For the person looking to make some profound improvements to the interior of their home, without spending a great deal of money to do so, there is nothing better than the addition of a well thought out color palette!  


It is important to think thru the color direction for your home as a whole instead of thinking about color one room at a time.  Every room should be able to feel unique, while also creating a pleasing and harmonious flow to the home.  

Getting Inspired:

There are many ways to begin to develop a color palette.  One is to look inside your closet – what types of colors are you drawn to surrounding yourself in all day.  Do you wear a predominance of neutrals?  Or are you drawn to the bright and bold?

Also, spend some time hanging out with design magazines.  Clip photos and then analyze what you like about the colors in the rooms you are attracted to.  Take those photos with you to the paint store to use as you’re picking out swatches to take home and consider in the space.

Rules are, of course, made to be broken, but you can consider these general rules:  Paler and less intense versions of colors should be used for interior walls.  Brighter colors are best for accessories and accents, while deep and saturated colors can be used for artwork and textiles.

If you’re living in a historic home, consider the style of the home as a primary influence.  There are many wonderful resources and books that can give insight into a historically inspired color pallet. 

Lastly, consider the psychological effects of color.  Many people respond well to soft earth tones that are warm in their base color – these seem to be universally comforting.  Blues and greens are generally found to be relaxing; while red is stimulating and great for encouraging good food consumption and interesting conversation in the dining room.  To find out more about the psychological effects of color, you can google the topic and find lots of interesting pieces that have been written by color theorists.  

Perfecting the Scheme:

When initially looking at colors to pull together, consider your color chips in natural bright light from a north facing window.  The effects of changing sunlight will be minimized here.  

Once your direction is set, consider the swatches in the rooms they will go in and in all the types of light that room experiences.  The way the buttery yellow paint you like in the breakfast room appears in the morning, will be completely different after sundown with the incandescent or fluorescent light that illuminates the room after dark.

Once you think you’ve decided on a palette direction made using your smaller swatches, get or create large samples of the colors.  Undertones not apparent in a small swatch are more apparent in a larger sample.  For instance, a beige that looks like a perfectly balanced neutral in a small swatch, can show a pink under tone once seen in a larger sample.

Paint a 3’x4’ section of the room’s wall with a small amount of the paint.  Benjamin Moore offers mini sample bottles to test many of their colors in your space.  Or order several large swatches of the color and tape them together and leave on your wall to experience at various times of the day.  Dunn Edwards gives you the opportunity to order large swatches from their website

It is difficult to express some of the intangibles that are important as you finalize a harmonious color palette, but here are a few tips that are important:

  • If you are unsure or if it is your first time putting together a palette, consider keeping it simple.  Choose neutral warm beige as your primary color and then keep your other color choices in the same value (or lightness).  
  • Most harmonious palettes use colors of roughly even value (lightness or darkness).
  • Keep a balance of visual weight in the space.  If your large family room is flanked by the kitchen and the dining room, and you are set on a deep red dining room and a light beige family room, make sure the color in the kitchen offsets and balances the intense red of the dining room with perhaps a dark stain on your cabinets and a bold granite choice. 
  • Make sure to think about other colors, patterns and textures you want to layer into the space.  What are the colors in the artwork that you want to incorporate?  If you have a red sofa you will be keeping as a dominant element in your living room, make sure the walls will complement it.  Do you want your existing drapery fabric to stand out or blend?

And remember, there are color experts available to help you with the creation of your home’s palette.  An hour’s consultation can be worth it if there are questions stalling you from moving forward.

Happy Coloring!


Sasha Witte

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