All month we’ve been talking about color, so today I’m re-posting the 6 best paint colors for walls, trim, cabinets, and more. This is one of our most popular blog posts so if you missed it before, I hope it’s a useful resource for you now!
Now, don’t die of shock: 4 of the 6 best paint colors for walls, trim, and cabinets I’ve chosen are neutrals.
Your color-loving designer pal has chosen white, greys, and even BEIGE as her favorites!
There is a method to my madness, I promise. While a dramatic blue wall color can be awesome in certain rooms (like my Dark Night bedroom below), most of the time your walls are best treated as the backdrop and not the center of attention. Paint is cheap, and is meant to highlight the other amazing parts of a room design. No one wants to invest thousands in gorgeous living room furnishings and decor only for their friends to comment on how much they loooooove that $30 wall color!
So, what are my favorite paint colors? I’m glad you asked.
The best deep, dark, super sexy paint color for walls: Sherwin-Williams Dark Night
Let’s hear it for MY FAVORITE PAINT COLOR EVER, Dark Night. I’m obsessed with this inky peacock blue with just a hint of teal in it. It’s navy with a badass twist. My master bedroom is this color, as are my front door and exterior shutters – what can I say, I really do love it! I’ve also convinced clients to paint with this color too. *insert evil laughter here*
Dark Night is the artsty cool girl in highschool who wears killer eye makeup and oozes confidence, and you just want to be around her and hope some of her cool-factor rubs off on you.
The best livable neutral with a little green in it: Sherwin-Williams Relaxed Khaki
I’ve loved my living room in Relaxed Khaki. Crazy how different it looks in the space than on this color swatch, right? It’s not beige (despite kind of looking like it…shhh!) but is an easy, livable, earthy neutral. In my home it really reads as green, but in other spaces it looks more like a true khaki.
Relaxed Khaki is like that hot dad at the playground – he’s not what you’d usually go for and is more boring and stable than you are, but somehow that’s really attractive.
The best medium-ish gray for cabinetry: Sherwin-Williams Amazing Gray
Anyone else start singing “Aaaamazing graaay, how sweet the sound”…? Amazing Gray is a great medium gray that I’ve used on cabinetry before and loved the results. It’s not too purple or blue, and it pairs really nicely with marble and metallics.
Amazing Gray is kind of cocky (I mean really, that name!) but you can’t argue with the fact that he really is pretty amazing.
The best light grey for walls: Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray
Just like 7Up is the “agreeable soda” – meaning that pretty much everyone will drink it even if it’s not their absolute fave – Agreeable Gray is a pretty safe bet for your walls. It’s light, soft grey that runs just a little on the greige side with a touch of brown in it. I like to design with a LOT of color (hello, have we met?) and Agreeable Gray creates the perfect neutral canvas so that the art, lighting, furnishings, and rugs can take all the attention.
Agreeable Gray is like your boring neighbor that you like just fine, but he’s not the most charismatic guy. But you just like him, you know? Even if you can’t always remember his name.
The best crispy fresh white for alllll the walls and trim: Sherwin-Williams Extra White
I’ve had my fair share of battles with white paint, and I’ve found a hands-down winner – Extra White. It’s not too yellow, not too blue, and really pops against bright and rich colors. All of my interior doors and trim and ceilings are in Extra White. So fresh and so clean.
Extra White is totally the over-achiever (you know: class president, valedictorian, straight-A student) of whites, and no other white even comes close. But he deserves all the accolades, even if you’re a little jealous of his success.
The best chartreuse for a killer pop of color: Benjamin Moore Citron
Citron is like, THE BEST yellow-green ever. Benjamin Moore says that, “a generous dose of green gives this earthy, organic yellow a mellow, somewhat mysterious quality.” Mysterious? I don’t know about that. But I DO know that this electric chartreuse is my fave for adding a burst of color to a baby change table (which we did in Ford’s nursery), an interior door, or an accent table.
Citron is like biting into a lemon and making a killer sour face, but secretly you really like it and will probably do it again.
Want to know more of my favorite paint colors? I’ve got a FREE blue and teal paint color guide for you. Download it right here.
