Choosing The Correct Colors For Your Home


Above: This elegant bathroom features a relaxing cool-to-neutral wall color with wood accents.

Colors are an important aspect of a home remodel that can bring visual appeal and increased comfort to a space. Colors in the kitchen can stir your appetite. The color of a bath can make you feel more relaxed. In other words, choosing the right color is important and integral to the success of your home’s design.

A color primer

The first question Mary Miksch, Design Consultant, Neil Kelly, asks her clients is: are they open to adding color? Sometimes the consideration is that they’re looking to sell in a couple of years, and they want to keep it more universally appealing. Sometimes, it could be a personal decision — like a bright red special teapot they want to work in. That’s where it all starts.”

This is where basic color theory comes in. Bright colors such as red and orange are stimulating, while blues and grays are calming. Brighter colors are often used in more active areas like kitchens, while blues are popular in bathrooms — though lately, Miksch has been seeing blues becoming a popular kitchen accent color. “Green is a color that could go either way. If a green has more yellow tones in it, it could be an energizing and activating color. Greens that have more blue mixed in are more spa-like and can be calming,” she said.

red cabinetry

Above: The bold red cabinetry in this kitchen balances perfectly with white walls and wood accents. Inset: Deep red wall color recedes into the background while white cabinets stand out.

Historical color palettes

What are the first colors you think of in an outdated 70s kitchen or bathroom? Probably harvest gold or avocado green. That’s no accident. Each era and decade has its own color. Some homeowners want to keep those colors and emulate an era’s style, regardless of today’s trends. Others go the opposite direction and use color to try to modernize the feel of a space.

Miksch recalls a Craftsman home in Portland’s Irvington neighborhood where the previous owner had added contemporary dark walnut cabinets and a gray backsplash to the kitchen. “It felt dark and modern in what was supposed to be a very charming house. The fix was a kitchen remodel that restored it back to a typical white cabinet Craftsman kitchen with some black accents,” Miksch said.

Lighting is a factor

When choosing a color for your kitchen or bathroom, the amount of natural or artificial light the rooms get can play a huge role in how the color behaves. The shape of the room, whether tall or narrow, low or high ceilings, can also play a big role in how and where a room is lit.

“In the Northwest, we don’t get as much sun year-round as say, Tucson, to help bring out a color’s warmth and energy,” said Therese DuBravac, Design Consultant, Neil Kelly. “Our light here will absorb the color more, making them more neutral.”

Above: Large windows have an effect on the color of this Queen Anne kitchen throughout the day.

Exterior environments can affect your color choice

Think about the placement of windows and what type of environment is outside or near your home. What’s outside your window can affect how colors react inside your home.  

“A condo’s interiors on the Southwest Waterfront will have a much different impact on how the homeowner perceives color than a home next to a large green field or a condo on Division,” said DuBravac. “That large green field will cast a lot of green in a room while the waterfront condo will cast more shades of whites and blues.”

Everyone has reasons for the use of a specific color. It may be an emotional attachment, it may match the style of the home, or it’s merely based on personality. “Some people like cool tones, some like warmer tones, or they might choose a color based on the color of a kitchen cabinet. It all comes down to personal preference,” said DuBravac.

Have questions on what colors will work best with your home? Need help choosing the right colors? Our experienced designers can help! Get in touch.