I get a lot of questions about which paint colour goes with which neutrals/colours. But without this, you will continue to spin (and I can’t exactly help you). Do you know what it is?
Before we get into today’s post, I just wanted to share that our hearts go out to everyone affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The images and stories are devastating. So much tragedy. 💔
The questions I get most…
There are two questions I receive over and over and they go something like this:
I bought your colour wheel and have identified my couch as a green beige. From reading your ebooks I know green beige looks good with BM Feather Down and Soft Chamois.
But what if I wanted to paint my wall a colour? Do greens look best with green beige or what if I wanted Palladian Blue which you said is a blue green? I believe I would then need to make sure my rug relates? I think you said green beige is dirty and doesn’t go well with blues? Advice?
Basically the question here is, “I have a neutral sofa. How do I choose a COLOUR for my walls instead of a NEUTRAL”
Then here’s the opposite kind of question:
I have a light sky blue colour on the ceiling in my dining room that I love and want to keep. How do I use the neutral colour wheel to find the undertone of my blue so I can find a beige or complex cream that complements it?
In this case the fundamental question is “Which neutral will look best with my ceiling paint colour?”
Here’s what I know for sure about BOTH of the rooms in question here.
The room is empty, and undecorated.
Or at minimum, the room is filled with furniture that does not help answer either of these questions.
You are asking the wrong questions about neutral and colour.
The answer to the first question is that we need to find a rug to inspire our colour choices. And the best way to do that is by assembling a mood board with some rug options.
You learn EXACTLY how to do this in my Shop Online with Confidence course here. You’ll INSTANTLY save the price you pay for this course over and over again, because you won’t make expensive purchases that don’t work once you get them home.
In fact it will be the gift that keeps on giving forever once you learn how to create mood boards before you make home decor purchases.
Whether you prefer to shop online or visit stores in-person, a mood board guides you to the right colour choices. Many times we’re looking online at our options before we enter the furniture or decor store.
BONUS! Once you learn how to do this, even the fashion you order online will start showing up in the right colour.
Why do I need to create a mood board?
Without a mood board you will spin and spin about the right option. You’ll order rugs or pillows that don’t end up working and return them over and over. You will likely get discouraged quickly, especially because creating a look and feel in our homes is so important to our daily happiness.
And choosing the right paint colour is only one step to creating a look and a feel.
Doing a deep dive into my free content is smart. But if you are a highly analytical person, you will go down a rabbit hole and find yourself dwelling on questions that have no business being in your head.
Plus there are many bad colour combinations that can be FIXED by finding a rug that pulls them together or a piece of art that magically makes it all look intentional in the end.
But you won’t get there by fixating on whether green beige and blue greens go together? That’s not the purpose of the neutral colour wheel.
By the way the short answer to this question is YES. They do work together. I haven’t ever said they didn’t. But, it’s simply not a question that will get you any closer to the answer.
The question you should be asking is, “what decor/rug/pillow will help me pull together a colour palette for this room?”
The answer to the second question is that my neutral colour wheel is designed to help you navigate the world of NEUTRALS and WHITES (the whites are on the back). It will not help you find the undertone of a chromatic colour, so that you can then choose the right neutral to go with it.
This question again tells me that the room is empty of inspiration.
And, there is probably not a colour in this world that wouldn’t work with a pale blue ceiling anyway. A blue ceiling feels like the sky so you almost don’t need to even repeat blue in your decorating.
Which neutral works with X paint colour?
However, if you are starting with a colour and want to know which neutral will work with it, the easiest way to get there is again by creating a mood board.
If you’re shopping for furniture, you might start with a rug that has some blue in it and a neutral to make it easy to choose the neutral.
What if you liked this rug? The overall background is blue, but what about the neutral pattern? That’s when you would use the colour wheel to identify what neutral it is.
If you look closely, it appears that it could be taupe or violet grey? There are two ways to find out.
First, before it even arrives on your doorstep you can get really close by adding it to a mood board. Then find two paint dots online in those neutral undertones using my curated system colours (located in my bonus book of colours in either of my ebooks).
That’s all you need by the way. I curated 50 of the best curated neutrals and whites that are found everywhere and in everything in this world. This narrows down thousands of neutrals into the BEST and most optimal choices.
Ok now let’s take a closer look. What do you think? Which one looks best?
The different is pretty subtle, right? That’s why my large paint samples are needed. Because you’ll be in countless situations like this (either in your home or a clients home) where the difference between ‘meh’ and ‘perfect’ is this subtle.
So, I’m saying it’s violet grey.
If this is on your mood board and you wanted taupe, not violet grey, then you would need to find a different rug. AND, you didn’t waste your time ordering this rug, only having to return it later.
Is this making sense yet?
Where can I learn to be a better decorator?
If you really want a deep dive decorating with colour, you should register for my virtual Specify Colour with Confidence workshop this Spring. It’s kind of like that proverbial saying, “Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime.”
I’ll teach you how to fish. As a result, your house will be endlessly prettier. I promise! If you’re looking around your house and wishing you knew how to make it look better or more pulled together, this workshop is for YOU!
You’ll be sitting in the course, looking around your house while listening to me talk about something–because there is SOOOO much content–and all kinds of ideas will pop in your head on ways to make your house more beautiful and more timeless.
When my former assistant first took my course, she heard me mention that most windows need at least two off-the-shelf curtain panels to avoid the ‘sheet blowing in the wind’ look. She immediately purchased a second panel for all the windows in her home upon arriving home.
She knew something was off, but couldn’t put her finger on it. That’s because I help you see colour and design differently. And you can’t unsee it. You’ll finally know what might be missing or what choices to make for a more beautiful home.
So my lovelies, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, for the best result, you need to actually commit to the DECORATING. Find the duvet, the area rug, the sofa colour, the throw pillow, the artwork, or even a countertop — BEFORE you ask for a paint colour.
If you’re renovating or building a new home and don’t have time to make any decorating decisions before, then start with your countertop (or tile) to help you choose a main neutral for the entire house. The point is you must choose SOMETHING.
Any hard or soft finish choice is a better starting point, because paint is the easiest colour to change.
Should I just paint all my walls white dove?
Lately the question I’ve been getting a lot is, “Maria, should I just paint my house white dove until I decide what to do with the decorating after I move in?”
Why choose a white that looks like you just “called it in” and had your builder spray it all down a stark white that resembles primer?
This is why choosing an open layout paint colour is a good idea, whether it be an off-white, a complex cream or a greige. I can help you get it right and you’ll love your house every time you walk in the door.
PS. I’m in San Francisco this week speaking at a Vadara Quartz showroom opening! Come see me there!