Clever colour schemes with the colour wheel

It doesn’t matter if you’re an interior designer or just a decorating junky, understanding industry jargon isn’t second nature. You don’t normally talk about triadic colour schemes at the dinner table, right? That’s why we’re starting at square one to let you in on the secret behind a perfect colour scheme and to help you get a better idea of what goes into a tasteful colour selection. 

The colour wheel is one of the first concepts we learn as children. It’s an indispensable tool for really understanding colour. In a few words: the colour wheel is a visual representation of colours that demystifies their composition.

Primary, secondary or tertiary?

Forming the foundation of the colour wheel are three colours that cannot be broken down into other colours. Said differently, these are pure colours that are NOT the product of blending other colours. They’re called primary colours—more specifically red, blue and yellow. To create secondary colours, you need only blend primary colours. When you do, you get green (yellow + blue), orange (yellow + red) and purple (blue + red). Closing the circle are tertiary colours, which are made by mixing together primary and secondary colours.

Primary colours: red, blue and yellow.
Secondary colours: orange, purple and green. They’re made up of two primary colours.
Tertiary colours: these six colour combinations are created when you blend primary colours with secondary colours.
Warm colours, cool colours
The colour wheel also helps you distinguish between two colour families: warm (red, orange, yellow, red-purple) and cool (blue, purple-blue).
This natural dichotomy is based on how certain colours produce a feeling of coolness or warmth in the beholder. So blue and purple evoke feelings of cool and calm, while warm colours like red, yellow and orange tend to catch the eye and generate warmth. At the middle of the spectrum, made up of a cool colour (blue) and a warm colour (yellow), green represents balance.


The colour wheel is used in several fields, such as decorating, the plastic arts, graphic design and even the makeup industry. The wheel helps you get a firmer grasp on how to contrast and harmonize colours. Here are three ways to choose your colour scheme … without any regrets!

1. Keep it complementary

Complementary colours are the ones facing each other on the wheel. Typically, one acts as the dominant colour and the other, the accent. A light blue would be the perfect match for a dynamic orange, for instance. So it comes as no surprise that we love the red and green combo that reminds us of the holidays!

2. Ask for analogue

The word analogue means similar or comparable. So when you dream up a colour scheme with analogue colours, you bring together three consecutive colours on the wheel. To accomplish this considerable feat, you must strictly adhere to the law of 60-30-10. 
That means 60% of the space will be adorned by your main colour. Your dominant colour will be supported by your second-most dominant colour at 30% of the total surface area, and then you top it off with 10% of a bolder accent colour. Love neutrals? Go for it with black, white and grey.


3. Try triadic

A triadic colour scheme entails using three colours that are equidistant from one another on the colour wheel. The three primary colours (red, blue and yellow) are a perfect example—same goes for the secondary colours.
A triadic colour scheme is daring, to say the least! That’s why it’s ideal for a child’s room or a games room, where bold and contrasting colours live in perfect harmony. 


If you’re a bit of a daredevil—like we are!—you’ll gush over a triadic colour scheme in your home office or living room. 


What about you—how do you mix and match colours?