Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Color Theory 101

Using color on furniture can be so intimidating. I think that's why so many of us love white & beige.

Safe. Secure. Goes with everything.

But think of your home decor magazines--how often do the decorated rooms they feature include a wow! piece in that totally catches your eye in a crazy color that you just LOVE
--but you'd never have the guts to buy or paint yourself??


Well, I think one of the reasons we tend to shy away from color is that we don't know enough about color theory. 
So I thought I'd share some nuggets of knowledge I've gotten from some of the great masters of paint!


So, here's a short class in color theory based on the information I've received in my training classes from these great ladies!

Here's the color wheel:
Each color has an opposite in the color wheel:
Red vs. Green
Orange vs. Blue
Yellow vs. Purple

Each color also has it's analogous colors just beside it on the color wheel.
So, for example:
Blue has purple and green as it's analogous colors.

And in theory, complementary colors can be combined to make black, but since theory isn't often reality, a neutral gray color is usually the result.

There are warm colors: Red, Orange, Yellow
And Cool colors: Green, Blue, Purple.
Like, I said. Short Lesson. 

So here are a few examples of how I pick colors for furniture:

I'm not a huge fan of super bright colors, but when combined with a neutral to tone them down, they work for my color sensitivities. 

All of the colors I list are Annie Sloan Chalk Paint colors

Here is bright Barcelona Orange paired with neutral Coco. 
Note: I consider Coco the "warm" neutral brown of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint line,
as opposed to French Linen, which feels cooler to me.

 I like to pair warm colors with warm neutrals,
and cool colors with cool neutrals.

I like to use power colors sparingly.
Here is a bright warm pop used in moderation to liven up a deep cool color:
Deep neutral Graphite, with a dab of Aubusson Blue, and a pop of Red.

I tend to use complementary colors together rarely.  Here Red works for me with this blue-ish grey--but  blue's true complementary--orange--would have been just much for me. And too Broncos.

  Guess I'm not quite on the color blocking trend yet!

Another trend of mine is using analogous colors because of their relaxing, low conflict nature.
Think Beach.
Here is a  example of used analogous colors: Chateau Grey (which looks green) and Louis Blue.
With a pop of saturated brown for interest!
So, when choosing colors, I guess you first need to ask yourself these questions:

 Do I want high contrast to create energy?
Low contrast for a soothing sensation?

Do you gravitate toward cool colors: Blues, greens, purples?
Warm Colors: Reds, Oranges, Yellows?

Do you want to use neutrals and a pop of color?

Hope this helps in your coloring making decisions!

Thanks for stopping by,

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  1. i love that first piece- the knobs on it look perfect!

  2. Thanks for the ideas. I love the Coco with orange so I'll have to try that next.

  3. I really like the Barcelona Orange - have used that on a few pieces. I just started mixing colors together - hard for me since I am first of all - amle, and secondly left-handed. Colors don't come naturally to me. I have to depend on Mrs. Smith to say "ya" or "na".

  4. I just came across your Color Theory 101. Great info! I'll definitely be following and reading up. Thanks for sharing.