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  • Writer's pictureAlli McDonald

How To Create A Whole House Paint Color Scheme

This may come as a shocker for most of you but the majority of you don't get to decide your color scheme and neither do I. Isn't that crazy!!! So, if you don't get to decide and I don't get to decide, who (or what) gets to determine a color scheme? Well, my friends, it's your fixed elements in your home, such as your kitchen countertop or the stone on your fireplace that gets the first and final say. Same for the outside, it is the brick or stone on your exterior that will decide what color looks good and what doesn't. Most people can't just pick their favorite colors, you have to take these factors into consideration before you can determine the best paint option.

We recently built our home and I was fortunate enough to not have selected any bossy fixed elements in our kitchen. My kitchen cabinets are a true white and my countertops are black and the main bathroom tile is black and white. So with this, any color will go but I also added some black accents throughout my home to tie those fixed elements in. All the colors that I have selected for the walls throughout my home are present in my living room decor. I have often used the paint colors on more than one occurrence, making my whole house feel very cohesive. Keep reading to find out how I decided on these colors.

With whites and neutrals being all the trend right now, most people think they can make their home feel updated and fresh if they just paint their walls white. But your paint HAS TO relate to something else in your room. So if there is no other white in the room you can't just pick a "white"and think it will look good. All neutrals and "whites" have a possibility of 9 different undertones. To determine a color scheme for the room you need to identify the undertones in your fixed elements and then select a paint the coordinates with those undertones. For example, this kitchen below can not have the walls painted white because there is no other white in the kitchen and without changing the countertops you can't add a white backsplash either. The walls, backsplash, cabinet color, etc are going to be determined by the undertones in the countertop. So if you want to add white to this kitchen, you would need to change the countertop and backsplash. If you aren't changing the fixed elements you would then determine the undertone in the countertop and pick a neutral with that undertone for a fresh wall and/or cabinet color.

So now that I've repeated the word undertone a few times, you might be wondering what the hell is an undertone! An undertone is basically a very subtle color that is present in a white/neutral color. There are 9 different ones; green beige, green gray, blue gray, violet gray, taupe, yellow beige, orange beige, gold beige, and pick beige. So a beige could have a green, yellow, orange, gold, or pink undertone. And most the time you only notice the undertone once it's on your wall and you think that your wall looks way more violet than gray. But once you determine the undertones in the fixed elements that is your starting point for your whole house color scheme.

Usually your kitchen and living room are in close proximity in a home and they need to relate to each other and that is where you would start with selecting your homes color scheme. If your kitchen is white with a simple countertop you can select a rug with lots of color and use it to start selecting pieces for your living room (assuming it doesn't have any bossy fixed elements). With the photo below, I took the pink and blues from the kitchen runner and selected a rug, art, and decor for the living room to tie it all in. Use the neutrals found in the rug/countertop (make sure they don't clash) for the main paint options. With the kitchen having true "white" cabinets, white is also a wall color option. The navy could be used for paint in the dining room and if you are willing, you could do something fun with the pink for the main bathroom. However, you could just use the pink as decor if you wanted to keep it a little more subtle.


Figure out any undertones in your home's fixed elements, select a neutral that has a coordinating undertone for a wall color that won't clash.

To select other colors, look for inspiration in a rug or piece of art. Not sure what color rug/art you may even like, look in your closet (or in my case, your kid's closet). My color inspiration was from the clothes of my girls, in a photo hanging in our living room.

If you don't know where to begin, you can purchase a Paint Color Consultation. With this package we will determine the undertones of any fixed elements in your home, then select the most optimal white/neutral for a great starting point. I have 50-11x14 large painted boards in Sherwin-Williams whites/neutrals (you will need large samples), plus a neutral color wheel to help identify the undertones. And if you are still stuck, we can continue working together to create a beautiful whole house paint color scheme you will love for a long time!



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