Let our experts be your guide to choosing the perfect interior palette for YOU, your family, and your lifestyle.
What should be one of the most enjoyable, exciting parts of building your custom home or renovating and remodeling your existing home is often a time fraught with uncertainty, stress, and double-guessing. Yes, we are talking about painting your home’s interior and selecting a color scheme that will complement your home, furnishings, and style.
The resources available to learn about choosing your home’s color scheme are many (thanks to cable television and the internet). But we thought you might like to hear directly from the professionals, those people who have decades of experience helping homeowners make decisions just like this. Our team can help guide and help you with your color selections.
When it comes to painting the inside of your home, there are no right or wrong colors to choose. What’s important is that the colors you choose reflect your style and personality and say to visitors what you want. That may sound easy, but it isn’t always. Color possesses the power to transform, and while “It’s just paint,” you don’t want to be repainting year after year. You want a palette that is timeless within the bounds of your personal style and that you can live and grow with over many years.
Inspiration for your color choices can come from almost anywhere. We recommend you thoughtfully consider the art you will hang on the walls or a memorable décor piece that will live on an occasional table and pull colors from those items. You might then choose to work with tones—lights and darks of those initial colors. Keep a mood board or notebook where you place paint chips, fabric swatches, and pages cut from magazines to serve as inspiration and keep you organized.
And when in doubt, turn to the professionals. my designers, builders, contractors, and I build and renovate dozens of homes each year. We know the trends, and we know what the classics are too. We can help you set a mood or make a statement.
But first, here is a simple primer on all you need to know about interior paint and how to choose what’s right for you.
Interior paints are available in various finishes, grouped by or referencing their reflectiveness. Depending on the finish, the appearance of a single color or shade can vary significantly. So, if after reading about different finishes, their durability, and common uses, you’re still stuck, it’s time to test them out.
Flat or matte paints have little to no reflective quality or shine. However, they provide excellent coverage and require the least number of coats to cover old paint and imperfections. Unfortunately, they are not particularly durable and are prone to staining, smudging, and bruising. They are best for low-traffic spaces like dining rooms, and they’re a good option for ceilings.
These are the most popular paint finishes, with satin being the most popular and versatile of all finishes. Both satin and eggshell are more durable than flat finishes and deliver just the slightest hint of sheen. They don’t cover as easily or hide imperfections quite as well, but their versatility can’t be beaten. Builders and designers recommend satin and eggshell finishes for the highest traffic areas in any home—the kitchen and living room, family and bedrooms, and playrooms and bathrooms.
A semi-gloss finish is shiny and reflective. Incredible durability and mildew-resistance make semi-gloss finishes perfect for kitchens and bathrooms as well as kids’ rooms. They are also an excellent choice for trim, but be aware that semi-glosses are more likely to show imperfections when painted on walls.
Extremely durable and easy to clean, high-gloss finishes are, well, shiny. It’s not a finish most people will choose for their walls, but doors, cabinetry, and trim all benefit from being painted with such an easy-to-maintain finish. Imperfections and even brush strokes are quite visible with this type of finish, however, so be sure you or your contractor apply high-gloss paint properly.
With many years of home building and remodeling experience, our team can help you make the right finish decision and will get your painting job done right the first time.
MATCH THE COLOR TO THE FEELING YOU WANT TO EXPRESS
The first step in choosing a color for any room is to consider the purpose of the room, who will be using it, and how you want to feel when you’re in it.
Kitchens are a great place to start. Do you envision your kitchen as the true heart of your home, where family and friends will gather as you cook? If so, you might want to consider warm colors like terra cotta, red clay, and peach—even gold tones will help warm up and welcome all who enter. But if you’re more of a carry-out and warm-up kind of diner, then something more subtle and relaxing may better suit you, like a combination of grays, greens, and blues.
It’s best to work with multiple hues to avoid bringing out the worst in an all-over color. Yellow, for example, is lovely in certain shades and quantities. But go big or bold with it, and you might regret it. Almost all colors look better when there are others around them to play off of and with.
And be sure to consider how specific colors make you feel. Does orange make you feel productive like you can do anything? Then consider it as one of the colors to feature—on the walls or in the décor—of your home office or craft room. Are you a “planty” person who likes to be surrounded by green creatures who filter the air and occasionally bloom? Make your plant collection the stand-out element in a room of blues and greens with pops of pink and white.
And how about your bedroom? Do you want to wake up to lots of light accentuated with energetic pops of color? Or would you prefer to fall asleep in a luxe environment that mimics the night itself: midnight blue walls with amethyst accents?
Whatever the feeling you seek to evoke, you can achieve your goals with paint, and the team can guide you through the process, ensuring your expectations are met.
KNOW YOUR WHITES (AND HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE)
Did you know there are more than 900 interior whites currently available on the market? They come with names like Cloud 9, Snow Day, White Dove, Snow Leopard, Honeymilk, and Lily of the Valley. In fact, Benjamin Moore alone offers more than 150 shades of white! They are described with words that include modern, crisp, soulful, soothing, natural, ethereal, soft, timeless, flattering, bright, reflective, body, glowing, sparkling, character, classic, balanced, radiant, chic, and serene.
It’s not hard to get overwhelmed by the options. But there are a handful of things to know about shades of white that can help you choose the perfect white for you—one that complements your room and décor and that you’ll be happy to live with for years to come.
All whites will have an undertone or a cast to them that will impact the appearance of anything placed near them and affect the mood and feel of a space. Most white paints will have undertones that appear bluish, greenish, reddish, or yellowish—even grayish whites will have either a cool or warm undertone. I suggest that if you’re having a hard time identifying the undertone of a specific shade of white, hold the white paint chip against a sheet of white paper. The undertone should pop.
What colors are present in your furnishings and décor pieces, such as art or pillows? This is a terrific and easy way to narrow down your white selections. If the colors in your room give off a warmer feeling, the white you choose should also be warmer. More tonal greens, blues, and violets? You’ll probably want to go with a cooler white.
If your décor is neutral, go with a warmer white.
You’ve probably already seen this phenomenon in action, but the look, feel, and nuance of any paint color can change dramatically in various lighting conditions, and white is no exception. In homes (or rooms) with an excess of natural light (lucky you!), pure whites look the best and change the least. More heavily pigmented whites are a great option in rooms that rely more on artificial light.
Put White Paints to the Test
Ideally, every paint should be tested out in the home before you commit to brushing or rolling it onto multiple walls. Because, let’s face it, that tiny 2-inch square chip isn’t super helpful in assessing what an entire wall will look like when painted and as light moves about a room. If you’re building a custom home or renovating an existing home, our team will be happy to test your top choices for you.
Our team has also worked with enough families to have their own favorites and can make recommendations for any room and for any purpose.
HOW COLOR IMPACTS THE FEELING OF ROOM SIZE
A friend of ours recently decided it was time to update her dining room. Every dining room in every home she had owned was always some shade of red; she’d heard red stimulates both appetite and good dinner conversation. Her current dining room was a cool, deep berry red.
But it was starting to look worn, dated, and tired. She was ready for a change. With the help of our team, she selected a gray so light, so silvery, it was almost white. She was suspicious on many levels. She’d always considered gray to not even be a color, and as an artist, she lived for color.
But up it went, and when the room was finished? Even our friend admitted it seemed not only like a new room but like an entirely different house. The biggest difference? The light gray made that dining room feel lighter, bigger, and airier. And yet, all that changed was the color of the walls.
Paint can impact our perceptions of the size of a space.
In very general terms, colors that are cooler and lighter appear to recede in the distance. Walls painted in a light color feel farther away. And a single color allows one’s eyes to move continuously, also making a space feel larger than it is.
Meanwhile, darker or warmer colors generally feel closer in depth and distance, which might be right for spaces you want to feel cozier or more intimate, like a family room, an entertainment space, or a bedroom.
CEILINGS DON’T HAVE TO BE WHITE
Speaking of colors influencing our perceptions, did you know that ceilings don’t have to be white? It’s true, and it seems we’ve all just been conditioned to think that ceilings have to be white. And, of course, the vast majority of ceilings are white, and that’s just fine.
But our team wants you to know that there are instances in which painting a ceiling a color other than white might work for you and your decorating goals. When it comes to ceiling paint, you can go white, the same color as your walls, lighter or darker than your walls, or with a contrasting color. Each choice delivers specific results.
You may want to stick with white in rooms that already offer an abundance of color—like a living room with fabric-covered furniture, area rugs, pillows, wood accents, and electronics. White keeps it clean and simple. The same is true for high-traffic areas, like kitchens and entryways.
Painting your ceiling a darker color is a hot trend that you’ll see in almost any home decorating magazine that you pick up. As long as your ceilings are of at least an average height and the room has plenty of natural light, a dark color can be a modern, chic, and inviting option. Our team suggests this for a beautiful dining room look.
If you want to make a small room feel bigger and for your furniture and décor in that room to stand out, try a color a step or two lighter than your wall color. Your space will feel lighter, brighter, and larger while delivering personality.
A contrasting color on your ceiling can be a tricky look to pull off. When done right, it draws the eye up and brings attention to items of interest in the room, like artwork or collections. Since this ceiling option has the potential to make a statement—not in the best way—you want to work with the professionals to ensure the work is done right and achieves the desired effect.
You might also want to work with professionals if you’re considering a ceiling the same color as your walls. It can be a compelling look done with a neutral color, making your décor the center of attention. But it can also come off as dull or cave-like too.
Everything old, as the saying goes, is new again. Once a staple of interior design, the accent wall disappeared from the scene for many years. But it’s back, and it’s another way to draw attention to a room or a specific part of a room.
Pulling the color of your accent wall from among the rest of your room’s décor—especially from a focal point or item you’d like to draw attention to—is a practical and stylish approach.
Accent walls can work in any room, but dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms are among the most popular. In terms of choosing colors, there are no hard and fast rules. That said, much of the guidance we’ve already discussed—evoking a feeling with color and choosing a ceiling color, in particular—are highly relevant here, too. A few shades up or down on the color card or a contrasting color—both are doable.
But there are other options as well. An accent wall doesn’t need just to be painted. Depending on your space, this is your chance to try something new and express your style. A glittery paint or one with metallic flecks looks gorgeous on a dining room wall behind a credenza or buffet. And a wall assembled from pieces of reclaimed wood can really set off a headboard. A stone wall in a living or family room is another option, as is a lovely, modern wallpaper.
Accent walls are indeed back, and they aren’t going anywhere soon.
TRIM COLOR VERSUS WALL COLOR
Like ceilings, many of us only know white trim—white baseboards, crown molding, chair and picture rails, wainscoting, mantels and pillars, and door and window casings.
But what if you thought of your trim as the frame of a painting instead of as something to dust occasionally and paint periodically? Look around you now. How many of the frames hanging on your walls are white? A few, perhaps, but probably not all.
This can be true of your home’s interior trim. It enhances and defines boundaries. It marks transitions. And it also influences the perceived shape and size of a room and can be used to highlight specific features. A few examples:
Highlight an Architectural Feature—Draw attention to a mantel, pillar, or archway by painting it a color that contrasts with your wall color. A color of similar intensity to the wall color will best draw the eye to the feature.
Crown Molding—To raise your roof and make ceilings appear to be higher than they are, paint crown or other ceiling molding a color darker than your ceiling. This draws the eye up and results in a perception of expansiveness.
Old World Style—If you’ve ever visited a historic home or site, you may have noticed an unexpected, contrasting trim color, often in classic colonial colors such as barn red, gray-blue, or mustard yellow. Not only may such trim be period appropriate for your renovation or remodel, but it’s also a solid choice for warming up the feel of or introducing old-world charm into your unique custom home.
HOW TO CREATE FLOW IN OPEN FLOOR PLANS
Open floor plan homes are more popular than ever. Yet developing a color palette for open floor plan homes seems to cause much anxiety for homeowners. We field questions on the topic regularly. Clients want to know if they are limited to a single color for the whole house or per floor. If they go with multiple colors, how can the transition between rooms be delineated?
Of course, you can use multiple paint colors in your open floor plan home! The key to choosing paint colors for such a home is to stick with a limited palette of 3 to 5 colors (a white, two neutrals, and two supporting colors is a good rule of thumb) that are harmonious and work together without competing. A common thread through all of your selected colors will maximize impact and provide continuity and cohesiveness. Common threads might be a single color family, various concentrations of the same color, or similar tone (all muted colors or all brights, for example).
For transitions, let your home’s architecture guide you. Corners, flooring changes, angles, and increases and decreases in dimensions will dictate the points where your color changes will occur.
Painting your home—and choosing the perfect colors—should be easy, and it should be fun. With experienced professionals like our team by your side, it can be. The team have helped hundreds of homeowners make all the right paint color decisions for many years. They’re here for you, eager to help regardless of the size or style of the project.
Paint can enhance a home, create or influence a mood or feeling, and help homeowners express their sense of style.
For more information, call us or click here to schedule your complimentary, no-obligation consultation.