Saturday, October 20, 2012

Design basics: monochromatic and analogous color schemes

let's talk color

As you may remember I am back at University working towards my certificate in Residential Interiors, and I thought I would share with you a little of what I'm learning.
One of our recent projects was to develop a color scheme and room design based one hue or up to four adjacent hues on the color wheel.  Now I'm sure we've all done a color wheel sometime in elementary school or perhaps an art class -- but to jog your memory, here it is:
Monochromatic schemes (using just one color) can be especially tricky, as it is easy to wander off into an adjacent hue especially when it comes to the primary (red, blue, yellow) and secondary hues (violet, green, and orange).  It's easy, for example, for your blue to become blue-green -- and then what you've got is an analogous color scheme.  The tertiaries (blue-violet, red-violet, red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green and blue-green) are a lot more forgiving as there is a whole range of colors within that one hue, owing to the fact that they are mixtures of the other colors (i.e. blue violet could be blue blue violet or violet violet blue).  Also challenging about these schemes is that while they are monochromatic  you don't want them to be monotone.  Monotone rooms (think: everything beige!) happen when care is not taken to vary the intensity and the value of the chosen hue.  That said, monochromatic color schemes can have an impactful and/ or restful effect, as there is little tension between colors.  They are also uniquely memorable -- I remember watching an Asian film once (Hero) where each scene was a different color -- it was spellbinding.

Analogous schemes are likewise harmonious and can be very easy for the amateur to pull off -- provided the colors are in balance and that there are appropriate transitions between hues.  Think a garden room done in spa like colors of green and blue-green, or a library with richly paneled mahogany (red-violet) walls, red tapestry chairs and a brown (a very dark value red-orange) leather sofa.

Also good to remember is that you can take one hue (say red) and get hundreds of colors from it simply by adding black, white or gray (pink, rose, and chocolate brown are all made from red).  In a true monochromatic color scheme even the floors and accessories have the same hue (wood has a color too!)

So without furthur ado, let's look at some pictures of analogous and monochromatic rooms:
green, blue green, blue

red violet

red orange

yellow, yellow green, green, 


yellow, yellow orange, orange, red orange

orange, red orange, red, red violet

yellow, yellow orange, orange, red

top photo:  yellow, yellow orange, orange, red orange

    bottom photo: orange red, red, red violet

blue-green, blue, blue violet (there are also contrasting red-orange tones in the room, but we'll ignore those for now)

blue green, blue, blue violet, violet

red violet, violet, blue violet

yellow orange, yellow, yellow green

orange, red-orange, red

yellow orange, orange, red orange

orange, red orange, red, red violet

Image credits:  Elle Decor, Jessica Helgerson, Kelly Wearstler, Home by Navogratz, M.E. Beck Design, Better Homes and Gardens, Amanda Nisbet, others unknown.

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