Color Wheel Combinations: Monochromatic Color Schemes (Part 1)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

shades and tones

Made up of one color in various shades and tones, monochromatic color schemes are simple, sophisticated, and elegant. Need inspiration? Here are a few ideas.

From urban dwellings to lofty living rooms, a monochromatic color scheme is the simplest way to add an air of effortless elegance to your space.

By playing on the numerous shades and tints of one dominant color, it’s easy to create a harmonious look with a touch of monochrome. With additional variation in tones, textures, patterns, and materials, you’ll reach a new echelon of style—with minimal effort.

While I chose color palettes in mostly neutral shades, monochromatic color schemes look equally magnificent in brighter colors, like shades of blue and yellow. For inspiration, take a gander at these beautiful, monochromatic color schemes:

1. Gloriously gray

shades and tones

(image: Bill Wilson)

In this simply stunning living room, gray is featured in various shades, tints, and tones. Light and medium gray combine into a striking backdrop that sets the stage for unique design elements, like an intricately patterned rug, an oblong ottoman, decorative pillows, and distinct accents atop cabinetry.

To pull off this look, choose unique patterns for your pillows and throw rug, and mix and match patterns and textures, from cotton to wood and stacked stone. If you desire a more lavish look, consider crown molding and ornate light fixtures to complete this aesthetic.

2. Simply elegant

shades and tones

(image: Bill Wilson)

In this kitchen, metallic accents, eye-catching light fixtures, and beautiful cabinetry really shine when paired together. The variation in materials, from glass to wood and metallic, adds loads of intrigue and visual appeal.

To achieve this look in your home, choose your countertops wisely. Then add a glossy tile backsplash, beautiful flooring, elegant cabinetry, a sweeping kitchen island, and soft lighting to match. To complete this look, paint your ceiling in the same color family, and add LED pot lights for additional brightness and functionality.

3. Rustically monochrome

brown monochromatic kitchen

(image: Bill Wilson)

This charming countryside kitchen playfully balances different shades and tints of brown. With rustic wood cabinetry as the focal point, gorgeous countertops, a unique brick-and-tile backsplash, and a decorative chandelier add just the right balance to pull this look together.

To achieve this look in your kitchen, add beautiful, hard-wearing countertops, stone-and-tile features, and various wood accents throughout. Consider wood trim or dark-brown crown molding to frame this beautiful design.

4. Mellow yellow

shades and tones

(image: Builders Design)

In this gallant living room, various tints and shades of brown create a peaceful, monochromatic feel. Soft, intricately patterned chairs deliver high style and comfort, and subtle pops of canary yellow break up the monotony of the space. Note the distinctive pattern on the fireplace surround, the soft throw rug to rest weary feet, and the eclectic coffee table and accents that are sure to wow.

To achieve this look in your home, select one-of-a-kind chairs, a patterned throw rug, and a statement-piece coffee table. Consider adding brick, stacked stone, or 3D wall panels to crown your fireplace in its full glory. Complete this look with metallic stools and abstract art in an unusual formation, like rectangular panels.

What’s your style?

Which of these monochromatic color schemes inspire you? (I absolutely adore #1, #2, and #4.) Be sure to cast your vote below!

What are your experiences with shades and tones in monochromatic design? Do you gravitate toward it? Do you shy away from it? Why and why not? Tell us your stories in the comments section.

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Tanya Roberts

Tanya Roberts is a writer and marketer who loves to spin stories about interior design and home decor. She is principle strategist at