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Design

The Paint Colors I’m Considering For The Farmhouse (And My New Tactic To Help Me Choose The Right Ones)

My standard “where to start?” advice that I’ve been repeating for over 10 years is simple: “First, ask yourself how you want a room to ‘feel,then how you want it to ‘look.'” And I still stand by this. But lately, I’ve gone even further down the descriptive rabbit hole, adding “What do you want your experience to be while inside this room? What are you going to DO while in this room and then how do you want to feel while doing it?” Essentially y’all, what mood do you want to be in when you are doing the thing you want to do in this room??? Because, your emotional state will be affected by the colors in the room. Once you can lock that down you can back into it and choose design elements, including colors, that support the best version of that experience – or your mood. It’s a great exercise that has really given me some clarity and keeps me focused on what this house should be like, versus what design styles/furniture/colors I’m currently into. Because, while I love every style and (almost) every color out there, the internet often distracts us with incredible inspiration, which causes us to lose focus. Luckily for us, you have almost endless paint color options to support all of your moods. For this home, I’m partnering with Sherwin-Williams to show you where the color palette is headed and give tips on how you can choose colors based on how you want to feel in the room – and with so many incredible colors, we feel very covered.

Some quick notes on color theory – while there are some obvious anecdotal suggestions like “bright red makes us feel energized,” and “muted tones are more calming,” what a color does to you might be different than what it does to me. I might find a blue tone “warm,” even though it’s technically cool and I might find dark brown to be cold and dark, even though it’s “warm.” A lot of it might just have to do with your “comfort colors” (I wrote a whole post about that), and words are just words, so be sure to lean into what makes you feel the way you want to feel.

To help narrow down color selections for the farmhouse, I turned to Sherwin-Williams color samples – both the paint chips as well as the larger (and beloved) peel & stick samples. I got a little greedy with these, knowing that I was going to paint so many rooms in the house (they are mess-free and so much easier to use than wet samples). They have these in their most popular colors, and frankly, they are all REALLY GOOD. I found a lot of comfort in the fact that they had narrowed it down to their most popular colors, it’s how I like to shop “best sellers” from my favorite fashion brands, because you know that many many people have been happy with the product. Since I’m going to be using them for a few months as I choose colors I mostly just peeled off the corner so I didn’t use the entire sticky back. It’s just so helpful to see it on a wall, in a larger format than my fan deck. You can shop their super-affordable peel & stick samples and order FREE color chips online. Still not sure where to start with colors? You can request a free Virtual Color Consultation with one of their experts for some personalized color recommendations for your project.

Overall Mood/Desired Experience We Want In This House:

styled by velinda hellen and emily bowser | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: in defense of the comfy sectional—a friend’s almost-finished family room

CALM, COMFORTABLE, EASY, AND WARM. On repeat. There are so many rooms I see on the internet that I LOVE and I want them to be mine, but then I remember that what I want is CALM, COMFORTABLE, EASY, AND WARM. These were not my adjectives 8 years ago – it was more light, airy, youthful, fun, etc. But now it’s all comfort and warmth and making sure the house functions for US. This keeps me from buying another sculptural chair that no one wants to sit on or more random tchotchkes that will clutter up a shelf (I have a lot, trust me). It’s been very freeing actually and while I know it’s not everyone’s style, having experienced living in a home that was calm, comfortable, and warm I feel confident it’s what I want. Now, where we might get a bit nuttier is in the kid’s room (they are not into this neutral minimal thing and begged for more color at the mountain house) so stay tuned for some fun color risks in their spaces. But for the main living space, kitchen, family, mudroom, and our bedroom – I’m trying SO HARD to stick to that mood.

