Every home no matter the size or layout can benefit from a whole house color scheme. It doesn’t matter if your home is an open floor plan or a series of separate rooms. It seems more obvious to use coordinated colors in an open floor plan or small space, but even in a home with separate rooms you don’t want to turn the corner and have a jarring effect caused by an out of place color.
Before We Begin
- Decide on 2 -3 of your absolute favorite colors. If you’re going to use them throughout your home, you’d better really like them!
- Decide what mood you want to convey throughout your home. Relaxed, dramatic, romantic, etc. This will help guide you in terms of color saturation (how intense/bright the color is) and how much of it you use.
Types of Color Schemes
Monochromatic – pick one color and use different hues. For instance, blue: different hues range from the coolest, ice blues to deep indigos.
Harmonious/analogous – this color scheme uses colors adjacent, or next to each other on the color wheel. For example, blue, green, yellow or purple, red, orange. This color scheme is very livable and generally feels relaxing and calm.
Complementary – Complementary colors are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. For example, blue and orange, yellow and purple, red and green. This type of color scheme is not for the color-shy. It is a more energetic and lively color scheme, because it is all about contrast. Using complementary colors can be a great way to to tone down other colors, though. For instance, if your home a lot of brass (yellow), blue is the complement to yellow and will help provide a beautiful contrast.
Picking Your Whole House Color Scheme
If you are lucky enough to be starting from scratch, then your walls are the first consideration. The biggest mistake I made when decorating my first home was painting every room a completely different color. Think gray in one room, green in the next, and yet even pink in another! Yikes!
If you like to change up your decor frequently then it is especially important that you keep your walls a light neutral color. Then any other decor or changes in color scheme are easy to work in. Now, when I say neutral don’t immediately go to beige. There’s so many colors that can be a “neutral”. For instance, my neutral is gray – every room in my home is some variation of gray. Whether it’s a medium gray, dove gray, warm gray, cool gray or even a blue/gray – they are all neutrals.
The neutrals you will pick for you home will fall into one of two categories: warm neutrals or cool neutrals.
- Warm neutrals are beige, ivory, taupe, nude, sand and blush.
- Cool neutrals are white, blue and gray and the play well with more saturated versions of the same color.
Once you’ve chosen your neutral, pick 1-5 other colors that will act as your main accent colors and (optionally) one color that you will use sparingly as a saturated “pop” of color.
Example of My Whole House Color Scheme
Blue is my absolutely favorite color. I’ve always been drawn to blue and I know I will never tire of it. However, I love blue decor (throw pillows, vases, etc. etc.)- I don’t really want all the walls in my home to be blue. So instead, I chose an accent of gray which works with pretty much any color scheme. In this case, a neutral of white or cream would work equally well on the walls in my home.
My accent colors are varying hues of blue, gray, cream, white and beige – a pretty monochromatic color scheme that is both modern, bright and casual. I also like to sparingly use a saturated pop of color, which is usually green.
This color scheme looks slightly different in every room of my house, but I stick to these colors for the most part. I don’t always use green as my pop of color and sometimes I don’t have any majorly saturated pop of color at all.
Let’s see how these colors translate in my living room…
The shades used in the living room, while completely adhering to my color palette, are more muted and not as saturated as some other parts of the house. The muted/softened versions of the colors create a really bright and casual feeling to the space (p.s. there’s lots more living room pics to see in this post)
Again, the same color scheme is used in the basement (see the full reveal here!) but using slightly different shades of the same colors. There’s less emphasis on the lighter colors here and more emphasis on navy and heavy use of dark woods. Instead of the green pop of color, I’ve chosen to accent with lots of gold (the rest of the house mostly has cool silver touches). Because this is an entirely different floor (or if it was an enclosed room), you can get away with switching up the colors a bit more, while retaining the same overall aesthetic as the rest of the house.
Because I am so confident in my color scheme, I had no reservations purchasing a navy blue couch for this space. I know I will love it for years to come and that my colors will always work with it. If you’re unsure, I always suggest picking a neutral shade for your couch. It’s such a big purchase! Stick to beiges, creams, off-whites, light grays (or even mid tone grays) for colors that will work with pretty much any color scheme.
- Use colors you love
- Repeat these colors (or at least one color) throughout your home to help create a sense of flow
- If you find you like to change colors frequently, keep major elements like walls and couches neutral so that they will work with everything.
I hope this has been helpful to you! There’s so much great inspiration out there to help you refine your color palette, so don’t be afraid to hit up Pinterest or Google for inspiration. Found a room that really speaks to you? Copy the color palette! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all :-)
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