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Color Schemes - Interior Design

Main Core Tie

FCS Exploration
Strand 2 Standard 1

Time Frame

2 class periods of 45 minutes each

Life Skills

Thinking & Reasoning


Utah LessonPlans


Color is made from different lengths of light waves, i.e. a rainbow. A color wheel shows how colors are related to each other. Color schemes are combinations of colors in the color wheel that work well together.


An overhead, overhead marker, any copy of the color wheel, 8 packages of new colored pencils (basic set of 12), a box of patterned fabric scraps, scissors, glue, paper, magazines to cut up, white drawing paper, a basic drawing of a bedroom

Background for Teachers

Color wheel: Explain how it is divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Primary colors: red, yellow, and blue

Secondary colors: orange (red and yellow), green (yellow and blue), and violet (red and blue)

Tertiary colors: made by adding more of one color than the other. For example: red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-violet, red-violet

Neutral colors: colors not found on the color wheel. They include: black, white, gray, brown, tan.

Color Schemes— What is a scheme? It is a plan, or orderly combination of related parts. A color scheme is one or more related colors used together to create a mood/feeling in a room. Here are some common examples:

Monochromatic: different tints and shades of one color. Mood: calm, boring, add interest through different textures.

Accented Neutral: neutral colors and 1 color from the color wheel. Mood: calm, with a little bit of excitement.

Analogous/related: 3 colors next to each other on the color wheel; Mood: relaxing if in same value (i.e. light, medium, or dark).

Complementary/Strong contrast: 2 colors opposite each other on the color wheel. Mood: stimulating, lively, bold, can overpower.

Triad: 3 colors equal distance on the color wheel; they form a triangle. Mood: energetic

Rules for matching colors

1. Pick a pattern as the basis for room. Must have 2 or more colors and follow a color scheme.

2. Choose 3 colors that match the pattern, one being dark, one medium, and one light. ( Choose exact colors from the pattern, or their light, med., or dark versions, or add a neutral color.)

3. Use your light color as the background to dominate the room. Background includes floors, walls, and ceilings.

4. Put your medium tone on the largest pieces of furniture. This includes beds, drapes, chairs, dressers. The pattern can also be placed here.

5. Add the dark color as an accent. For example, pillows, vases, frame.

Law of Chromatic Distribution: As areas reduce in size, the chromatic intensity can be increased. Using less of a bright color, will make it look brighter, and emphasize it. Too much intense color can be irritating, uncomfortable, because the eye has no place to rest. Balance small areas of intense color with large areas of neutral ones.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about the effects of color.

Instructional Procedures

1. Lecture notes: The color wheel and definitions of color schemes.

2. Color the color wheel correctly, using colored pencils and tissue to blend tertiary colors.

3. Cut, paste, and label a 2" square example of each color scheme. (Use magazines, fabric, etc.)

4. Find and cut a 3" square fabric of a favorite pattern. Identify the pattern, and color scheme; name 3 matching colors, including a light, medium, and dark color.

5. Lecture: list rules for matching colors.

6. Cut and paste a room with matching colors. Describe how it follows the rules for matching colors in 2- 3 paragraphs.

7. Using a favorite piece of patterned fabric, design and color a room following the rules for correct color matching; staple fabric onto page, where it would be used.


Submitted by Valarie Shaw.

Created: 07/31/2002
Updated: 02/05/2018