Tips for Choosing Whole Home Paint Color Scheme

I’m really excited about today’s post because I’m sharing a recent project that I worked on for a local client that I consulted on all of the paint colors for the interior/exterior. I wanted to share this particular project with you guys because I think it’s such a good example of things to think about and factor in when choosing whole home paint color scheme. 

Tips for choosing whole whole paint color scheme

Whether building a new home or looking to create color continuity throughout an existing home, these tips and tricks can help you make easier decisions as you choose paint colors for your home. For this post, I am simply going to walk you through our whole process, from beginning to end, explaining how we started on the exterior colors first and then how we incorporated exterior undertones into the interior color selections. You’ll find my “Quick Tips” noted along the way.

Here is the final color palette that we ended up using throughout my client’s home.

Choosing whole home paint color scheme.

 

Exterior

For this recent project, my client was building a home on a beautiful heavily wooden lot with tall pine trees. The builder is Dream Homes and Drafting in Lufkin, Texas. 

When I first looked at the home plans (before the house was built), we talked through the importance of choosing exterior colors that compliment the surroundings of their home, which in this case was trees and beautiful greenery. Something else we factored in was the style of the home and exterior textures/architectural elements.

Here is an exterior shot of their home today

Choosing exterior paint colors

As you can see above, the house has a lot of beautiful textures and architectural elements. The body of the home has shake shingles accented with stone plus there is also extensive wood trim and design work.  In addition, the roof line and pitch is beautifully intricate with lots of angles.  This exterior home design is absolutely beautiful but because of the different textures going on here, it was very important to nail the exterior color combinations to cohesively pull everything together.

I see houses like this all the time that have a lot of varying textures and architectural elements that have been painted 4-5 different shades of colors. People tend to think that they have to paint the body, fascias, trim, and windows all different colors/shades because it’s a textural/architectural change that must be defined.  However, when there is a lot of change in texture/architectural elements, aesthetically, less is more.

Quick tip: The less changes in the exterior colors, the more the texture/architectural elements will stand out in a subtle or organic way.

So for this home, we stuck with two main paint colors and one safe mid-tone color for the areas that stain was used.  You’ll also notice that the colors are almost equal in the amount used and also spread out and balanced on the exterior. One more thing…, if the house had been white, I would have suggested a dark stain to balance and contrast. However, the green is dark, so I suggested a lighter toned stain to contrast. The same theory applies to paint. If you’re painting your home a light color, accent with a darker color paint and vice versa. 

Choosing exterior paint colors

Interior Main Areas

After the home was close to completion, I met with my client to go over all the colors on the walls and cabinetry for the interior.  

Quick tip: You don’t necessarily have to consider the exterior colors as you choose interior colors but I do think at a minimum, the undertones on both the exterior and interior should be complementary. The only way to safely do that is to choose a similar undertone (not necessarily exact) or choose neutral undertones for your interior colors.

The kitchen in my client’s home is going to be the main gathering place in her home with a screen porch off one side of the kitchen and the pool/patio area accessed off the other side of the kitchen. 

Cabinet paint color is Benjamin Moore Simply White.

The client wanted a neutral light gray for the kitchen and it was important in this space to think about what shade of gray would work best in this space because of the abundance of natural light. It’s important to understand when choosing colors that when you have an abundance of natural light, whatever color you choose will go cool with a slight blue cast. The trick is to go warmer in your color choice to compensate for the color cooling.

 We went with Sherwin Williams Repose Gray because Repose has just the right amount of warmth in the undertone to balance the gray from going to cool in this space with all the natural light.

Wall color is Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Even with the lights turned on in the kitchen, you can see that the overhead light combined with all of the natural light, Repose has a slight blue cast but the warmth in the undertone is what is keeping it from being too cool or sterile of a gray.

Wall color is Sherwin Williams Repose Gray. Hood is Dorian Gray.

For continuity, I like to encourage clients to stick with one white paint color for trim, cabinetry, etc. for the whole home, unless they’re painting something a non-white paint color. We went with Benjamin Moore Simply White because Simply White has a tad bit of warmth in the undertone and would look crisp throughout this home that has so much natural light. A brighter white would be too cool and bright in this space.  

Quick tip: If you don’t have a lot of natural light in your home, a brighter neutral white on trim/cabinetry/doors like Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White can really help lighten the space for you. If you have a lot of natural light, choose a white with a slight hint of warmth like Benjamin Moore Simply White.

Cabinet paint color is Benjamin Moore Simply White

For the hood and the island, we choose Sherwin Williams Dorian Gray (hood) and Sherwin Williams Black Fox for the island.  These two colors are on the same paint color strip as the wall color (Repose Gray). This is the safest way to choose accent colors because these colors are on the same colors strip have the same undertone.