The Family/TV Room

design by velinda hellen | photo and home of sara ligorria-tramp | from: how to make your smallest room, the coziest room in your home + sara’s tv room reveal

The Desired Experience: To chill and relax, while feeling cozy, warm, snuggly, comfortable as if enveloped by a fluffy bear – and not like Leo did in The Revenant, more like one of those massive stuffed animal bears from Costco. After living here for 7 months I’m dying for a cozy den of a room, especially on the darker wetter days/nights. Here we’ll chill after dinner, play board games when it’s just us, watch family shows/movies, and maybe a Saturday rainy day snooze. I’ve never desired “coziness” and “warmth” so much before and this is the room for it. I’m learning to lean into that winter darkness up here, and embrace my homebody-ness. To do so, I’m choosing a paint color for the family room that will make it feel cozy and warm year-round. It will be a low-energy color, a medium-toned vibration that just feels like that bear hug (probably not as intense as Sara’s in that photo but it’s hard to find inspirational cozy family rooms on the internet). Sherwin-Williams has A LOT to choose from, which you’ll see below.

Quick note – The comfy sectional has been ordered and it’s a denim-y blue – cozy fabric, so I’m still on the fence between just making it tonal (more blues) or contrasting the blue and embracing some warm tones (darker mauves) or going lighter so it’s still cozy but less cave-like.

Here you can see the bare bones of the room – a TV, and stove fireplace with a storage bench underneath it. What you can’t see (yet….stay tuned) is the paneling, the flooring, and of course, the color that we are getting closer to choosing. This room only has one source of natural light (which is a covered porch) so I really have no idea how these paint swatches will look until I get them in the room with drywall. Colors change wildly if/when light hits it (or doesn’t). So while I’m leaning towards a darker tone right now, that mood might be achieved through a medium color (and a dark one might go crazy dark). Another factor we’ve talked about a lot is that you will see this room from the living room when the door is open, so the color in here should look good to your eye when sitting in the living room. Saying that makes me nervous to do a warmer mauvier tone, but I also know that warmth can be achieved through medium/dark blues, warm grays, and greens even though those are technically “cooler” colors.

You know I love blush and copper tones, so in a way these are just really dark versions of that – so warm and fairly neutral. I don’t want a bold burgundy or aubergine, but these in-between colors have a lot of earthiness to them while still leaning on the “pink” side.

I was VERY much leaning towards the color Mink, but I want to wait till we get in the space with the swatch of fabric for the sofa. But that Auger Shell and Intuitive really get me going, too.

Another part of me wants to lean into the blue and make it a full dark blue room – and I just might. I find that tonal rooms where the furniture, walls, and rugs are the same color feel so calming due to the lack of contrast. Your eye doesn’t have to bounce around and figure things out – the room just says “shhhh…blue” to those eyes and then you just sit and the TV is already set to Bridgerton or Love is Blind.

How pretty are those colors? The only one above that I’ve used is Waterloo (Portland house, basement) and it’s EXCELLENT so I have a feeling it will end up somewhere in the house. The rest are excellent options that I am very tempted by as well.

THE MUDROOM

design by angela wheeler | photo by stephanie brown | from: ideas i want to steal (but won’t) from another true modern farmhouse

The Desired Experience: I want to feel “pleasantly productive” because a lot of utilitarian and annoying housework will happen in here. I’ve never had a truly functional-sized mudroom/laundry room before so I’m fantasizing that I might enjoy being in here while cleaning, doing laundry, putting stuff away (for hours a day, right? Parents??), and washing the muddy pups. I want it to be pleasant but not precious. In here we are going to have this dark teal tile on the floor and white oak cabinets, that all feel very “Pacific Northwest” to us (green + wood = trees). The question is do we take the color up the wall and put it on the paneling and casings, or go lighter and let the floor be the main color?

The room has a ton of natural light so it could handle a darker color, and we’d likely do it in eggshell so it’s really wipeable for those long-haired post-walk pup shake-offs.

There is something simple and Scandi about just bringing the color from the floor up (think DeVOL), especially if there is contrasting grout in the floor tile showing off the pattern (which I’ll show you later) and then releasing into a solid tone on the walls. So here are the colors we are still thinking about. I think I’m headed towards a neutral on the walls, letting the floor ground the space in a deep color, with the cabinets warming it up with wood but we won’t decide until the cabinets and tile are in.

