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  • Writer's pictureWendy Elizabeth

Color Wheels and Rainbows

When a client asked me to help her choose colors based on the Color Wheel, I was a little unsure. Yes, I have an Interior Design Color Wheel, but, personally, I sometimes dig my heels in when I am told what I am “supposed” to do. I guess the Color Wheel falls into that category – being told what to do… So, we sat down, looked at the front, chose our color, spun the wheel, then started to read the back of the card. We both burst out laughing, neither one of us understanding what to do next. We put it away, and chose the colors based on her favorite things instead. If nothing else, it was a lesson; it gave me something to write about, and left me wondering if I could explain it to my readers (just in case you’re curious).

Did you know that the Color Wheel was invented in the 1600’s by Sir Isaac Newton? It was originally based on sunlight – he separated the sunbeams with a prism, which created different colors (just like a rainbow), then joined them back together to show the natural progression. So, does that mean that if I look at the color sequence of a rainbow, and turn it into a circle, it will look like the color wheel? Well, I just tried it, and it does! The colors of the rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green. blue, indigo and violet …

Now that I know where it came from, I understand it even less. Why are we basing our judgement on a rainbow? Does that mean that we should decorate according to all natural combinations? If I wear green and brown together, won’t I just look like a tree? Anyway, back to the story. The premise is that by spinning a wheel you will be told which colors go together, therefore, you will know exactly how to decorate your home. It begins with you highlighting the main color that you want to use. Once you do this, it will automatically bring you to the coordinating set of colors, based on a few guidelines. Complimentary (the color opposite the main color), Monochromatic (any shade of your main color) Split Complimentary (the two colors either side of your Complimentary) and Related (any shade that is either side of your main color). Confused? Don’t be. If you are a bit cautious, maybe tones of the same shade would be a good beginning. More adventurous, choose the complimentary or split-complimentary colors.

If you buy an Interior Design Color Wheel, my advice is to read the directions, let it guide you, but most of all have fun playing with the spinning circle. After all, it is just a round rainbow…

For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to:

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