Building a Home: Picking Paint Colors

Building a Home: Picking Paint Colors

Now that the sheetrock has been put up and the walls have been textured in our house, the fun stuff is just beginning! Adding color to our house is the day I’ve been waiting for since the walls went up! It is amazing how much the house can change just from sheetrock to texture and finally paint. 

I struggled with picking paint colors because to be honest, we are starting all over. Much of the furniture from our now bachelor pad won’t be following us to the new home. So without furniture, how in the world do I pick paint colors to match? 

Well, I used the elements that I already had picked out and I also enlisted the help of a professional when making selections. I know that picking paint colors can be a daunting task for anyone, so I wanted to compile a few of my paint picking tips! 

1. Don’t Be Afraid

I don’t know why picking paint colors seems like such a permanant thing. The truth is, it may be an inconvenience, but it certainly isn’t permanant. If you really don’t like a color you’ve put up on a wall, it can always be re-painted. The gal I hired to paint our house has many fun ideas, some of them I can visualize and some of them I can’t. She’s been great at reminding me, if we don’t end up liking it, I can just paint over it. Certainly this shouldn’t be your go-to option when picking paint, having a strategy and establishing a color palette is important. But remembering that it isn’t so permanant takes a little bit of the fear out of choosing. 

2. Utilize Samples

If you really can’t visualize how a color is going to look in your home or how two colors may look together, order a sample! Sample sizes are great for either painting on the actual wall itself or painting it on a cheap canvas to tote around various parts of the house. Lay it against the wall and be sure to check out the color morning, noon, and night. The color you’ve chosen will change throughout the day as the light moves through your house. 

Painting sample also helps when establishing a palette for say a whole house. You can paint each canvas one color and then put them all together to see how the colors work together. This helps so much more than those small paint chips and is much more cost effective than painting walls to find out two colors don’t look good together. 

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Many people are so afraid of putting color in their house and get so overwhelmed that they end up with a house full of white walls. This is such a shame because color can bring so much warmth and fun to your home! You’ll be amazed at the difference adding color to your walls will make in your house, even if you don’t change anything else. 

Don’t be afraid to use the darker colors on the paint chip. For a long time, I was afraid of a color being too dark on the walls so I would err on the side of caution and pick a color from the top 1/3 of the paint chips. One hundred percent of the time, the color was way lighter than I wanted. As light pours into a room, it is going to brighten and wash out the color. The darker colors on the paint chips are your friend. If you are fearful of color, start by choosing one bold color. Paint it on the wall or even just an accent wall, I promise it will grow on you and you’ll be a lover of color in no time! 

4. Neutrals Are Your Best Friend 

Still not sure about putting color in your house? STOP with the white. There are so many beautiful neutrals besides stark white. Grays and browns makes beautiful wall colors and give the hint of color without being overpowering to the eye. Plus you can always add a bold color with neutrals. Neutrals usually are defined by either warm or cool tones, but all of them can work with a variety of colors too. Since I am not fearful of color, most of the rooms in our house will be color, but all of the hallways, entry ways, and other utility rooms will be a neutral warm brown. 

5. Utilize Your Materials

I don’t have everything picked out for our house when it comes to furniture and bedding, but I did utilize what I do have picked out. This including getting samples of our cabinets, countertops, flooring, kitchen backsplash, shower tile, baseboard and trim color. Put together anything you’ve selected to put into your home to help guide you. If you aren’t sure if you’ve already chosen warm or cool colors, put these items together and check it out. Not sure if a color is going to look good with these elements? Throw a sample board or paint chip next to it all. 

I had not a clue what color I wanted to do for our bedroom and bathroom, turns out we ended up pulling a color out of our granite and finding a paint chip to match it. I knew I wanted a yellow in our living room to pull from my yellow kitchen backsplash tile so we found a yellow that matched the tile sample perfectly. Use your materials to help guide the color selections for you. 

6. Still Not Sure? Enlist the Help of a Professional 

When I first started researching color palettes and colors, I was like most people, overwhelmed. I sat down with the gal we hired to paint our house and let me tell you, she was so helpful! I had a few colors picked out but she helped me pick out the rest. People are professionals for a reason, because it is their job to put colors and textures together. Don’t be afraid to use their services, even if it is just for color selection. Many interior designers offer consulting for a flat fee and it can be rather inexpensive for you to utilize when you’re in a bind. 

With that said, I suppose I should share our paint color picks! We are using all Benjamin Moore colors so you can find them all on their website. The paint company websites also make great resources for helping you pick color palettes, they give you suggested colors to match and even whole palettes for your home. 

