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Opposite Colors Create Drama

Violet and yellow, red and green, orange and blue -- colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel elicit a dramatic and energetic room decor.

In the same way that polarized personalities can bring out the best in each other, so do colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel.

These are called complementary colors, and they draw from warm and cool sides of the wheel, intensifying one another. The drama of these duos makes an exciting combination. Dining rooms, kitchens, playrooms, and party rooms are excellent candidates for complementary schemes.

Still not sure how to construct a complementary scheme? Let professional colorists do the work for you: look for fabrics, patterns, and wallpapers that already include opposite colors.

Remember too that you needn't use the brightest colors for a complementary scheme. For example, though red and green are complements, so are lighter shades of medium pink and sage, rose and hunter, pastel pink and apple green.

Consult a color wheel if you're unsure of a color's complement. You can get one at an art or paint store for reference.

  • Blue and orange (as well as navy and terra cotta, sky blue and peach, and so on)
  • Red and green (as well as medium pink and sage, rose and hunter, pastel pink and apple green, and so on)
  • Violet and yellow (as well as lavendar and butter, purple and gold, and so on)
  • Let one color take center stage. Use the complementary color as a counterpoint. Don't allow it to compete with your central color.
  • Bring in the complementary color through fabric, accessories, or a painted molding -- even a bowl of fruit.
  • Choose hues of your complements that offer the same intensity of color. For example, deep red with hunter green (both dark) or pale pink with seafoam green (both light).
  • Toss in a sprinkling of white, black, or taupe as a visual resting place for the dramatic play of energy created by complementary schemes.

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