to me for some rea­son, it always seemed that a beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tion of col­or palettes is the result of the artist’s bril­liant mem­o­ry and the unre­al­is­tic tal­ent of an inte­ri­or design­er.

But hav­ing plunged into the world of design, it became clear that com­pe­tent­ly plac­ing col­or accents is with­in the pow­er of a per­son who has such a gift as a sense of pro­por­tion.

But the col­or com­bi­na­tions them­selves are only the result of knowl­edge of the col­or table. I pro­pose to con­sid­er it fur­ther.

The meth­ods described below apply not only to inte­ri­ors, the rules of col­or work in clothes and in the gar­den.


All col­ors are divid­ed into:

  • basic (these are blue, red, yel­low),
  • addi­tion­al — green, pur­ple, orange, they are obtained by mix­ing the main ones, blue + yel­low, blue + red, yel­low + red.
  • inter­me­di­ate — mixed shades locat­ed between the pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary col­ors, each of them depends on the degree of inten­si­ty of one of the pri­ma­ry col­ors, blue + yel­low u003d light green, blue + yel­low u003d blue-green, and so on.

As you know from the school bench there is two polar col­ors — it is white (ful­ly reflect­ing light) and black (ful­ly absorb­ing light). Inter­me­di­ate between them grey. All three have many shades and there­fore for inte­ri­or design they are of great inter­est and a lot of oppor­tu­ni­ties.

By degree of sat­u­ra­tion col­ors are divid­ed into:

  • blur­ry — they con­tain a share of white, the more it is, the paler the shade, the sec­ond name for such tones is pas­tel,
  • pure — the basic tones of each col­or with­out any impu­ri­ties,
  • sat­u­rat­ed — tones with an admix­ture of black, giv­ing them depth and “dra­ma”,
  • mut­ed, they are also neu­tral, shades con­tain a share of gray and have a lot of advan­tages for inte­ri­or design, but read about this lat­er in the arti­cle.


This table is a cir­cu­lar spec­trum and is extreme­ly easy to use.

The col­ors in it are pre­sent­ed quite schemat­i­cal­ly, but they clear­ly demon­strate the prin­ci­ple of com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with each oth­er.

In the inte­ri­or, unlike cloth­ing, it is per­mis­si­ble to use a greater num­ber of shades. After all, the formed plane is dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly larg­er.

Let’s start get­ting acquaint­ed with the rules for using the table with mono­chrome com­bi­na­tions. In this case, the inte­ri­or con­tains dif­fer­ent shades of the same col­or. To select, it is enough to take tones from one sec­tor. But even here there may be some nuances.

If you open any graph­ic edi­tor (the sim­plest exam­ple: pic­tures in Word or Paint Brush), there, in the col­or change, you can see a tonal stretch, which invari­ably starts with white, con­tains a pure col­or in the cen­ter, and ends with black.

So, the cor­rect mono­chrome com­bi­na­tion will turn out if you choose the shades locat­ed:

  • from white to pure basic (not includ­ing the lat­ter),
  • from pure col­or to black (exclud­ing the first).

That is, you will nev­er make a mis­take if you exclude its cen­tral part from the tone stretch (see the fig­ure above and the pho­to above it)

Har­mo­nious com­bi­na­tion of two col­ors it will turn out if you choose shades from any two adja­cent sec­tors.

At the same time, both col­ors “lose” their orig­i­nal char­ac­ter­is­tics, acquir­ing “neigh­bor­ing” ones.

The sec­ond way to achieve the right com­bi­na­tion is to choose con­trast­ing col­ors locat­ed in oppo­site sec­tors of the table.

Such col­ors are called com­ple­men­tary and their use estab­lish­es col­or bal­ance in the inte­ri­or.

Pro­por­tion Rule

When using more than two col­ors, it is very impor­tant to main­tain a quan­ti­ta­tive bal­ance. Usu­al­ly, one back­ground shade is cho­sen for this, and the rest as col­or spots (accents).

