How to Design Color Schemes
DIY Home Staging Tips
for a faster, more profitable home sale

This page is a work in progress - June 13 2019

Analogous color schemes

An analogous color scheme is created when you combine three colors that are side by side on the color wheel. Typically, one color is dominant and the others secondary in prominence.

The secondary and tertiary colors in this design scheme are harmonious, and occur naturally in nature. An example of this color combination would be; red, red-orange, and orange, like Fall foliage.

Analogous color schemes are used often in interior decorating when a peaceful, calming room scheme is desired. Analogous colors are restful and easy on the eyes.

These color combinations can encompass three to five hues with only one primary color.

When designing a room using an analogous color scheme, use the 60-30-10 rule. This means;

  • 60% of the room should consist of a dominant color; walls and ceilings. 
  • 30% should be a secondary color; upholstered furniture, for example. 
  • 10% of your color scheme should be an accent color to provide visual interest to the room, usually in the form of accessories. 

Analogous color combinations work well in informal rooms such as, bedrooms, family rooms and dens.

Complementary color schemes

Complementary color schemes use colors that are direct opposites on the color wheel. These color combinations work best when one color dominates over the other. The colors opposite one other on the color wheel complete and enrich the other.

An example of a complementary color scheme would be red-green, blue-orange, and yellow-purple. If you get the color saturation wrong, the colors can add tension to a room by vibrating off each other. The effect can be jarring, so a deft hand is required when designing a room using these color combinations.

Complementary color schemes work well in formal rooms like dining or living rooms or in contemporary style rooms, such as the children's bedroom pictured above. See how the orange in this room pops next to the blue.

Monochromatic color schemes

Monochromatic color schemes are the most successful room design for small spaces.

This color design employs a single color in varied tones, shades and tints. The one color can vary greatly in value and saturation, creating a sophisticated and restful space like in the bedroom above.

Done incorrectly, a monochromatic color scheme can be bland and boring. Monochromatic color schemes rely heavily on natural and textural elements to create interest.

This low-contrast color scheme is the most successful color palette for small room design. Monochromatic color schemes create harmony, visual cohesion, and a sense of relaxation in any room, making it the perfect color scheme for home staging.

Any color can be used in monochromatic room design, but typically, colors used for the purpose of home staging are whites, beiges and grays.

Many people may yawn at the idea of a room that is basically designed around one color, but by incorporating variations in tones, textures and accessorizing with glass, objects from nature, greenery, etc., you can create a feeling of spaciousness and sophistication.

Monochromatic color schemes also create a perfect backdrop for displaying artwork.

Monotone color schemes

This sophisticated color scheme uses one color with very little variation in value, saturation and brightness.

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The monotone color scheme can be calm and soothing, and has the effect of enlarging space, making it an ideal design color scheme for small spaces.

The monotone look can be rescued from total blandness by accessorizing with subtle patterns, greenery, glass, metals, wood furniture elements and textural features in fabrics.

Like the monochromatic style, the monotone look also creates a great backdrop for artwork and collections. This is why you usually see art galleries painted in white, to allow the artwork to stand out.

White is typically used in combination with monotone and monochromatic color schemes, in the form of window trim, molding, doors and door casings.

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