A good color wheel is a must-have tool for decorating. If you’re wondering what colors go together, the answer is on the color wheel. If you know how to “read” a color wheel, then you can figure out the best color combinations.
But not all color wheels are created equal. Most are created for artists. Some are really tricky to understand.
The best color wheels have some sort of overlay with windows cutout to show you what different color schemes look like. The thing is there are a lot of possible color schemes and showing them all on one color wheel is quite the challenge.
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Here are three of my favorite color wheels for home decorating (the one I can’t live without is #3):
1. A Pocket-Size Guide to Color
The Pocket Color Wheel is designed for artists learning how to mix paints. It’s a standard 12-color wheel with three primary color, three secondary colors, and three tertiary colors.What I love about it is that it comes in a full size and this “pocket” size. This version is only about five inches in diameter. So you can easily keep it in your purse when shopping for your home.
This color wheel has all the standard color schemes on the back side for handy reference. The front side has a few extra cutouts that show how a color changes when you add red, yellow, blue, white, or black to it. For decorating, it’s helpful to see what a tint (adding white) or a shade (adding black) to a color looks like. There’s a ton of valuable information packed into this little color wheel.
2. A Bigger Wheel with More Colors
I found the Creative Color Wheel in the craft store with the artists supplies. It’s a much larger wheel, almost 10 inches in diameter. The larger size does make it easier to read and use, but it’s not as portable.What I love about this color wheel is it goes beyond the 12 standard colors. This one has 18 colors, so it’s showing extra intermediary colors, which is helpful if to see the subtle difference between colors like orange-red and red-orange.
The front side of this color wheel shows tones and shades of the 18 hues. It also has an overlay to show the different color schemes. With so many cutouts you do have to follow the arrows to understand the different color schemes. The back of this color wheel shows tints of the 18 hues and includes the color scheme overlay. I like the way this is set up because in decorating mixing shades and tones is fairly easy. It gets more difficult to successfully mix tints with tones or shades. So I like how this color wheel keeps them separate.
3. Six Color Wheels are Better than One
The Eye For Color System is hands down my favorite color wheel, because it’s actually a set of color wheels and templates. It includes six different color wheels: saturated color families, pastel color families, cool dark earth tones, cool light earth tones, warm dark earth tones, warm light earth tones. Each color wheel has 24 color families, for a total of 144 color families across the six color wheels!
This set makes it so much easier to understand complex colors, like the earth tones. This system was also developed by an artist for artists, but the inclusion of the four earth tone color wheels makes this perfect for decorating because most of the colors we use in our homes are tones, not saturated or pastel hues.
In addition to the color wheels, the set includes six overlays showing the color schemes. They snap on individually and are the easiest of all the color wheels to read, because they aren’t trying to show all the possibilities on one overlay. This is my favorite color wheel tool, because you don’t have to try to envision what the bright hues of the normal color wheels would look like as livable colors that have been toned down for real life.
Want some help choosing colors for your home?
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