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Need help with color palette for our first home!

Laurel W
May 14, 2019

My husband and i are coming upon our closing date soon, and i am trying to hammer out the details for painting the interior. My overall goal is to find a color palette of about 5 colors for my entire house.

Currently the only colors i have been able to get my husband to agree to are these two:

Coastal Vista (the blue) and Swirling Water (the white), both by Behr.

To be clear, these colors were chosen for bedroom and/or living areas and i would like my kitchen to be another color while blending nicely with the rest. To get a better picture ill include a layout of the entire house with pictures to correspond to each area.

Family room:


Dining area:


Master Bedroom:

Second bedroom:


The house was build in 1961 and (as far as i can tell) has the original cabinets in the kitchen, except for the cabinet on the left by itself.

In addition to this, the third bedroom's 4th wall was knocked out and converted into a dining room. (below). We would like to paint the kitchen and dining area the same color with maybe the wood paneling painted an accent color. However, we currently do not wish to mess with the cabinets themselves, except maybe new hardware and give them a good cleaning ( i read in another discussion about using Old English). From what i have discovered, a good complementary color to the cabinets would be a blue, and for sure the previous owner installed a blue back splash, however, my current palette has a blue, and i don't want my house interior to be all blue! We would remove the wallpaper and black splash (in kitchen) as well as remove the closet door. The trim is the same throughout the house and we would like to paint all of it as well.

Some additional information regarding our current furniture:

Our sectional

Current living room rug to balance out the dark couch and other dark items

This cube on its side as a coffee table in "espresso"

Two of these cubes in "espresso"

Out TV stand is also "espresso" with black glass.

Everything else is a mix of random older pieces given to us by family, such as the dining table and dresser. However, i am willing to sand those down and paint those.

I greatly appreciate any advise this community could give us, and im open to any and all ideas. I feel like i am at the end of my rope trying to narrow down all the colors i would like to have. This is my first home and for the first time i get to paint my own walls! Im tired of beige and off whites! (Not that there is a problem with those colors, but i'm just personally tired of them) I want color!! But not so much color that it looks likes a crayon box threw up in my house!

Comments (24)

  • PRO
    Sina Sadeddin Architectural Design

    I see a few issues, first being that you haven't tested the colors in these rooms. Light can really change paint. You may love a color online and in the can, but once it's up on your walls it can look completely different. At least test a few samples.

    Second, you have a lot of warm orange wood. I don't think cool blues are the way to go. Blue is going to draw the orange out of the wood even more. A blue-green like Sea Salt or a sagey green would work better.

  • dyliane

    no to those blues with that wood

  • groveraxle

    Wait till you get in the house. You can't choose paint without looking at samples in the actual light of the rooms.

    Another no to blue with that wood. Complementary colors make both colors more intense.

  • groveraxle

    That's a hard blue to match, but this is approximately what it will looks like against that wood and your carpet. Not a good look,

    You'll be better off staying with warm analogous colors here. Bring color in with your rug and pillows and stay neutral on the walls.

  • groveraxle

    I would start with a warm light neutral on all the walls and paint the ceilings the same.

  • Laurel W

    groveraxle, yes the wood does not work with the blue which is why we would be painting the trim, baseboards, and doors. Sorry if my post did not clarify this.

    At this point i think i will delete this post because i don't feel like i was clear enough in what i was asking, or at least edit it down to be more specific if i can. Thanks for taking the time and offering advise though.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    you just have to find the right blue w/the kitchen cabs

    were you going to paint all of the trim white? I hope so. it would really update the space.

    I don't have a list of Behr colors, but what you might try is SW color app. they give complimentary colors to go along w/whatever single color you choose.

    or try some of these

  • groveraxle

    Laurel, you were clear (now that I look back) and I just had a brain fart. I don't think you need to delete this post and start over. And if you're not going to paint the blue near the kitchen cabinets, you'll probably be fine.

  • groveraxle

    I caution you with blue even if you paint all the woodwork. Blue can go south in a hurry. Here is an approximation of the blue you chose with white woodwork. I think you'll find it too close to baby blue.

    Try a less saturated blue.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    ok, wait, thought the blue was just going in the kitchen or living room. I wouldn't do medium blue like this throughout the entire home.

  • groveraxle

    Beth, I think the blue is for the bedroom. I just painted the hall because it was easiest to show how it looked with the wood.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    ok. yeah, that particular blue is a little juvenile looking. I'd just do the halls and such in a light neutral and save the darker tones for the bedroom.

