Colours that stand opposite each other on the colour wheel are as unlike to one another as possible and known as complementary colours. They are the liveliest of colour schemes and are suitable for spaces where the theme is casual and fun. For example: if you were choosing paint for a family room or games room - you might want to experiment with tones of blue and orange. Notice these colours sit opposite one another on the colour wheel shown.
Complementary colours work best when paired in a way so that one colour is dominant (80% of space/wall coverage) and the other colour is used as an accent (20%). If you are having trouble deciding which of the complementary colours you are going to use as dominant in your space think about this... With complementary colours one is often labelled as having a "warm" feel and the other is "cool". The warm colour in the example above is orange and the cool colour is blue. So ask yourself "Do I want this space to feel warm or cool?" Warm hues include shades and tints of red, orange and yellow. Cool hues include shades and tints of blue, green and violet.
Also consider that warm colours tend to make the space appear smaller and cozier, while cool colours tend to make the space appear larger and airy.
*It is important to note that shades are hues created by adding black to that colour and tints are hues that are created by adding white to that colour.*
Now, here is a little secret: strong, pure colours may be too overwhelming so you may want to "knock back" or deliberately weaken (tint) a colour by adding white to it. By knocking back both colours the space will feel more airy and light. By knocking back only one of the colours you will make the main colour appear even fresher and brighter in comparison.
I want to mention that this little trick also works with fabrics and patterns. So if you really aren't someone who takes risks and you tend to enjoy taking a step back from "going with gusto" - then keep it neutral (brown, black, white, gray, tan, beige) on the walls furniture and add some pizzazz with pillows, throws, art and rugs. Just remember to keep it all complementary. You can mix it up by using shades and tints of your chosen colours, or patterns that match is size and scale. (we will talk about this another time :)
In closing I ask you to go crazy with colour!!! Add some fun to that playroom, family room or games room. Go wild! But.... never leave home without your colour wheel.
Next time we talk about using ADJACENT colours on the wheel - where and how to use them. Stay tuned!