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To take your space to the next level, bring in complementary shades by choosing any two shades opposite each other on the color wheel and bringing them together in your space. To better understand how opposite hues attract, we asked two interior designers for their top tips on fusing these bold combinations. We’ve also suggested a few statement accent pieces, from wallpaper and lounge chairs to lampshades, which you can shop now.
The multitasker Isaac Newton first developed the color wheel in 1704 to categorize the visible spectrum of light. But you don’t have to be an astronomer or mathematician to benefit from its brilliance. Just remember that when you choose colors that are directly opposite (aka complementary) the results are failsafe and pretty fabulous from a decorative point of view. The secret of successful mergers: Be open-minded. Each color has a range of hues that harmonize with those of its partner on the other side. Any green can be simpatico with any shade of red, from burgundy to ballet pink. Add some neutral colors and “it’s hard to go wrong,” says interior designer Brad Ford. All the more reason to give these colors a shot.
This combination can be bold – think vibrant Mexican tiles or Howard Johnson’s hotels – but Ford went in a more subtle direction in the space above, pairing walls and cabinets in Fine Paints of Europe Inspiration Collection #N51040, a muted blue-grey, with chairs and stools in a rich cinnamon. Lower the intensity to create a “calming, inviting space,” he says.
Designer Amanda Lindroth’s teenage daughter’s bedroom could have been sweet with its pink walls (in Benjamin Moore’s Salmon Peach). But emerald accents, from the fresh drapes and bed skirts to the XL art, “modernize and sharpen it and give it a sense of joy,” she says.
For a non-Christmas riff on this twofer, lean towards more muted offerings like warm terracottas and pale pistachios. Or accent a room with a single touch of bold red: a chair with a sleek, glossy frame looks particularly chic against a celadon rug or wall. Discover several items below that fit right into this palette.
Floral wallpaper inspired the palette in this dramatic bedroom that mixes mustard, buttercup, amethyst and lilac. Dark wood furniture grounds the colors and “makes the space more sophisticated,” says Lorna Aragon, former home manager of Martha Stewart Magazine. The door and trim are finished in Benjamin Moore’s Millington Gold. Ultimately, she says, “layering different hues adds so much more depth and complexity to a room.”
It’s certainly a daring pairing, but the payoff is transformative. Skip sunshine in favor of more nuanced hues, such as B. green-leaning goldenrod with soft plums or lavender. Then combine their lushness with rich textures, from soft fabrics to shiny metallic finishes. Do you want to try? Shop some of our most popular yellow purple picks.