  • Laurel W

    Beth, there has been no decision on what colors go where. We have been picking colors we like and have been trying to make a palette of about 5 colors total to get samples of. My main concern in the kitchen is finding a paint color to tone down the cabinet colors, otherwise we will have to resurface them, which we really don't want to do at this time. And yes i would like to paint all the trim white, or at least something more neutral.

    groveraxle, Wow! i dont know what program you are using but those pictures look awesome! And i agree the first blue looks too close to baby blue. By chance what color of blue is in the second picture? It looks similar to my desired blue which is this one:

    Any carpet suggestions would be nice too, if you have any. The house is a bit old so there is lots to fix, so we can't afford to do everything we want at this time.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    here are some color schemes for the entire home. these would all work w/your cabinets and furniture. grab some samples of the palette you like and try them.

    Laurel W thanked Beth H. :
  • groveraxle

    This is probably pretty close to Norwegian Blue. Be aware that these colors may look totally different in your actual house and your actual light.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    grover,,,when you get a sec, can you work some magic on this house? thx


  • groveraxle

    The carpet looks new. Do you know what's underneath it? If it's wood, I'd keep those carpets till you're ready to strip them and refinish the floors.

  • Laurel W

    groveraxle, according to the write up "under the bedroom and living room carpet is the original hardwood". It literally says "bedroom" so we don't know if that means all three or just one. I personally would rather do tile and wood flooring instead of carpet, but my other half gets a say in this, so who knows!

  • Jennifer Hogan

    Laurel, your hubby needs to learn a very important phrase "Happy Wife, Happy Life" :-)

    There are so many things to think about! This is really the start to a very long journey.

    Do you know your style? Right now you have mostly hand me down furniture, but slowly, over the next 10 years you will replace these things with things that you love.

    To make your home feel harmonious you should pick a predominant style. You can mix and match styles, but you want something that defines the style of your home. Nothing makes my head spin faster than walking into a house and seeing a rustic foyer, modern dining room and a living room with a big sectional and 1920s art deco side tables.

    Window shop, go to open houses (This time not limited to your budget for buying a new home).

    Shop estate sales, etsy, and local furniture retailers. Don't buy until you know what you want and that it is made well and is being sold at a fair price. You have to shop to know what your dollars can buy. High quality furniture can last a lifetime. Low priced stuff looks good for 2 years and then you start thinking about replaceing. My advice - save your money and buy one piece at a time and buy each piece once.

    Ask for help on Houzz when you start your search for a new dresser or table.

    Anotther thing to do now is to start a journal. Keep notes about your home. Measurements of rooms, closets, windows, vanities, coutertop space, kitchen cupboard space. Keep notes on what you love about your home and notes about the things that just don't work well.

    Keep samples of all your colors. Paint colors, fabric swatches, flooring swatches.

    When it comes time to buy a new home you will have a great head start on defining your needs. When you go to shop you will have all the info you need in one place.

    Don't get carried away with renovations. Spend conservatively on your first home and save toward the next one. HGTV isn't real - most kitchen renos only bring back $60 in sales price for every $100 you spend. Replace things that are in disrepair, leave things alone if they are not a maintenance issue and are not hideous.

    Enjoy the process.

  • pennydesign

    If you're going to be painting the trim, get rid of that paneling...From the pictures, it doesn't look like the decent stuff, but the cheap "faux" paneling. Tap/knock on it. If it feels hollow, or moves, it means it was just tacked up and can be popped off very easily. If not, it maybe glued down in which case...I would get rid of it anyway, but that's just my preference.

    Wallpaper may or may not come down easily...usually the top layer peels off easily then you wet the next, papery layer and it should scrape right off.

    I like your kitchen, and your cabinets :) I would keep them. Except for that additional oak piece. I would get rid of that and find something else for food storage...some kind of vintage hutch/cabinet that goes a bit better..

    I do question the Old English here...Look into Howards Restore a Finish and some super fine steel wool....(You may want to simply give it all a clean with lemon oil before doing this---see what comes up....) The Howards is superior stuff...

    Is the backsplash tile or is that paint? I like the color...

    You probably have hardwoods throughout here. And they might be in okay enough shape to work with should you choose to get rid of the carpet. Remove all the nails and give it a good clean. It won't be perfect, though. But I would do it.

    Congratulations on your first home!! It's so exciting!

  • dyliane

    if you will paint the wood you can have a blue, but wait until you move, blue is a tricky color you need to see it in place

  • Yayagal

    I think this color would suit your furnishings. It's gorgeous in person

  • Jennifer Hogan

    Sorry - meant to post this earlier, but pesky work calls had to take priority. . .

    As for choosing a color pallet for your home, again you are looking for harmony.

    Step 1 - Use poster boards for each room. Add samples of the colors that have to stay. (Can't afford to change or love and won't be changing). This often includes cabinets, countertops, flooring, finishes, appliances, newer furniture that you don't want to replace at this time, art that you love, an area carpet that you love. May also include a fireplace surround or stained glass window.