Quick tip: Working off of one paint color strip in the kitchen is an easy trick for guaranteeing that colors will blend and compliment.

Cabinet paint color is Benjamin Moore Simply White.

By the way, this is one of the best color strips (see below) out there because these colors have a near perfect balance of warm and cool undertones. (What is not showing is that SW Eider White is actually the lightest color on the strip)

Sherwin Williams Color Strip. Eider White, Repose Gray and Mindful Gray  

In the master bedroom, my client wanted a serene lighter green/blue/gray color. Because the master has large windows that look out over the woods and pool, choosing a color that will beautifully complimented these elements is another tip for narrowing down color choices.

Quick tip: If you want to drawn your attention to the surroundings outside your windows, use a less pigmented and lighter color. Also, choose a color that will complement the outdoor surroundings (green undertone for trees, blue undertone for water, etc..)

We decided on Sherwin Williams Sea Salt diluted with white 25% to lighten up. This space has a lot of natural light and natural light will cool your colors, so you can see that Sea Salt here is leaning blue. But in the evenings with artificial light, it will lean more green.

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt diluted with white 50%

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt Diluted with White 50%

Green/blue/gray colors are chameleon colors that need to be sampled first on the walls because as mentioned above, the light will dramatically impact the colors. I gave my client three beautiful color choices and we sampled them on the wall to see what they would do in her light.

Choosing whole home paint colors.

  1. Sea Salt Sherwin Williams
  2. Pale Smoke Benjamin Moore
  3. Beach Glass Benjamin Moore

(FYI.. I used adhesive color samples from Samplize– you can also paint a large poster board)

As we narrowed down our color to Sea Salt, I encouraged my client to dilute Sea Salt with even more white to keep the space light and airy while still serene. 

Quick tip: When choosing a shade of a color, consider the size of the room and the feel of the space. The lighter the color, the larger the space will look. Darker shades are great if you want a den-like feel or you have a larger space with a lot of natural light. 

Sea Salt diluted 25% with white 

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt Diluted with White 50%.

 

Wall paint color is Sea Salt

We decided to do Sea Salt at full strength in the master bathroom.  I recommended going full strength in the bathroom because there is not much natural light and using a higher pigmentation of the color would stand out more.  Also, because they went neutral on their tile, the walls a color to stand out and evoke a spa-like feel. 

Bathroom paint color is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt.

I think that Sea Salt always looks the prettiest in spaces like this that has just a small amount of natural light. In the evening, Sea Salt will also look beautiful in artificial light.

Here’s a better shot of the color.

Bathroom paint color is Sea Salt Sherwin Williams.

 

In the study, we settled on Benjamin Moore Beach Glass. While similar to Sea Salt, Beach Glass has more gray in the undertone. In natural light (without any overhead lights), Beach Glass looks like this.

Wall color is Benjamin Moore Beach Glass

However, with the lights on, Beach Glass looks like this:

Wall color is Beach Glass Benjamin Moore

Quick tip: Paint a sample of the color on a large poster board and tape to the wall and look at it in daylight and night. Some colors look beautiful during the day and awful in the evening under artificial light. Colors will go a lot warmer on the wall in the evening under artificial light. 

It’s so important to test these chameleon colors on the wall to really get a feel for what they will do in your light. Also, test with lights out and on really make a significant different.

For one of the boy bedrooms, we settled on Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke, which is a beautiful blue/gray with an ever so slight hint of warmth. 

Wall color is Benjamin Moore Pale Smoke

Quick tip: For children’s spaces, a great place to start is by looking to bedding and rugs that will be used in the space. Also, do you want the room to feel light and airy, or do you want a bold fun statement. If you want to the wall in a child’s space to be bold/fun, choose mid-toned to darker color.  

My client wanted to have a light and airy feel for this room.

For the other boy bedroom, we chose On The Rocks by Sherwin Williams, which is a warm gray.

Wall color is On the Rocks by Sherwin Williams

Because this room had so much natural light with the large windows, I encouraged my client to choose a gray that had a lot of warmth because I knew it would go cool with all this natural light. As you can see below, On the Rocks looks like a really warm gray on the card but when you get it on a wall with a lot of natural light, you get a gray that has been cooled. If we had chosen a gray without any warmth, the gray would be too cold and sterile.

Sherwin Williams On the Rocks

Quick tip: If you are choosing a color for a space with a lot of natural light, to keep the color from being to cool, compensate and and balance it by choosing a color that has a about two shades more warmth. 

For the bathroom off of this bedroom, we settled on Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore (I didn’t get a picture). 

