You may remember from school that complementary colors lie on the opposite side of the color wheel. Orange and blue, yellow and purple, red and green. You know that mixing these often produces a not-so-nice shade of brown (or maybe a wonderful shade of brown! There’s no wrong color). But did you know that using complementary colors in design can actually be a good thing?
When utilizing complementary colors against one another, an interesting thing occurs. The colors can “vibrate” against each other! The term “vibrate” is in response to the way your eyes feel when interacting with these colors. This doesn’t always happen with complementary colors, but it does happen most often with them. Here are some examples:
See what we mean?
Usually in design and interior design this can be really harsh on the eyes and you want to attempt to stay away from “vibrating” colors. However, sometimes vibration of colors can bring visual interest to a room.
The thing about using complementary colors is that you want to have one color that is the main color, and use the second color in spurts, not excessively. Using the second color sparingly will help from too much vibration from occurring.
Now that we understand the basics, let’s look at some awesome complementary colors in interior design:
Blue & Orange
Notice that the blue color has been toned down into a lighter blue-aqua tone that really helps pick up that orange tone. This space is not overwhelming!
The dark blue of these walls really help to accentuate the tone of the orange, drawing your eye in to really look at this couch. The echo of the dark blue as a pillow on the couch is a great touch!
You don’t have to go all out to get the pop of complementary colors. You can use complementary colors in just accessories or furniture, like in the above photo by Stephanie Krauss Designs. This makes for easy swapping of colors if you get sick of them.
Purple & Yellow
This couch from Curated Interior with golden mustard yellow accents really shows off a royal purple, drawing you in with that pop of yellow.
This room is decidedly retro, but we enjoy the usage of the muted purple wall, couch, and the rug. The pea green helps to bring together a bright yellow and yellow-green piece into the rest of the room. The orange-brown of the wooden flooring helps as well!
This fantastic bright mustard yellow couch plays nicely against the muted purple-pink backdrop. Don’t you just want to plop right down on this couch?
Red & Green
Red and green can be difficult because we often associate these two colors in conjunction with Christmas. The important part is making sure you have textures and possibly another color or two to break it up.
These balsam green built ins from Hunted Interior are amazing. Just a hint of red really pops against the green, and utilizing black and white as well (along with the stripes and dots patterns) help to not give off a Christmas type of vibe.
Look at this gorgeous use of red and green by designer Simone McEwan. The red brings in an intimate setting, and the muted green color helps to keep it from getting out of control. The pattern of the carpet helps to keep it from giving off a Christmas vibe.
This bedroom had the potential to really get Christmas-y given the shapes of the embroidery on the comforter as well as the lamp. The usage of the deep brown tone and white helps to break up the space. Plus that red is just luscious!
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