Using Color in Five Minutes - Lessons in Interior Design

Posted by JP on 25th Mar 2013

Using Color Effectively in Five Minutes


You want your bathroom to really impress with exciting colors, but you don’t know where to start? Feel nervous or frustrated with color? Do you want your bathroom to have that really pulled together style that looks like it fell out of a magazine page?

Before you panic! I know what you’re thinking; “it takes an interior designer to know how to use color effectively”, or ”every time I try something beyond all-blue it looks like crap.” Color has relationships and rules that are easy to follow and expand on. We are going to start simple to get you off on the right foot. First, realize that color can be relative, and its effect changes depending on what other colors you match it with. We will revisit that later, so for now, just put aside presumptions you may already have about color.

Below we are going to introduce a tool used by designers and painters since its invention by Sir Isaac Newton. Yes, the gravity guy. It turns out, he had a lot else going for him. The color wheel shows simple ways that colors relate to each other. It can give you a good starting point to understand what you want to achieve.

To start, we lay down the primary three colors. Red, blue, and yellow. For most of us, we learned about this in elementary school. Probably because of that association, if you go with these colors for your bathroom, it will look like a kindergarten. They are very intense, and will not create a pleasing environment for most, but we start with these as all other colors mix out of them.

Color Wheel Primary Colors

Next if you take any in between position and mix the colors 50% each, you will get the secondary colors, violet, green, and orange. These colors are already starting to seem less intense and more flexible in how you can apply them to your home décor.

Color Wheel Secondary Colors

Finally, to complete our color wheel, we add the final mixings with the tertiary colors. Now we have a lot more options to pick color schemes from.  Of course, there are infinite varieties of mixings, but they will all stem from off of this.

Color Wheel Tertiary Colors

We should not forget about our neutral colors; black, white, gray, and brown, but they do not have as strong relationships to other colors as those shown in the color wheel. They can stand on their own, or be mixed in to add an even greater variety of tones.


Adding white will create a tint, making the colors lighter and more airy like pastels. Adding black will make colors dull and muted. It is a good idea to mix up really intense accent colors with less intense colors to avoid loud design. Nobody wants to look at that on a groggy morning. If you lay some muted tones around your bathroom and in larger spaces like the shower curtain, window treatments, or floor rugs, you can throw some really intense color into accessories like curtain hooks, sink sets, or other trimmings.


Next time we will dive into how these colors interact, and how you can think about pairing them.

If you want to jump in with your bathroom design, please head to our store at %%GLOBAL_ShopPath%%