Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Color Wheel, Color Scheme, and Color Psychology.

The Color Wheel, Color Scheme, and Color Psychology.

Are you a colorful person? Do you choose colorful clothes? Are you a more dressed down person? Do you choose earth tones and less dramatic clothes? What color is your car? What IS you favorite color? A fascinating part of our lives is the color that surrounds us. Many believe it has an ability to influence how we feel and go about our daily lives.

If you are a fan of minimalism or contemporary design like we are then, depending on how ambitious you are, you will have fun reorganizing your interior design and make it the space you truly WANT to spend time in. One of the best compliments I received recently from a customer involved a redesign we did of their main living space. The focal point was their fireplace and they found themselves wanting to spend time in the area, but not really feeling comfortable in it. We sat down one evening and we discussed their life, their passions, and what they wanted for the room. After the design consultation they placed custom orders and are now enjoying their space beyond their wildest dreams. Kate actually said this to me, “Oh my God, you have no idea how wonderful this is. We actually find ourselves WANTING to be in our living room. We want to spend time in there and we are really enjoying it now. We are even spending more time together. It has become the place we want to be.” I myself on the personal side am only now beginning this process and re-invention in my life. I am working toward a journey of simplification and harmony in my life and my surroundings and am working on focusing on it in every aspect to the smallest detail. It will be a long journey, I am under no illusion that it won’t be, but I will make it as enjoyable as I can for myself and those around me whom I love so very much.


The Color Wheel was basically invented by Sir Isaac Newton who was the first really to understand the rainbow while looking at it and considering the relationships of the colors. He described the natural progression of colors. It has been modified here and there and the current version being used comes out of the Bauhaus revolution in the 1920’s from Johannes Itten who established the three primary colors of red, blue, yellow as a triad along with 12 associated hues.

The color wheel shows the relationship of colors, in other words, how they relate. It shows the triad primary colors (red, blue, yellow), three secondary colors which are the result of mixing primary colors (purple, orange, green) and the tertiary colors which are a primary color mixed with a secondary color, for example, red-orange, yellow-green and blue-violet. When they colors are mixed with pure colors white or black it creates countless different tints and shades.

If you want to avoid mismatching pitfalls and make sure you are attributing the proper relationships to each color, we suggest you get one. It is an invaluable tool.

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there" Lewis Carrol.

Here are some tips to help you as you develop your surroundings and some of the approaches you could possibly take with color.

  • Incorporate bold color contrasts. Adding pieces of contemporary wall art is an easy way to make each room’s color scheme pop. Group collections in threes.
  • Utilize clean lines, sharp angles, clear curves and geometric shapes.
  • Remember that less is more and aim for simplicity. Limit the amount of object and wall decor and hide unnecessary clutter behind cabinet doors. Glass cabinets with wood doors at the base are great for displaying treasures while hiding clutter.
  • If you’re committed to eco-awareness and love the simple appeal of minimalism as much as we do these essential tips will help you to create the eco-modern home you crave. I myself am only now beginning this process and re-invention in my life. I am working toward a journey of simplification and harmony in my surroundings in every aspect to the smallest detail.
  • Stress less! Keep your home simple and clean. If you don't need it throw it out, donate it or sell it online. The best way to stay Stressless is to keep clutter to a minimum. This is MUCH easier said than done. But you will enjoy a more calm lifestyle if you can make and achieve this goal.
  • Always remember that furniture and/or collections that are open at the bottom and light feeling open up a space. Unique platform beds keep a bedroom from feeling cramped. Keep a mattress from floor to top anywhere from 16-20 inches and you will open things up. And with dark colors remember this: it makes things seem smaller and draws you into a space.


I’ll try to keep this simple and let the colors and their definitions say it for themselves. Although this is a relatively new area of study, the idea that color can effect us has been around for centuries. The ancient Chinese and Egyptians understood the ability of color to affect feeling. You will find skeptics of this theory as there always is, but we do believe this study has merit. For our consideration, we will focus on the colors you choose to paint with, furnish with, and accessorize with which is our area of expertise.

Color has an ability to shape our moods in even the most subtle ways. It can affect them both positively and negatively as is therefore always an important detail to consider. Although neutral earth tones with monochromatic emphasis is often the basis of most minimalists approach, realize there are no rules and you have virtually every option open to you so don’t be afraid of experimenting and change. You don't ever have to keep things the way they are. If you don't like something, change it! After all, You can not step twice into the same river (or wave), ergo the only constant, is change” as the pre-Socratic thinker Heraclitus of Ephesus so profoundly pointed out.

