...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Hi Dana,

Paint color is my biggest home DIY nemesis. I’m inspired by your choices. I’ve noticed that the colors you used in your previous house were gray with green hues. Was there a design reason for having a green base in the paint colors? Even the dark accent wall that was in your master had green undertones.

I’ve also noticed that your new house doesn’t have the infamous green-based hues. It seems you’ve chosen warmer hues with subtle, lighter creams. I’m just curious, why? Is it the latest trend? What’s your strategy? – Angelina

family room1

Well, Angelina, I have to say that choosing paint colors for our previous house was a quicker and easier process. It was a large home with tons of tall windows, plenty of natural light and high ceilings. Those attributes alone set the stage for nearly any paint color to work well. I chose Valspar {Lowe’s} bonsai for 95% of the house. Three walls in the formal living room were Valspar {Lowe’s} dry riverbed which is a muddy gray. The mini mudroom and laundry room were a soft blue-green. I had a dark accent wall behind my bed. My craft closet was a light lavender-pink. Quite the mix!

Looking back, other than most of the walls being a gray-green, I had no real strategy in regards to paint. And it totally showed. I chose colors that I liked without paying much attention to how they worked as a whole. It wasn’t as noticeable in the house because the different colors were somewhat far apart from one another but if I had laid out all those color swatches next to each other, I think I would have realized it was a strange color palette.

sunroom

I was intimidated to repaint anything on a large scale. {That’s why the few other colors in the paint palette were painted in small rooms or only as accent walls.} The rooms were huge and pretty much all open to each other and there was a two-story foyer. We paid a professional to paint the entire house the gray-green color before we moved in. I wouldn’t have wanted to redo the work we had already paid for and, for the most part, I really liked the gray-green. I chose it because the house’s numerous windows had views to the outdoors which was mostly green trees and grass. The green undertones worked really well.

metal roof 2

Our current house is very different from our previous house. It’s older, smaller, squattier {technical term}. There aren’t as many windows and the ones we do have are smaller than what was in our previous house. We also have a deep overhang blocking some direct sunlight. And the house feels different to me too. From day one, it’s felt very masculine.

mabrey nursery 3

Many of the paint colors I originally chose for this house aren’t jiving with the masculine feel I get from it. It’s taken me several months to realize that. Also, paint colors look totally different in this house than in a house that is blessed with natural light aplenty. Thankfully, paint is an easy fix here because the rooms are smaller. So far, I’ve repainted Mabrey’s room, the boys’ shared bedroom and the mudroom {several times!}. I’ll be repainting the master bedroom and bathroom soon. Gradually, I’m building a paint palette that feels masculine and cozy just like the house itself.

painted boy room

What I’m getting at is my previous and current homes have different palettes because they are two completely different houses. It’s not my intention to follow any trends – although I’m seeing moody colors everywhere right now! I’m trying to choose colors I’m drawn to that also happen to work well in this house. I’m more conscious of the overall palette too. It’s been complete trial and error but a great color palette is evolving. Take a look…

paintdip1

Laying out all the colors together like this helps me to see the bigger picture and to see how the colors in different rooms relate to one another. I even went as far as to lay them out in the order that I normally see them upon entering the house. Nerd. {By the way, I stole the paint-dipped clothespin idea from Emma. She’s a genius.} Whites, grays, blacks and deep blues are giving my house a very cozy masculine look. I’m loving the way they all look together too.

paintdip2

Here, I’ve labeled them for you. As you can see, there are a range of light and dark colors. In rooms where the walls are dark, I use a lot of white to lighten them up. In rooms where the walls are light, I use dark items to ground them. I love contrast. FYI – The gravel gray will be going on the outside of the clawfoot tub in the kid/guest bath.

The palette isn’t complete. I’ll be painting our bedroom Benjamin Moore’s anchor gray but I don’t have it on hand. Maybe a paint palette update is in order when I do get it?

I hope that gives you a better insight into why you see a different color palette evolving in my current house. In my opinion, choosing a paint color palette for a home is just like anything else house-related. It takes time and a little trial and error. What looks good in someone else’s house may not be the best choice for yours. For example, I adore all white California rooms but, come to find out, they don’t work well in my midwestern house. Try looking to your wardrobe for inspiration. My current palette is very indicative of my wardrobe. Mostly neutral basics with pops of color and pattern in accessories. Thanks for the question Angelina!

What about you? How do choose color palettes for your house? What palettes are you drawn to? Do you have a great method {like Emma’s paint-dipped clothespins} for seeing the bigger picture?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

17 Comments

04.March.2013

I really don’t think much when choosing a color palette. The only factor is that I would want to create a cozy/relaxing atmosphere, and that inspired me to paint two of four bedroom walls dark gray and the other two light gray (compromise with the man here). It turned out quite well as gray is considered a neutral color. And when looking at my wardrobe, I have plenty of neutrals that work well with other colors. When looking at your progress with the Underdog, I have to admit that my style is indeed masculine, although I never really thought about it. Apart from the cozy factor, I let the room speak to me (furniture, lighting, etc.) and don’t allow the latest trend to completely influence me, if you know what I mean.

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Interesting post. I like that you suggested to turn to your wardrobe as a source of inspiration. I tell people that all the time. I also encourage people to look to the foods they love to eat or a fav vacation spot. If you adore ethnic foods, you may like the idea of being surrounded by bolder colors. If your ideal vacation looks like a carribean retreat or italian getaway or snowy mountain retreat, you may want to surround yourself with the colors you would see in that setting. I personally really love tons of color. In our home I chose to go with a different wall color in practically every room, but use the same accent colors throughout our home to create a cohesive flow.