It’s no secret I love color – hello, my obsession with teal is loud and proud. But while I’m always your cheerleader for adding color and pattern to truly express yourself at home, there are 5 reasons you need both color and neutrals in interior design.
1. To Create Contrast.
Because too much of one thing is boring! Contrast is one of the principles of design that makes things interesting. Too much of the same is boring, but too many competing elements is distracting. I like to use neutrals as the foundation and allow color to be the contrasting element that gets your attention.
2. To Create a Focal Point.
Neutrals become the backdrop to bring color center stage. If you use neutrals to create contrast, you’ll be drawing the eye to the colored items – the fun stuff! In the photo below, the colorful trio of pillows and teal area rug are definitely where my eye lands first, and are the clear focal point in the room.
It’s only after you’ve checked out the pop of color that you start to notice the other beautiful neutrals elements, like the custom light-grey curved sofa and copper and iron nesting coffee tables.
Neutrals set the foundation to create a colorful focal point.
3. To Create Balance.
Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing! Too many safe neutral colors can mean a room becomes a total snooze, but on the flip side, an extreme room bursting with color can make your eyeballs want to pop out. A mix of color and neutrals feels balanced and harmonious.
4. To Keep the Crazy Under Control.
You might not believe this as I’m always encouraging people to “bust out of boring”, but I actually think too much color isn’t a good thing! I’ve seen plenty of designer rooms with color and pattern everywhere, and while they may look incredible in a magazine or a showhouse, they just don’t feel all that livable. (And honestly, they’re probably not. Many homes like that were designed totally for show and for the shock factor.)
I want to live in a home that’s livable, delightful, and unexpected – not a total assault on the eyes. Mixing neutrals and colors keeps the crazy under control.
5. Because they’re both awesome!
Neutrals can be boring (hello, builder’s beige walls) but they sure don’t have to be. Neutrals can be rich, livable, and exciting when you introduce a variety of textures and finishes. A beige microfiber couch and matching loveseat is a total snooze; but a cream performance fabric sofa, inlaid wood coffee table, hammered metal accent table, and white faux-fur pillow combo is super chic, sexy, and touchable. And then – add some colorful pillows, a gorgeous area rug and a few well-chosen accessories. BOOM. Nailed it.
Whether you love neutrals, color, or both,
it’s essential to know your style so that you can create a room that truly feels like you. Here’s a fun, free quiz to discover your true design style – and you’ll also get a shoppable style board with furniture and decor I’ve curated just for you.
If you’re like me, you LOVE blue and teal paint colors! But you’ve probably tried to choose a color before, only to find out that it was too bright, or too blue, or too…something.
There are 8 blue and teal paint colors that are tried and true favorites of mine that I’ve used for myself and for clients with smashing success, and you can get them all right here in the Best Blue and Teal Paint Color Guide.
Here are a few of the best blue and teal paint colors, in action:
Sherwin-Williams Dark Night
If you’re a client of mine, I’ve probably tried to push Dark Night on you. #sorrynotsorry
I’m totally obsessed with this navy-meets-peacock shade. I love that it leans juuuuuust a little green instead of a true navy. I’ve used it in my former master bedroom and current dining room, plus you can check it out in this Design Kit Before and After.
Betcha never even noticed that my former office ceiling wasn’t white, did you? While the paneled walls looked crisp and fresh in Extra White, I painted the ceiling in Rainwashed, a soft green-blue. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was definitely an unexpected surprise to have color on the ceiling.
Sherwin-Williams Deep Sea Dive
Deep Sea Dive is so much more of a bright, true teal than I’m usually drawn to, but I love how it looked in this funky farmhouse kitchen. It was just the pop of color that this island needed to create a focal point in the space.
Grab the complete “Best Blue and Teal Paint Colors Guide” right here, totally free. It has a bunch more of my most-loved Sherwin-Williams and Farrow & Ball paint colors – along with a super valuable tip about choosing paint colors.
