I've finally almost finished my course in interior design studies, so I though I might as well node my homework for the final exam. One topic was the 7 basic colour schemes, not to be confused with the 8 colour contrasts. These schemes are based on the colour wheel, which is a circle with 12 colours in this case.

     YO         YG
  orange          green
OR                   BG
  red              blue
     RP         BP

- Monochromatic: one colour, but used in different tints, shades and materials (a light blue stainless steel chair gives another impression than a fluffy dark blue chaise lounge so it's not neccesarily boring).
- Complementary: two colours opposite in the colour wheel are combined. Red with green, blue with orange etc. Normally one colour dominates the scheme.
- Analogous: 2 or 3 colours adjacent in the wheel. E.g. green, blue-green (BG) and blue.
- Split complementary: one hue (pure colour) + two hues on either side of the complementary hue. Purple with yellow-orange (YO) and yellow-green (YG).
- Triad or triadic: three hues equidistant around the circle. Like orange, green and purple. This may not sound very compelling to you, but especially children tend to like those fresh combinations.
- Double complementary: is based upon two pairs of complementary hues. This combination, like OR+red+BG+green is often used, because it is a safe and balanced combination.
- Tetrad: is like triad, but then based on 4 hues at equidistance in the colour wheel. This combination is considered as the one most difficult to combine.

Ah well, designers may talk in vague blahblah terms, but that's what every industry branch does. After all, when you keep things unclear you have an advantage that the client thinks s/he really needs you to get something done very well.

Back to colour theory
I don't know anything about interior design, but colour theory is all the same whether it's paint on a canvas or on your bedroom walls, so I thought I'd add a few more colour schemes used in painting that aren't listed here already.

Split Complementary- Along with the one mentioned above there is also a variation of the split complementary scheme often used. This variation is similar in that it consists of a hue and the two hues on either side of the complement of the first hue, but differs in the fact that it also contains the complement as well. One way to think of it is a hue with its corresponding analogous complement. For example, using yellow as your starting colour, the scheme would also contain red-violet, violet and blue-violet. I assume witnie didn't mention this because I wouldn't imagine it's used very much in interior design since it would tend to be pretty overpowering.

Tetrad- Again there is yet another variation of this scheme used in painting. Like the name suggests this consists of four hues, however it's the way in which these hues are arranged that differs. One type is four hues spread equally apart within the colour wheel, essentially acting as two sets of complements forming a square shape. The other variation not already mentioned is two sets of complements forming a rectangular shape; that is, not being spaced equidistant. Yellow, violet, green and red would be an example of this variation.

This is not another colour scheme, but I thought I'd list a few common types of monochrome paintings:

Camaieu- The name used to describe a painting done in a monochromatic scheme.

Grisaille- This is a painting done in various shades of grey. As a personal aside, painting in this style is a very good exercise since it gives you a better sense of value which can be difficult to master when painting in colour since it can be easier to focus on hue than on value or chroma.

Cirage- This is a monochromatic painting done strictly in shades of yellow.

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