How to choose color for your home – part II

Sunken Pool

An oft repeated rule of thumb in choosing color for your home is to start with an accessory you love.  The theory is that it is easier to match paint to a color in an expensive or sentimental painting, vase, pillow than it is to find accessories to go with the color.  I did that in our kitchen.  Only the color inspiration was a set of mugs and trivets from a garage sale that cost $2.  Something in the color combination just sang.  And now our kitchen sings the same tune. 

 Then I fell in love with a color and dived in head first. 

 Pun fully intended!!  Since the name of the color is Sunken Pool.  See above!  Isn’t that just gorgeous?!!!!  IRL it is! 

 We chose that color for our powder room on the main floor.  The itty bitty room.  I didn’t have accessories that I wanted to feature and was more than willing to choose new ones.  We used bright white trim to make the bold color pop.  Loved it so much that we chose a sister color – just a bit lighter than Sunken Pool.  The dining room is Artesian Well.  Loved the results so much that we went just a bit lighter for the office walls – Morning Fog.  And then repeated that for the wall above the made over fireplace. 

 We were following another rule of thumb – repetition of a design element is pleasing.  Repetition of a color you like in varying values certainly play well together, so well, in fact, that such combinations earned their own name – monochromatic.  The color family we chose was a classic.  Turquoise is a universal color because almost every culture uses it in some form and attaches positive meaning to it.  Maybe because almost everyone looks good in turquoise.  Sunken Pool, Artesian Well and Morning Fog describe different aspects of one color family. 

 Another rule of thumb: colors that play well together as you move from room to room in the house provide the most satisfying surroundings.   Repetition is not the only way to achieve this.  Choosing colors with the same undertone for use in adjacent rooms helps color siblings get along.  This is where many people get frustrated because they don’t pick up on the undertones.  Or aren’t able to distinguish among the many different shades of colors.   So  hire a decorator.  Too expensive and time consuming for most of us.   People are much more likely to give up and reach for the “neutral”  paint.   But there are other choices! 

 And another rule of thumb!  My favorite!  Variety is the spice of life!  As much as I love turquoise the thought of painting every wall blue made me — well, blue!  We needed other satisfying colors to liven things up. 

Fortunately the paint companies make things very easy for us!  IF we take the time to look around a bit.  Almost every major manufacturer has a website with a color chooser.  If choosing color on a computer is not your thing, wander over to the paint display next time you are in the home improvement store.  Many paint brands will have some way to indicate which colors “go with” other colors.  Names are often a clue — like the three we chose all involve water.  Some will have swatches with a main color and four or five go-withs, such as trim or accent colors,  printed on the same swatch.  Others will have a proprietary method of indicating go-withs so you can put together your own choices.  This does NOT mean that you will automatically choose what the paint companies recommend. You still need to have a basic understanding of the limitations of your space (colors that you can’t change, like wood flooring or granite countertops).  And you still have to love the initial color — AND love the go-withs you are choosing.  Sometimes we need a bit of a push to go in a different direction, a bit of inspiration to open the windows of the mind, an impartial suggestion maker to get us moving. 

I know that a lot of color experts and designers will pooh-pooh the idea of inspiration swatches.  Well, the experts and designers work with color all the time and therefore have to understand and be aware of nuances in a way that the average person just does not have time to develop.  Plus some people just have “an eye” — and others don’t! So what’s an average person to do?   Learn enough to make the initial choice that will fit in your house.  And then take inspiration and help where ever you find it!  I hereby give you permission!  🙂

The colors I named above are Martha Stewart colors — a line which was unfortunately recently discontinued.  Martha Stewart put one of four different icons in the corner of each swatch.   All colors that had a star, for example, went with all other colors that bore the star in the corner.   Some companies will recommend trim colors that “go-with” a particular color, others use a numbering system. Some make it obvious that you can coordinate a whole houseful of colors — others make you look for the clues as to how to coordinate.    I can’t tell you how long I carried around the swatches before I noticed the icons.  And then figured out how they worked.  All long before I actually saw an explanation.  That is what got me to look at other brands and how they worked.  My favorite paying jobs have been playing with color choices so if it took a while for me to figure this out – well, maybe I am just slow.  Or maybe making others aware of this information and option will help someone else to find their own color love! 


I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing!  I’d love to have your company on this venture!!

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  1. Great post….I’m having such a hard time deciding on colors for our new home. I love turquoise also but don’t want to go overboard or too bold and make it overwhelming. It takes me forever to make a decision…I finally purchased the couch today that I’ve been looking at for 3 months! Hopefully I’ll decide on paint color soon— or else I’m going to have a VERY beige and boring house. 😉
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    • That was exactly my fear — I didn’t want color to be overwhelming so I did nothing for a whole year! Then I took the plunge and love it!!! It inspired us to do even more. I’m so glad you bought your couch — I’m sure you will love it and the non-beige colors it will inspire!


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