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 that you can't 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).


Gloria, I understand how tempting it can be to start with the fastest, easiest and most satisfying part - changing the wall colors.

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 "upside down" as an 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:

Stone/Tile --> Carpet --> Couch --> Walls

You should start by selecting tile/stone for your fireplace first. It's a fixed element (neutral in color) that will set the tone for all the other neutral finishes in the room.

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.

You asked: what's the right color for this living room? And the answer is: the right color is the one that relates to something in your decor, and pulls it all together.

Right now, all the major elements of your decor are being replaced (stone, carpet, couch) - so there is nothing to relate the wall color to.

And many wall colors can look great a room without furniture and flooring... until you add those in.

You see, if you want a neutral wall paint color, it needs to coordinate with the carpet, stone and couch for it to look right (if those are neutral) - because not all neutrals go together.

And if you want a real color on the walls, it needs to repeat something in your decor - the

You are remodeling and updating because you want the room to look better, and there is no way of knowing what wall color will

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 Undertones" 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 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.

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