Skip to main content

How to make a cohesive home color scheme: Advice from the pros

living room with gray wallsNo matter how large or small your house is, it (and you) can benefit from a cohesive color scheme. There are ways to develop a palette that gives you room for creativity but will still make your home look like it flows together.

With open floor plans becoming more prevalent, it is important to pay attention to where colors flow. 

Recommended Videos

What the pros are seeing now

According to Suzi Dailey, a luxury realtor with Realty ONE Group International, interior colors are still trending towards neutrals.

“In terms of interiors, I see a design shift leaning heavily towards soft contemporary right now. For a period of time, there was a lag, and some wealthy buyers still preferred a formal look. But now, people really want a clean look,” she said.

white on white living roomSo how do you achieve that?

First, decide what your color personality is. What’s your favorite color? If you don’t know, look in your closet—when you are buying clothes, what color do you buy the most? There you go, that’s your favorite.

Now, if that turns out to be a saturated purple, you’ve just picked one of those accent colors you will be using judiciously about the house. If it’s beige, we’ve got a winner. As Dailey points out, white is still the predominant pick as a base color. So, pick a white. Some have blue undertones, and some have red undertones. Red undertones are warm; blue undertones are cool. 

Next, pick five more colors

One color will be for the hallways, from the foyer to the upstairs, inside the closets, and in any other common spaces. Think about sightlines. You may not think a wall is a common area, but if you sit in a room and see a hallway wall or the wall above the stairs, that counts as a common area. Your base color will be for the walls, ceiling, and trim. Your carpets, drapes, and window coverings will complement that base color, so keep that in mind. 

There are a couple of ways to work with color. You can get a good, old-fashioned color wheel with complementary colors marked to help you figure out what to use. If you are trying to decide if a certain hue of color is going to work, go darker or lighter than your neutral. A straightforward way to do that is to go to a paint store or the paint area of a big box store and pick one color—there will be darker and lighter gradients of that color either on the wall where you picked the original color or on a color strip at the store. You can also ask for lighter and darker color mixes if you can’t find just the right shade you want.

If a certain store doesn’t have the exact shade of color you want, go to another store. You will be looking at those colors for a while; get the ones that are the exact color you are thinking about. Some paint stores can also computer match colors from objects. If you have a sweater that is the exact shade of gray you want in the laundry room, find out which store will do a computer match.

living room with accent wallAccent colors

Accent colors can be on accent walls. But use restraint: An accent wall in every room is no longer an accent, it’s a pattern, and it’s not a surprise. Try out peel-and-stick wallpaper using accent colors that match your neutrals, or maybe you want to try them to test some complementary colors. 

Throw pillows, throws, and painted furniture can all be in your accent colors. Any one of those items can be changed out, and it will refresh your color scheme without having to paint a bunch of walls. Try to include something with your accent color in most of your rooms to maintain a cohesive color palette.

Settling on a color palette shouldn’t be something you do in a day. Get big samples of the colors you are thinking about and look at what they look like when it’s sunny, first thing in the morning, and at dusk.  According to Dailey, as long as you focus on letting light and bright colors into your space, you can’t go wrong.

“I would say that [homeowners should] focus on an open floor plan, lighter wall colors, clean whites for furniture [and space that’s] not cluttered,” Dailey said. “Obviously white and variations of white have been very popular, but even other lighter colors too, especially now that we’re seeing accent colors pop up here and there.”

Kathleen Ostrander
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kathleen has worked for United Press International and she's written about everything from style to pets for newspapers…
The best greige paint colors that will completely refresh your home
Try these greige paint colors for a change of scenery
Greige living room with brick wall

In the realm of interior design, finding the perfect neutral hue can transform a space from ordinary to extraordinary. Greige, a sophisticated blend of gray and beige, has emerged as a timeless favorite for its ability to effortlessly complement a variety of styles and aesthetics.

Whether used as a wall color, trim accent, or foundation for decor, greige offers a subtle yet elegant backdrop that enhances any room. If you’re searching for the best greige paint colors, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading to find out why it’s a great color, how best to use it, and some of our favorite greige paints.

Read more
5 interior paint colors that never seem to go out of style
Ready to refresh your space with a new paint job? Check out five of our favorite neutrals that are always timeless.
Female hand painting wall

While trends like loud wallpaper, textured panels, and accent walls may go in and out of style, traditional paint colors are timeless, ensuring that your space will never look dated. However, these classic colors don't need to be boring. While neutral colors don't fall smack dab into a color wheel-associated color family, they can still come in a range of hues that show your personality and aesthetics.

By opting for subtle, paler variations on standard colors, you give yourself much more flexibility to change up the rest of the space, updating accents, furniture, and other pieces of décor without needing to repaint the walls.

Read more
Designers say the key to kitchen paint colors in 2024 is to go bold
Embrace the bold with new kitchen colors
open kitchen with sky blue cabinets

2024 kitchen design ushers in an era of bold and exciting paint colors. While kitchens of the past may have focused on neutrals and soft hues, today’s palettes are daring, creating eye-catching schemes that bring life and wonder into the home.

For homeowners looking to switch up and refresh their interiors this year, here are the key kitchen paint colors designers say will be “in” in 2024. This is the year of fearless experimentation. So, grab your mood boards and paint swatches. 2024 kitchens will be bold.

Read more