Our Whole House Color Palette

Q: Hi guys! I was snooping around your blog to try and find a floor plan of your new home with the colors you used for each room (like you did in the post from Feb 24/2010) but I didn’t find one! I would L-O-V-E to see what your new house looks like now, with a visualization of the color scheme per room. Is this possible, or am I asking way too much? HAPPY NEW YEAR by the way! – Danielle

A: Oh yeah – we’re way overdue on that! So when Danielle submitted that comment here, we officially bumped it to the top of our to-do list. We did one of them for our first house, and it was fun to see how our paint colors have evolved over the years. So without further ado, here’s our current house’s color palette as it stands now (we still have to paint the guest bathroom and the spare room). It’s not too easy to see all of the colors (ex: the back of the dining room built-ins are dark teal, but it’s not as easy to see those little slivers of color in the image below as well as the office stencil and Clara’s closet stencil) but it was fun to play around in photoshop and make an updated floor plan for this house’s paint picks so far. Note: click here for a full list of these paint colors.

The cool thing we’ve realized is that most of our rooms with brightly colored walls tend to have a few more neutral choices to balance things out (ex: our greeny-yellow walled kitchen has white cabinets/counters and a soft gray backsplash with brown cork floors). And our rooms with more neutral colors on the walls tend have more color added in with brightly patterned curtains & pillows, geometric rugs and bold art, painted furniture, etc. But we’ll get to that a little more in a second.

First, just for fun, here’s our first house’s color palette. We still seem to love blues and greens with a fair amount of neutral tones, but we traded in the creams and tans for soft and taupey grays and added plums, pinks, and warm yellow-y green to keep it from feeling too cold. We’ll always have a special place in our hearts for the “sea glass” colors of our first house though. Especially in a smaller home with some pretty tiny rooms, keeping things flow-y and neutral was really helpful when it came to making it feel open and airy. Our current house is larger, so a few hits of color among the other more toned down walls make us happy (and don’t seem to chop things up as much as they could in a smaller floor plan).

 We’ve actually seen lots of pretty homes with the same exact color on every wall of the entire house (whether it’s a crisp white tone, a soft tan color, a taupey-gray, or even something more daring like celery, yellow, or a muted blue-gray tone everywhere). Meanwhile we’ve also seen a ton of gorgeous homes with a different paint color in every single room. We tend to fall right in the middle of that spectrum, preferring to use a handful of colors in a few different spaces.

I think we like to reference a few over-arching wall colors in a few different places just so there’s some sort of flow and relation among the spaces, but not too much straight up cloning going on (thanks to varying other items like rugs, art, pillows, curtain fabrics, etc). For example, we have the same soft grey tone on the walls in our living room and our dining room, but the dining room has deep teal paint on the back of the built-ins to differentiate it, and also has colorful curtains and a bright yellow door…

… meanwhile the living room has a green geometric rug, colorful pillows, and softer tone-on-tone curtains with dark painted beams. So we’ve found that in rooms where we have softer or more neutral walls we layer in more patterns and colors than the rooms with brighter walls (like our kitchen).

Maybe the biggest change? Our first house had white curtains in every. single. room. except for Clara’s bedroom. So one major difference here has been that we’ve embraced more colorful and patterned curtains in nearly every room.

Bold color was definitely less present in our first house. Comparing our color-coded floor plans above might make that pretty clear, but it’s even more evident when you actually look at room shots. While our first living room was softly layered with tone on tone colors…

… our current living room (the pic above this one) definitely has more pattern and color going on (bright pillows and vases, a larger geometric rug, etc) as well as more high contrast choices (dark beams and a dark sofa).

Another place we tend to bring bright color into our current house would be art and painted furnishings. See how the green chairs and bright wall of art in the office really liven things up? Yet we have neutral tones in there to add balance, like the white cabinets, wood counter, and natural jute rug.

And of course things like the homemade headboard in our bedroom – and guest bedroom – add some interest, pattern, and color along with a few more bold and geometric rugs:

The green headboard from our guest room above was also in our first guest room, so we were inching towards our current color preferences back then, but we definitely kept it more toned down in there with neutral tan walls, plain white roman shades, no rug, etc.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of our first bedroom to compare with our current bedroom shot three pictures up. It appears as though our love of cozy bedrooms has remained (especially with pretty chandeliers and breezy white curtains) but we’ve definitely turned up the dial with brighter pillows, a patterned headboard, and a bold rug in our current house.

We still have moments of calm tone-on-tone color here though, just to balance those hits of bright hue that occur almost everywhere else. For example, there’s our sink nook…

… and our hallway of frames

… and our laundry room. There’s some soft avocado color on the walls, but the rest of the room is pretty neutral (white cabinets and shelves, a natural-toned light fixture, white appliances, cork floors, etc) since it’s such a small space and we didn’t want it to feel cramped.

Actually if you look back at the commonalities among those three spaces that I just mentioned, they’re all small – so I think that’s definitely a factor when it comes to how much color and pattern we add. And then there are rooms that are a bit larger, like the hall bathroom, which got a plum undertone in the grey paint (it’s subtle but definitely noticeable in person) and some bright art along with a colorful window treatment and some teal knobs on the vanity.

So there you have it, a meandering brain dump with a much overdue floor plan of our house’s color palette. It’s nice to stop and examine these things occasionally because then we can look back on them (posts like this are essentially a time capsule for us, since pages like our House Tour are constantly being updated – so all the in-the-middle stuff gets bumped out). Welcome to our time capsule.

