How to Use Complementary Color Schemes Header Image

How to Best Use Complementary Color Schemes in Your Home

Adding complementary color schemes to your home can be a great way to create an aesthetically pleasing and vibrant atmosphere. Complementary colors are those that lie across from each other on the color wheel, such as blue with orange, red with green, or yellow and purple. When used together in tandem, these hues provide bold contrast which will draw attention to your décor! There are plenty of ways you can use this style in your abode – painting walls is just one example – so let’s explore some tips for incorporating it into yours.

Choosing Complementary Colors

What are Complementary Colors?

Understanding the color wheel is an essential part of creating effective color schemes in interior design. We use the color wheel as a visual representation of the relationships between colors. Additionally, we use it to create harmonious and balanced color palettes.

Complementary colors are located directly across from each other on the color wheel. For example, the complementary color of red is green, and the complementary color of blue is orange. Complementary colors create a strong visual contrast when we use them together in a color scheme. We often see them in interior design because they create a sense of visual interest.

How Do I Choose Complementary Colors for a Color Scheme?

It is important to consider lighting and other elements when choosing complementary colors for interiors because a colors appearance can vary depending on the lighting.

For example, a light blue wall may look great with burnt orange furniture in average lighting, but it could potentially clash if bright light makes the orange appear more saturated. Additionally, it’s important to consider the other elements in your home before selecting complementary colors. For instance, you don’t want to choose complementary colors that clash with existing décor elements you have no intention of replacing.

Other than lighting however, you should choose complementary color schemes that are to your taste.

Incorporate Neutral Colors

Neutral colors are colors that don’t appear on the color wheel as pure hues (colors). Instead, we create them by mixing pure hues together or by adding black, white, or gray to pure hues. We often often considered them to be versatile and can work well with other colors, making them popular choices for interior spaces.

Some commonly used neutral colors include black, white, off whites (cream, ivory), gray, and arguably brown.

An excellent way to subdue the high contrast in complementary color schemes is by including a neutral color into the color scheme. You can use the neutral color as an accent color so that it can ground the other two hues.

For example, if you are using a complementary color scheme of red and green, try adding some white to the mix. White can help tone down the contrast between the two complementary colors and make them look more harmonious together.

Alternatively, you can choose a neutral color as a second dominant color to one of your complementary colors. This means that one of your complementary colors – lets take orange for example – and a neutral color (ivory) make up most of your color scheme. We can then use a light blue as an accent color.

Creating a Mood with Complementary Colors

According to color psychology, all colors have common associations attached to them that make us feel particular emotions. These associations influence how we experience these colors. Consequentially, we can strategically use color to create a mood or atmosphere in a space.

The three most basic complementary color pairings are red/green, yellow/purple, and blue/orange. Each of these complementary color schemes has its own unique look and feel that you can use to create a certain mood in the space.

Red and Green

For a feeling of energy and excitement, try the red/green complementary color scheme. We associate red with passion and warmth while greens evoke feelings of life and vitality. Together, they create a vibrant atmosphere that is perfect for entertaining.

Red and green are a combination commonly found in various facets of our lives. In nature, for example, poppies and roses are often vibrant red with bright green stems. Additionally, we see red and green as a popular Christmas color combination.

Yellow and Purple

The yellow/purple complementary color scheme creates a sense of luxury and opulence. We generally associate yellow with happiness, joy, and sunshine. Gold, which is a variation of yellow, is commonly associated with wealth. Purple on the other hand is associated with royalty, mystery, and sophistication. Thus, we can use this complementary color combination to create an elegant yet inviting atmosphere in any interior space.

Purple and gold are a combination that was often used on royal robes. Purple pigment was not easy to acquire in the past and was thus reserved for the wealthy. Gold of course has historically been used as a representation of wealth as well. Consequentially, it is reasonable to see how purple and yellow form a complementary color scheme we associate with opulence.

Blue and Orange

For a modern and sophisticated look, the complementary colors blue and orange will do the trick. When we see the color blue, we think of trustworthiness, stability, and calmness. We associate orange with creativity, enthusiasm, and vibrancy. Together they create a balanced look that works well in contemporary or modern spaces.

If blue and orange don’t sound like a color combination that appeals to you, play around with the saturation or value of colors. Blue can be navy, and orange can be peach. Although still the same complementary colors, it looks and feels very different than your typical blue and orange.

Complementary Colors in Patterns and Textures

Thus far, we have assumed that two complementary colors would compose the majority of a color scheme, but that does not have to be the case.

Neutral colors can be the dominant color in a 60-30-10 color scheme. A 60-30-10 color scheme involves using three different hues in percentages of 60%, 30%, and 10%. The dominant hue makes up 60%, making it the most prevalent hue throughout the space.

If you’d like to know more about color schemes and how to create them, then checkout the post on color schemes.

If you want to add complementary colors in your space, but the contrast seems too stark for your taste, then use them sparingly. One way to do this is by incorporating complementary colors through patterns and textures. In doing so, you can subdue the contrast between both colors.

Thus, to harmonize your space, consider incorporating complementary colors such as red and green through decorative accents like art, curtains, or rugs.

Take, for example, a floral wallpaper or fabric. Most floral designs use green and often red as well. In this case, the combination of these two complementary colors is much less jarring than if you combined a red wall with a green couch.

Patterns and textures are a fantastic way to introduce color into your décor without overwhelming the room with too much contrast. By placing white space between two complementary colors, you can easily reduce the amount of tension created in a space.


In conclusion, complementary color schemes can be a great way to create an aesthetically pleasing and vibrant atmosphere in your home. By understanding the associations of different colors and how they make us feel, we can strategically use complementary color pairings to create a certain mood or atmosphere. Additionally, patterns and textures are also helpful when incorporating complementary colors into your space as it allows you to reduce the contrast between them by utilizing white space. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to craft complementary color schemes that work best for your style!


You do not need to use complementary color schemes throughout your entire space. You can incorporate them through accents or décor items like throw pillows, curtains, artwork, or rugs. This can help limit your space from feeling visually heavy or formulaic.

You can absolutely use more than two colors in a complementary color scheme. If both of your complementary colors are bright or rich, your third color could be a neutral to balance them out. Alternatively, you could select an analogous color to one of your two complementary colors, or use a tint, shade or tone.

You can use complementary color schemes in small spaces. However, it’s important to use them strategically to avoid overwhelming the space. If you use complementary colors in a small room, consider using a lighter shade of one of the colors to create a sense of openness and balance. You can also limit your use of complementary colors to accent pieces or décor rather than large surfaces or walls.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *