It’s no secret I’m no white walls / white trim girl. I’m all about bold design and colorful spaces. I’m a traditionalist, a grandmillenial, a modern Victorian. Berrybrier absolutely reflects this and I wanted to to share the whole house palette today so you can see how — even though my house may read as colorful — the limited color palette unifies each room to the others.
Do you see how tight this color palette actually is? Yes, my dining room (Benjamin Moore New London Burgundy) might be the color of a good pinot noir and contrast from the dark green trim (Benjamin Moore Forest Floor) in the rest of my house, but it’s tied to the same color family as the light pink in my master bathroom (Benjamin Moore Pink Beach). The green of the trimwork (Benjamin Moore Forest Floor) throughout the house, is only very subtly different from the wall color in my bedroom (Benjamin Moore Tate Olive).
So to understand how to put colors together to create a whole house color palette, it’s important to know a little bit about color theory. Lifehacker has a good article about this if you’re interested. I don’t want to dive too deep, because this is a whole post in itself! But I do want to touch on the basics. Colors all fall into the color wheel. Primary colors are colors that cannot be made by mixing two colors together (red, yellow, blue) and the colors on the wheel between primary tones are colors that are created by mixing different amounts of the primary colors they fall between. Colors that are opposite each other are complementary, which means they contrast, but also look good together.
One of the best examples of complementary colors is Christmas. Green and red are opposite each other on the color palette and both demand attention, but also play up each other.
The other thing to know about color theory is on the far right above. Shade, Tint, and Tone are ways to transform “pure” colors. Tint is to add white, shade is to add black, and tone is to add grey. This is where you want to pick your paint colors from. Anything too close to a pure color on the color wheel is going to scream at you if you put it up on your walls. Thus it’s important to made sure any paint colors you pull are heavily tinted, shaded, or toned.
Berrybrier Color Palette
Let’s take a closer look now at Berrybrier. Each of the colors in Berrybrier have been toned (added grey) down to make them less extreme. Colors like Pink Beach have been tinted (whitened) as well and colors like New London Burgundy have been shaded (blackened) to create more depth.
Now, one of the other reasons my bold whole house color palette works well is the mix of dark and light colors. Everyone knows black and white are a dynamic duo, right? If you want to mix bold colors, think of that for your house too. You want light colors besides dark to create that contrast which allows them both to shine.
This is Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum next to Benjamin Moore’s Forest Floor. They’re highly contrasting, but they compliment each other since one is quiet, light and subtle; and the other is bold, dark, and dynamic.
I wanted a subtle, clean wall color for the main spaces at Berrybrier that didn’t go too grey or too beige. I landed on Brushed Aluminum since it met in the middle. Forest Floor was my bold green choice I selected when renovating the main bathroom – I wanted something that would pop off the black and white floor! When I finally decided the green paint color should become my trim color throughout the house too, the colors worked really well together. Here’s how these two colors look in real life in my living room.
The same colors are in the entry (which is really just a corner of the living room) and the small space has a lot of trimwork. The bolder trim color highlights all the traditional trimwork in such an awesome way!
Now if we add in Benjamin Moore’s Black, the colors are thrown into higher contrast. The black grounds the colors more and adds depth.
In my stairwell you can see how these three play off each other. The green of Benjamin Moore’s Forest Floor provides a really nice contrast against the orange tones of the original 100 year old fir floors throughout Berrybrier.
Let’s step back again and look at another color. I’m pretty in love with Benjamin Moore’s New London Burgundy! It’s such a deep and lovely red tone.
In my dining room, this color takes center stage on the walls and the trim!
There is some green in this room though! The green tones in the dining room are all accents. This works really well because red and green are complementary colors, remember? They’re across from each other on the color wheel. So even though the green of Forest Floor is much more subdued than “Christmas” green and the red of New London Burgundy is much deeper and almost more purple than “Christmas” red, the colors were selected to be friendly with each other.
If we step out even further and you look at how this dining room connects to the rest of the house, you consider three colors once more: Brushed Aluminum, Forest Floor, and New London Burgundy. The lightness of Brushed Aluminum provides much needed relief from the deeper color of the other two.
Looking from the living room into the dining room, these colors all come together in one sight line. The living room feels lighter and brighter and the dining room feels moodier. If they were both painted darker hues, the two spaces would read totally differently.
In my bedroom however, I didn’t do the trimwork the same color as the walls, but instead opted for a subtle contrast by using the same Forest Floor that was on the trim throughout the rest of the house. These colors are super similar which means they inherently go well with each other.
Here in my master bedroom you can see how this subtle contrast lends itself to the more elaborate trimwork of my older house.
Through that door, we circle back to another complementary color: pink. As a variant shade of red, pink is a great complement to green and this color combo has been very popular lately.
Benjamin Moore’s Pink Beach creates a bright and rosy room off of the darker and moodier master bedroom.
The color of the bathroom, Pink Beach is so light compared to the darker bedroom, but one of the reasons why it feels right in the overall house palette is because it ties into the dining room’s New London Burgundy. These paint colors might not be near each other at all, but they still speak to each other in the same color family.
So, I’m posting the overall color palette one more time, so you don’t have to scroll all the way up to see all the colors of Berrybrier again. See how all these paints are really just three colors in varying tones?
Although I’ve used six different paint colors, my house can be summed up into three hues: green, red, black. Simple, right?
How to Put Together Your Own Whole House Color Palette
Now if you look back at the color wheel at the top of this post, start to build your own whole house color palette. Think of how the different hues are going to play with each other and make sure you’re collecting complementary hues and mixing in light and dark contrast. Here are some guidelines!
- Select complementary hues as accent colors for your home.
- Think about how you want the room to feel. High contrast and bold? Or subtle and clean? Choose colors accordingly.
- Pay attention to sight lines in your home, will the color of that room look good when you’re seeing it with the colors of the room next to it?
- Scale the number of paint colors to your home. 6-9 paint colors works well for a smaller 1,400 square foot home with 3 bedrooms; any more could feel disjointed and jarring. In a larger 3,000 square foot home you could potentially have more paint colors since there are more rooms.
- Layout your color palette before painting! If you’re painting one room at a time, save your paint swatches in a binder to compare to potential new colors. Make sure things are reading well as a whole palette and it doesn’t look like someone threw the paint store swatch aisle into your home.
- Always, always stay away from super bright “pure” color for paint, make sure your swatch looks grey’ed down and tonal. I promise it will look much bolder on the wall.
- Remember, there’s always a good design that breaks all these rules, but it’s hard to achieve unless you’re trained to know what you’re doing!
Whew, that was a lot of info. I’m exhausted now. Ha! I hope this helps when you’re putting together paint colors for your own home. Let me know if you have any tips and tricks for devising your own house color palettes in the comments!