I often write about choosing wall color.  It's one of the steps to creating a beautiful room, but not usually the first.  I start below that.... at my feet.

Starting at the bare bones of the room simply makes sense to me.  Start with the floor and the architectural details, like molding and trim, built-ins, paneling, wainscoting and bead board, you wish to add.  

Put in the 'good bones', the structure of the room and then add beautiful layers.

Choosing beautiful background neutrals and building layers on top, adding color, texture, 

contrast and accessories is a sure fire recipe to a room you can love.

For walls, I like a cool neutral if you are using warm tones.  A warmer neutral if your accent colors are cool.  I like opposites.  Warm/Cool.  Rough/Smooth.  Hard/Soft.  Dull/Shiny. Contrasts such as these and in color make a room interesting and beautiful.

Neutral doesn't mean boring, but it can make a huge difference in a room. The right wall color can make a room appear larger, lighter, fresher (cool tones) - or warmer, smaller, cozier (warm tones).  

That first layer for me is flooring.
Molding and architectural details - all the things that create a customized and special room - are next

Followed by paint:   wall, trim and ceiling color.

Ambient lighting
Rugs and large furnishings
Accent furniture and task lighting
Fabrics, accessories, decorative touches and textures

If you are decorating your own home, it helps to break it down into manageable sections. It is equally important to know what you like.   Sometimes, finding out what you like is hard, but I've never met a client who didn't know what they DID NOT like... if that is you - start there.

Create your color palette based on the colors you love. If you feel unsure, check your closet.

Your wall colors should be a soft grayed down versions of those colors. Make sure they look good together.  Find a way to tie them together - with a fabric that incorporates them or with accessories - to create flow throughout your home.     

It's just layers.  Start with the first and continue to add until you are done.


Help! I cannot make a decision on paint colors! I have been trying for almost a year!  I painted over dark wood paneling in the family room with RH-Saffron. The upper part of the walls are painted in RH-Butter.   The trim is painted in RH-Butter cream. I really like it. 

One part of the family room opens into the breakfast area. Now, the lower half of these walls has wood paneling (in a drab white color). The walls above were painted yellow by the previous owner. 

From the breakfast area one walks into the galley kitchen which has stainless appliances and white-ish cabinets. The walls are the same yellow. The countertops will be replaced with a neutral or black granite while the cabinets will be painted in a creamy white. 

The opposite end of the galley opens into the combination formal dining and living area. This is painted in a really drab off white color with ridiculously ornate crown. 

If the ornate crown molding isn't enough, it was faux painted! Finally we come full circle into the small entry hall that is open to the formal living/dining area and family room. 

The wall in the entry has a chair rail. Above the chair rail is a faux painted wall and below is again drab off white. 

I love the saffron family room and want some coordinating colors that flow from entry to family room to kitchen to formal dining/living. The greys I have tried in the kitchen blend right in with appliances. I am at a loss as to what color(s) will flow nicely throughout the living areas. I have attached pictures--probably more than you care to look at. BTW, the posts on the pony walls will be torn out also. New countertop, backsplash and kitchen floor.  Please help me! 

Thanks for your help, 

Hi Melissa,
Your plans for your home sound lovely.  Since you are happy with the family room color, I would continue into the adjacent room (which is already painted yellow) with the Restoration Hardware Saffron or Butter.  I would keep the trim the same in both rooms. 

In the kitchen, a nice neutral soft gray would be beautiful, and you can pull the yellow/saffron into the kitchen in accents -  Restoration Hardware has some lovely grays - or you can try Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore, shown below.

A Pop of Pretty

Dear Lillie

Making your dining room dramatic with a medium toned gray would be beautiful. 
Behr Paint - ANONYMOUS
CKM Interiors

Paint the ornate crown molding the same color as the walls and it will be less of an eyesore and more modern. 

Creamy white trim - possibly the same as your kitchen cabinets - would be nice against the gray.  Rich warm wood of your table and chairs will be lovely, as would some sparkle and shine in a chandelier.


Your entry can go back to either the light gray or soft butter yellow with creamy white trim.  If it is a small space, the light gray will help if feel larger, and you can still bring in pops of color in your accents.


Hope that helps!


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