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The Best Paint Colors for Every Room in the House

best-paint colors for every room

best-paint colors for every room
Have you ever lost sleep over paint chips?

Scrutinized a paint swatch in morning, afternoon, and evening light? Picked a paint color, only to second-guess yourself?

Then you know how hard it is to choose paint colors.

I wish I could tell you the perfect color for every room. But as color psychologist Angela Wright puts it, it’s more complicated than avoiding certain colors. What matters is the intensity. Even blue — supposedly the most calming color — can become overwhelming if it’s too bright, and fearsome red can relax you if it’s a rich, subtle burgundy. Let me explain.

In rooms like the bedroom and living room, you want to relax and unwind. For those rooms, pick paint colors that aren’t very saturated, like pastels or something mixed with gray. In rooms where you want to be stimulated and awake, like the kitchen, more saturated and vivid shades will keep you alert (think bright gem tones).

With that in mind, I’ll walk you through some of the best paint colors for every room. But ultimately, the best paint color is whichever one you like!


 pink peach kitchen paint colors

Photo: Lindsey Schultz

Best bets: light orange and other citrus colors, blues, white, or cream

Avoid: dark blue, black, bumblebee yellow

Warm colors like orange and red stimulate the appetite, making them great kitchen paint colors. If you love vibrant orange shades, try Soft Pumpkin from Benjamin Moore or Kumquat from Sherwin-Williams. Both are happy, upbeat colors that aren’t too intense. Supposedly the color orange also helps with digestion.

If you prefer basics, then white, cream, and gentle blues are great kitchen paint colors too. Here’s a beautiful blue kitchen from This Old House for inspiration. Just steer clear of cool, dark colors. If you want to go dark in the kitchen, go for a warm, earthy brown. (For an in-depth look at kitchen color palettes, check out my guide to creating kitchen color schemes.)


Best bets: white, pastel yellow, peach, neutrals

Avoid: anything too bright or extreme

Pick soft colors for the bathroom. They’ll relax you and flatter your skin tone. (It might be tempting to experiment with brights, but in a relatively small room, they can be jarring.) You can’t go wrong with ivory, buttery tan, or a gentle rose. In fact, pale yellow and pink paint mimic sunlight — perfect if your bathroom is short on natural light. Italian Straw by Pratt & Lambert is a gorgeous sunny hue. Aqua accents really pop in a yellow or orange room, too.

If your bathroom is on the smaller side, paint it a light color like white or lemon to make it look bigger. Or for a coastal vibe, try an airy sky blue. Don’t forget to paint the ceiling. I love the gorgeous Orlando bathroom below. It just makes you optimistic about the day, doesn’t it?

 yellow bathroom paint color

Photo: Silver Sea Homes


Best bets: blue, green, silver, or caramel

Avoid: cool brown, purple, anything too saturated

Blue’s connotations of sky and sea make it inherently relaxing. It’s not just anecdotal evidence — research shows people get more sleep in a blue room (and the least in a purple one). Navy is a bad kitchen paint color because it inhibits conversation, but that makes it a great bedroom color! And blue paint is also said to lower your blood pressure. Ahhh.

If blue bores you, try a modern, icy gray-green like Healing Aloe from Benjamin Moore. It’s a more interesting take on neutrals than white. Or try silver, which reminds the body of moonlight.

According to the study about sleep and bedroom color mentioned above, people get frisky most often in a caramel-painted bedroom. Just avoid cool, gray-tinted browns, as they can be depressing. Stick with warm honey and chocolate tones.

 caramel color paint bedroom

Photo: Garrison Hullinger

Living Room

Best bets: maroon, dove gray, teal, white

Avoid: fire engine red, bright yellow

Red is stimulating, so it works in the living room, unlike most other rooms. Just avoid blinding poppy. Go for a muted red tempered by browns or grays and save the bright red for small accents. Red paint works in the photo below because it’s balanced with yellows, dark greens, and browns. (It almost looks like marsala, Pantone’s color for 2015.)

 red paint color living room

Photo: Marco Joe Fazio

Even toned down, a red living room is not for everyone. Another idea is pale gray paint, which allows brightly colored decor to stand out. (I’m a fan of Ebony Coast from Mythic, a nontoxic British paint brand.) Of course, a white living room is classic too. Or try teal. It’s livelier than blue and looks sumptuous with jewel tones and velvet furnishings as well as wood.