    Step 2 - Figure out the colors that make your heart sing. We all have those few colors that just make us happy or sexy or romanic or relaxed when we see them. They bring us joy. Funny how this works - I have found that most people are drawn to colors that look really good on them.

    These are colors you want in your home.

    My sisters and I are great examples.

    Lisa - blond with big blue eyes - decor is country and primary colors are cornflower blue, cream and peach.

    Susie - olive tone skin, golden brown hair color, brown eyes - looks good in fall colors and muted colors. Home is sage greens, orange reds, muted golds and browns.

    Betty - light brown eyes, pale skin, hazel eyes - wears a lot of navy and pastels. Bright colors and black make her wash out. Her home colors are light blues, light greens, pastels and tans.

    Me - I have dark hair, dark eyes and ivory skin. I look great in Red, purple, teals - clear colors. My home decor is dark purples, teals, deep burgundy and taupe.

    We all picked home colors that look good on us. Didn't think about it when we selected the colors, but it was a natural process. You learn to love what makes you feel good about yourself.

    Step 3 - adding the colors that you love to the boards. With the colors that must stay, which of the colors that you love can work in each room. This is not your final paint color - it is the basis for your color design.

    Now think about walking through your home - You can't change the colors that must stay, but you can move the colors that you love around, narrow your selection down to 3 colors that work with what must stay and work with each other (I love purple burgundy and teal. I also love lime green - but eliminated it from my color selections for my house because it doesn't work so well with the other 3 colors.) The three colors that you have selected will be repeated throughout your home. Sometimes using a lighter shade or a slightly more subdued shade or a brighter or darker shade - but the same hue.

    Step 4 - Find a neutral - This is one of the hardest parts of the process. Finding a neutral that works with everything you have selected. Again, we are looking for a general choice, not the exact color.

    The basic families are nicely shown by Maria Killam: (Inside colors are the undertones)

    Hint - red and purple undertones can be much more difficult to work with than the other undertones. Green undertones are probably the easiest to work with.

    Step 5 - Pulling everthing together.

    This is where you begin exploring how you want the colors to flow from room to room in your home. Start with your entry - what colors are going to greet you and your guests. Do you want the room to be painted with your neutral or with a color? How bold do you want this first room.

    What do you want it to say to those who are coming into your home.

    Safe - paint it neutral and use your furnishings and accessories to add color.

    Bold - paint the walls orange and placing your sofa and area rug in this room:

    The Visionaire · More Info

    Now you move from one room to the next - do you want neutral walls or colored? How does it coordinate with the previous room. Will it feel harmoneous as you move from room to room.

    Using your 3 colors you can use more or less of each color in every room, but always bring a bit of the main color from one room into the next room so that they relate to one another.

    Think about each room and how you want it to make you and your guests feel. Energized, relaxed, thoughtful, hungry. (Most restaurants use a lot of red and orange colors because they stimulate the appetite. Orange also stimulates social interaction.)

    Most people use neutral in the main living spaces and hallways, colors in bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms. Dining rooms and kitchens are sometimes color and sometimes neutral.

    Don't change wall color unless there is an architectural break (The wall ends at a corner or at a post or beam). (Don't try to draw a line down a wall and change colors if two rooms share one wall).

    Step 6 - Begin selecting wall colors. You really can't see wall color with a tiny sample. You need enough paint to see what it will really look like.

    I buy samples, but have seen a ton of samples and have a pretty good feel for what I want.

    If you haven't done this before it can get overwhelming and expensive to buy 100 samples to get to the perfect color. Walls are huge, so a little color goes a long way. It is easy to go too rich, too bright. What looks dull and very neutral on a 2" sample may look very blue or green or pink when you paint a 10'x10'x8' wall. The undertones come to life as we paint larger spaces.

    As you get to this stage ask more advice on Houzz to help get you close to the perfect color. If you love a color on the 2" sample go about 2 levels more subdued (greyer, muddier)

    I love the color reviews done by kylie m interiors. You may want to start looking at her blog and videos.


    Maria Killam also has some great advice. She is great at explaining undertones.


    You can paint your own samples, but this company makes life simple:


    Let us know how your color scheme is coming along.

  • Jennifer Hogan

    Forgot 2 things:

    White - you can't pick your white until all the colors are figured out. Then you will need one white that works with everything! There are really only a few that work well with most. Again, some of the pros or earlier mentioned websites can help you with this decision.

    Gloss - you mentioned that you selected Behr colors. Behr's gloss levels are quite different than the other major companies. Their eggshell is pretty shiny. You may want to check out Benjamin Moore (my top choice) and Sherwin Williams (SW bought out Valspar/ available at Lowes). There are other brands that I love, but are quite a bit more expensive (C2 and Farrow and Ball).

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