Clean and Muddy Wall Colors

What exactly are clean and muddy wall colors and why is it important to understand the difference? The success of your home color design depends on it.

"Clean or muddy" is one of the ways to classify color. Let's see what it means:

clean and muddy wall colors

Clean Wall Colors

When a color is called clean, pure, bright or clear, it means that it contains no gray/black in it, or very little. The clarity of a color has nothing to do with its value (lightness or darkness). So both pale and deep colors can be clean.

Muddy Wall Colors

Muddy colors can also be called muted, shaded, toned down or dirty. The reason is because they have been "muddied" with gray or black. Just like clean colors, muddy colors can range in value - from light to very dark.

The important point to understand here is that color is always relative, it changes with the context. So a color that looks clean when viewed separately, can appear muddy when placed next to another color. Always keep this in mind when planning your room color schemes.

Coordinating Clean and Muddy Colors

clean wall colors

Clean colors like their own company best. In other words, clean colors look better when paired with other clean hues. Muddy shades often end up looking dirty or too heavy, when you add them to an otherwise clean home color scheme.

Muddy colors also prefer their own kind and beautifully coordinate with other muted shades. They can tolerate only a tiny amount of clean colors - anything more than just a touch of bright hue can stick out like a sore thumb on a shaded, earth-toned background.

muddy wall colors

It takes a good eye for color or years of experience to be able to combine clean and muddy colors with success. So if you are a newbie, your safest bet is to stick to one side (clean or muddy), when creating a painting and decorating palette.

But here's an exception: green works everywhere.

In Nature, you can see clean green next to muddy tones, or muddy green next to clean colors. In your decor, you can mix and match green any way you want - it is guaranteed to look good!

Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets

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