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Heather Scott Home & Design is an award-winning interior design firm and sophisticated boutique based in Austin, TX and Scottsdale, AZ. Our blog shares the tasteful home accessories, furnishings and gifts that you can find in our retail boutique. We also feature our design projects, industry trends and expert tips that hope to inspire homeowners to create the stylish & chic home of their dreams.

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The Color Wheel and How it Relates To Design
April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | one comment

For any designer, the color wheel can be used as quick reference tool in determining relationships between colors.  You were probably introduced to the color wheel back in art class and have not really thought about it since then. 

But, the color wheel remains a great point of reference for people who are uncomfortable choosing colors for their home.   Several of our team members, including Charissa Pongtaratik, studied color and textiles (and by default, the color wheel) at the University of Texas before joining our team.  For this blog, Charissa is going to share with you some key points on how to use the color wheel in design and examples of how we have done that in our projects.

Color Wheel


To begin, the color wheel is divided into 12 different hues that stem from the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue.  Our design projects usually begin with a color scheme determined by what appeals to the client, an inspiration piece, and/or the desired emotional outcome. 

For your home to feel harmonious to yourself and visitors, the design should flow and be pleasing to the eye. If a room is not in harmony, it might come across as feeling either  boring or chaotic.

When your brain is bored of a visual experience, this means it is under-stimulated and will reject the memory. Conversely, your brain can be over-stimulated from the visual experience and it can make you look away from the disarray.  Heather and Scott always mention that when they go to furniture market there is so much to look at in so many colors they get ‘visually over-stimulated’ and it makes them emotionally out of sorts.  You definitely want to avoid either scenario (boring vs. chaotic) when decorating your home.

So, to help you on your way selecting color, here are the three most common ways to mix colors: using Monochromatic colors, Analogous colors, and Complementary colors.

1. Monochromatic colors

Monochromatic Colors

(Source )

Monochromatic color schemes use tone-on-tone combinations within a hue. By adding white to the hue, you are changing the tint. By adding black to the hue, you are changing the shade. If the tint and shade of a specific hue are adjusted to any degree, you have created a monochromatic scheme.

Monochromatic Colors

In the picture above, we have a monochromatic color scheme.  The room is one color, but there are subtle variations in that color. The headboard, nightstands, and drapery panels all have varying tints and shades of light beige.

2. Analogous colors

Analogous Colors


Analogous color schemes use three hues that are side-by-side on the color wheel.

Analogous ColorsIn the picture above, you can see how analogous color schemes are applied.  Blue, blue-green, and green hues are used as accents throughout the bedroom to evoke a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Here, at Heather Scott Home & Design, our design mantra reads “classic, chic, and serene.” We often recommend neutral furniture pieces with accents of blues and greens as a classic color palette that will stand the test of time.

3. Complementary colors

Complementary Colors


Complementary color schemes are complex, but they can also be more flexible. These combinations use hues that are directly across from each other on the color wheel. For example: green and red, purple and yellow, and blue and orange pair well together because they are direct complements.

Two variations of the direct complement are called split complements and double complements. A split complement pertains to the two neighboring hues of the direct complements (red-orange with blue and green form a triangle). A double complement consists of neighboring hues of the direct complements on both sides (orange and red with blue and green form an X).

Split Complementary Colors

Double Complementary Colors  (Source)

Before you get overwhelmed or confused, we just want you to understand you should not to be scared to introduce new colors to your home for fear of clashing. Simply refer to the color wheel to learn how the colors will interact with one another. 

Playroom after

In the picture above, the complementary colors of cognac (orange) and cobalt (blue) “complement” each other very nicely.


The picture above was designed for a contemporary women’s clothing boutique, and depicts a split complement using red-violet tones with yellow and green. Indoor plants, like this fiddle leaf tree, are a great way to introduce color, and can quickly liven up any space.

Entry After In the picture above, the design incorporated subtle hues of red and orange with blue and green in varying mediums. The use of double complements from accessories makes sense because none of the colors compete for your attention. Rather, the colors sit in harmony with each other to create a finished color palette.

To summarize, familiarize yourself with the color wheel if you need a quick reference to determine color relationships. Once you get more experience, don’t be afraid to try new color combinations in varying tints, shades, and tones. Color is the fun part of the design, and an inexpensive, yet impactful, way to update your home!