What Are Analogous Colors in Design? How to Try It at Home


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Are you familiar with the concept of analogous colors? Even if you haven’t heard this specific phrase, you’ve likely drawn upon the concept of it — groups of three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel — when decorating and/or designing your home. Using this design tactic helps you “get the calming and unifying effect of a monochrome design, while upping the excitement level with variations of bold colors,” explains Nadia Watts, the founder of Nadia Watts Interior Design. And if you’re looking for an easy DIY spruce-up for your home that will make it look expertly-designed, playing with analogous colors is a great place to start. 

Analogous colors are often reflective of the color groupings found in our natural world and represent a transition, harmony, and/or continuity throughout the home, adds Nastassja Bowman of Kristen Elizabeth Design. Bowman cites the pinks, reds, oranges, and yellows of a sunset or light blues and deep violets of an ocean as key examples. 

When looking at the color wheel, you may easily be able to identify a set of analogous colors that speaks to your desired aesthetic. For example, if you’re in the process of designing a soothing, spa-like bedroom, you may wish to incorporate green, green-blue, and blue together in that space. These colors are known for their calming properties, which is why we often see them in serene, coastal-inspired spaces.

Watts says that she enjoys working with blue as a primary color alongside purple and violet, “which brings a richness to your space and ups the elegance,” she says. “It’s bold and bright, however the analogous scheme is low-contrast so it will feel dramatic and calm all at once.” Of course, pairing blue with teal and green is also a popular approach. “These colors are both statement-making and calming,” Watts adds. 

If you crave a space that’s a bit more bold, consider using another set of analogous colors: red-violet, red, and red-orange. We often see this color combination used in boho style or desert-inspired rooms, among other spaces. 

Note that when working with analogous colors, it’s often advised to select one color to be the most dominant and then follow the 60:30:10 color rule to design your space. This involves applying the base color to 60 percent of your space, the secondary color to 30 percent of your space, and then the accent color to the remaining 10 percent of your space. “A practical example would be to apply your dominant color to the larger items in the space such as walls, sofas, curtains, and rugs,” Watts says, noting that seating is a great place to focus on your secondary color and accessories can contain your accent color. 

Last but not least, keep in mind that your analogous color scheme should not overwhelm a space. “Mix in different shades and tones of the same color to create depth,” Watts advises. “Use patterns and unique textures to add dimension, and bring in natural elements like wood, leather, and stone to complement your analogous scheme.” 





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