Whether you’re trying to decide what color scarf goes well with your new top, or you’re considering painting your living room walls a bold new color to match your couch, there is a method of determining which colors go together without trial and error. Learn how to use the color wheel as a reference for potentially amazing color matches.

Different Color Families

The color wheel is divided into four basic types, or families, of colors. Warm colors are bold and bright, consisting of red, yellow, orange, gold and pink. Contrarily, cool colors are far less bold and more relaxed. Cool colors include blue, silver, green and teal. Mixed colors are more versatile and can fit into both the warm and cold color scheme, purple and lavender being two examples of such colors. Neutral colors are neither bold nor relaxed, examples including black, gray, white and beige. Take note that warm, cool and mixed colors have their own respective sections in the color wheel.

Monochromatic Color Matching

Monochromatic color matching consists of mixing and matching different colors from the same color family on the color wheel. This is the most basic color matching techniques in both fashion and interior design as colors in the same family will always tend to go well together. For example, a blue dress shirt with a silver tie will usually look tasteful since they are in the same cool color family.

Contrasting Color Matching

A more bold, experimental decision would be to bring together colors of different color families as sometimes such color matching does not work. It can work, however, if the contrasting of colors is done just right. Generally, a bold color such as red would go well with blue, a cool color. You can look to the color wheel to see a color’s complementary opposite. Spot a color on the color wheel, and draw a line to the opposite side of the color wheel; whichever color you hit is the complementary opposite. Blue and orange, for example, are complementary opposites and thus go well together.

Other Tips on Color Matching

The basic rule regarding neutral colors is that they can go with any color; neutral colors are generally used either to brighten dull colors or tone down bright colors. Draw a triangle within the color wheel. Whichever colors the three points of your triangle hit are three colors that also work as complementary opposites and thus match and balance well.