsons
Yellow and Violet, think Birds of Paradise
Analogous colors will also work. These are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel:
Yellow – Orange – Red, think fire
Red – Violet – Blue, think the flag and then some…
You get the idea. These are fundamentals, but we use them mostly as a reference. There are hundreds of shades for each color and a trained eye will know how to blend colors within a room and add the correct amount of accent.
When I work with color, I am very much a seat of the pants kind of gal. I may think of the fundamentals, but then I inevitably mix everything up. I am very good with color, so this method works well for me. Also, I don’t have fear, which helps. If you have fear around color, always get out your wheel and this will ground you in those fundamentals. Then you know you won’t make a “mistake”. Personally, I think there are no mistakes because nature shows us every combination, upside down and inside out.

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