Design can sometimes feel less like a science and more like a feeling. When set in a certain position, a couch can just feel “off.” A paint color may have looked good on the swatch, but can suddenly feel “wrong” when applied to a wall. It’s not always easy to articulate why we decide to design a certain way, so we often rely on our feelings to help express our judgement calls.
And as it turns out, there is a rather highbrow term for an aesthetic that’s probably been giving you all the feels lately: an analogous color scheme.
“This type of pairing employs colors that are next to each other on the color wheel,” says designer Katie Hodges. “They usually vary only slightly in pigment and intensity.”
The three aligned shades of an analogous color schemes usually work like this. One is determined to be the “dominant” shade that’s used to ground the rest of the look. The second choice is labelled as the “supporting” hue that provides texture throughout the space. And the final option is the “accent” that pops against the others. When used correctly, an analogous color scheme can create the type of warmth you’d want to feel in any room.
“It exudes a sense of serene harmony, while still maintaining a boldness in the design,” she continues. “Because the colors tend to be somewhat tonal, it really allows for a room to be designed with the big picture in mind, rather than around one bright focal point in the space.”
If you’re interested in creating an analogous color scheme in your home, these are the three options Hodges recommends.
Black, Brown, and Tan
“This color scheme works great in pretty much any room, but it’s one of my favorite dining room combinations because it creates an essence of sophistication and formality, without coming across as too fancy,” she says.
“These colors work well together because even the slightest variation in tone creates a new layer and element of depth,” Hodges continues. “It’s important to use the black sparingly, and consider texture and color intensity in every piece. For instance, this dining room’s moodiness is balanced by the wood danish cord dining chairs—if those were dark brown, the design would fall flat.”
Black, Charcoal, and Gray
“Foundation furniture in an analogous color scheme is a great way to coordinate pieces without having them look too matchy,” she adds. “This palette is timeless and classic, while offering ample opportunity to layer in additional elements. The important tip here is to create enough contrast between each item, depending on the layout of the room and the placement of the items within it.”
Blue-Green, Blue, and Blue-Violet
“This color combination is perfect for a playroom or kids room because it can read as either feminine, or masculine, or both,” she says. “The blues are cooler in tone, and the slightly warmer violet provides the necessary contrast. I recommend blue-violet as the ‘pop’ here, and the blue-green as the contrast.”
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