There is also such a tech­nique — the dark­er the col­or, the less it should be in the room. How­ev­er, this is not an axiom, but an estab­lished tra­di­tion that can be safe­ly vio­lat­ed if you are con­fi­dent in your abil­i­ty to choose the right pro­por­tions of col­or.

Three ways to com­bine three col­ors

The first way is soft col­or har­mo­ny. It is achieved by con­nect­ing col­ors from three adja­cent sec­tors of the table (orange line in the fig­ure).

The inte­ri­or will be cozy and visu­al­ly spa­cious. Rec­om­mend for small spaces.

The sec­ond method is a three-col­or com­po­si­tion of the back­ground col­or and two com­ple­men­tary ones, all three are locat­ed at the ver­tices of an equi­lat­er­al tri­an­gle (black tri­an­gle in the fig­ure).

The third way is soft con­trast, when one col­or cho­sen as the back­ground is opposed to two col­ors adja­cent to its “antipode” (green tri­an­gle in the fig­ure). For exam­ple, for a blue-green col­or, the neigh­bors of pur­ple — pur­ple and red (see col­or scheme) will make a soft con­trast.
Four col­ors in the inte­ri­or

There are also three com­bi­na­tion options here. Option one — four col­ors locat­ed on the tops of the square (black in the dia­gram). Of course, one col­or is dom­i­nant, the rest are com­ple­men­tary.

Option two — choose two col­ors sep­a­rat­ed by one sec­tor, as a soft con­trast to them, choose their oppo­sites. If we con­nect these shades in series, we will get an elon­gat­ed rec­tan­gle (green line in the dia­gram).

The third option: select the back­ground col­or, look for its oppo­site and two more through the sec­tor from it (red line). In the pre­sent­ed dia­gram, for the back­ground red, blue was cho­sen as a con­trast and two addi­tion­al ones — blue and green.

six col­ors com­bin­ing is extreme­ly sim­ple: in the table, these are col­ors locat­ed one sec­tor apart from each oth­er and lie on the ver­tices of the hexa­gon.

So that the inte­ri­or does not turn out to be too col­or­ful, one or two col­ors are cho­sen as back­ground col­ors (in dif­fer­ent pro­por­tions), the rest are only as small col­or spots.

You can cre­ate a soft­er and more har­mo­nious design by choos­ing col­ors that lie in one half of the col­or wheel. Here, only one back­ground shade is cho­sen, the rest com­ple­ment it, but in small pro­por­tions.


An inter­est­ing solu­tion would be inte­ri­or design in one of the above-men­tioned tones. The fact is that each of them acts on oth­er col­ors in a spe­cial way. Let’s take a clos­er look at these fea­tures.

Black + col­or shades

It is best to com­bine black with pure col­ors. It tends to enhance the “neigh­bor” and there­fore any pure col­or next to black looks brighter.

In the pho­to: black with oth­er col­ors as the back­ground.

In the pho­to: black with oth­er col­ors as a col­or accent.

White + col­or shades
White is also rec­om­mend­ed for use with pure col­ors. But his role here is dif­fer­ent — he is able to muf­fle even the most “flashy” col­or.

There­fore, if you want to make your inte­ri­or “over­ly cheer­ful”, but are afraid that the bright­ness of the col­or will tire you over time (which will real­ly hap­pen soon­er or lat­er), gen­er­ous­ly spice up the atmos­phere with large white “spots”: fur­ni­ture, car­pets, cur­tains.

Bet­ter yet, use white as the back­ground and bright col­ors as accents.

Gray + col­or shades

The two pre­vi­ous options are a solu­tion for peo­ple striv­ing for orig­i­nal­i­ty and con­trasts. But gray is an ide­al option for peo­ple look­ing for har­mo­ny with­in them­selves. And for this it is not at all nec­es­sary to immerse the entire inte­ri­or in dull dull­ness.