I’ve been obsessed with interior design my entire life. As a kid, I’d rearrange my bedroom furniture every weekend to experiment with new layouts and combinations. The first time I painted my own bedroom I was 12 years old, and after a little convincing my parents gave me free rein to choose the color AND do the painting myself. I’m so grateful for these kinds of experiences because I’ve learned so much about color and design by trying things out. And what I discovered at age 12 turned out to be the worst paint color I’ve ever used.
I’m 12 years old. I’ve had years of experience coloring in coloring books (as evidenced above) so clearly I’m an expert at choosing colors. My room was painted peach six years ago by my parents and I’m dying to express my pre-teen self with a more “edgy” space. I thought that the most awesome room would have sky blue walls, with a lighter blue ceiling and sponge-painted clouds. And green carpet that looked like grass.
OMG YOU GUYS, I’m cringing even writing this at the terrible design I created. This was the 90s when sponge painting was “cool”, and I can remember climbing up on that ladder to dab cloud after cloud on my ceiling thinking that I was creating a design masterpiece. (Thank goodness my parents refused to spring for the green carpet I wanted!)
And then, it happened.
The shine of a new room wore off. The excitement of having clouds on my ceiling quickly faded (and felt kinda juvenile, actually, which pissed off hardworking 12 year-old me!).
And I realized I had chosen the worst paint color ever: sky blue.
I thought sky blue walls would feel open, expansive, and free.
You know, like being outside! Duh.
But what really happened with my sky blue walls and ceilings was that the entire room felt cold. Icy. Unwelcoming. And I quickly learned the power of paint colors, and why not every color translates well from one application to another.
Even now, I’m leery of icy blue paint colors. (And sponge painting.)
There are so many shades of light grey
with strong blue undertones that are popular right now (here’s a bit more about color and undertone, if you’re curious), and I usually caution clients against them. While they might look grey on a color swatch, that icy undertone is going to be front and center when painted on a wall. And 12 year-old me can vouch for how cold and sterile it feels!
Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Learn from me and the worst paint color I’ve ever used – sky blue. Thankfully I’ve had decades of training and experience since then to learn how to correctly choose colors, and if this is something you’re struggling with at home, I’d love to help you bust out of boring and pick paint colors you totally love. Here’s how.
Who doesn’t love a good before-and-after? Get ready, because all month long I’m sharing a tour of our Texas home, including the living room, master bedroom, kids bedroom, my office, my husband’s office, and the kitchen. Today: our navy master bedroom that doesn’t feel like a cave.
Disclosure: Some of the products in this before-and-after were sponsored by brands I use and love for myself and for my clients, including Sherwin-Williams, House of Antique Hardware, and Metrie. Thanks for your support!
When we bought our 1959 ranch home in Waco, Texas, the master bedroom kinda stumped us. It was this blank, white box with no personality whatsoever. And uggghh, that blue-grey carpet!
Here’s what the master bedroom like when we moved in.
This room was just screaming for architectural detail to be added, and thanks to our friends at Metrie, we were able to replace the baseboards with something taller and more substantial, add solid pine crown molding, replace all of the hollow interior doors with solid paneled beauties, and add applied panel moldings on the wall for visual interest.
I love a space that has character, and interior moldings are an awesome way to bring architectural detail to an otherwise boring room that’s lacking in personality.
It took me ages to decide on using this navy wall color,
but it’s now become one of my faves – Sherwin-Williams Dark Night. I love that while the walls are dark and the room felt cozy, it doesn’t feel like a cave at all. Navy walls are totally trending this year and I’m all for it! (Here’s some more thoughts on using dark paint colors and if dark or light paint colors are better, if you’re interested.)
The panel molding is quite subtle with the navy wall color, but that’s exactly the point – it’s meant to bring texture and architectural interest to an otherwise plain wall.
I can’t get over how pretty and classic the paneled doors are –
– plus, OMG, those brass doorknobs from House of Antique Hardware are divine! I love anything that feels like it’s from a New York Brownstone, and this door/hardware combo is totally classic NYC – even though it was in Waco.
The dresser is vintage (with the credit going to my husband for finding it at a local antique shop) and we replaced the lackluster wood hardware with these ebonized wood teardrop pulls and Victorian-style bin pulls.