Hale Navy Benjamin Moore

We went with Hale Navy because the bathroom is small and we wanted a darker (den-like) feel. 

Well, I see I have written a novel here!  Hopefully by walking you through our thought process, you picked up some tips for choosing colors for your own home. 

Thanks for stopping by today!

Cheers!

Cyndy

 

 

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22 Responses to Tips for Choosing Whole Home Paint Color Scheme

  1. Nancy says:

    Wow!! Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful post and explanations on a very important aspect of design an decorating! I learned so much from this!! Thank you again!

  2. Tammara says:

    Thank you!! Great explanation of the hows and whys of color.

  3. Thelma Tone says:

    Thank you. Your explanation on the use of paint colors was excellent and enlightening. We often get caught up in using too many beige paint colors for homes. Your project demonstrates the use of various colors to accomplish a flow through the home without it being boring.

  4. Denise says:

    Very helpful post. What is your opinion on keeping the interior palette all the same color? Lately I’ve been reading where designers are suggesting homeowners to move towards this approach with color to create a more cohesive space; utilizing furnishing, fabrics and rugs to separate those areas. I’m in the process of painting our entire house and I feel more confused with making decisions than ever.

  5. Grandyjoan says:

    I’m fascinated by your post as we are building and I had to have all my paint colors in last week. My home is in a beach community but not near the water. We do have lots of big windows. I have been a nervous wreck over having to choose colors. It is by far the most difficult decision. The exterior of our home is BM Coventry Gray. Primary main level interior will be BM Newburyport blue. There are very few walls and the ones we do have have 54″ white wainscoting. Island is Hale Navy, cabinets white. Upstairs is BM Palladian blue. Keeping my fingers crossed it will all come together. The home we are moving from is also at beach and entire house is Sea Salt!!!! Thank you for your post! It has made me feel a little better.

  6. Marilyn says:

    Thank you for this blog! We are in the process of remodeling a 70’s house and painting the interior now. Guess what color. Repose
    Gray! We’ve only painted one room but really like the color. I decided to go with painting interior with this color but if I want to change up the bathrooms this blog helps a lot. Our house doesn’t have a lot of natural lighting with only 8ft ceilings so adding the white may help in our den. We have dark faux beams on the ceiling in the den so it was really tough on choosing the right color.

  7. Deidre says:

    What is the color green that you used on the exterior?

  8. Bambi Mayer says:

    Wonderful post full of great advise. Like other commenters, I find picking paint colors to be one of the toughest things I have to do when decorating/updating my home. I love the color samples and have signed up on their site. I found that poster board warps too much (as does foam board). Thanks for this post!

  9. Cassandra says:

    This was so well explained that I finally understand just what to look for in paint colors and how to choose them from room to room. Also, it was a good reminder to add white to change the intensity of a color. Thank you for explaining this and including pictures.

  10. Maggie Setler says:

    Love your post on choosing paint colors! I have a question – you say “choosing a color that has a about two shades more warmth”- but how do you do that? I can see how to choose a darker color but how do you know that it is warmer and mot just darker? (maybe a idea for a blog post)

    • Cyndy says:

      That’s a great question Maggie and you are right, great topic for a future blog post. The way you do that is 1) if you have a fan deck, choose the color you would ultimately want (and shade) and go two paint strips over as you head into the greens/warmer colors (versus cooler blues) (if you’re looking at grays, blues and greens). 2) You can do the same thing at the paint store but each brand organizes their paint cards differently but usually, it transitions from warms to neutrals to cools. Find your ultimate color and then go over two hues into the warmer shades of the color. I hope that helps!

  11. Kaitlyn says:

    This is a really great explanation–thank you for all your insight! Would Repose Gray pair well with brown couches–one dark and one tan? I thought so, but my mother-in-law’s reaction to me mentioning gray paint has me second guessing 🙂

    • Cyndy says:

      Thanks for your note Kaitlin! Oh yes, Repose Would be perfect because the undertone has warmth, which helps to balance the gray. Gray and brown are a beautiful combination, plus Repose has just enough warmth to keep it from going to cool/sterile. Hope that helps!

  12. Valerie says:

    Very interesting. I am in the process of painting my dining room hale navy with white wainscoting below.
    My living room is adjacent to the dining room so I need a complementary color, would repose gray on the walls work?

  13. Ashley says:

    Thank you for the thorough walk through on paint! I hope you have an article on selecting trim color. I live in Seattle in a 1970s era home with low ceilings, dark wood floors and poor natural light, on a wooded lot. Basically paint color selection has been a nightmare. I’m assuming based on your notes that I should select cool colors with low saturation. Tips?!

  14. Cheryl says:

    Loooooovvvve sea salt!

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