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Color Basics & Descriptive Color Words

When discussing color with clients it is important to understand the basics of color first. The basic color wheel is comprised of 12 different colors within the following 5 categories. There are Primary colors, Secondary colors, Tertiary colors, Complementary colors, and Harmonious colors.

Color Wheel

Primary Colors:

Red, Blue, and Yellow are the only three colors that cannot be made by mixing together other colors.

Secondary Colors:

Violet, Green and Orange are the three secondary colors made by evenly mixing two primary colors.

Tertiary Colors:

These six colors are made by evenly mixing a primary color with a neighboring secondary color.

Complementary Colors:

Colors that lie directly opposite each other on the color wheel are known as complementary colors.

Harmonious Colors:

Colors that are adjacent on the wheel and share hues in common are known as harmonious colors.

Color Wheel - Warm Tones vs. Cool Tones

Now that we have the basics down you can use this knowledge as you determine what type of space your clients will thrive best within.

Contrasting Colors: Using contrasting colors will offer more movement visually

Monochrome Colors: Using one hue grouping tends to make a space feel relaxing and

comfortable since there is a natural blend.

I believe it is also important to help your clients relate to the proposed colors and create those connects to evoke meaning to them. To do this try using descriptive words to provide a visual in your clients mind and offer a connection to the colors. By using descriptive words we not only create a visual connection but also bring in the value and saturation of a color. There are many different values within a single color. For example:

Reds: Can run from a Blush to a Candy Apple Red to a Wine

Blues: From Sky, Sapphire, Ocean, Cobalt to Navy

Yellows: From Dandelion, Banana, to Gold

I've found by using descriptive color words it helps bridge the gap for our clients and brings them closer to the project and the overall feel we are working to achieve. It provides a sense of connection and can evoke different feelings for our projects from fun and energetic kids play spaces to serene and relaxing master bedrooms.

See you next time!


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