Using the Color Wheel to Choose a Paint Color

How to use the color wheel to combine different paint colors in your next design project

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Color Wheel

Table of Contents

When designing the interior of your home, you first decide on an interior design style and then use the color wheel to choose a paint. Some people prefer to use warm colors like reds, yellows, and oranges while others prefer cool colors such as blue and green. Then you have to decide if you want your paint to be bright or muted. With so many color options, it’s nice to have some sort of guide. That’s what the color wheel is all about.

Temperature and Saturation

Warm colors bring a sense of coziness and comfort to a home when they are muted or a sense of excitement when they are bright. Cooler colors make a room feel calm and serene when muted or playfulness when they are bright. Whatever you select, you need to consider the effect you are going for when selecting light bulbs as well. Warmer paint colors tend to look better with warmer light bulbs and vice-versa. For more information on this, check out the Science of Light to learn more about light bulb temperature.

As you can tell, saturation plays just as big of a role in color atmosphere as the temperature of the color itself. When you are choosing a paint color for a room, you need to think about how you will use that room when selecting a saturation. A room with a lot of activity, such as a kitchen or dining room, could take a more saturated color. More muted colors are more appropriate for a bedroom where you want to sleep easily.

Using the Color Wheel

Alright, hang with me here on this one because it will make the rest of this make more sense. Looking at the color wheel isn’t entirely fun but the power it gives you to mix and match color is incredibly fun. There are 4 major ways to combine color.


Monochromatic is a pretty simple one. Basically, you take a color and then you add black, white, or gray to it in order to get similar colors to match with it. Your entire room would end up in shades of red for instance.


When you use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, you are using analogous colors. This would mean using a dusty orange, a pumpkin orange, and a yellow orange.


Complementary colors are those that are directly across the wheel from one another. For example, yellow and purple together. Most people think of complementary colors when they think of their high school or college colors. You may want to tone them down if you’re using them inside your home though.


Triad schemes use three colors that basically cut the color wheel in three parts. The major point to this scheme is that the colors need to be equidistant from each other around the entire wheel. An example of this is to use purple, green, and orange.

Examples of Color Combinations


When you are selecting a palette for a room, you need to consider how the room will be used, what atmosphere you want to create, and what colors may compliment one another. Don’t be afraid to mix and match with bright colors, neutrals, and muted pastels. Make sure to get a sample from the paint department and try it in your own home. Look at the colors throughout the day in the lighting that you have so that you make sure you are always going to love the color you selected.

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Head Homeowner

Hey everybody! I'm Sydney, the head homeowner here. Let me know if you have any questions you didn't find the answer to. Tell me what projects you're working on. I love to hear from all my readers.