Color wheel 101 teaches us that the colors directly opposite of each other on the color wheel are complementary.  I didn't spell that wrong - they don't compliment each other, they complement or complete each other.  In color talk, that means they make each other look their best, they bring out the best in each other - like a good marriage.  If you want to bring out a particular element in your home - a specific wood tone, the sofa, grandma's quilt, or a painting for example - find its dominant color and complement it - find the opposite color.  The photo above is a perfect example - the gold/yellow and peach tones of the roses pop against the purple tones of the lilacs.  Yellow and Purple are opposites on the color wheel.  

Hi there,
I just discovered your site and really love your color ideas. I have a question about exterior house paint. I have a Blue Spruce tree with a Japanese Maple next to my house. I would like to accentuate the blue spruce especially. Do you have colors you'd recommend? The door is mahogany. I've been looking for
information everywhere and can't find any. Thanks so much!  Colleen

Dear Colleen...
I'm not really sure you want to paint your house to accentuate your blue spruce.  My recommendation would be to paint your home a lovely neutral and to accent your spruce with plantings.  I have good reason, actually, for recommending you do it this way.    A warm color will make the blue stand out more.  Blue's complementary color is Orange. 

A blue spruce is a blue green, so colors ranging from orange, to red orange to red ( persimmon, terra cotta, cinnamon, etc.) and variations on the theme are on the complementary side.  Complementary  (not complimentary) means to 'complete' a color.   These colors which are opposite sides of the color wheel, are supposed to make their opposite color look its best.  (See what I mean about house color?  Orange?  Yikes!)

I would use a neutral with a blue or gray undertone as your house color, accent in a darker color, or a white trim.

Below are examples of great exterior palettes with a grey undertone
and perfect neutrals

Benjamin Moore

Sherwin Williams - Iron Ore
Girl with a New Life

Sherwin Williams - Studio Blue Green

Benjamin Moore - Fairview Taupe and White Opulence

Benjamin Moore - Wolf Gray and Hampshire Taupe
Sherwin Williams - Connected Grey

Sherwin Williams - Tiki Hut
Girl with a New Life

I would use plants to direct the eye to the blue spruce.  
 Here are some excellent examples of that for you.

Draw attention to it by using a brighter contrasting grass or shrub

or a high contrast flowering plant


Surround your spruce with bright color - repeated to lead your eye to the focal point


 Make it the focal point of a large bed.

Hope that this is helpful!  Keep in touch and let us know how it comes out.


Hi Claudine,
I've just stumbed across your inspiring website and am wondering if could help me dumb down some overpowering terracotta tiles? The yellow wall painted in one room just make everything more yellow and I would dearly love to rip them out but that's just too difficult as they are cemented onto the concrete slab. Can I neutralize this awful look somehow? Many thanks.

Hi Meryl,
Your problem is similar to Colleen's question, above - except instead of drawing attention to your terracotta tiles, you want to diminish them.  Its a little difficult, Orange (terra cotta) is a very strong color, but a cooler neutral may help - a cool gray or griege (gray/beige) may do the trick.  Stay away from warm colors as they tend to come toward you (visually, not literally of course).  Your warm walls combined with a warm floor can be very overpowering.   If  you can't diminish it, feature it.  Make it look beautiful with lots of fresh white woodwork and a blue and white palette, or a cool medium gray.   If you still can't live with it, cover the bulk of it with a rug in seagrass, or try the versatile carpet tiles from Flor.  and if all else fails, hire a couple of laborers to take it out -  demolition goes quite quickly and you will be surprised what short work they make of it. 
these cool gray greens and fresh white look great with terra cotta

the fresh white with touches of blue (orange's natural complement) also work well

You can also 'hide' it by using a large area rug in a neutral color - like a jute or seagrass.

or create your own rug with carpet tiles

or you can make it a feature...  Good Luck!

I am looking for a paint color for my south facing bedroom.  I have white furniture with a red computer armoire from pottery barn.  I saw the color of the year is a grayed down blue.  I think I want a warm gray that reads soft blue.  My bedding is the pottery barn Cora.  I love benjamin moore paint.  Your web site has the most beautiful examples I have ever seen.  I have a very cottage feeling in my home and I do not want to go dark but soft with a contrast.  I seriously have almost every sample gray blue on my bed and have slept with my fan deck for more than a week.  I obviously need not only paint help but soon I may need counseling too!   Thank you for any suggestions you may have.  Warm regards,  Laura Fernandez

Dear Laura,
We are a one stop consulting experience.  My husband is a psychologist - so we have the counseling covered too!  Just kidding!  But I love the cottage look and Benjamin Moore has so many lovely gray blues - here are a few to consider that don't actually appear seriously blue at the onset, but have that undertone, and depending on the light may look a little blue during parts of the day.  Remember to add lots of fresh white (love White Dove from Benjamin Moore) to keep that cottage look fresh. 
Try Pewter or Coventry Gray from this example

Misted Green or Green Tint from this chart works best with the colors of your bedding
and I like Hazy Skies from this selection
and here are a few more:

this is Arctic Gray (Benjamin Moore)

this is Gray Wisp (Benjamin Moore)

and Sea Salt  (Benjamin Moore)

So, you know I always say to choose 2-3 you like, get sample pots and try them on poster board at home, in the rooms you in which you want to use them.  Color reacts to so many factors, it can be completely different from the color you see in the paint store.  Let us know how it all turns out!
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