What are Monochromatic Color Schemes?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Monochromatic color schemes are one-color design plans. Unlike analogous schemes in which colors next to each other on the color wheel are used, a one-color, or single hue, plan varies just the intensity or tint. Intensity refers to how muted or bright a color is, while tint is the hue with white added to it to affect its lightness or darkness. A monochromatic color scheme is considered a good choice for those new to home decorating, as it's easy to do with little chance of anything going really wrong with it.

A common example of monochromatic color schemes is the paint chip card samples available for free in many home improvement stores. The several different colors on each card show light, medium and dark versions of the same hue, or color. Muted and bright variations of the same color may also be on one paint chip card. An example of using varying intensities within a monochromatic color scheme is combining blue-gray, which is muted, and royal blue, which is bright. An example of decorating with a hue and a tint would be using red as well as pink or orange along with peach in the same room.


Although one-color decor schemes are often sophisticated and pleasing to the eye as well as easy to put together, they sometimes have the disadvantage of not being interesting enough. For this reason, a neutral such as black, white, gray, brown or tan is usually added in interior design monochromatic color schemes. Interesting textures are another important addition to monochromatic color designs. For example, an all blue room is going to be more exciting to the eye if different textures such as colored glass, pile carpeting and velvet throw pillows are combined in the space.

The mood a certain hue, or color, tends to suggest or give off is an important consideration when creating monochromatic color schemes. A lot of this mood has to do with the warmness and coolness, or color temperature, of a hue. In the most basic sense, green is cool, while yellow is warm, but in actuality there are cooler and warmer varieties of each color.

For example, blue mixed into green cools it down according to color temperature theory, while yellow placed into it will warm it up. Red added to yellow creates a warm version, but a touch of green added instead will create a cool color. Monochromatic color schemes may contain both warm and cool versions of the single hue.


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