How do you guys like to decorate? Do you prefer one or two paint colors throughout your entire home? A different color in every room? Or a handful of colors that reoccur in a few places? There’s definitely not one right answer, so we’d love to hear how you guys like to color your world!

Psst- For a more exhaustive tour of our first house followed by all of the before & afters of our current house, click here and then here.


  1. says

    I love the subtle color on the walls…I am trying to choose more calming colors in our house at the moment, although I stole the yellow door idea for our pantry in the kitchen. I too am trying to bring in some fun drape patterns…

  2. says

    When we first moved into our house (just under 2 years ago) we went color crazy. First house! First house!! We painted our family room blue, our living room purple. Greta’s room green! And then I guess we got it all out of our system, because things are much more toned down now as far as paint colors go. We really really like moody darker paint colors that feel cozy balanced out with a light gray in the open areas.

  3. says

    At our last place I had purple and green stripes on the wall in my craft room. SW Leapfrog & Mesmerize – not like Barney purple and green. Hubs kinda forgot our anniversary so I got to paint the wall the way I wanted it. I think it may have been worth it. So, if you ask what I like I think it’s every room a different color. But marriage is about compromise right? Most of our rooms are pretty subdued colors now. I love the way our bright red end table or my green canvases (http://thisdiylife.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/challenge-i-brought-it/) stand out against our Latte (SW) walls. I’m actually getting ready to paint our upstairs hallway the same as most of our first floor because I over bought paint. That’s a good reason right? I agree that it’s boring to look at a color floor plan when it’s your accessories that make everything rock!

  4. Amanda K says

    When we bought our house 6 years ago, it was in desperate need of new paint in every room, so I just picked colors I liked without much of a plan – a green kitchen, orange bedroom, red dining room, etc. Since then, I’ve repainted both bedrooms, the master bath, and the hallway to make things flow a little better, and I’ve chosen mostly grays and blues.

  5. Dulce says

    Hey guys! I’ve never really commented on here before, except for giveaways, but I found this post to be too coincidental not to. Last night, before going to bed I was thinking about what color to paint our new bedroom and looked to your book for inspiration (love it, btw!). I guess since I fell asleep thinking about paint & your book it triggered a dream in which you guys had repainted your office! Don’t really remember the exact combination of colors (it was two-tone, top & bottom were different shades) but remember thinking: GENIUS! Now I wish I could remember to a) tell you & b) paint my room that color. ;)

  6. Lindsey d. says

    I find it fascinating that y’all have about four different shades of grey in your home now, all with different undertones. It’s basically your new neutral, instead of the more yellow-toned tans and beiges from House 1. Which makes sense; it’s in keeping with today’s style.

    But I’m not really one to talk about different greys…I have four colors working in my 1150 sq. ft. cottage and three are in the grey family.
    – Pale blue with grey undertones in the living room, guest room, hall and bath. (Behr’s Light French Grey, which is much more blue than grey).
    – Plum-grey in my bedroom (Glidden’s Dolphin Grey).
    – More pure grey in the kitchen (Behr’s Silver Screen).
    – Deep navy in the back TV room (BM’s Spellbound – inspired by this post – http://www.younghouselove.com/2010/03/nice-package/).

    I think I plan to repaint the blue-grey front rooms and the plum-grey bedroom to the more pure grey when I prepare to rent or sell the house, in part to keep things cohesive. It took me a while to find the right grey for my home (Behr’s Silver Screen, btw). All rooms have bright white trim, although in some rooms it needs repainting.

  7. Elyse Danielle says

    We just moved into our home a few months ago and while I love the open floor plan, it makes it difficult when deciding how to paint the walls. I’d like the kitchen and the living room to be different colors but the walls just meld together…there is no wall separation…does that make sense? Do y’all have any suggestions with how to handle painting different spaces different colors within an open floor plan?

    • says

      I would totally go with the same color in both rooms and then add just an accent wall of color somewhere that’s nice and differentiated (like the back of the built-ins in our dining room, etc) or just use curtains and accessories/rugs/pillows/art to differentiate with the same paint in both spaces. Hope it helps!


  8. Ashley S. says

    I love this! It’s crazy how much you’re style can change between houses. In our first house, our paint in every room was very colorful (soft green living room, bold blue bathroom, bright green bedroom, ect.) Now in our second home, we’ve drifted more towards neutral walls (mostly with what I like to call Griege :P) with colorful accents. Still different colors in each room, but It’s really only different shades of one color. It’s great to see how your style and home evolve with you! :)

  9. says

    This is so fun to see! I esp love the shot of all of your curtains together. Was that brown duvet from your first guest room a subliminal inspiration for your YHL logo? It looks familiar! :)

  10. says

    We have different paint colors everywhere. I’m starting to make changes here and there with color so eventually we might be using the same colors in a few different areas of the house. Our colors all pretty much flow but I’m going to make it flow better. Here are our 2013 updates that we want to make to our kitchen and the paint I chose is already in our hallway off the kitchen…so I know I like it: http://www.idlepress.com/simpleprettythings/?p=118

  11. Cate says

    Amazing to see this entry today since this morning I had the random thought “I should post on YHL to see what colours people would recommend for a basement bedroom”. And here is a whole entry on room colours!

    So even though I know you guys don’t have basements in the south, I thought you (or your readership) might have good ideas for what to paint a room, below grade, with two small windows (so a reasonable amount of light, but still a basement), so that it feels soft and warm and inviting.

    Or is there a house crash that has a basement that I could snag ideas from?

    (Cate in Canada)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *