How To Apply Color Theory To Your Home Decor

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

A colorful apartment interior is a design goal for many dwellers, but executing the look properly requires some knowledge and preparation. It’s easy to go overboard when it comes to colorful decor. Other common missteps include choosing colors that clash or opting for a palette that gives off a contradictory vibe to what you wanted in your home. One of the best ways to ensure the proper use of color in your apartment is to apply color theory to your home decor. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an artist to understand the basics. We’ll walk you through it.

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

An Intro To Color Theory

Color theory can be used to determine which hues work together and which hues clash. It’s a science that involves our interpretations of colors and how they interact with one another. The basis for the color theory is the color wheel, which you may remember from art class. The color wheel is composed of primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (mixtures of primary colors, like green and orange) and tertiary hues (hues that result from mixing a primary with a secondary color).

You can use the color wheel to determine which colors will pair “harmoniously” based on their location and proximity to one another on the wheel. Let’s take a closer look at what different color combinations look like, and how you can apply color theory to your home decor.

Rule Of Threes

In general, it’s a good idea to apply the rule of threes to your color scheme. Trying to decorate with more than three colors is where things start to look too busy. Keep that rule in the back of your mind while exploring the following ways in which you can apply color theory to your home decor.

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

Complementary Color Scheme

Complementary colors are opposite to one another on the traditional color wheel. There are three sets of complementary colors: blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple. You don’t have to stick with primary shades, though. When using complementary colors, explore with different hues, such as lavender and peach.

Complementary colors are aesthetically pleasing and have the ability to intensify each other’s hues when paired together. For example, if your living room is mostly blue, adding some orange accents will make all the colors “pop” even more than they would on their own.

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

Monochromatic Color Scheme

Monochromatic hues can be created by adding white, black, or grey to any single color. This will alter the color to be either a darker or lighter hue. You can apply a monochromatic color scheme to your home decor by choosing wall colors, furniture, and accents that are all different hues of the same color. This creates a cohesive look without being too busy or bland. 

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

Analogous Color Scheme

Analogous colors neighbor one another on the color wheel. Because they’re close to each other, they share the same “temperature,” meaning they’ll be considered hot or cool. The similarities between analogous colors mean they can easily look good when grouped together.

Chicago Apartments, Color Theory Decor

60-30-10 Rule

Another way to apply color theory to your apartment’s interior style is to use the 60-30-10 rule. When this rule is applied, 60% of your room should be one color. Typically, that means the walls and large pieces of furniture will be the same color, along with other large pieces, like rugs. Next, 30% of the room will feature another color of your choice. Medium-sized pieces of furniture, statement objects, lamps, and linens could all fit into this category. Lastly, the remaining 10% of the room will feature your third color. Use this for smaller objects and accents. You can use the color theory options discussed above to choose the right palette to apply to this rule.

More interior design tips:

Styling Rugs Over Carpet
Our Best Coffee Table Styling Tips
3/3 Vertical Rule For Interior Design


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