choosing the right paint.

how to choose the right paint for your entire home.

Building a house from the ground up isn't all roses. While {cv} and I agree on most everything house-related, we are at a bit of a crossroads with the overall color scheme of the house. As my #bartonbuild board would attest, I gravitate heavily toward the white and gray tones. {cv} isn't opposed to this vision; he has simply expressed some concern that it could be too "basic". I think it's clean, but that's just me. These four examples only brush the surface of why I like these soft and subtle tones...

gray + white paint inspiration.
{top left: Gaylord Designs | top right: S.R. Gambrel | bottom left: abode love | bottom right: Terracotta Properties}

Since marriage is all about compromise, I realize I may have to bend a bit on this gray and white dream. I simply want to hear all sides of the story before the construction crew goes to town with a paintbrush. With sheet rock going in next week, our builder has encouraged us to get the ball rolling on our paint colors. We are a few weeks away from the final call, but I would love to get a few opinions on how you handled paint choices in your home. 
  • Did you do the same "base" color throughout your house? If so, how did you go about choosing that one color? It seems like an incredibly daunting process to pick just one! With the light a bit different in all corners of the house, I feel like it would be difficult to choose one that is universally wonderful. {If you know of any such universally wonderful colors, help a lady out!}
  • If you chose to pick colors room by room, how did you make those decisions -- especially in advance of other big decisions like furniture? Since we currently live in a two-bedroom apartment and will be moving into a two-story home, we will have to furnish the house over time -- not overnight. While I wish it was in our budget to just get it done in one fell swoop, it isn't a reality. I want the house to have character, without regretting the choice when we finally do have the chance to add pieces of furniture over time.
  • What tips would you give for deciding on colors? Did you paint a small section and look at it over the course of the day? True story: I have chosen the paint color for one room in my entire life. I failed miserably with a horribly dark caramel color in an already dark bedroom. It felt like I was living in a cave the entire year I lived there. I know paint can be easily changed, but I would rather not have to do much changing once we get in the house with a little one. 
While this post seems to prompt that I know what I'm doing here, I can only anticipate that your comments will be the backbone of this post. {I just ask way too many questions!} One thing is for certain: I can always count on my readers for the best advice. I sincerely appreciate your lifeline to sanity during this house-building process. You're the paint on my paintbrush -- in other words, absolutely essential to the final product. A big thank you in advance! xoxo {av}

P.S. Have any favorite grays or whites? Be sure to share them below! I want to round up a few fan favorites! Merci :)


  1. Catching up on your blog... love your maternity wardrobe tips. Definitely keeping them in mind for a future baby and passing the great info on to my sister! Also bookmarked your suggestions for eating out in Big Sur. The only time we were there we were tent camping on a budget and just ate camp food. Boring. As for paint, my only advice is to NOT do what we did. My husband is also very opinionated about paint colors. He loves COLOR, and I would have preferred a more neutral palate. We chose colors one room at a time based on the purpose of the room and colors we liked in general. (Just because mustard is my favorite color doesn't mean it needs to be on our walls.) We have a cheerful yellow in the living areas (accent wall only), mint green in baby's room, blue-gray in bathroom, mocha and espresso in the kitchen. The colors do not flow at all. If I could do it all over again, I would still paint all the rooms different colors, but I would choose them all at the same time and ensure that they all complement one another. You know how some paints you could say "oh this green has more blue/gray/brown in it. Perhaps you could compromise by having one main area gray and white, then choose some other colors that complement the gray you choose. Does that make sense? This post has some great tips: Best wishes!

  2. I'm living vicariously through you right now! I can't say that I have much experience in this area either, but if I were in your shoes, I would come up with a color palette of maybe 6-8 colors that I wanted to thread through the house. I'd make sure that they felt almost like a set-- matching, and from the same family, but ranging in tone.

    So excited for you-- this all sounds fun and creative. :)

    Always, Anita

  3. We picked one strong gray shade and went with three levels of it - same color tone, but at a 25%, 50%, and 75% intensity. That way, we had bright walls where we needed them, mid-range walls, and dark walls for spaces like the bathrooms {dark walls with lots of bright white trim really seem to make a space pop!}. It worked well because they're all complimentary and we really only had one tone we had to match other materials to. We use a lot of natural materials, so we wanted something that would go well with wood and slate, but was still dark enough not to wash out the bright whites we wanted for trim.

    It's still a work in progress, but we're loving how it's turning out!

  4. benjamin moore revere pewter, nimbus, stone are all great. baby fawn is in our nursery. simply white too. heaven on earth is a nice true light blue that is great at 50%. rooms you can see from each other should flow, otherwise don't worry too much IMO. you'll do great.

  5. +1 to Benjamin Moore revere pewter - it's a favorite! :)

  6. I like the clean look of white and gray as well, but have you thought about adding in some lighter colors that have undertones of gray? Like a grayish green and grayish blue? That way you would have a little bit of color, but you can choose furniture that matches the grey (under)tones (vs having furniture that matches brown undertones, etc.) and have the flexibility to move furniture around the house as needed but then it would all come together cohesively.

  7. food for thought: (!!)

    i've always been BIG on color - my bedroom at my parents' house was bright teal for ten years! - but lately, in my own home, i've been more hesitant. i know i like to change things up often, and would rather change the art on the wall than the paint on the wall. so, we went all neutral when we moved in, but i've been so bored with how it looks! i really wish we had an accent wall or two throughout the house, just to make it a little less dull. we have a lot of major construction on the horizon so i'm hoping that will give me an excuse to make some changes. but, if you decide to be bold and do something colorful, here's a tip: if the color is dark (like the caramel you mentioned), go for a satin or semi-gloss paint! these paints have more sheen/reflect light, which makes a HUGE difference.

    +1 for benjamin moore revere pewter from me, too! i also like behr - manhattan mist and ashwood are my favorites... both are neutrals with a little hue.

  8. We moved from our apartments into our 4-bedroom home with only enough furniture for our master bedroom and the living room! It will all come with time - plus, it gives you the chance to scout out some awesome pieces and build your furniture as you build memories in your new home.


    P.S. I've been lusting after a gray living room for a couple of years, but with the whole "marriage is compromise" thing, beige it stays ;)