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How to Coordinate Colors

Coordinating Colors and Patterns by using a Color Wheel

When you are deciding on fabric choices, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Color Wheels are a great way to help you decide what colors coordinate, how pattern on pattern can work as well as using stripes. There really isn't an exact science when it comes to design. I have seen the most beautiful homes that incorporate a lot of pattern on pattern design and the rooms look thought out and harmonious instead of being cluttered and disjointed. That's because the right colors and patterns made sense on the color wheel. With the use of a color wheel along with Sunbrella fabrics as examples, Window Seat Cushion Source can show you how to coordinate colors for any room you want.

Here we have your basic color wheel.

First you'll notice the colors RED, BLUE and YELLOW. We call these the PRIMARY colors.

By mixing the primary colors together you end up with SECONDARY colors which are PURPLE, GREEN and ORANGE

Example: When you mix RED + BLUE= PURPLE When you mix BLUE + YELLOW= GREEN When you mix YELLOW + RED= ORANGE

Next, we mix the secondary colors with the primary colors to get the TERTIARY colors

Example: When you mix BLUE (p) + GREEN (s) = BLUE-GREEN When you mix RED (p) + ORANGE (s) = RED-ORANGE

How to coordinate

Begin with a color that you really like then it will be easy to show you various color combination's to help you choose the best coordinating colors.

Let's take the color BLUE. Look to see what is directly opposite of the color blue. It's ORANGE. These colors COMPLEMENT one another. By knowing that orange and blue go together, you can now begin to play with the different hues that fall between those two colors.

For Example: A LIGHT BLUE and a LIGHT ORANGE complement each other. A DARK BLUE and a DARK ORANGE also complement each other.By looking at the color wheel you can determine what the complementary color is for any color. Reds complementary color is green and yellows complementary color is purple.

Now let's use light blues, dark blues in every shade and hue possible. When you stay in the same BLUE color family this is called MONOCHRAMATIC. For Example: LIGHT-BLUE + BLUE + DARK-BLUE = MONOCHRAMATIC. Here we have the Sunbrella fabric, Dolce Oasis, any of these fabric choices would work with this fabric.

Here you have Capri, Aruba and Parrot. These colors are called ANALOGUES because they are adjacent colors. They share strong undertones which create pleasing low-contrast harmony.

SPLIT COMPLEMENT colors are one step either way of the complement's own analogous colors. Its strength is in the low-contrast beauty of analogous colors, plus the added accent of an opposite color.

For Example:Take the color TRUE BLUE. Now combine it with not the direct opposite which would be a MELON but the colors that MELON sits between which is a TANGERINE color and a BUTTERCUP color.These are called split compliment colors.

Here are some ideas of different combinations of Sunbrella fabric colors that utilize the color wheel.Dorset Autumn has several different color stripes. This would go well with either Canvas Teak or Vellum. Using both is another option.You may want Vellum as your main fabric. This color would go great with outdoor teak furniture. By adding Dorsett Autumn and Canvas teaks as throw pillows you would have a great look. Remember, the great thing about neutrals is that you have more pattern options as well as color options. So you really can't go wrong.

Another great combination would be to utilize this Bravada Limelite. There are several combinations that you could choose.

You can pull out the Air Blue for a low contrast or you could pull out the Parrot for more contrast. By selecting the Buttercup or Tangerine you will get ultimate contrast, or POP!, since those colors are not as obvious in your main fabric. It's your choice.


This next example is how using patterns on patterns and solids can create more interest in your design.

Take Villete Rococco as your main fabric, add Renata Dune...this works because one pattern is bigger with subtle colors and the other has smaller pattern with a brighter contrasting color. If you think there is too much contrast, add Linen Chili into the mix and you will instantly tone down the contrast. Bay Brown and Wheat Sunbrella fabrics are also great color options. All These fabrics would make a statement as throw pillows on top of a cast aluminum or teak sofa and loveseat covered in Villete Rococco.

Another great combo is Renata Dune as your main fabric, say on a sofa cushion, with throw pillows in several patterns and solids.

Linen Chili + Villete Rococco + Bay Brown

I hope we provided the tools you needed to help choose the best design for your home. Take time to select what colors work for you it will be worth it the end. Here's a list of terms that will help you get more familiar with knowing and choosing colors. Click on Sunbrella Fabrics for more fabric options.


Hue: Hue refers to the color...red, blue, etc. The primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, or hues, are these colors at their full saturation or brightness; that is, there is no white, gray, or black added.

Value: the lightness or darkness of a color, or the relative amount (percentage) of white or black in a hue.

Luminosity or Lightness: A measure of the amount of light reflected from a hue. Those hues with a high content of white have a higher luminance, or value.

Tints: white when added in increments to any color results in a lighter value of that color, called a tint. Blue and white make light blue, which is a tint of Blue.

Shades: black or gray when added in increments to any color results in a darker value of that color, called a shade. Blue and Black make dark blue, a shade of blue.

Saturation: The degree of purity of a hue. Intensity: The brightness or dullness of a hue. The intensity may be lowered by adding white or black.