The back and forth between light and dark will only be solved once we are in the space with tile/cabinets, but I love all the above for different reasons. Once we know how the colors dance (or don’t dance, rude) around the room we can get a lot closer to the tone. While “gray” is never the recommended color in Portland, these have blue and green undertones and I think once light hits it the room will look happier (not gray).

The Powder Room

design lauren caisley interiors | photo by sarah griggs | from: powder bathrooms (for the farm) i won’t copy but seriously want to copy…

The Desired Experience: A calm surprise (pink!) that provokes a tiny bit of happiness during the few quiet personal minutes in here for guests. I want it to be simple, not precious, but with some design elements that feel thoughtful and purposeful. I’m surprised at how much pink I’m bringing in the house – not bright or hot pinks (yet… Birdie’s room is TBD) but more muted, rose-y, and mauvey. Where others love taupe, I suppose I’ve always leaned towards blushier neutrals – but have refrained from using any on the walls before….until now. The powder room is the perfect contained space to take a paint color risk.

We are paneling in here (not like the inspiration shot above, although I love it) and that rendered vanity is NOT confirmed, nor is the skirt. The design is still a bit TBD, but I feel 80% sure it’s going to be pink (20% might be a powder blue – depends on the rest of the design).

We’ve already confirmed that Dressy Rose and Artistic Taupe are going somewhere – they are very very calming, warm, and pretty. I pitched them to Birdie for her room since she wants pink and she said, very politely with this “I know what you are trying to do” look on her face, “no thank you, mama. I want more colorful.” So expect some hot pinks coming at you sooooon…

The Living Room (Trim/Paneling)

The Desired Experience: “Comfortably fun” or “relaxed enjoyment.” I’m sure in another language there is a singular word for that, but you know, the kind of fun that feels like home – not performed, hard-won, or put on. Fun in your jammies. Sunday – Thursday I want it to be conducive to hanging out with kids while I cook, we listen to Hamilton/Greatest Showman/Encanto, play games at the coffee table, listen to the fire crackle, but come the weekend it will be ready for small lively group hangs with other families. I want people to sink into conversations with areas of design/decor that feels intentional without being distracting or busy. Now, most of this will be achieved through the furnishings/textiles/art as it’s too big of a room for me to paint a strong color (I’ve only done that once, and it was too much for me). So the color, in this case, won’t necessarily create the experience, but it will give it some contrast and design interest. It will be more of a foundational neutral.

Remember that one of our biggest goals in this room was to lighten it up, and it’s a huge room so as of now we are going to paint most of it a really light tone of white (including the ceiling). But don’t worry. We are applying a low wainscot paneling that will be painted a light blue/gray tone, as well as along with all the window/door casings. The intent is that this helps the room feel grounded despite being such a big room, and that it unifies the zones, while also giving it some slight color contrast. I’m seriously considering painting the ceiling but nervous 🙂

A fun “fact” about light blue/gray is that almost ALWAYS it’s bluer than you think it’s going to be once on the wall. The undertone of gray is always a different tone, and I usually lean towards the bluer tones. So many times, especially earlier on, I’ve painted a room a “light blue-gray” that turns out totally “baby blue.” So while those above look like “gray” on your screen, they actually have a decent amount of blue in them and will read as such. Not saying I don’t want a baby blue or powder blue because there are times when I do, but I also don’t want too much contrast on the walls to remain more minimal and calm.

THE PANTRY

via devol

The Desired Experience: Surprise, joy, and some drama. I’m so excited to have a dedicated pantry and be able to style it out, play with vintage jars, my collection of still lifes fruit paintings, etc. As a stylist, I have so many wooden spoons, platters, footed bowls (!) that I love and I don’t want to clutter up the kitchen so this is my hoarding moment. It feels like a fun opportunity/space to do something that pulls you in and takes more of a risk. You’ll see the pantry through the vintage windows in the kitchen, but obscured enough that you don’t see too much of the mess. My hope is that the dark tone is going to pull your eyes in there, expanding and deepening the space and make you smile. I also think that food packaging might disappear more in a darker pantry – the room might become more of a shadow, than a big bright space where you can see all our jerky wrappers and canned goods.