Prairie Californian Paint Colors (1)


The main floor we are utilizing mostly warm and earthy colors. There will be quite a bit of exposed cedar beam woodwork as well as some rustic stone on our fireplace. The golden yellow color upstairs exactly matches a tile in my backsplash, the rust color was pulled from a color of the stone in our fireplace. The master suite green will be a great complement to all the copper we have in our master bathroom. And the warm brown will go wherever there isn’t a specified color to tie it all together. 

The basement we start having a little more fun and picked a few bold colors. Since the basement won’t get nearly as much light as the main floor of our house, we also chose some brighter colors too. The family room will have repeated woodwork so we wanted to keep it warmer and actually brought some of the upstairs colors down to tie them together. Our exercise room is where the fun begins, I wanted a fun and energetic color to motivate me while working out down there. We chose that bright blue. The bedrooms downstairs will be the bright yellow, bright blue, and for a neutral we chose gray. 

I am extremely happy with the colors we’ve chosen and I think they will bring so much warmth and character into our home. I’ve already seen the Driftwood on the walls on the main floor and I am in love! Can’t wait to see that yellow or rust on the walls too! 

And a house post wouldn’t be complete without some progress photos. It has certainly come a long way, hasn’t it? 

House Update 2015-28 House Update 2015-30 House Update 2015-31 House Update 2015-32 House Update 2015-34 House Update 2015-38 House Update 2015-49 House Update 2015-50 House Update 2015-53 House Update 2015-57 House Update 2015-61 House Update 2015-68

Are you a lover of color? Or do you have a tough time picking paint? Have any more tips to add? 


  1. April 10, 2015 / 4:38 pm

    I like color, but do it in strong neutrals instead of bold colors! I tend to favor darker neutrals and then either do pops of color on a wall, backsplash, or just in my decorating. Our main floor is pretty close (living room & bathroom) to your pick for your living room. Lots of different shades of tans & browns upstairs and shades of grays in the basement where the boys are! Can’t wait to see more progress!
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  2. April 13, 2015 / 10:15 am

    Thank you for your advise. I love color, and hope I can pick out the right shades for each room. That is definitely a challenge within itself. I can’t wait to see your colors on your walls!
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    • April 22, 2015 / 4:51 pm

      I wasn’t so sure I was going to like them but they’ve grown on me! They are different and stand out!

  3. August 3, 2015 / 6:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing the information about not being afraid to use a lot of color in my home. Typically, I just go with white walls. I’ve always wanted a random color accent wall, but I have been to scared to try it out. I know just the wall I can test new paint on.

  4. September 30, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    I really like to do neutral colors for carpets and walls, and change out pillow covers, colored frames, vases, rugs, and curtains to completely overhaul the look of a room. My daughter’s room has black and white stripes on the wall and she’s changed her accent colors a few times. From soft greens and blues, to really vibrant shades of purple. That way she’s not committed to one color scheme because of the wall color!

  5. October 11, 2015 / 8:13 am

    Everything looks perfect. I really like the color and the improvement of wooden stuff. Before I read this, I was afraid of changing my kids room color, but not, it seems to be fine. Thanks for sharing advice with us!
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  6. November 18, 2015 / 5:34 pm

    I love the tip to not be afraid of color. I actually am very wary of color, but our landlord has decided to let us paint in our new apartment! I’m really wanting to try some fun colors in my kid’s room. I’ll have to try a few out as samples to see how it goes, but I am thinking I might go with a warm yellow!

  7. December 17, 2015 / 2:33 pm

    My wife and I are wanting to repaint our living room, but we aren’t sure what kind of color to get. We are going for a more modern looking room. This being said, I really appreciate you listing off of bunch of different colors and giving me some insight on each. In your opinion though, what color do you think would make a room look more modern?

    • December 17, 2015 / 3:12 pm

      Hi there!
      I think any of these colors could be taken to a modern level with the right furnishings and textiles. However, lately I’ve been in a lot of modern design a lot of neutral color palettes (lots of whites, grays, etc.) as well. It is your call, but the gray or even the Carolina Gull green I think would make a lovely base for a modern room!

  8. February 3, 2016 / 1:06 pm

    Hi there Jenny, nice share here. Colors are usually a big challenge for me but i am usually obsessed with bright colors. But blending them is usually a problem so I usually just stick to the white ones. Anyways as you have said in your post, I will try not to be afraid. Thanks for sharing.


  9. February 20, 2016 / 5:29 am

    the combination between neutral white, coolingwood and driftwood colors, would be great i think. Your post so much helpful 🙂

  10. May 11, 2016 / 10:00 am

    I’m glad that you pointed out that paint isn’t permanent. It can be scary to decide on a single color for a room, but it’s easier to make the decision if you realize you can take it back later. Like you said, you don’t want to paint a room knowing that you’ll want to change the color afterwards, but it can be nice to have some pressure taken off. Thanks for the article.