3 Simple Steps to Determine the Colour Palette in Your Home

The number one misconception in home decorating is that paint should be chosen first. Paint is actually the last thing that should be selected. Here are three simple steps to help you determine your home colour palette. Of course, if you get stuck, hire a professional to walk through this with you. 

1 Identify the undertones

Becoming aware of the undertones in the hard finishes in your home is the most important step to selecting your palette. Hard finishes are items like floor tile, counters and wall-to-wall carpeting. Undertones are the underlying colour found in neutral elements.

The easiest way to determine what undertone is in your hard finishes is to compare. For example, when you hold a blue/grey paint colour next to a grey tile, you may see the green undertone become obvious. Here are the most common ones:

Blue Grey

Green Grey

Pink Beige

Yellow Beige

Grey toned hardwood also has an undertone you need to watch out for. If you are not a fan of the undertones in the hard finishes you have already, it may be time to make some changes. This can create a snowball effect, however, if you are planning to stay in your home for a long while, it’s worth it! 

When you are building a new home, it is important that the hard finishes throughout the entire home have undertones that coordinate. They don’t all need to be the same, but there does need to be some repetition. Having a designer assist you with your new home selections could help you with all of these decisions. 

Note from a Designer: If you are starting from scratch with a new build, it may be best to skip to the next step and choose your inspiration object first. That way you have a jumping off point.

2 Choose an inspiration object 

Choosing an inspiration object that contains your main undertone and a mixture of cool and warm colours will make it much easier to select your palette. The more colours it contains, the easier it will be for you to have a varied palette in your home.

My favourite inspiration objects are art, area rugs or patterned fabric. For example, in our home I fell in love with a striped shower curtain for our main/guest bathroom. All the colours in it made me happy and I used it to guide my choices for our entire house.

You may be surprised to realize that you already have something like this in your home. It doesn’t need to be large. A favourite scarf, a colourful throw cushion, a dish towel or a small piece of art tucked away in a powder room can all be great jumping off points for a whole home palette. Inspiration can come from anywhere; the important thing is that it contains colours that you love! 

Painting: Sarah Alex Mullen

Rug:  LIVV Home Collection

Note from a Designer: If you don’t already have an item that inspires you, this is the place to start or you can hire a designer to help you find something. This is where I start with every client.  

3 Pick at least 5 colours

Once you have an inspiration item, you or your designer can choose colours from it to use throughout your home. It is ideal to choose at least 5 colours (a white, a neutral, a dark, a medium and a light).

These colours don’t necessarily need to be used for your wall colour – they can be brought in with upholstery, drapery or accessories. Choosing where the colours go and in what quantity will depend on the feel you want to establish in each room. 

The amount of natural light can help determine the value and tone of the colour chosen. Everyone who has worked with me knows that I love a deep colour in rooms with little natural light. If it’s already a dark room, embrace it. This creates a cozy den feeling. 

Rooms with lots of natural light can go either way. It all depends on the overall feel you would like to have in the room.

Colour Scheme with Blue Grey Undertones

Colour Scheme with Pink Beige Undertones

Once you have a whole home palette, making design choices becomes much easier. The added bonus is that accessories that work in one room can also work in another room giving you lots of flexibility. 

Natalie helped us select a beautiful colour palette for our main floor and lower level. She was keen to embrace a sense of adventure and helped us find colour to reflect our active family. I never would have thought to make the selections she recommended – we couldn’t love it more. Everyday, with every room- it makes me so happy! Thank you for truly understanding our family, our home and our personalities. We look forward to working together again! Book a call with her, you won’t regret it!!

Catherine Priestman, Orleans

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