This is the only room in the house where the paint color has been chosen and there is no going back because we had to give it to the cabinet makers when we ordered them months ago. It’s a color that draws you in and makes you happy, but still works with the rest of the moody tones in the house. And it’s going on all the walls, window casings, and the ceiling. I’m so excited.

The color will be revealed soon (in a “pantry design plan” post) and don’t even try to guess from these swatches. As most of you might know your computer screen will not show accurate paint colors as it can’t really read the pigmented tones correctly. And inspiration photos really don’t do it too much justice because those are often doctored themselves. So our plan is once drywall is up (and possibly primed), we’ll be able to properly hang swatches on all the walls, comparing them to tile, fabrics, etc. You’ll see the whole process, I promise. I generally like to choose paint last if I can because Sherwin-Williams has far more paint colors than there are rugs out there, for instance. So I like to lock down more of my major design elements before confirming the exact color and right now way too much is still up in the air. But now you know where we are headed, what mood we want to be in, and how it has affected our color choices. I’m EXTREMELY excited to get to the point of even thinking about paint colors. It means the end is near, RIGHT? Painting won’t happen till July so I have a bit of time but I wanted to at least figure out where I’m leaning so I can continue to pull together the rest of the design. Stay tuned… 

*Farmhouse Photos by Kaitlin Green

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18 days ago

You have really good website. I’ve learnt many designing tips from your posts.
Thank you so much!

18 days ago

Everything looks great I hope it will be as you want

Kelly
18 days ago

Love the colors! As far as Birdie’s room, maybe you should show her Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s daughter’s room. It’s pink in its most beautiful, calm yet girlish way. Some fantastical wallpaper may enchant her away from the bubblegum/Barbie pink : ).

Cris S.
17 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

Sometimes it helps mentally to reframe Hot Pink to Peony Pink. At least it did for me when we went through that phase.

MKP
17 days ago
Reply to  Kelly

I am a true lover of colorful walls and even I have learned that paint gets ALOT more intense when it’s on all 4 walls. So with my kids I might ask them to choose a color on the swatch first. Then I say okay, if that’s what you want it to LOOK like, then we need to use this color here (one that is at least a few shades lighter or less saturated). So I’m not telling them I don’t want to do their choice but communicating that I am actually helping to achieve their choice.

Allison
18 days ago

Love this post! Thanks so much for sharing your process and how you want to feel in every room. I’m working on my main room which consists of both my living room and dining room and you can basically see the entire kitchen from both spots. I knew I wanted the space to feel cozy and warm. I felt like I needed a third descriptor, though, but I was having trouble coming up with it. “Relaxed enjoyment” is perfect!
My vote for the Family Room is to go tonal!

MKP
17 days ago
Reply to  Allison

Have you chosen a color? I’m opening my family and dining rooms as we speak and my kitchen will also be quite visible. I’m just starting to think about colors now…

🥰 Rusty
18 days ago

Oooooh! I love, love, love choosing paint colours!!!♥️♥️♥️ Family/TV Room: INTUITION – because you just know it’s the right thing to do to be cuddled by a fluffy intuitive bear! Mudroom: TEMPLE STAR – because with the doggy-shakes it won’t show the bits that fly off their bodies! It’ll give it some life force energy and make it a nice space to be in, with some soul, to be productive. Blues are inspiring. Powder Room: BREATHLESS because people are gonna dash in there, catch their breath, rejuvenate, spruce themselves up and feel sooo much better when they re-join the party! Nice, calm, not too much, not too little – just right! Just like Baby Bear, the smallest room in the Henderson House! Living Room: MISTY because it will be a calm and quiet backdrop and let all your details and special treasures shine as people’s eyes explore their surrounds (which, in your house, are likely to change every now and then). Pantry: BUNGLEHOUSE BLUE because you want to draw your eye into the special space through those gorgeous windows, to discover all the goodies within! Paint is everything! It’s like our skin…largest organ, but no-one thinks of it tgat way.… Read more »