Best bets: yellow, green, light blue

Avoid: navy, black, white (too clinical)

In the office, yellow paint wakes you up and helps you focus. Shades of green also help your brain avoid distractions, even if it’s just a few plants here and there (check out my post on the psychology of interior design for more). Benjamin Moore’s Antiguan Sky is a creative, modern light aqua that would work well in the home office. Who wouldn’t want to work in this light-filled sky blue office?

 light blue paint color office

Photo: Jones Design-Build

Basically, when choosing office paint colors, you want to stay away from anything too intense (sensing a pattern here?). Bright red is unwise once again because it overstimulates you. According to Sherwin-Williams, “For work spaces, neutrals and softer, more grayed hues are better for concentration and preventing eye fatigue.”

As always, remember that paint will definitely look different on your computer screen, on a swatch, and on your actual wall. Most paint stores sell small samples for a few dollars, and I recommend getting a couple and painting splotches on your wall before committing to a gallon or more. What are your favorite interior paint colors to use? Tell me in the comments!

And if you liked this post, don’t miss related posts I’ve written on the psychology of interior design, 9 ways to make a small room look bigger, and how to create an interior color palette for your home.

Your Guide to an Interior Painting Color Palette

Color is one of the most effective tools to establish the mood of a room. Before you even take in furniture, flooring, or decor, color sends a signal the brain. That’s why some 1,500 jails and hospitals painted detention rooms bubblegum pink in the 1980s: the color would calm people down and even lull them to sleep. “Several experiments have shown that different colors affect blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates as well as brain activity and biorhythms,” wrote The New York Times.

The effect is a holdover from evolutionary biology. “When you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color,” explained Leslie Harrington of The Color Association to Huffington Post. “This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”

Who knew color was so powerful? (As if selecting paint chips wasn’t difficult enough.) But don’t stress. I’ve put together your guide to the basics of color psychology — including how your color choices affect mood, how to use paint color effectively, and how to develop a pleasing interior painting color palette.

The Color Wheel

This is your starting point: the staggering sea of shades that overwhelm you in the paint aisle. Breaking down the color wheel helps demystify the art of making good color choices.

Color wheel

You no doubt remember primary colors from elementary school (red, yellow, and blue). Secondary colors result from mixing two primaries (green, orange, and purple). If you mix a primary and secondary color, the result is a tertiary color (red-orange).

Keep reading to learn about analogous and complementary colors and how certain colors affect you psychologically.

Analogous and Complementary Colors

Now let’s get into how to create an attractive color palette. While browsing your favorite style or interior design blog, you may have noticed tangerine and teal go well together — that’s because they’re complementary colors, or those directly across from each other on the color wheel. Lime and fuchsia are another complementary color pairing that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Complementary colors

To keep colors from getting too intense, you can vary the tint, shade, or tone. Adding white to any color changes its tint (that’s how we get pastels). Tints are calming, particularly popular in nurseries and children’s rooms. Add black to a color and you get a new shade. For instance, navy is a shade of blue. If you add gray to a color, that changes the tone. Tones look more sophisticated than a color straight out of a crayon box.

Analogous (or harmonious) colors are next to each other on the color wheel. Nature is full of analogous colors — think fall leaves or sunrise colors like purple, red, and orange. Tropical tones like green, teal, and cerulean are analogous, too. Pick one as your dominant color and try using lighter tints of the other two to establish contrast. If you’re tempted to go for a monochromatic look but want to be a little more daring, analogous colors are the solution.

analogous colors

Continue reading to learn about what colors mean…
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Spice up your space… with color!

Kitch 2Have you ever noticed how color can affect your mood? According to Leslie Harrington, Executive Director of the Color Association of the United States, which forecasts color trends, “We react on multiple levels of association with colors — there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors.”

Is your bleak indoor landscape crying out for some pizzazz?

