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Definition of High-Intensity Color Schemes

Dale Silverman

Color scheme refers to an arrangement or pattern of colors that together form an integrated whole. In home decoration, there are many options in which to use color, such as paint, fabrics, wallpaper, flooring and window treatments.

High intensity colors are pure hues and very bright in appearance.

Intensity--also referred to as chroma or saturation--is the degree of purity of a hue or the brightness or dullness of a color. In a high-intensity color scheme, all or almost all of the colors are used at a high level and are extremely bright and concentrated with no addition of other colors.


Most colors are said to carry physiological, cultural, personal, emotional and expressive implications. Children generally prefer brighter, bolder, happier palettes. Men in most cultures seem to prefer cooler colors, whereas women prefer warmer colors overall. A room’s decor makes a statement about its owners.

Balance and Proportion

High-intensity walls need strong colored accessories to maintain balance.

Lovers of drama who want to use strong colors should pair them up with strong partners. Maintain the balance of the room’s decor by keeping the intensities of color equal or nearly equal in other components. For example, if you paint your walls in a pure, bright turquoise, the upholstery or other major elements in the room would need to be equally strong in order to be balanced. Pairing colors of different intensities often creates a feeling of being out of balance. Alternatively, your sofa can be white, but if you paint the walls a deep color, find balance through an area rug, chair or jewel tone throw pillows.

Primary Colors

In their pure hues, red, yellow and blue are the most intense colors.

Primary colors (red, blue and yellow) are considered to be the most intense of all the hues. In graphic arts, high-intensity primary colors are often intentionally used to increase the impact of a design. Many parents decorate baby, toddler or children’s rooms in bold, primary colors, sometimes accented by black and white.


When decorating, use high-intensity colors to draw attention. These colors give the appearance of carrying more weight than less saturated, low-intensity or visually simpler areas. Very bright or saturated colors generate more energy and tend to be more dynamic and richly elegant. With dark wood furnishings, the choice of a bright wall color raises its level of richness for an effective complement. Make a large room seem cozier and more intimate by using low-value, high-intensity, warm colors.