Secondary Colors for Every Space

You all remember what you learned when you started your first finger-painting masterpiece and learned your secondary colors: red and blue make purple; red and yellow make orange, and yellow and blue make green.

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Sir Isaac Newton created the first color wheel in 1666, and it went through many iterations before finding its current form. Color theory has evolved with it and we can thank Swiss color and art theorist Johannes Itten for how we think of color today.

Itten studied color in-depth as an artist and was one of the first people to determine what made successful color combinations. He developed the concept of color chords and color harmony, as well as the ideas of saturation, light and dark, warm and cool, and more. He wrote about his ideas on color theory in his seminal 1961 book, The Art of Color.

Like primary colors, secondary colors are based on a triadic color scheme, meaning they have a triangular relationship on the color wheel. It’s a bold color combination, evoking spring gardens and sunsets.

Designers use this color scheme in everything from kids’ rooms to kitchens, and in colors ranging from subtle to bold. Sometimes it’s peach, mint, and lavender; others, you’ll see citrine, emerald, and regal purple.


burnt orange victorian exterior

Some designers are known for their ability to fearlessly combine colors. In this sitting area, the designer used multiple shades of orange, paired with pink and green accents to create a traditional, elegant space.

Secondary colors have a number of powerful combinations, complete a bold orange wall with manly army green, mixed with a  shot of purple can give an otherwise traditional room modern flair.


chicago bedroom red accent wall

With multiple shades of green, orange, and purple, there is a lot of room for fun. Just look at this deep purple paired with bright neon green. So inviting and different.


forest green living room

Sometimes a color story is revealed in a single item and, in this case, it’s the orange book on this hallway table. Tiny bits of bright orange beautifully accent this green space!


orange living room gray couch

To finish our tour of secondary color schemes, we’re going out with a bang. A mega-orange wall that is not for the faint of heart.

If you want to bring some theory and science into your space, try a secondary colors color scheme. If you want to try out some colors, Paintzen has a free swatch program where we send you free 8″ x 8″ swatches to your door for free!

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