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Vancouver Colour Consultant: The Best Colour for an Undecorated Room

By 08/31/2011January 28th, 201725 Comments


I have said this in other ways before, here and here. However, today, someone on a Colour Marketing Group discussion forum posted this question:

“What is the most healing color range one should consider when painting dressing rooms for breast cancer survivors prosthesis rooms? Are there certain colours that should be avoided?”


Colour experts posted answers such as green, purple or a warm peachy pink (following the psychology of colour and how it makes you feel). And this was what I said:


“A colour that reads as a colour is so much easier to like all on it’s own without the room having to be decorated. My first reaction to this question was that everyone potentially feels good in a room that is decorated so then it could be any colour (and this is ignoring the rules of the psychology of colour, I know) however my sister Anita recently painted her undecorated (at this moment) master bedroom a lovely fresh turquoise and now she’s so happy in there!”

Elizabeth (my other sister) said her husband called her from the paint store last week and said, “What colour do you want to paint the storage room?” and she at that moment, managing her two tired screaming small children said, “I don’t know, cream!” Well the clerk in the paint store selected a taupe. “Taupe,” she screeched on the phone to me, “I hate taupe!”


I said, “Why didn’t you call me, I would have given you the colour of the sky, it is a storage room, why not have it be a fun colour?”  I also know that my sister’s favourite colour is blue. Well she couldn’t even think with two children crying so that’s the end of a happy storage room. Which she is clear will never be painted again.

Here is the point of my point:

If you paint your dining room your favourite colour (and let’s pretend for a minute that it’s not gray–because trust me, you were not asking me for gray two to three years ago when the brown trend was still alive) you can walk into that room, even if it doesn’t have the perfect matching drapery or carpet and still love it.


But if you paint that same undecorated room (let’s face it, we all leave the master to the very last, living rooms and then kids rooms get priority) a non-descript beige or gray or taupe? That’s when people say things to me like, “I hate the way it looks first thing in the morning,” or “There’s one wall in my living room and it looks like pea soup at 2 pm. I hate that colour.”

You say that because it relates to nothing.

If that same pea soup colour looked perfect most of the day because it was a great match to your bedding or the furniture in your living room you would not criticize it like you do now.

So, if you have a room in your house that you want to feel happy in, especially if it’s not decorated, choose a COLOUR over a NEUTRAL.

The look and feel and atmosphere of any room after all, starts with colour no matter where it is.

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

What is the Colour of Fun?

How to Pick Paint Colours with Confidence

Are You Waiting for Your Paint Colour to Propose?

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  • Ann says:

    Your images are so lovely,

    I'd happy in a room with any of those colors ♥

  • Liivi Hess says:

    Thanks for the great advice Maria, I definitely agree with this, and think that most of the go-to neutrals that non-professionals usually choose are awful colours anyway! Choosing a colour that you like, as long as you at least have a look at it in the different lighting conditions that it will be in, will probably make a happier result than going the safe, boring, probably ugly route!
    Will keep reading, I love your blog!
    x Liivi


    What a great post! This one really inspied me to consider, since I have room colours I love (um, cuz I got great help from a True Colour Expert!)- what else would I love to see when I walk into a room?

  • Sharon says:

    So what does it mean if I painted my master Requisite Gray and I ADORE it. Sometimes I just stand in the doorway and admire how the whole room turned out. I feel serene in that room. I know I'm not a professional, but I love the neutral gray family. As long as it's a warm gray to me it works. I guess as long as you chose colors that make you feel good it's the right color for you. Love your blog. Might need your help when it comes time to pick a color my my kitchen cabinets. They scream early 90's. Yuck

  • Donna Frasca ♋ says:

    As fun as it is to choose a great color for an undecorated room, in the long run, it should somehow relate to the rest of the house otherwise it'll be the “wild room that I can't match any decor to”.

    I think it's a great idea but most of my clients want to go with something safer, that they'll know their furniture will match when they buy it. My go to color for that is Ecru by Sherwin Williams. Sometimes it looks beige and sometimes it looks green and it matches most decors most of the time. When the furniture is in, you can always put a pop of color on an accent wall or ceiling.

    Sharon – I love your post and enjoy your Requisite Gray!

    Pretty colors Maria 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I love, love, love my blue room. It doesn't have to relate to anything in the house. It's my bedroom I close the door and take in the blue. Thanks for the shout out !
    love, Anita

  • Cass @ That Old House says:

    Hooray for color — even all on its own. 3 years ago we bought an 1830s Greek Revival and I had to choose the paint for ten rooms in a couple of days — I went with colors I loved, and then decorated from there, and I am still happy with them.
    This spring, it was our beach house — brought the paint swatches out to the island, saw them in the clear brilliant light, and chose the watery ones that gleamed.

    White walls? Shoot me now.
    Thanks for being a color cheerleader!

  • Honey says:

    Great post Maria, as usual. Maybe you can answer this question for me.

    We are quickly finishing a room in the basement, the drywall is being installed today. It is very tunnel-like, small, 10 x 20ish, no windows, we will not be furnishing it as we are now planning to put the house on the market in a couple of weeks.