With that note, always consider the impact color has on not only your living space, but also on your moods. Learning to love color is one thing, but learning to live with it is a another. Make sure you understand what your favorite colors do to you and say about you. The only additional aspect of this theoretical concept is that I think we always have to consider individual experience and how relational projection can mean that each of us will bring our own unique interpretation of colors, but for simplification, this is discussed in the broader sense of what it tries to accomplish.

Basic influences that create feeling: it is important to consider the emotional effects of the chosen color design. Color psychology is the examination of colors and their influences on mental and physical states. It defines colors as:

  1. Warm colors-orange, yellow, and red.
  2. Cool colors - blue, green, and violet.
  3. Neutral colors - white, black, brown, and gray.

  • HUE: Another name for color
  • TINT: Color + White
  • TONE: Color + Grey
  • SHADE: Color + Black
  • VALUE: The lightness or darkness of a color

Red packs a wallop, physiologically speaking, increasing blood pressure, heartbeat and energy in most people. It instills feelings of intimacy and passion. Red also increases the appetite, which explains why it is used so often in restaurants, and why it can be a good choice for a formal dining room.

Orange, like red, tends to warm a room, but in a more friendly and welcoming way. As a result, various shades and tints of orange work well in living rooms and family rooms.

Yellow is also warm and welcoming, but it is more attention- getting than either red or orange. For this reason, it is a good to use in poorly lit foyers or dark hallways.

Blue, which is part of the cool color palette, makes us feel calm and tranquil, so it is ideal for use in bedrooms. But since blue works as an appetite suppressant (perhaps because there are few blue foods) it is not the best option for a dining room ... unless you're on a diet.

Green is another relaxing color that is much more versatile than blue. Light greens are ideal for bedrooms and living rooms; midtones are good for kitchens and dining rooms (many foods are green). Also, because green is calming, it is often used in hospitals, workplaces and schools.

Violet is a tricky color, psychologically speaking. Many adults dislike purples, but are fond of the rose family, which can work in many rooms, including dining rooms, bedrooms and libraries. Young children, on the other hand, respond favorably to violet, so this color can be used successfully in children's bedrooms and play areas.


Copenhagen Furniture quick reference guide (From BT Journal): PRINT & CUT THIS OUT AND KEEP IT WITH YOU AS A GUIDE.

Yellow - is the most visible color and is the first color the human eye notices! Yellow, the color nearest to "light" leaves a warm and satisfying impression, lively and stimulating and in many cultures symbolizes deity. Dark yellow can be oppressive while light yellow is breezy. Yellow's stimulating nature and high visibility to the eye is the reason why many road signs are bold yellow (contrasted by black text). Yellow birds, flowers and skies are sure to be eye-catchers just because of the way the mind and eye works!

Orange - is a good balance between the passionate red and the "yellow of wisdom." Orange is symbolic of endurance, strength and ambition. It can represent the fire and flame of the sun. Orange is said to also have the cheerful effect of yellow, but is intensified in its closeness to the color red.

Red - is a bold color that commands attention! Red gives the impression of seriousness and dignity, represents heat, fire and rage, it is known to escalate the body's metabolism. Red can also signify passion and love. Red promotes excitement and action. It is a bold color that signifies danger, which is why it's used on stop signs. Using too much red should be done with caution because of its domineering qualities. Red is the most powerful of colors. We like to call it Danish Red.

Pink - is the most gender specific. Pink represents femininity and has a gentle nature (which is not a bad thing). Pink is associated with sweets like candy and bubble gum. It also symbolizes softness. Because it's so "feminine," use of pinks should be well planned. Pink and blue color combos are most associated with babies, soaps and detergents.

Purple - is a mixture of somber blue and active red. It can represent coolness, mist and shadows. It symbolizes royalty and dignity and can be mournful, yet soft and lonely. Purple is described as an "unquiet color" being mysterious and mystic in a cultural sort of way. A study revealed that purple, the color of mourning among many peoples, meets with disapproval in six Asian countries.

Blue - represents temperature, sky, water and ice. It is the second most powerful color. It obviously represents coolness, mist and shadows. In some applications it can represent peacefulness and calmness. And as pink represents femininity, blue represents masculinity. Blue is often associated with somber emotions like sadness, gloom and fear. Blue is a contemplative color, meaning intelligence and strength. It is one of the most politically correct colors there is with no negative connotations of it anywhere on the globe.