Sunny
17 days ago

emily all the colors are so beautiful and even if you did a “52 card pick up” of the color chips, they would all flow together.

the corner banquet is giving twitches. It seems like the table and single chairs will always be in the way of the door to the family room. I’m going to search for a link to the mock up

Lane
17 days ago
Reply to  Sunny

It’s truly difficult to find a perfect home even when designing from scratch. I find the nook cozy. It looks like an awesome place to sit for kids and read a book or do a project while being close to the family. Maybe with time just a the bench and a small table would remain. Or perhaps the two floating chairs will find a place somewhere nearby and will be added on as needed basis. There are other sitting options, island in the kitchen, dining table. This is something extra that might evolve with time. At least that’s how I imagine it. And I’d probably design it with this in mind as opposed to designing another eating area.

Lane
17 days ago
Reply to  Sunny

I do see your concern. I think I’d do a French double door to the family room, and I’d do a cozy reading nook on one side/only under the window, with some hidden shelf for a drink or to put a book. I love little architectural details like that.

Rebecca Lemon
17 days ago

Okay, this is great…but where is your jacket from?! I love it!

Kj
17 days ago
Reply to  Rebecca Lemon

It was from Colovos, the 7th jacket in htis post: https://www.whowhatwear.com/sherpa-lined-denim-jackets

i love all of the inspo pictures! the pink powder room is going to be good. i love love love that inspo picture. a pink powder room makeover is on my to-do list too.

Roberta Davis
17 days ago

Getting the right paint color is an agonizing process with no sure success. You have a real skill for it, and I’m sure it will all come together in the most gorgeous way.

AmyB
17 days ago

Love ALL of these! We just moved to PFX as well, and hilariously – I’ve been considering a lot of the same tones for our new house! Definitely feels affirming to see a professional thinking the same way 😂 Will there be a post soon regarding exterior colors, too? I’d love to see how you’re designing within The PNW Grey for the outside!

Christa
17 days ago

Very pretty and muted! Reminds me of Danish/Gustavian interiors. Lovely.

🥰 Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  Christa

Yes, I agree.🙂

Samantha
17 days ago

My bedroom is Tempe Star and OMG! It is such a gorgeous color. It makes me so happy.

Robin W.
17 days ago

Would you mind sharing what tools/programs you use to create your 3D renderings? Thank you! Love the post, btw, as always. Can’t wait to see what you choose.

🥰 Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  Robin W.

Done by Arciform, the company designing the structure and doing the construction.

Amber
17 days ago
Reply to  Robin W.

Pretty sure they’ve said Arciform uses Chief Architect. Emily has mentioned they aren’t as realistic as the SketchUp renderings they’ve done in the past, but these do the job imho.

Robin W.
16 days ago
Reply to  Amber

Thanks!

Colleen S
17 days ago

Thank you for the pink options, and for all your great advice. We just renovated most of our new home and the last space to do is pure 1980s, with a mauve toilet (amazing), mauve sink, shiny oak cabinet, shiny gold hardware, and mauve/tannish big square tiles. Looks like we are not going to have the money to redo the tiling, and we already have a white vanity/sink to install, so I was looking for a wall color that would make the tile feel more intentional, while updating everything with brushed pewter fixtures and some wood accents. I’m tempted to keep the mauve toilet; it is . . .special :-).
I love all the other paint options as well! Sherwin-Williams Alabaster is our favorite white for walls. We went with Current Mood from Clare for our bedroom, and a great recommendation from this site some months ago. We also used Clare’s Headspace for our teen daughter’s room and she loves it. Thanks, Team Emily, for your consistently lovely advice!

Colleen S
17 days ago
Reply to  Colleen S

I should have said that this mauve bathroom is the en suite for the primary bedroom!

DeniseGK
14 days ago
Reply to  Colleen S

You should consider a virtual consultation with Maria Killam. This is, like, her entire reason for being. She will definitely get you where you want to be and does not try to make people throw everything away and create waste.

