What is a Triadic Color Scheme?
A triadic color scheme is comprised of three colors evenly spaced on the color wheel. The two most basic triadic palettes are the primary colors red, blue, and yellow and the secondary hues orange, purple, and green. But these aren’t the only possible triads; because the color wheel encompasses the various tertiary colors between the primary and secondary colors (for example, red-violet, yellow-orange and blue-green) you can also create triadic color schemes using these in-between hues.
Because of the strong contrast, a triadic palette is generally quite dramatic, but by choosing subdued shades (as in the lovely bedroom from Karin Lidbeck-Brent featured here) you can tone down the drama to a manageable level. Check out the eight following bedrooms for some lovely examples of triadic color schemes done right.
Purple, Green and Orange Go Bohemian
Bohemian, or boho style, is characterized by a flamboyant use of color, pattern, art, and most of all, personality. Purple, orange, and green are very popular in this lively decorating theme, which is never shy or afraid of the spotlight. Case in point: the brightly colored, pattern-happy, and globally inspired bedroom shown here. The green is this room is a yellowish chartreuse, while purple is represented by its tertiary sister magenta. There’s also quite a bit of watery blue in this bedroom, adding to the fun. While the boho look isn’t for everyone, it’s a natural for those who love dramatic flair.
Red, Yellow and Blue Grow Up
To avoid too much intensity when decorating with a triadic color scheme, at least two of the colors should be muted. For example, check out the bedroom shown here; golden yellow adds warmth to a greenish blue, while cheery red provides a dose of excitement to the Indian-inspired bedding set. The subdued (but not gloomy or cold) colors are quite sophisticated and very suited to the master bedroom. You could work the trio in a variety of ways: burnt red and mustard yellow with pure blue as an accent; or a sunny yellow against barn red and navy blue; or even pastel tints of blue, yellow, and pink combined for a feminine feel.
Use One Color as an Accent
When decorating with a triadic color scheme, don’t feel you have to use each color equally. In fact, it’s far more common to follow the 60-30-10 rule, where one color is predominate, one color takes a secondary role, and the third color is used sparingly as an accent. For example, in this contemporary room from Nickey-Kehoe, green is the main color, orange the secondary hue, and purple just a small accent found in the area rug. The result is colorful and yet controlled, perfect for a peaceful and yet still spicy master bedroom.
Triadic French Country
Red, blue and yellow are a classic trio for the French country decorating style, especially when the blue is used as an accent as in the lovely bedroom from A Cultivated Nest shown here. This isn’t the style for super-brights, however; note the soft buttery yellow, the watery blue, and the oh-so-slightly-shaded red in this room. Notice also how effectively white soothes the potentially strong triadic palette. You can work this to advantage with any dramatic color scheme – just make sure there is plenty of white on the walls, the furniture, or the bedding.
Keep Orange, Green and Purple Under Control
If you’d like to decorate with a bold palette like purple, green, and orange, but you’re afraid of overwhelming the room, stick with a colorful comforter or duvet cover, and keep the rest of the space neutral. You can see how it’s done in the room here; the enthusiastically bright bedding set certainly attracts attention, but the neutral wall color, strong-yet-simple leather headboard and open floors keep the look under control. Perfect.
Blue, Red and Yellow Coastal Style
Another decorating style that embraces the triad of red, blue, and yellow is the coastal theme. Blue and white provide the base for this popular look, while red and yellow are commonly used as accents. Other features of the coastal style include nautical or ocean motifs; strong-yet-simple patterns such as stripes, waves, or coral designs; weathered wood; and quilted bedding. This bedroom from L’Attitude Design brings a touch of contemporary flair to the traditional coastal cottage style.
Retro Orange, Green and Purple
For a strong look that’s rather retro in feel, look to a mix of sage green, pumpkin orange, and plum purple. Because each of the colors is slightly shaded, the overall look isn’t too bright; in fact, it’s quite sophisticated. It’s also a great palette for a room decorated in oh-so-hot midcentury modern style.