Creating a Whole Home Color Palette (the easy way!)
As most of you know, I’ve struggled big time with the color of our current rental (beige/light tan). In fact, I’m pretty sure some of you are tired of me whining about it. In my own defense however, I’m someone who is pretty sensitive to color and light, and how a space looks and feels impacts my mood. I like things light, white, bright, and happy…and this house is anything but. It is brown from bottom to top, and some rooms are even dark because of how the windows face. Over the last few months, I have struggled immensely with trying to make it feel like us and actually work with the happier/brighter items we own. Well…nothing like a few weeks of sitting in practically every room for hours on end while feeding the baby to get me to analyze what’s bothering me and how to go about fixing it. I am so excited to chat colors with you all today and share the easy cheater way I’m creating a whole home color palette that feels fun, fresh, and “me” while working with the brown house we have!
As a blogger, I often fall into the trap of feeling like I have to be an expert on everything. I know a lot of you come here for advice and how-tos, and I want to be able to deliver do-able and successful solutions. You won’t be surprised to hear, however, that there are indeed areas where I struggle; and believe it or not, color is one of them! One of my problems is that I love color too much and have a tendency to go overboard. That love for color combined with a lack of formal color education (which ones go together and why) often leads me to overthink myself into design decision paralysis. Because I don’t trust my instincts (or my eye), I like to rely on “cheater” methods for picking color schemes.
In our first San Diego apartment, I picked a multi-color inspiration fabric I loved. I then pulled different colors from the fabric for each room; as long as everything matched that fabric, I was sure the whole place felt cohesive. In our North Carolina home, I wanted to make over our home from top to bottom but didn’t trust myself to choose colors that played well together. For that home, I used a paint system designed by Martha Stewart for The Home Depot. Thanks to handy symbols on each paint swatch, I could easily identify paint colors that went together. Unfortunately, that system is no longer available which is a bummer…it made picking colors so easy!
I had yet to find my “inspiration palette” for this home when one day last Fall, I was walking through Lowes and spotted these paint swatch cards by Sherwin Williams (below). These are cards with 20 different paint colors that are designed to work together in every combination. There are easily 12 or so palettes to choose from, but I grabbed the ones that, at-a-glance, spoke to me. The ones that gave me that fun, fresh, happy feel I wanted for our home.
I brought the cards home and examined each of them in our space. Now…using pre-designed paint cards is obviously a no-brainer way to determine cohesive wall colors for your home, but we weren’t planning on painting any walls. What these cards showed me instead was how various bright, happy colors could work with our current wall color.
As much as I LOOOVED the color scheme on the upper right (below), I knew this palette was too cool toned and I’d be fighting the beige every step of the way. However, the bottom card, which still felt very happy and fresh to me, had our exact wall color on the card. Bingo. I was SO stuck on how to work WITH the beige…but now I could finally envision how some brighter colors would work with our warm, neutral base walls.
Instead of using this color swatch card to select wall colors, I will use it to guide and inform what I bring into each space. If it generally matches this card, then I can be sure it will all work together to create the happy space I’m envisioning!
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been analyzing this card like crazy. The carpets and wood tones throughout the house are very camel-colored, so the yellows, oranges and light greens were really turning me off. But as I played around some more, I finally came up with a direction for our whole house that 1) works with the brown walls, 2) works with a lot of the items we already own, and 3) makes me excited. These 10 tones will appear in various combinations throughout the house to ultimately create a home that works with what we’ve got (brown walls) but still feels like us (happy, colorful!).
When something clicks for me, it really clicks and I get to work right away. After months of feeling super stuck in this house, I can now envision how each space will eventually look (and how our stuff will fit into that vision); and that has motivated me to finally get to work! In the little spare time I’ve had in recent weeks, I’ve been a busy bee editing through our current items out in the garage and finally making some decisions on what will go where. I’m working on some design boards for each space (a process I will share with you soon) and have even started some quick and simple DIY projects that have already gone a LONG way in helping me love this house more. With a guide to help me (the color card), I feel more confident in my decisions instead of worrying endlessly that I will have to un-do or re-do a wrong decision. Progress people! And it feels so good!
As I tend to do with each of our homes, I am going to share my process and projects with you somewhat methodically, but today I wanted to share how the above 10 colors are going to be interspersed throughout our home!
Our entryway is HUGE and is currently devoid of any color and personality. I’ve been so embarrassed to invite people into our home because it honestly looks like we just moved in. As such, the entryway is the first space on my list to bring to life, and I am planning on working with the beige and white plus red, coral and denim blue!
The front office is just off the entryway and is the lightest and brightest room in the house. I want this room to feel fresh and clean so I’ve chosen to add an emerald green and light turquoise blue to the beige+white scheme. Combined with all the white cabinets and baskets plus some hints of gold I already have, I can envision this room, and I am literally chomping at the bit to get started!
The family room, dining room, and kitchen are all one fluid space and where we spend a bulk of our time. This room admittedly was my very favorite when we first moved in but has caused me the most frustration in trying to identify a way to perk it up amidst all the brown. Layering several shades of blue with the red/coral of the foyer will (hopefully) give it enough interest and help it feel like the fresh and fun family space I want it to be.
Let’s head upstairs to the playroom. Honestly, I should really be working on this space first because it’s such a disaster, but I want to get the first floor mostly in order. I’ve grown quite weary of the bright turquoise that has had a prominent place in all of our past homes so I am trying to weed it out little by little. This room will be mostly neutral with the beige+white+black, highlighted with pops of the emerald green.
The nursery is the only completed room in the whole house…and I am so glad it’s done because I sure spend a lot of time in there. Now that I’m showing you the whole home palette and how I got to it, this room scheme probably now makes a little more sense 😉
The hall bathroom sits right between the nursery (blue) and Henry’s room (green), so the shared bathroom will bring in those two tones through accessories and a few fun DIYs I have up my sleeve.
Henry’s room is actually going to stay pretty close to what it is now. We are going to edit out the accessories to change it from a jungle room to a Lego room (his request) and add in a bit more white to make the room feel a bit brighter. Because of how the room faces, it’s the darkest, dreariest room in the house.
Last but not least, our Master Bedroom is going to stay in the blue/grey color palette its had for the last year. This is the one room we painted (hurray!), and I can’t wait to show it to you now.
Choosing colors that work together can be super tricky. I have a good bit of anxiety about getting it wrong (which I think a lot of people do too!); and that fear can keep me from making real progress in our home. As such, I am not shy to rely on resources that do the hard work for me such as a swatch of multi-colored fabric or a pre-designed paint swatch card. By using the colors on the paint card to guide my choices for what will come into our home, I am sure (I hope!) to end up with a house that visually flows and feels like us! Stay tuned to see if it really works 😉
I hope you guys like this peek into my thought process and system for creating a whole home color palette. I’d love to hear if you have any fail-proof ways to make sure your house feels cohesive?
We have company coming this weekend to meet and celebrate Sam (yay!!!), so I’ve been busy getting our house visitor ready. Next week, I’ll give you a glimpse of our new front porch…all pulled together in just an hour! See you then!
Design Boards 101
Learn more about making your own design boards!