The large mirror we used as a headboard was gifted from a friend, and the bedding is from Target. The brass lamp was scored at the Lamps Plus clearance center (located at their Chatsworth, CA headquarters).
You’ll probably notice a lot of similarities between this navy master bedroom in our Texas home, and the navy dining room in our Georgia home. That’s because the paint color, area rug, and large mirror were all repurposed in our new dining room when we moved. There’s no rule that says you can’t use a hot pink rug in a dining room, right?
Thanks for following along with my Texas home tour! Next up is the super-cute bedroom my kiddos shared.
How fun is this colorful boy’s bedroom with bunk beds?
I designed this space for my 5-year-old son Ford, with the intention that his little sister can crash in here too when we have houseguests.
This is what the bedroom looked like before we moved in, from the home’s online listing photos:
You know I’m down with an accent wall, but I don’t love this blue. Neither did Ford.
Ford has a LOT of opinions about his bedroom decor – I guess that’s what happens when you’re the child of an interior designer! He wanted bright orange walls (!) but knowing that we wanted this to be a room for him to grow into and not have to repaint in a year, I stuck with one of my favorite gray-green neutrals, Sherwin-Williams Chatroom. Instead of orange walls, we chose to use bright pops of orange on the bedding and window treatments.
Of course, the after photos:
The bunk bed is new, as is the adorable metallic gold star bedding, but the other furnishings and decor were “recycled” from other spaces in our Texas home. The chevron loveseat was custom upholstered for our master bedroom; the curtains were in Ford’s previous bedroom; and the black and white area rug has been in pretty much every room in our home over the years. (Thank you, IKEA!)
I love that Ford has added his own touches to the room,
including a Paw Patrol poster on the gallery wall. (I have to say, he did a pretty good job of placing it without my help.) While I like to get the foundation of the room in place, I love that he takes ownership and wants to help create a bedroom that’s unique to him.
I wanted him to have a bedroom that was colorful, comfortable, restful, and fun. We’ve used a lot of bold color – burnt orange, moss green, and teal – but it’s balanced with black, white, and neutral textures like rattan and galvanized metal.
In case you’re curious about storage,
Ford does have a dresser that fits inside the closet. We wanted to leave as much floor space open as possible since it’s a pretty modest-sized room, so we’ve maximized the closet storage space.
I hope you’ve enjoyed checking the before and after of this colorful boy’s bedroom (with bunk beds!) and a couple of other rooms in our Atlanta home too. In case you missed it, here’s the dining room and my office.
You know you’ve done it at some paint – made a mistake when painting your home. Whether it’s skimping on the required prep, choosing paint colors before anything else, or skipping painting a sample area first, you’ve probably made one of these mistakes. (I sure have.) If you are going to DIY your paint job (here’s why I always hire a professional painter!), here are 5 painting mistakes to avoid.
Skimping on Prep.
Nothing gives away a DIY paint job like sloppy edges, chipped paint, or the old paint color showing through. Prep is like, THE WORST, and takes forever. But it’s 100% necessary to get kickass results when you paint. Lightly sand shiny finishes; wipe down the surfaces to be painted with warm, soapy water; and pay careful attention to how (and where) you apply painter’s tape. Prime dark-colored walls with a color-blocking primer if you’re going lighter, and protect outlets and switches with painter’s tape.
And for the love of all that is holy, lay down drop cloths to protect your floors! Nobody wants accidental painted polka-dot flooring.
Using cheap tools.
Cheap paintbrushes are out there – and they’re going to give you cheap results. Don’t splurge on high quality paint and then apply it with bad brushes! The tools are as important as the paint itself. Invest in a good quality brush and roller, and take good care of it.
Choosing paint colors first.
I know, I know – it’s soooo tempting to paint a room first, and decorate it later. Especially if you’re moving and want to feel settled quickly. But while there are 4,950,782 paint colors out there (approximately), there are only so many sofa fabric colors. And area rugs. And pillows.
Paint should compliment your furniture and decor – not lock you into an incredibly narrow range of selections. Choose your fabrics and finishes first – there will always be a paint color that works. Paint colors come last. (And btw: here’s how to pick the perfect paint color.)
