Transformational Design

Color Relationships: Creating Color Harmony

By Robbin Jang on

We are always surrounded by an abundance of colors, at every moment of our lives. The effect, the colors we are surrounded by has on us, often goes overlooked. It is always important to have a variety of colors in your home, but choosing the right color scheme to create harmony between the colors can be a daunting task. We will be using EcoHomeResource's color therapy expert and holistic interior designer Suzy Chiazarri's book, Living in Color, as a guide to help create color schemes that could work for your home.

Harmony Schemes

Use this color wheel as a reference when choosing schemes, and keep in mind the basic rule that too few colors makes a room cold and uninteresting, but choosing too many can make it loud and hectic.

Monochromatic Harmony

Use varying shades of the same color. This type of color harmony is often found in nature, for example - different shades of green on a tree, blues of the ocean and browns of the earth. Use lighter shades for the walls and other large spaces and use darker hues as accents. Example: turquoise, sky blue, and royal blue.

Adjacent Harmony

Choose colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. It is guaranteed that they will look good together. However, be careful to maintain a balance by throwing in variations in the tone and intensities of the colors. Don't be afraid to add small touches of a contrasting color to the room to add extra interest. Example: violet, purple, and blue.

Contrast Harmony

Choose colors that are opposite from each other on the color wheel to create a lively, energetic color scheme. In general, it is best to use two or more complimentary colors as the dominant colors of the scheme, and only use the contrasting color to accent the room. If too much is used, the colors will clash. Example: yellow and orange as the dominant colors, violet as the contrasting accent.

Seasonal Colors

You can also create color schemes that call to mind certain seasons and the feelings and moods associated with that season. Here's a quick guide to the colors that can be mixed and matched to create seasonal moods.

Spring: Soft white, pale pink, light blue, lilac, cream, pale green. Think soft, muted, and light. These colors reflect the renewal and light that spring brings.

Summer: Sky blue, grass green, golden yellow, orange, peach, cream, mango, scarlet, turquoise, and white. Think crisp, clear, and bright. Summer is a time of plenty and high energy, when nature is full of bright colors.

Fall: Crimson, ocher, rust, nut, mahogany, deep blue, indigo, violet. Think warm and rich. Fall is a time of rich earthen tones, full of colors of the harvest. Prepare for winter by bringing in rich, cheery colors.

Winter: White, black, ice-blue, silver, gold, dark green, burgundy, magenta, and fuchsia. Think deep and cool. Be prepared to spend more time indoors with colors that put you at ease. Be sure to include some colors that provide warmth. Light-reflecting colors such as silver and gold provide a spark and are great to use as decoration during the holidays.

Colors in Nature

The connection we all have with the natural world affects our lives in deep and profound ways every day, whether we realize it or not. Many of the meanings and feelings we associate with particular colors are derived from their place in the natural world. Recreating the natural role of colors in your home will create a space that puts you at peace.

Red: The earth is full of red hues, and using an earthen red provides a grounding sense of security. It also appears naturally in fire and sunsets, both of which are fleeting, transitory phenomena. Thus, brighter reds can help create a sense of movement throughout a space, and when used as accents liven up a room.

Orange:  The color of the harvest and falling leaves, orange brings a sense of satisfaction like you get after a good meal. It is a warm color, best used in welcoming rooms where you want to feel both relaxed and secure.

Yellow: The sun is what everyone thinks of when they see yellow. The sun brings brightness and warmth, which is why yellow makes us feel alive, awake, and uplifted. It is a great color to use in small rooms to brighten them up.

Green: No other color is as representative of the natural world as green. Nature is full of every type of green imaginable, and it is best to use many different shades of green in your home as well.

Blue: The sprawling light blue sky or the vast deep blue ocean make us feel insignificant when we pause to take them in, which gives blue a soothing effect. Use it to cover large areas in the home and looking at it will help relax and calm you. The lighter blues give a light sense of airiness to a room, while darker blues can be a little too calming for active spaces and are best used as accents or in bedrooms.

VioletA rare color in nature, violet strikes people as surprising and dramatic, and it always catches our eye. Keep this in mind and imitate nature by using violet sparingly, mostly as an accenting color for dramatic affect.

Black and White: Pure black or white never actually occur in nature. Looking at a white flower or a black stone, you will see that they are always tinged with traces of other colors. In the home, pure white should be avoided, as it reflects too much light and can irritate you. It is best to use slightly off white colors, just as in nature. Black should never be used on large spaces, and should be mixed with undertones to give it warmth.

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