Colour Theory

Learning the basic "language of colour" will help you achieve your decorating goals.

Hue identifies the general family of a colour, such as red, yellow, blue or green. The traditional colour wheel is made up of twelve colour families: red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue-red-violet, violet and blue-violet.

Colour Wheel
Colours on the opposite side of the wheel from each other are called complementary colours. In combination, these create striking contrasts. For less contrast, choose colours next to each other on the colour wheel, which are called analogous colours. Choosing colours of different tints within one colour family creates a monochromatic colour scheme.

Warm or Cool?
Different colours in the same family may be described as being "warm" or "cool." Colours with yellow undertones will seem warmer, while the same colour with blue or red undertones will appear cool. Cool colours - blue, green, violet - invite relaxation and thought. Warm colours - red, orange, yellow - encourage conversation and play. Sherwin-Williams colour experts suggest using both warm and cool colours in rooms where you desire balance and variety.

Value describes how light or dark a specific colour may be. On Sherwin-Williams colour strips, lighter values are at the top, mid-tone values are in the middle and darker values are at the bottom. When you combine colours from a single colour strip, you're creating a monochromatic colour scheme - perfect for creating a sophisticated, spacious look in a single room.
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