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Tips & Tricks Thursday – Creating a Color Scheme

Raise your hand if you’ve ever picked the wrong paint color for your walls…

I’m assuming that’s just about everyone (including myself!). 

A lot of times the wrong paint color is a result of jumping into the fan deck too quickly (guilty!) without taking into account the other elements in your space like floors, tile, stone, wood…

It’s much more important to look at the big picture.

Don’t rush into choosing your favorite color just yet.  Remember – just because you love it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work with the tile on your kitchen floor.  You know, the one with the orange undertones? (… okay, that’s really MY kitchen tile, but it makes for a good example, right?)  Take into account the more permanent features (the ones you can’t change with a quick swipe of the paint brush – or roller), in order to create a more cohesive look – and avoid a potential design disaster!

This past week I read a wonderful little article from Janel at Apartment Therapy on this very topic!  I knew I had to share and make it part of my tips and tricks this week.  In it she describes three fail-safe guidelines for choosing the perfect paint color based on the other features in your space.


“Floors are the second largest surface area of your home, so don’t ignore them”.  I love this advice.  Especially when you have carpets that look neutral but really have a funky colored undertone.  And remember that “wood tone” is not a color description.  Hardwood floors come in so many varieties and shades (We went through about 25 different ones for the Mira Vista project.  Really.) that the tones can range from whitewashed to honey to red to ebony – and everything in between.  Compare the color you’re selecting to the floor (not just the baseboard) and ask yourself, “do these complement each other?”.  A great rule of thumb is to choose a color that either complements or gives high contrast to your floor.  Keep the tones too similar, and you run the risk of a wall color that clashes in a bad way.  Think red walls with cherry red hardwoods – No.  Just, no.

Kelly Deck Design

Kelly Deck Design


Same rules apply here.  Look to coordinate with your cabinet color.  I agree with Janel that cooler paint colors are easier to work with and look really great against warmer wood tones (see above example of red on red).  If you like a space warm and inviting, don’t default to the yellow side of the fan deck.  Remember that wood tones themselves can provide enough warmth to a space.

Casual Classic Home

Casual Classic Home


I love working with natural stone.  I’m especially partial to the classic marbles and natural feel of limestone and soapstone.  The key here is to look at the actual piece you will be using (or already have installed) – whether its a floor, counter, backsplash, or somewhere else.  Each surface will have an individual color.  Marbles can have white, gray, blue, or green undertones – take things like that into account.

Also, be sure to see your selection directly against the stone.  You can either choose a color that’s in the the stone, or one that coordinates well.  Be careful when selecting neutrals (this is where putting the paint chip directly against the stone comes into play…).  Bright whites can often intensify beige or gray undertones in your stone, so be sure to find the color that coordinated and doesn’t clash.  When in doubt, opt for a bold or deep wall color to add some drama, or choose a contrasting tone.

via Apartment Therapy

via Apartment Therapy


* ALWAYS look at your paint and surfaces in the space you are going to use them.  Take into account lighting (natural vs. daylight) and time of day.  Paint and surfaces will always change a little (or a lot) in different rooms, at different times of day, and in different light.

* Use these same rules with non-natural materials as well (like carpet, linoleum, Formica, etc…).  The key is to find the main undertone of the surface and work from there.

* Use this as a starting point for the rest of your space’s color palette.  Once you find the undertones and wall color, it will be easier to pull in accent colors through pillows and various accessories.

Happy Painting!


2 Comments Post a comment
  1. great tips! 🙂

    March 14, 2013
  2. I’m bookmarking this for when I finally get a home I can paint!

    March 20, 2013

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