Green - is the most restful color for the human eye. It's the universal color of nature as well as represents fertility, rebirth and freedom. Bright green can be uplifting while dark green evokes a mental picture of a pine forest. Street signs are painted a metallic green background contrasted with white letters because the combination is believed to be the easiest to read and recognize for the human brain. However, as with most colors, green also brings forth some negative connotations. The phrase "green with envy" also gives way to guilt, ghastliness, sickness and disease.

Brown - is associated with nature, trees and wood. It represents conservancy and humility. Next to gray, brown, in one of its many shades, is one of the most neutral of the colors. It is useful in balancing out stronger colors, and because it is one of the most predominant hues in nature, it gives a sense of familiarity. Light brown confers genuineness while dark brown is reminiscent of fine wood and leather.

Gray - gives the stamp of exclusivity. It's the color "around which creative people are most creative." Gray is a neutral color that can enhance and intensify any other color it surrounds. It can enhance the psychological response of the other colors it supports.

Black - is associated with elegance and class (black-tie affair). It is the traditional color of fear, death and mourning. Look at the many terms using the word black to understand how it is perceived: "black sheep," "black heart," "black and blue" and "black mark." Despite the negative imagery that black brings, it is a preferred color in many designs since it contrasts with most colors quite well. If used correctly, it promotes distinction and clarity in your images.

White - symbolizes purity, innocence and birth. It's closely associated with winter and can also represent surrender or truth. In the color spectrum, white is the union of all the colors. Its neutrality and conservative nature is widely accepted. Its simplicity and subtle quality makes it an ideal color for establishing clarity and contrast in your images.


These general guidelines are a good starting point in your search for color. But remember that color choice is a very personal matter. You're the one who has to live with your new, so choose a hue that suits you, your family and your lifestyle.

Once considering the Color Psychology, The third step is to develop a Color Scheme. If you are not sure what color to pick, then search your home for a favorite picture or art piece such as glass art. Notice what color you are drawn to and make this a focus in your plan. Call it your key color theme or dominant color. Develop your scheme with these considerations and have it match your ambition.


A Color Scheme is a combination of colors that create harmony with each other. When choosing a scheme, most people select soft and monochromatic colors. A suggestion is to use the same or similar colors for your large pieces of furniture and your walls and keep your ceiling lighter than the rest of the room. You can then select a key dominant color to create emphasis and pop in a room with accessories like throws, pillows, paintings, glass art or other accessories..

If you feel helpless when it comes to picking and blending colors, your answer could be as far away as your nearest pillow. Here is a quick way to create a color scheme for your home, with an emphasis on - LMD .

  • Choose a Pattern: Starting with a pattern is the easiest way to create a color palette for your decor. Choose a pattern from any object you already have and love such as a pillow, picture or piece of furniture. There's your color palette!
  • Use Three Colors: Select a light, medium and dark color from your pattern to be used as your foundation. You may want to go to a hardware store and select color chips from the paint department that match your pattern to carry with you in case you come across a great find and need to know if it matches.
  • LMD: Light, Medium and Dark - How you use these colors can affect the overall appearance of your room.
    • Light- Is the Background- this is usually easy to achieve since most rentals are equipped with light to off-white walls.
    • Medium- Large furniture and windows - Since the color of these objects will blend with the above lighter selection, the medium furniture will ground the room and give it a foundation.
    • Dark- Accessories. Since your eye is drawn to a darker more intense color you will be able to arrange you accessories in a manner to guide the eye flowing through your room.
HINT: Choose-Use3-LMD: Use this concept whenever you are designing and it will pull things together to successfully create color coordination.


  • Mono-chromatic: Using one color (hue) throughout, utilizing that colors various tints, tones and shades. When using a mono-chromatic scheme using multiple textures creates character and maintains unity.
  • Complimentary: Using two colors (hues) that are opposites such as red and green or violet and yellow. Choose varying tints tones and shades which will give the bold dramatic effect you are looking for.
  • Analogous: Using three colors (hues) that are neighboring each other on the color wheel. These schemes can be warm or cool since colors are adjacent on the color wheel.
  • Triadic: Using three colors (hues) that are equal distance apart on the color wheel, such as red, yellow and blue or using secondary colors yellow-green, blue-violet, and red-orange.

I hope this posting has been helpful to you. Next week we'll talk texture, patterns, and proportion. As always I appreciate any and all feedback at For ideas and inspiration check us out online at and where you will find links to our various sites.


  1. I love this post! I wish you'd add more stuff - I really enjoy reading your blog!

  2. Cool! Thanks Lisa. I will be adding some more shortly and it should be some fun stuff to cover. I am trying to build the interior design basics and then go into some fun articles about furniture. I'm really happy you liked it!