How to Really Pick the Right Paint Colors for Your Home: Tip #1

WHAT COLOR DO I PICK?? I get this question over and over again, so I thought I would hopefully give all of my readers a quick guide to choosing the right colors in your home. This will be an ongoing column in the blog, so I hope that you stay tuned to learn more.

It’s a fairly easy process if you break it down in simple components – but I think that most people agonize over choosing a paint color.  Why?  Because there are so many colors to choose from and most people are afraid to make mistakes in their home.  You have to remember – it’s only paint and it can be re-done.  So – no more worrying!  I’m here to help.

Here’s Tip Number 1.

Eliminate Certain Colors Right Off the Bat:  One of the most simple, but mostly disregarded tips, is to eliminate a whole host of colors from the start.  I could write a book just on this one topic alone, but I will spare you from a lengthy post by whittling down to the basics.

  • Choosing Warm Vs. Cool: If you have warm oak floors or warm toned tiled floors or carpets, avoid cool colors (like mint green, ice blue).  Stay in the warmer tones, like a Tuscan yellow, yellow green, terra cotta, cinnamon for example. You will be much safer with this combination because warm tones blend easily with other warm tones. 

  • In the kitchen, you can eliminate certain wall colors as well. If your kitchen gets a lot of light, you can choose darker wall colors, especially if you have white or cream cabinetry – as in my kitchen.
    In my kitchen, which gets tons of lights, I chose a rich brown wall color.  Because the cabinetry and other items in the room are light cream, the dark color adds a punch.
  • Above, the warm tone of the wood floors started the color scheme.  The beautiful carpet then dictated the other colors in room – corals, pumpkins, ochres, brown and cream. The use of black grounds this room and prevents it from being too light. I love the traditional style of the room – and the punctuation mark of the modern painting on the mantle.
  • If you have very little light, opt for a lighter color on your walls.  Look at your granite or other countertop material – what is the main color in it? That will help you narrow down your choices. 

  • Above, this all white kitchen is stunning because of the pattern and texture in this room. The Carrara marble counters, modern backsplash and art…the graphic trellis wallpaper and the gleam of the faucets and appliances save this white kitchen from being predictable. The gray trellis pattern was probably chosen because of the colors of the backsplash and the marble.  
  • Look at your granite or other countertop material – what is the main color in it? That will help you narrow down your choices. If you have warm, golden sienna or cinnamon tones in your granite, eliminate colors that will clash with it – like blues or greens.  If your granite has some blue specks in it, you can choose a color like In Your Eyes by Benjamin Moore – and add white cabinetry for a beautiful blue and white color scheme. Then look at your cabinetry – is it cream or white? Don’t wimp out and choose a light cream or white. Make the cabinets stand out by using a darker or a mid tone color – or do a beautiful damask, stripe or trellis pattern, as above.

  • Do you have dark cherry wood cabinetry?  Let that stand out by choosing a beautiful pale sage hue.  The red tone in the cherry will actually be more vibrant because of the green on the walls.  Using an opposite color on the color wheel bolsters each color.
  • If you have cooler colors – like silver, pearl, gray or blue – eliminating many warmer colors and plain white will help narrow down your color choices.

  • Above, in this living room we did in Melville NY, the furniture and carpet started the entire cool color scheme. The silver tone of the mirror, the gray/silver window treatments and the platinum and pearl strie on the walls bolster the sophistication of the color scheme. A white wall would have ruined the beauty of this space
A beautiful blue and white color scheme by Meg Braff Interiors.
This cool color palette of blues and whites works well in an elegant beach home.

  • Your environment can help you choose a color scheme.  Think of the sea breezes and the sand of a beach home in the Hamptons.  Above, designer Meg Braff used color to emphasize the beach and the relaxed environment of East Hampton.  Everything is there – the sand, the sea, the sky and the greenery. I can’t imagine this room with darker hues and fabrics.  By contrast, the owners of this Hamptons home probably have gray-toned walls in their NYC apartment that reflect the exterior. 
  • What is your decorating style?  Your style can dictate a wall color and color scheme. If you tend to be more traditional, cream, beige, sage, linen and other neutrals will blend in beautifully with furnishings and fabrics that you already have. If vintage is your style, pastels, light blues and pinks, pale lavenders and yellows and other earth-toned neutrals will go well on your walls.  If you are more bold and contemporary, a deep rich cobalt blue, charcoal gray or fuschia pink could enliven your walls.
  • What mood do you want in a room?  If you want a happy start of the day in your kitchen, then choose sunny colors.  If you want a more serious tone in a library – choose deep forest greens or maroon walls with dark mahogany furniture. Mood plays a big role in deciding your wall color.
  • The function of the room also plays into what color you choose for your walls. If you want to have your children relaxed for bedtime, don’t paint their rooms yellow.  Soothing colors like pale blues and greens will produce a calmer child – ready for bed.

So, through a process of eliminating certain colors, you can begin to whittle down your choices more successfully. This process really works – try it and let me know if it helps you.

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2 Responses to How to Really Pick the Right Paint Colors for Your Home: Tip #1

  1. Jan West says:

    Hi Linda, thanks for the great tips for choosing colors for the home. Your advice is clear and easy to understand. Great blog post!

  2. Linda Leyble says:

    Thanks Jan – I try hard to be very clear (and easy!!)


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