    The room has 7 recessed lights, so there is a lot of light when they are on. What color is going to make my buyers want to move right in? I'm not counting on this room to be the selling point, my kitchen will do that–the one with the arabesque tile backsplash. 🙁

    I was thinking of some sort of neutral walls with a sky blue ceiling to make it seem taller? Or is that hopeless, when the walls are just shy of 8' tall?


  • Anonymous says:

    Couldn't agree more with the post. Perfectly said . . Colour is always better than bland, neutral rooms. Love the saying at the end too . . . Putting it in a board in my mud room.

  • Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} says:

    Wonderful quote on "happiness", Maria! You find some good ones!

  • says:

    Love all of the different and bright colors!!

    'Please visit our new website'

  • Nichole@40daysof says:

    Agree, agree, agree!

  • Christina Rodriguez | The Diva's Home says:

    I agree with you Maria on painting your storage or undecorated room a fun color. It one of the 'Five Fun and Fabulous Ways to Quickly Update Your Home' (my free ebook on Paint is so inexpensive compared to other things that you can really have fun with it.

  • Vesna B. says:

    I am still determined to fall in love with a neutral color! But a complex one, maybe one of those high-pigment deals from Donald Kaufman, etc. A girl can dream, right?

  • Kristie at The says:

    I'm with you, Maria. When I have clients that are "working with what they have" and don't have $$$ to spend on lots of new furnishings, the biggest impact we can make is to paint the walls a real color, not a complete neutral, that relates to the things they love (and already have). If it's a color they love, they feel that "wow" factor everytime they walk in the room. I think neutrals are best for more sophisticated rooms with more budget available to spend on furnishings and decor.


  • Mary says:

    Maria, this makes perfect sense.
    I had never thought about it before, but an empty/undecorated room at least will have the wall color going for it if you pick one you love.

  • Cassy says:

    Brilliant idea.
    How I wish I could a beautiful room as that of the photos.

    Cassy from Acoustic Guitar Lessons

  • Stacy Curran says:

    I was stumbling around the design blogs that I read and found yours — I am so glad I did! Happy to be a new follower 🙂
    Stacy @ Conspicuous Style

  • Anonymous says:

    unusually, I guess, the master was the first room we painted, because I could not sleep in a yellow room. We painted it a color in the terra-cotta family, and now the medium toned furniture blends into the background, which makes the room feel larger. And it always seems warm in there, which is key in San Francisco. 🙂

  • Donna says:

    Maria, This was such an interesting post! I love color–period. I'm so glad Anita painted her room a color that she loves.

    I could have WRITTEN that quote about happiness. I love being happy and it's so easy to do, if you want it enough.

    I'm so looking forward to painting our home soon–starting in my horrible, awful bathroom and master bedroom. I've spent the last two weeks de-cluttering and now the house is just fabulous! We filled the truck with excess furniture. Tim said we are going to go buy what we need to begin painting the base coats and texturing. A dream finally coming true…with colors I love–hand-picked by you. Thank you so much!

    Donna @ Comin' Home

  • Kevin Reeve says:

    I can't wait for the Hallway newslette – I currently have 5 colors on the walls I'm trying out and none of them are what I want.

    Wouldn't you know that I was up late one night watching a movie I downloaded off of iTunes – and THERE was the color I was trying to achieve – right on Kevin Klein's wall! If anyone wants to watch a great film, and help me figure out the purplish/grey color on his wall – you would be doing yourself a favor because it is such a good movie!

    It's called "Queen to Play" about a maid on the Island of Corsica who learns how to play chess and changes her life in the process. It's a foreign language film that got great reviews – even my husband really liked it! The starring actress Sandrine does a fantastic job. Now one of my favorite movies.

    So far I've put up BM Sanctuary in my hallway – too dark. Then Donald Kaufmann DKC 36, too light. So I tried a color I found at Wal-mart Moonlight Grey but it is too blue – I like the more magenta undertone.
    In desperation I thought maybe I'd just go with Farrow and Ball Pointing……but then I saw the movie and know the color I want exists.

  • Anonymous says:

    I love how free-ing this post is. I have a spare room painted green which services as spare bedroom/storage but until I figure out how best to use the room I feel energized by the color and completely forget what is in the room. I would never sell the house this way, but why not have fun?

  • Cindi says:

    Could it be Benjamin Moor’es Revere Pewter? It’s a very pale gray with purple undertones. Thanks to Maria I know that!

  • pve says:

    Same thing goes for a coloured lip stick or gloss. A little bit can make one very happy – even in a neutral or all white room. For me it is not the color of the room that will make me happy – white can be liberating and fresh. Color on a wall is like marriage or partnership, you know it when it’s right for you. You also know when you have outgrown it or need to move on.
    Color somehow seems “more dated” than white or black. I love an all white or black walled room.
    Shoot me.

  • Kim says:

    Kevin, if you like BM Sanctuary, but it’s too dark for your taste in the hallway, it’s probably because there are two walls very close in proximity bouncing off each other, concentrating the color. Have you tried a very similar but lighter color such as BM Piano Concerto or BM New Age? Maybe you could also try BM Sanctuary at 75%. This is what I did with my hallway color and it turned out to be just what I wanted.

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