Choosing Paint Colors - Part Two - Evaluating Your Layout
Have you ever heard of a whole house palette? Call it a new trend in decorating, but it has everything to do with coordinating undertones throughout the house.
In part one of evaluating your paint color, we discussed understanding the undertone as the basis of your color. Once you knew if your undertone was yellow, red, green, or blue, you would then know if your room would cast warmer or cooler hues on the wall.
Next, we must consider layout and lighting. My sister asked the question, "do all rooms need to have the same undertone?" The answer is "it depends".
In many newer homes today, rooms often blend into one another, creating an open layout and floorplan. When rooms are visible to one another, and especially if they truly are seamless and blend into each other, then it is more important that they share a coordinating undertone. You can still choose differing colors within the undertones (ie, gray and beige, but both with a yellow undertone for example), but you'll want to keep the undertone coordinating.
In many older homes, such as most of the homes we decorate, the rooms are often more segmented. In this case, you have more freedom with undertones as they will not clash between rooms. However, I have found that if you keep the undertones more coordinated throughout the house, it ends up casting a very satisfying feeling in the home. Many new home contractors employ this strategy throughout their new home builds. They pick 3-4 colors, all in a unified undertone family and place them throughout the house. The result is usually a very pleasing palette to a prospective buyer.
Choosing a whole house palette can be fun because you can repeat colors in different rooms and they will behave differently in each room, but coordinate easily between rooms. The color difference is due to the lighting in the room (which will be discussed in an upcoming post). In fact, I have Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray in my kitchen, living room, and dining room. I wanted the color to look the same in each space, but my kitchen has very weak lighting. To compensate for this, I decreased the intensity of the color by 70%. I looks the same on the walls in all three rooms, even though there is less pigment in the wall in the kitchen. These three rooms run into one another and I wanted a congruent look to the space. Agreeable gray has a slightly yellow undertone, so it is a warmer gray/beige color.
Adjacent to that room, I have a darker gray called Mountain Smoke by Valspar, but still a gray with a yellow undertone. All my white trim has a barely there, but still there yellow undertone in it. Together, they all look their own white, gray, or dark gray, but that little bit of yellow unifies them. Another trick is to ask the paint counter help for the recipe for the color. They have a formula for each color they mix. When I am on a fence about two colors or cannot determine their undertone, I ask for the recipe for the color. I look to see what percentage of the formula is gold/yellow/black/gray/blue etc. That helps me see what undertone is strongest.
Doing a simple Pinterest or Google search will land you with scores of whole house palettes. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. However, if you are really wanting a certain color, use it to build the rest of your palette. Start with what makes that color speak to you and evaluate the undertone. Moving from there, add coordinating colors with similar undertones. Nature does this naturally if you start looking around you. There is also a wonderful blog to those devoted to color and the appreciation of these palettes.
In the end, choose colors you love, but also consider the layout of the rooms. If they share an undertone, they will provide a more serene, cohesive look for your home.
Next we'll look at lighting!