Choosing Paint Colors for your House

12th March 2015

Probably one of the most daunting but exciting jobs as you turn your house into a home is figuring out what to paint the walls.  Painting is instantly gratifying.  In a matter of hours, and for a small amount of money, you can completely transform your space.  But the options are overwhelming.  Nothing can stare you down like a wall of color samples.  (One of my most repinned items on Pinterest is my kitchen wall color – so I know I’m not alone in this color quest.)   After a lot of agonizing – here’s where we landed.  I hope this gives you a little inspiration as you figure out your color palette.  A big thank you my friend Cristalle Volpi  who poured over a Benjamin Moore fan deck with me and helped me pick out the first couple of these wall colors to get the ball rolling.  Her color sense is eerie.


Here are some photos of how the paint looks on the walls with natural light.Benjamin Moore Tranquility AF-490Martha Stewart for Home Depot MushroomBenjamin Moore Northern Cliffs 1538Benjamin Moore Rodeo 1534Benjamin Moore Fieldstone 1558Restoration Hardware Mediterranean WhiteBenjamin Moore Rock Harbor Violet 1387Benjamin Moore Fiji AF-525

Benjamin Moore – Tranquility AF-490| Martha Stewart for Home Depot in Mushroom | Benjamin Moore – Northern Cliffs 1536 | Benjamin Moore – Rodeo 1534 | Benjamin Moore – Fieldstone 1558 | Restoration Hardware – Mediterranean White | Benjamin Moore – Rock Harbor Violet 1387 | Benjamin Moore – Fiji AF-525

We were trying to achieve an airy feeling throughout the house that felt cool in our hot summers.  There are a lot of archways and high ceilings which we wanted to highlight.  You’ll notice that the public spaces feel very similar and cohesive.  In some cases, I literally stepped up or down on the color scale to get colors for adjacent rooms.  In our bedroom, we went monochromatic and used sheen and texture to give it interest.  It feels like the perfect place to snuggle up and chill out which is what I wanted.  Our guest room/office feels funky and bolder.  We have a lot of friends and family who come in for visits so we went with an Austin theme in here – lots of local touches from the city to welcome visitors.  Our little girls’ room is the faintest gray violet – it makes the space feel welcoming and big.  I didn’t want it to feel too precious so used an almost fluorescent coral to pop against it.  That’s what we were trying to achieve.  Here are some tips as you get going.

Tips to get you started

1.  Don’t start with the colors – start with the feeling you want to create and work back from there.
2. Consider going neutral with your wall colors and most expensive pieces of furniture.  You’ll have more flexibility to change over time.  Use accents to add interest and punch.  When you pick your wall colors, stay in the families that coordinate with your favorite colors.  That gives you the most versatility.
2. What colors are your favorite to wear?  Consider incorporating those in your house.  I really like the book Life in Color – it’s from 2008 but still useful to figure out what looks best on you.
3. Always consider the palette as a whole.  You want the house to feel cohesive.  Stand in the doorways and hallways – make sure that the colors in your entire field of view blend together.
4. Feel free to go a little bolder with private spaces like bedrooms and offices.
5. Dark colors can make a room feel small.  But that doesn’t mean you have to have tons of square footage to use it.  I loved the energy of Benjamin Moore Fiji, even though it threatened to make my office feel like a cave.  Instead of finding a new color, we installed white bead board about four feet up the wall and painted it bright white.  The room feels bold and energetic but light too.
6. Consider the time period and design style of the house.  Our master bath has vintage green tile straight out of the 1930s.  When I first saw it I thought it was hideous.  The walls were hospital white and the built-ins were dingy dirty white.  Now I love the quirky historical quality of it.  Painting the walls a period-appropriate looking off-white and the huge built-ins glossy black made the room feel like it came into its own.
7.  Always always paint samples and live with it for a couple days.  You’ll see how the paint changes in different light.
8. Don’t be afraid to let the house evolve at your own pace.  You’ll want to get it all done at once but finding the colors that feel comfortable and current but not trendy can be a journey.  Did I mention, I’ve painted my office 2 different colors before I found one I love?

If you’re looking for color inspiration, Color Collective or Design Seeds are great places to start.  Nature also gives good cues – the colors you find together in sweeping landscapes or even in small objects (like rocks and shells) are masterfully blended.  You can’t go wrong using them.
Good luck and happy painting!

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