Carrie
11 days ago
Reply to  Colleen S

I’m late to this post so you may not see this but I have a 1950s pink toilet and pink bathtub in my only bathroom and did not want to change them. I went with a navy blue for the walls to contrast the pink and I love it. There’s a south-facing window over the tub so the room gets plenty of natural light to handle the dark walls.

Tess
17 days ago

This is so interesting. Is there a reason you’re choosing paint colors now before the walls and flooring is in? I know paint colors can change with finishes like that because of the way light reflects off of surfaces. This seems so hard while the house is still in this state of development when all the walls aren’t even all in yet!

Heidi
17 days ago

My daughter has Tempe Star in her bedroom and it is so pretty!

mouseface
17 days ago

Nice colors and they flow well together… I have something to say about the wood stove. I use my wood stove for the main heat in my home and I love it. I have one with a window so I can see the flames and it is fabulous! It came with my house… I usually have 2 days worth of wood stacked by the stove – one day stacked on either side. One stack to use that day and one stack dying out by the stove so it burns better the next day. For a 16 inch wide stove mouth, that’s about 4.5 feet of wood. It needs some air circulation around it to dry out I do this because I am lazy. It takes 5 minutes to replenish my wood from where I keep it in my garage. Bringing it in in bulk is easier than constantly carrying small batches in. The area in front of the wood stove gets messy. All that wood, a big tub of kindling, dust, wood bits etc. It’s not bad, it’s just country style. All this is to say those cute pintrest photos of pristine wood stoves with tiny tubs of wood sitting… Read more »

🥰 Rusty
17 days ago
Reply to  mouseface

I’m hoping it won’t be wood and will be a proactive choice foor the environment.

Mouseface
16 days ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Yeah I did some research, wood is really not the greatest in terms of indoor air pollution for kids.. but oil is so expensive in the USA right now…I have to look into solar !

Marissa
17 days ago

I have “Breathless” on two walls in my condo & it is such a beautiful calming pink. I will definitely be painting other walls (or rooms!) that color in the future.

Sandi
17 days ago

So many dark colors. I am very familiar with the weather in your location and wonder why you wouldn’t want lighter colors? Won’t it be depressing with all the dark skies, gray and rain?

Amber
17 days ago
Reply to  Sandi

I’m surprised you find them dark. Only the pantry choices read as dark to me. I’d actually lobby for more drama in the family room :).

Mariele
16 days ago
Reply to  Sandi

Agreed. I’d personally go one shade lighter and one more saturated for nearly all of these, just to combat the effect of the grey skies. But I like things pretty vibrant, so I thought it was just me…

Patti
17 days ago

What a great post! Love those cozy, moody colours in so much rainy weather! But I’m thinking that teal tile on on the mudroom floor with wet, muddy boots and paws might be a constant cleaning nightmare, as enjoyable as the cleaning will be in such a beautiful room!

emily jane
15 days ago

Exciting times at The Farmhouse! I thought I’d offer an example of Sherwin Williams Light French Gray in genuine Portland sunlight: Emily Jane Zarov (@ejzdancer) • Instagram photos and videos (I was really excited because I thought I would also be able to share the same space updated in Mink -but then I realized the new color is actually Benjamin Moore’s Mink ; )

Glenda
15 days ago

Your spaces always turn out lovely, but I don’t know how you do it by picking paint FIRST. I design the entire room and pick paint LAST. With an infinite number of (paint colour) choices, it is just SO MUCH EASIER to pick paint after I’ve chosen my rug, wallpaper, bedding etc. Pulling a colour from those items is what really pulls the room together. If I chose paint first, I’d be FOREVER shopping for just the right item to pair with it and so often it doesn’t work and the paint gets the blame.

Anne M.
13 days ago

To each her own, but to my eye, that is a LOOOOOT of gray options for a place that’s already naturally gray much of the year.

9 days ago

The farmhouse style is based on neutral shades of white, beige, gray, and sometimes uses a pop of colors like reds, greens, or blues. However, who do not have serious headaches before choosing the right colors? We love the job you do here. Great work!

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