Thinking light colors make rooms look larger.
I wish it were that easy, baby. But whitewashing a room doesn’t make it look bright and airy. If a room doesn’t get great lighting, white walls will only feel sad and dingy. Sometimes a dark wall color can actually make a space look much bigger! Be willing to go against the grain and try something counterintuitive, like a dark wall color in a small space. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results!
Skipping the sample pots.
Yes, it’s tedious to buy a sample pot of the paint color you’re considering, paint a swatch on the wall, wait for it to dry, and live with it for a few days to see if you still like it. But you know what’s more tedious and expensive?
Repainting a room because you’re not happy with the paint color you chose. (Case in point: my office.)
Take the time to purchase – and use – a sample pot of your chosen paint color. They’re under $10, and can save you major time and headache!
PS. Curious to learn more about paint colors and painting mistakes to avoid? Here are a few awesome articles for you:
It’s true – I may have gone on record stating that my mission is “to banish beige from Waco.” I’ve been pretty verbal about my distaste for ubiquitous neutrals that have taken over this town, along with fake farmhouse style and faux shiplap.
I see soooo much beige used as a fallback color. Beige is safe. Beige is agreeable. Beige is boring, baby.
But that doesn’t mean beige is bad. In fact, the right beige with the right undertones can create such a fab backdrop for color, pattern, and texture. Sometimes – shhhh – beige can actually be an awesome color choice.
Here’s where beige is a problem…
It’s because beige is not just beige. Beige has so much color in it – and if you’re not trained to see the undertones in a color, it’s easy to make a mistake choosing the wrong beige:
Here’s a quick color lesson for you on Mass Tone and Undertone.
Color is never just one color. Gray is not gray, beige is not beige. Color has two components. One is the mass tone. So that is the main color, like beige or gray (and I’m using neutrals in this example just because they are the clearest to see undertones in, at least for me). So basically, you’ve got mass tone. You’ve got your beige paint, you’ve got your gray paint.
Here’s where it gets crazy tricky. Colors also have an undertone. That’s like a sneaky little color hanging out underneath that can rear its ugly head in the right light. This is why understanding color is so important when you’re choosing paint colors, because if you look for a gray, and it just looks like gray, but it has a purple or violet undertone, it is not going to look gray on your walls. It’s going to look purple – and I have made this mistake before.
Beige can have one of four undertones: pink, orange, yellow, or green.
That’s really the basics. You’ve got your mass color, beige, and then it has an undertone; either pink, orange, yellow, or green.
Here’s something I see all over Waco, and it makes me crazy. It’s when builders build new homes, and they think all beiges are the same. So they pick a beige granite, and a beige backsplash and a brown paint color for the cabinets, and a beige travertine floor.
But me? Ohhhh girl. I walk in and I see yellow-beige countertops, a pink-beige backsplash, orange-beige walls, yellow-beige floors. So. Much. Color!
When you’ve got the wrong undertones together, they only emphasize each other.
Even some “experts” like home builders are picking colors and materials just assuming beige is beige and all neutrals go with all neutrals – not understanding that all the colors have undertones to them.
So, take a look around this week when you’re looking at neutrals, see if you can spot the undertone happening in it. You’ve got your main color (the mass tone), and it’s always going to have a sneaky color underneath it (the undertone), and that’s the key for successful color pairings: is making sure your undertones are consistent and all make sense together.
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This story about what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets has a happy ending…because I finally invested in paying someone to paint them after royally screwing up the paint job myself.
There are a lot of awesome tutorials out there about how to paint kitchen cabinets, and I wish I was that person who embraced DIY and loved the tedious steps involved in sanding, prepping, taping, priming, and painting. But honestly, after attempting to do it ourselves, my husband and I pretty much ran screaming to the professionals and threw our checkbook at them to make it right.
And it was money well spent! As a designer, I always recommend talented professionals to get the job done. I finally realized it should be no different in my own home.
Here’s what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets before I tried it myself:
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Edited transcript is below.
I’m Lesley Myrick, welcome to Bust Out of Boring, my weekly show every Wednesday at noon CT where I help you bust out of a boring home and create something amazing.
