What is an Analogous Color Scheme, and Why Are Designers So Obsessed?

The harmony of hues your home has been missing.

analogous color scheme
Simon Upton

When in doubt, turn to the color wheel. This is a rule that even pro designers follow, and can be used to guide the design of your interiors. While monochrome may be the latest obsession, we’re turning to new pairings for a fresh use of color. Enter: the analogous color scheme. This scheme involves three hues, all of which are positioned next to each other on the color wheel. Let’s break it down in more detail below:

WHAT IS AN ANALOGOUS COLOR SCHEME?

Speaking technically, analogous colors are three colors next to each other on the color wheel, composed of one dominant color (usually a primary or secondary color), then a supporting color (a secondary or tertiary color), and a third color that is either a mix of the two first colors, or an accent color that pops. “A succulent is an example of analogous colors in nature, with its blue, green, and blue/green leaves,” says designer . “Another is the setting sun with hints of red, orange and yellow.”

Take a look at these color wheels to better understand how the analogous color scheme works:

analogous color scheme
Analogous color scheme chart.
Michael Stillwell

TIPS FOR USING AN ANALOGOUS COLOR SCHEME

Peña's main caution is that you are careful not to overdo it. Look to nature to inspire your palette, and understand that smaller touches of this color scheme, with neutrals as a base, can go a long way. "Selecting shades of the colors that are more muted can be a successful way to pull off a design with analogous colors," Peña says. "Also using the analogous colors as the accent colors in an otherwise more neutral palette can be a great way to design a space that is not overwhelming with color."

Many designers apply the 60-30-10 rule, which is used ensure a peaceful, visually appealing balance. Under this rule, 60% of your space will be the base color, 30% will be your accent color, and 10% will be you pop of color. To simplify this rule even further, here are the areas in which you should focus on using each of these colors:

60%: Walls, area rugs, large furniture.
30%: Accent chairs, window treatments, bedding, rugs.
10%: Throw pillows, art, accessories.

OUR FAVORITE ANALOGOUS COLOR SCHEME IDEAS

BLUE, GREEN, AND BLUE-GREEN:

analogous color scheme
Blue, green, and blue-green.
Courtesy of K Interiors

"What I love about this color scheme is often plants can be used for the green," says Peña. "It’s a fun way to work in the colors in a subtle natural and organic way. Use it with a neutral background for a calm cozy inviting space. Use it in a dark way to create mood and vibe in a space."

VIOLET, RED-VIOLET, AND RED:

analogous color scheme
Violet, red-violet, and red.
Mikkel Vang

If you're looking to try something a little more daring, shades of purple and red can be extremely sultry and versatile. "What I like about this color scheme, especially at the moment, is the boho vibe it can create," Peña says. "It’s a nod to the style and fashion of the 80s— I love to use it in a teen bedroom or hang out space."

YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE:

analogous color scheme
Yellow, green, and blue.
Courtesy of K Interiors

"Who doesn’t love to bring the outside in?" Peña says. "This color scheme works overtime in bringing the sunshine, greenery and happiness into a living space. Using this color scheme in a main space or even a bedroom promotes smiles and good times. I’m sure of it."

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