Look at the pho­to, gray next to bright col­ors looks incred­i­bly noble and makes the room dis­creet and, at the same time, spec­tac­u­lar.


If you want to bet on a bright envi­ron­ment in inte­ri­or design, it is most rea­son­able to cre­ate the per­fect wall back­ground for it by choos­ing a com­bi­na­tion of neu­tral shades.

Neu­tral shades are not pure col­ors. They are lighter shades, mut­ed gray.

As a result, “smoky” nuances of each col­or are obtained: beige, pis­ta­chio, ash-pink, gray-blue, olive, kha­ki, cocoa, lilac, etc.

By choos­ing neu­tral shades, you are guar­an­teed to get a har­mo­nious, bal­anced inte­ri­or in which it is pleas­ant to relax after a busy day.

Anoth­er advan­tage of a neu­tral inte­ri­or is that you can always mod­i­fy it by adding details in more sat­u­rat­ed col­ors.

In the pho­to above: a com­bi­na­tion of three adja­cent col­ors (blue-green, cyan, blue) is sup­ple­ment­ed with white (to slight­ly blur the bright­ness). And the neu­tral col­or of ivory in the low­er plane of the inte­ri­or made it “airy”.

This inte­ri­or is made using blue as the base col­or, inter­spersed with large patch­es of yel­low and small accents of red. There is quite a tra­di­tion­al com­bi­na­tion of three con­trast­ing col­ors. Well, so that such a bright inte­ri­or does not tire the eyes, the largest and bright­est plane of the win­dow is draped with a white cloth, blur­ring the bright­ness of the inte­ri­or.

Pale lilac is a cold shade, it is cus­tom­ary to apply it to rooms with win­dows fac­ing south. Here you can see a com­bi­na­tion of four shades: lilac, red and blue lying one sec­tor from it, plus its oppo­site yel­low (its mut­ed shades from oppo­site edges of the sec­tor are cho­sen — milky white, beige and brown).

This inte­ri­or is made in neu­tral col­ors. How­ev­er, so that it does not look dull, juicy shades of blue are inter­spersed with it. by the way, you can choose a warmer yel­low or a hot­ter red or orange instead. And each time the room would look dif­fer­ent.

The pho­to above shows the inte­ri­or of the bed­room, made in mono­chrome col­ors with the dom­i­nance of neu­tral tones.

A beau­ti­ful com­bi­na­tion of amber shades against a neu­tral grey-lilac back­ground. Here is an inte­ri­or made accord­ing to the prin­ci­ple of con­trast of oppo­sites.

Calm pur­ple, pas­tel pur­ple as back­ground and pure blue formed the basis of this inte­ri­or. Here is a har­mo­nious com­bi­na­tion of shades from three adja­cent sec­tors. The brighter the col­or, the less it is. Since all of the above shades belong to the cat­e­go­ry of cold tones, there­fore, small spots of hot orange were added to the inte­ri­or.

Turquoise plus brown is a favorite com­bi­na­tion of baroque design­ers. But even out­side its frame­work, these two con­trast­ing shades look noble, respectable and, at the same time, bright. Add dra­ma to this inte­ri­or Roman cur­tains deep blue.

The inte­ri­or is in a misty haze of mut­ed shades: brown, pink, blue and fret­ted. The cor­rect com­bi­na­tion of four col­ors (option two).

Here is a con­trast of oppo­sites: deriv­a­tives of blue (smoky gray-blue) and orange (brown tone).

And again, a mono­chrome inte­ri­or in beige and brown tones. This col­or scheme gained its pop­u­lar­i­ty due to the psy­cho­log­i­cal impact — the abil­i­ty to acti­vate men­tal activ­i­ty and, at the same time, muf­fle emo­tions. Plus, brown has always been asso­ci­at­ed with sta­bil­i­ty and respectabil­i­ty.

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