In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of LRV and explained why LRV matters in the paint color selection process. Today I want to explain how and why you might opt to simplify your paint color selection process (and your home) by selecting fewer paint colors overall, rather than more.

These Days, Less is More

Ten to fifteen years ago, my paint color selection consults with clients often involved selecting a coordinated wall color palette consisting of multiple wall colors. It was much more common at that time to paint each room a different color—even in open concept homes. The “fall palette” was wildly popular here in North Carolina. Red, green, and gold were THE trio to use, with warmer beiges filling in as neutrals.

The foyer below, with its walls painted in Ralph Lauren's beautiful-but-since-discontinued "Chimayo Red" (selected to complement the warm green-gold in the adjacent room), is an example of a room from that era.

In recent years, I’ve seen a definite trend toward clients selecting one single “main neutral” wall paint color for the common areas of the home (generally a higher LRV beige, greige, gray, or white depending on the home’s natural light and fixed elements) rather than selecting different wall colors for each room. This has been true both in open concept homes and in traditional homes such as Colonials and Cape Cods.

When subtle “color-colors” are introduced--often blues and greens lately--it is usually on the walls in stand-alone rooms such as bathrooms and bedrooms. (Powder rooms are one notable exception, as they've always been a great place to play with bolder colors and patterns given that the door is usually closed, so the room doesn't necessarily need to "flow" with the rest of the main area.)

The walls in the photo below illustrate this recent trend toward selecting a single "main neutral" to use throughout the common areas of the home.

As this paint trend demonstrates, less (ie: fewer colors) truly can be more, and I encourage my clients to choose fewer wall paint colors whenever possible.

Here are some ways that less can be more when it comes to wall paint colors in your home:

-More cohesiveness: Your home will flow from room to room and feel connected

-More openness: Many clients report that their homes "feel bigger" when adjacent rooms aren't "sliced and diced" into different colors

-More flexibility to move furnishings between rooms

-More money in your pocket, as there will be less paint waste

-More available storage space as you don’t have to store so many half-used cans

-More appeal to prospective buyers if you choose to sell your home

-More ease in your paint color selection process

-More ease when it comes time to touch up the paint!

But isn't that...Boring?

If you're afraid that picking one "main neutral" might be too "boring" or "builder-ish", remember that wall paint color is just one of many ways to introduce color in your home. Here are some other wonderful places to play with (and repeat) color in your home:

-Area Rugs

-Upholstery Fabrics

-Throw Pillows


-Window Treatments


-Plants, Fruits, & Flowers


In the photo above, the vibrant blues and aquas in the ceramic vessels "pop" beautifully against walls painted in Sherwin Williams' "Snowbound". Museums often opt for white wall paint for all walls because it allows the artwork to take center stage. These same vibrant vessels in the photo above would "disappear" in a room with blue walls, for example.

Color "threads" can be woven through the common areas of the home even when said colors are not painted on the wall. I repeat: wall paint is not your only avenue to incorporating color!

Testing 1,2,3!

One word of caution: if you are going to “put all of your eggs in one basket”, you need to choose that basket very, very carefully! In other words, take the time to sample and assess your "main neutral" paint color (and any other colors you are considering for stand-alone rooms) before making your final selection(s).

Three possible ways to sample your paint colors include:

Option 1. Hire me for an in-home consultation, and we can assess the colors together using my curated collection of large 8.5" x 11" paint swatches!

Option 2. Purchase a small sample jar of the paint, and paint 2 coats on a large piece of foam core poster board. I prefer foam core board to regular poster board because foam core doesn't buckle. (If you are one of my clients, be sure to show my pro account information at the register to receive a discount when you purchase your paint at Sherwin Williams stores.)

Option 3. Order large, 12"x 12" peel & stick samples from Samplize. If you opt to order from Samplize, my advice would be to keep the paper backing on the samples--rather than adhering them to the wall--so that you can move the samples around to see them on different walls, in different rooms, and next to different fixed elements such as your cabinets, countertops, tile, flooring, etc.

I hope that this series of blog posts will help you in your quest to find the perfect paint colors for your home! For more personalized paint color selection help, please reach out to schedule a consultation, as I offer them nationwide!