Even the slightest splash of color can infuse your space with a new level of energy.  Here are a few inspiring suggestions to spark your imagination…

  1. Paint one or more walls
  2. Paint cabinetry
  3. Add interest with color and texture in flooring choices
  4. Select furniture that brings the right mix of solids, patterns and color to the room
  5. Add colorful appliances
  6. Throw in splashes of color with accents like pillows, throws, rugs, curtains, vases and art
  7. Add hardware (like jewelry for your cabinets) to add splashes of color and whimsical accents
  8. Choose unique colors and/or textures for kitchen and bathroom countertops
  9. Use lighting fixtures to add color and shape to brighten up a room

Coming up with a color scheme that fits your personality and your space is the first step. Then, calling in the assistance of a professional designer  can really help move things along.


Everyone’s In the Kitchen… again!

mosaik portland kitchen remodel

It happens in nearly every American home. Gathering spaces are available throughout the house, yet everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen! It’s called the “heart of the home” for a reason. Comfort and connection can always be found there.


Does your kitchen need some love in return?

Even the slightest cosmetic change can uplift the space drastically and build significant equity in your home. Here are a few inspiring suggestions to spark your imagination…


Paint:  This is by far the best bang for your buck. One of our design teachers once said that a gallon of paint is worth $500 in the value it brings to a space. Not only can it dramatically alter the look and feel of a room, but if you do it yourself, it will cost virtually nothing.

Another small change that packs a punch is to paint your existing cabinetry. This process is quite involved. What’s required for lasting quality is beyond most homeowners’ skill set. Unfortunately, many of our clients replace their cabinets because of a poor paint job done by the previous homeowner. So, if you’re called to do this, hire a professional.

WHAT COLOR TO CHOOSE: Lighter tones make a space feel fresh and new. Darker colors work best for accent walls or in powder baths to add drama.


Hardware:  This is jewelry for your cabinets, so have fun with it. You will be surprised at how different your cabinetry looks with updated hardware.

QUICK TIP: If you have pulls on your cabinets, make sure that you measure the existing hardware so your new hardware will fit into the existing holes. Better yet, just take one off a drawer and take it with you!


mosaik design kitchen remodel

Countertops:  This can be as simple as installing new laminate over top of an existing countertop (yes, you can do that). Most people tend to want a higher-end countertop like granite or solid quartz in the kitchen and master bath.

HOW TO DECIDE: Let the value of your home and the room you are working on guide you on this decision.


Lighting:  Swapping out new fixtures in the existing locations is the most affordable way to go. Think about putting a small chandelier in your powder bath or adding colorful pendants above an island or sink in your kitchen. These can often be done with minimal drywall repair.

ANOTHER IDEA: Add recessed lights to a kitchen to improve the general lighting.  You will be amazed at how much the look and feel of a space improves with good lighting.


Plumbing Fixtures:  There are so many wonderful fixtures out there for under $200. Depending on how handy you are, this fairly simple DIY project can add both style and function. In a bathroom, just changing out a tired vanity faucet or toilet can change the whole feel of the room without the need for a complete remodel.

WHAT’S POPULAR NOW: Think about installing a pull-out faucet in your kitchen if you don’t have one. There are tons of style options that are super functional. 

High Impact on a Tight Budget: 5 Design Concepts Using Just Paint

The quickest way to transform a space or feature in your home is to change the color. Here is a list of five high impact ways to use paint to make fresh design statements while on a tight budget.

Stair Rail: A few coats of paint to provide contrast can create a dramatic effect on an interior stair rail. As seen in the photos above, changing the paint on the stair rail immediately renews the feel of the area.

Walls: Having a designer help you select new paint colors for your home and then doing the painting yourself is a great way to save money. You get the expertise of the designer, but the labor is free!

Molding: Adding a dark color to moldings can help bring a more formal feel to a room without committing to changing the paint within the entire space.

Fireplace Bricks: Painting the bricks around your fireplace is a great way to make over an existing focal point in your home. Dark natural bricks can often pull the light out of a room, so brightening them up with a coat of paint can really shift the mood of the environment. Alternatively, adding a dark coat of paint to fireplace bricks can add an air of glamour and sophistication.

Cabinet Backs: If your cabinet backs are visible, use them to your advantage. A coat of bright paint that coordinates with your room is an unexpected pop of color that can really help tie a room together. Adding interior lighting will showcase unique items within the cabinets and create a gallery effect in your home.

The options are extensive when it comes to using paint to give your home a new look. The best part is that you are capable of making most of these changes on your own. When you do need help or reassurance, a designer should be your first call! At Mosaik Design & Remodeling, we are happy to offer design consultation services for your remodeling project.