What Is a Monochromatic Color Scheme?

Using a Single Color on Most Every Room Surface

Colour charts by cushion on sofa
ML Harris/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Picking the color for your interior design project can be overwhelming. Anyone who has taken a trip to their local home improvement store can attest that there are seemingly endless options when it comes to color. Who would blame you for wishing there was a way to make choosing colors a little simpler!

In fact, we may be able to offer the perfect solution: Design your room around a monochromatic color palette.

Doing so is an incredibly simple way to bring a touch of elegance to your interiors.

What is a Monochromatic Color Scheme?

A monochromatic color scheme uses a single color on most every room surface. In this type of scheme, various darker shades, grayer tones, and paler tints of the main color may be included in the palette. In addition, the one color is often paired with white or another neutral. Tints are achieved by adding white and shades and tones are achieved by adding a darker color, gray or black.

For example, a monochromatic room in blue might use ​a single shade of blue paired with white. Yet it might also include dark blue upholstery fabric, pale blue walls, medium blue draperies, and a patterned area rug that includes both blue and white. The window and door trim, as well as the ceiling, might be painted in white.

As you pick out the design elements that fit your room, be careful to ensure that the undertones, or the yellow, green, pink or blue hues that stand out in a color when it’s hit by the light, match.

Two design elements with separate undertones will not look right when placed side-by-side, but a matching pair will flow together well

Reasons to Use a Monochromatic Scheme

Monochromatic color schemes provide opportunities in art and visual communications design as they allow for a greater range of contrasting tones that can be used to attract attention, create focus and support legibility.

The use of a monochromatic color provides a strong sense of visual cohesion and can help support communication objectives through the use of connotative color. The relative absence of hue contrast can be offset by variations in tone and the addition of texture.

Scientific Meaning

Monochromatic in science means consisting of a single wavelength of light or other radiation (lasers, for example, usually produce monochromatic light), or having or appearing to have only one color (in compare to polychromatic). That means according to science the true monochromatic images can be strictly created only of shades of one color fading to black.

However, monochromatic also has another meaning closer to the words “boring” or “colorless”; this sometimes leads to the creation of a design composed from true monochromatic color shades (one hue fading to black), and the colors created from the one hue but faded to all wavelengths (to white). This is not strictly a monochromatic according to its true meaning.