This week, we’re on Episode 12
and we’re going to chat about what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets. It’s not about choosing color – color was easy! – but here is what I wish I had known about painting kitchen cabinets.
So clearly, if we’re starting with the topic of “what I wish I’d known”,I made a mistake.
We recently repainted our kitchen.
The cabinets were white, kinda dingy, kinda old. We wanted to give them a fresher, brighter coat and paint the lower cabinets a really fun color – soon to be revealed on the blog and social media.
And we were crafty, and did it ourselves! Which there ain’t no shame in that game, but I did not think through all the work, all the materials, all the ALL THE THINGS that we would need to do it right.
The biggest mistake we made painting our kitchen cabinets
was going from oil-based paint that was already on the cabinets to latex.
My genius brain said, “Cool! There are primers for that! We can do this no problem!”
Well, you can buy primers that will go over an oil base and will allow you to put on latex paint. However, the results that we got were not the most durable, were not the strongest, and we very quickly had issues with the finish being funny, with things getting chipped and dinged and scratched, and all the hard work my awesome husband put into it very quickly just looked…”meh”…and fell really flat.
That’s one of those lessons
that’s kind of hard to learn once you’ve put a little money and put a little time into something. You get so excited for this end result and it just doesn’t work the way you wanted it to.
So here’s what I wish I’d known about painting kitchen cabinets:
1. The right paint and the right process matters.
Cabinetry isn’t something that you can just slap up a fresh coat of paint on and hope it’s gonna last. Cabinets take a hella lot of abuse and they really need to be done well, done with the right materials, the right paint that’s going to cure and be strong on surfaces and not something that can get dinged up when cupboard doors are opened and shut.
2. Painting the kitchen cabinets ourselves was not a worthy DIY project.
This really is something that involves a lot of prep, a lot of labor, and a lot of time. As a working mom with two young kids, we need our kitchen! Having it torn up with us taking a week to do a job that professionals could do in three days really wasn’t worth the cost savings.
I’m so grateful to have hired our amazing painting crew to tackle our kitchen which is now 100% done – without paint chipping! It looks amazing and I’m so excited to share that with you guys soon.
As always, if you have questions or comments,
drop a line in the video comments on Facebook. I’d love to hear if you have any experience painting kitchen cabinets and if yours went a little bit better than mine or if you found similar pitfalls in terms of trying to do it “on the cheap” and finding that it wasn’t worth the time or energy.
I looooove me a good project reveal! This Waco family-friendly kitchen remodel was such a blast to work on, and any time a client gives the go-ahead for a bright blue island you just KNOW the end result is going to be smashing.
If you remember the “before” photos, my client was trapped in a generic wannabe-farmhouse kitchen with a faux shiplap wall. A sledgehammer took care of our little shiplap problem lickety-split, and the custom-designed massive 11′ long island became a much-deserved focal point. This sweet family has 3 kids under 3 and a large island to seat everyone comfortably was a must-have (as was a low-maintenance quartz countertop).
Mixing metals, layering textures, and playing with color and pattern was key to bring interest to this otherwise neutral space. Black hardware and fixtures are unexpected and fresh, which meant that brass and chrome accents could layer in without being too dominating. (I’m obsessed with those black hexagon drawer pulls!)
The large reclaimed barn door was already in the home, and I love it because warms up the otherwise cool palette in the kitchen. Without warm woods, a blue and white kitchen would feel pretty sterile. Brass + wood = instant warmth and contrast.
You can never go wrong with tea towels that feature animals dressed like humans, right? Even kitchens need a little quirk factor.
And just for fun, while we were busy smashing down shiplap and busting up bad tile floors we did a little makeover of the laundry room and master closet too. The ho-hum laundry room got jazzed up with graphic concrete tiles and a fresh quartz countertop, and we designed a pretty little office nook in the master closet to create a much-needed private home workspace for mama.
I bet they’re going to have a pretty epic Thanksgiving dinner in their new super family-friendly kitchen! (And I hope they invite me, too.)
Photos: Jeff Jones Photography