When it comes to color schemes, a sure-fire “crowd-pleaser” is the complementary system, which combines colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel.
Complementary color schemes can be used to great effect when doing either interior or exterior painting. They work almost anywhere, because the paint colors tend to balance one another visually and somehow produce in us a positive psychological response.
Hues in the red and green family are a classic example. These complementary colors work together beautifully in room settings, on home exteriors, and in the natural world (think bright red berries on holly bushes). No matter which hue predominates, these colors just seem “right” for each other.
Psychologically speaking, is it just a coincidence that most folks are happiest during the Christmas season, when complements red and green predominate? Or do these beautifully harmonized colors contribute to the festive atmosphere in some Freudian way? Whatever the answer, complementary colors work.
When creating a complementary color scheme, don’t think that you have to use only “pure” unaltered hues. Brick red and hunter green are slightly modified versions of basic red and green which look great together. Likewise, raspberry and celadon, the vivid color of fresh celery, make a wonderful pairing.
Complementary colors purple and yellow are the building blocks for other popular color schemes. Again, the pure hues work well together, but when given a twist, the results can be spectacular. Violet and gold, for example, are the colors of royalty. Using those same hues can give a regal appearance to any home interior.
Knowledge of the color wheel, and of complementary colors in particular, can also be useful in “correcting” a color scheme that has gone too far in one direction. If a room seems overwhelmed by red, for example, introducing some green will quickly bring balance back to the space.
Likewise, the color wheel can be relied upon to help soften hues that look too bright or raw. Simply identify the complement of the bright color and mix a small amount of it into the paint. Voila! The paint color that was once too bright will be transformed into a toned down version of its original self. Problem solved.
When it comes to color, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you aren’t familiar with the paint color wheel, click (here) to see one. The color wheel is a great place to begin planning any paint job.