What's the Right Paint Color for This Living Room?

by Gloria
(Montrose, CO)

Our fireplace painted a plum color

Our fireplace painted a plum color

We have a corner fireplace that we painted a dark plum color, so you can not see the soot that accumulates on the chimney when we use it. We need help with wall colors.

The Moss Rock on the fireplace under the wood burning stove is being replaced this summer with granite, marble or tile.

Behind the stove we will probably do stucco and paint it the same color as the fireplace is now.

The bricks - we are unsure what to do there as the long upper brick portion has slits between each one, behind those it has a heatalator installed to circulate heat, so that is creating a dilemma for us.

The chairs are staying, the sofa and carpeting are being replaced, but I can't wait on painting - it desperately needs to be done.

Also, this room is 22'x14' (long & narrow).

Yelena's Response:

Hi Gloria,

I understand how tempting it can be to start with the fastest and easiest part - changing the wall colors.
After all, you can paint your room in one day from start to finish - unlike replacing the carpet or installing new tile, which is more involved and time consuming.

Plus, the impact of a color change and the resulting transformation often provide that instant gratification we all secretly want :)

But starting a remodeling or redecorating project with the walls is how most people get into trouble, because it's an "upside down" approach.

In fact, I've written a tutorial for planning home color design the right way - it covers the correct order of selecting colors and finishes for a home.

In a nutshell, here's the formula you want to use in your case:

Tile --> Carpet --> Couch --> Walls

You should start by selecting tile/stone for your fireplace first. The reason for that is, your stone will be a fixed element that will set the tone for all the other finishes in the room.

For example, if you pick marble with a pinkish undertone, you will have to repeat the same undertone in your carpet, on the walls and your couch (if you are planning to buy a neutral one) for consistency and flow (see "Interior Paint Color Undertones" and "Beige Paint Color
for more details).

That is to say, you can't install a yellow-based neutral carpet in the same room with pink-based neutral stonework (just to give you an example) and expect it to look good - because the color of your stone will clash with the carpet in this case, guaranteed.

So choose your tile/stone first, and then match your carpet to it. The colors don't have to be exactly the same (one can be lighter or darker than the other), but they do have to be related/connected by the same undertone in order to work.

With your stonework and carpeting selected, you can now shop for a couch. The same guidelines apply here as well - the undertones have to match your stone and carpet. See how it's building?

And now that you have all your hard and soft finishes determined, you can start looking for the right paint color that will pull it all together.

So what are your wall color options?

I'll use Sherwin Williams paint colors to give you suggestions:

1) If your hard and soft finishes will be warm neutrals (beiges or tans), your walls can be:

- SW 6127 Ivoire (if your finishes are yellow-based)
- SW 6141 Softer Tan (if your finishes are green-based)
- SW 6099 Sand Dollar (if your finishes are pink-based)

2) If your hard and soft finishes will be cool neutrals (gray and greiges), your walls can be:

- SW 6078 Realist Beige (if your finishes are pink-based)
- SW 6148 Wool Skein (if your finishes are green-based)
- SW 7029 Agreeable Gray (if your finishes are flat gray, with no visible undertone)

And finally, no matter what color your hard and soft finishes, you absolutely must repeat the plum color of your fireplace somewhere else in your decor at least 2-3 times!

Right now the plum color looks unrelated to anything and out of place (although the color itself is fabulous).

So to make your color choice look intentional, find a few accent pieces in the same color (it can be a vase, wall art, throw pillows) and distribute them around the room to spread the color and connect it to the rest of your decor.

Good luck with your project! :)

Leave a Comment:

Beautiful fireplace!
by: barbie

I like warm neutrals (beiges, tans, etc) and I used SW 6127 Ivoire in my own living room.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Paint Colors Critique.

Paint Color Cheat Sheets
Paint Color Cheat Sheets