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replied on March 4th, 2013

Dana, I love your colour choices, and this post is so helpful for me right now. I’m just about to move into a new rental, and since they allow me to paint (and my boyfriend is a painter! Gotta make use of that one…) I’ve been trying to decide what type of accent wall colours I’d like to go with.

Thanks for your input too Shavona! Good idea to set the mood of your place to the places I’ve enjoyed travelling too.

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04.March.2013

I love the clothespin idea…since moving into our new home we’ve repainted about 70% of the house. Some of the colors I’ve loved, but I hate the color we painted our master bedroom. I’m usually too impatient to paint colors on the wall and check how light hits it…I just go for it and either love it or hate it. Guess I’m repainting our master bedroom soon.

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04.March.2013

I am an avid “buy the paint samples” kind of a girl. When we chose the gray for our house, I had 12 paint swatches on various walls in my home. The paint swatches have been known to sit on my wall for a month or so until I make the final decision. Right now, I have 3 paint swatches painted on my bedroom wall.

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04.March.2013

After much trial and error, I’m sticking to blues and greens in my house. I like lots of bold color and contrast, yet nothing chaotic. I’ve got turquoise, aqua and pea green walls. I still need to figure out my bedroom but am thinking emerald green (at least that’s the choice today, tomorrow might be different!). My condo is small, 750 sq. ft, so a cohesive plan is really important I think.

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04.March.2013

Quick question – What is the paint color you have in your main living areas in the new home?

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replied on March 4th, 2013

The great room {kitchen + family room} is tapestry beige walls with white dove trim and ceiling. The Everything Room {mudroom + laundry + dining room} is besalt with white dove wainscoting, trim and doors.

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04.March.2013

Ok, a quick tangent about gray. I’ve learned through observation and by reading color specialist blogs that gray is the IT neutral now (and should remain so for the next 7-9 years) and has replaced the previous decade’s brown trend… but it’s not really my favorite. There are many, many amazing rooms I love on the blogs and magazines that use gray on walls, kitchen cabinets, furniture, etc., but I’ve discovered I can’t envision myself living there. For example, I LOVE your blog and admire your style, yet I rarely take color ideas away from it. I liked brown before the brown trend, and I still like it now the brown trend is out. I like it looking fresher than the whole Tuscan thing, with plenty of white and jewel colors rather than a zillion earth shades. But I’ve just about come to terms with the fact that gray is not really my thing, design trends be darned! My closet reflects that – my staple neutral is brown and it goes well with the blue-greens, moss greens, peaches, and tomato reds I wear best. Guess what? My house’s color palette has slowly coalesced into beige and cream paint colors with cobalt, grass, moss, and tomato as punch colors. Plenty of wood furniture too. First, however, I had to actually try the grays and the bright accents I was drawn to in pictures in order to find out they don’t work for us. It is indeed a tweaking process!

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replied on March 4th, 2013

Me too, Julie! Our current bathroom was grey when we moved in, so I knew it didn’t work for me. I like warm whites (I knew that all along) with brights (a recent discovery so I painted my sideboard teal and my dining chairs orange!). Amazing houses on the net aren’t always painted the colours I would choose if I was living there.

We are about to move to a new house, though, and I want something dark on the wall behind the bed in the master bedroom – I’m yet to convince my husband that navy blue is the right choice…

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replied on March 6th, 2013

Ha! I mentioned using navy blue in a room and my husband asked if I felt like an angry middle schooler! Guess nb ain’t happening in our house. :)

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04.March.2013

I just love the clothespin photo and the font you chose to label the paint colors!

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05.March.2013

i’ve LOVED your color choices from the beginning in this house. then i looked around my home today and realized why; we have similar choices, warm whites, some darker greys, and a soft taupey-grey on many of the walls…with lots of warm wood tones and white furniture mixed in.

i love watching your home transform, and admire your energy for blogging, being a SATH and upgrading your home! go girl!

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“.. because home doesn’t happen over night.” Your blog is amazing.. you have such great advice. I love the clothes pins. What a fantastic idea.

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08.March.2013

Color-wise, our home’s one trial-and-error mess. Like you, we really didn’t think much about choosing the colors. We started with green with some mahogany accent but somehow, it doesn’t feel kind of right. We bought plenty of paints then, and our house isn’t that big so we kept on experimenting, got into some argument, and ended up with pink and a grayish hue of blue. It made everyone happy, but it doesn’t sit with us well after a while.

It has been years since then, and we’re planning to repaint it again. This time, I’ll take some ideas from this post. I like Emma’s paint-dipped clothespins idea in particular. That should help me and my partner decide on the color better. So yeah, thanks for the great post. Adieu.

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08.March.2013

I am more of a dark-palette person. I can imagine how refreshing your home must feel with your color choices but my preference just happens to be darker shades. It helps me sleep well even in bright daylight combined with thick curtains. I use a more modern method though by drawing it on the computer.

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09.March.2013

Thank you for sharing this! Your home is just stunning and I’m wondering if you have an idea(s) for the wall color for your boys bathroom yet?

And we have trayed ceilings in our home; any tips for painting them? Should they go darker than the wall paint or lighter?

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