Understanding Analogous Colors

Choosing the right color for my wall
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Color is often cited as one of the most intimidating aspects of designing your own home, but it doesn't have to be. There are many tools available to help you understand how colors interact and blend to create beautiful visual landscapes. The best color guide is your eye, but the next best tool is the color wheel if you need a little extra assistance.

Often spoken of in hushed tones of reverence or irritation, the color wheel is exactly what it sounds like; a wheel depicting all of the major colors that are visible to the human eye. While nothing is threatening about the wheel there are many ways to look at it, picking out primary, complementary, and analogous colors. 

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are among the easiest to find on the color wheel. Pick any color at any point on the wheel. Then, note any three colors directly to the left or right. Together, those four are a group of analogous colors. The name comes from the close relationship that the colors share, which makes them fitting shades to use together in a space.

Analogous color schemes are common in nature, often occurring in plants. The most popular example of a naturally occurring analogous scheme is the changing color of leaves in fall. Yet, analogous colors can be seen even in the petals of a single flower or in the sky at sunrise and sunset.


When using analogous color design, use the interior design ratio of 60% of one main color (walls, large furniture), 30% of another closely related color (area rug, accent furniture, window coverings), and 10% as your furthest color or color pop (throw pillows, artwork, accessories).

Creating Balance

Perhaps because of the connection with nature, rooms featuring analogous color palettes often have a serene, harmonious feel. When decorating with these colors, it is essential to create a balance between the colors by choosing one to focus on. When selecting the main color, an excellent place to start is by picking any primary color (red, yellow, or blue) present in your group, using the secondary and tertiary colors as accents. This choice will be the room's main color, allowing you to bring in the other shades as accents and small pops.

Creating Contrast

With the colors in your palette so closely related, it's easy for them to blend into each other, resulting in a confused look that can be visually overwhelming. Ensure that you get the most out of an analogous color scheme with contrast. Pick a focal color and distinguish between your colorful pieces with a pattern. Balance your color levels by making small, medium, and large color choices (60:30:10 ratio), creating an even blend of tones throughout the space.

Use some combination of these methods to ensure that, while your colors are analogous, you are not focusing so much on colors directly adjacent to one another on the color wheel (e.g., green and yellow-green) that they cancel each other out.  

Creating a Color Palette

Once you've landed on the color family, you want to use in a room, set the color palette or scheme, including the contrasting and analogous colors you want in that room. Above all else, make sure that the color story you choose fits the rest of the home.

  • Cool neutrals: Neutral colors are an easy route for those who can't decide on a particular color. Most neutral palettes can support that change if you experiment with a bold color. Think about using monochromatic browns, cream, and gray.
  • Earthy tones: Colors that you usually find in nature, particularly on an autumn day with changing leaf colors, inspire interior design. Deep orange and gold are analogous colors and create a feeling of harmony and comfort; browns and tan neutralize the tone, giving the eye a moment to rest.
  • Soothing hues: To give a room a feel, such as serenity or calm, go with colors that evoke that feeling. All colors have a "temperature" or feeling associated with them. Blues are perceived as tranquil colors. Mix hues of blues with some neutral tan or ivory shades or some golden undertones to keep the room feeling soft and uncomplicated.

Design by going with how a color makes you feel. Choosing a color palette is a personal choice. Some even say that your personality is drawn to a particular palette over others, and others suggest that your zodiac sign has its preference when it comes to colors to design with.

It's also essential to keep in mind other people in the home—not everyone feels the same. Before making any permanent changes, discuss the choices, so everyone in your home feels included and part of the home.