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My Favorite Non-Neutral Paint Colors

Picking a paint color is hard, and we are no strangers to that process and fact. Typically it involves heading to your local paint supplier, grabbing WAY too many paint chips, and then coming home taping them up to the wall and then letting them sit there for months unable to make a decision (we are actually doing a video about this all soon). It just isn’t that easy.

So because we are constantly getting request asking what color we painted certain rooms and because we have done some of the leg work in finding which colors really work well, we have pulled together our go to paint colors that we have tried and tested – and love. So without further ado here are some of our recent favorites in no particular order.


Stiffkey Blue by Farrow & Ball: Not only did Ginny use this in her gorgeous Dining Room, but I recently painted my Master Bathroom the same color. It is the perfect happy blue without being too royal, and unlike our other favorite Hague Blue by Farrow and Ball it doesn’t feel too dark or moody.


Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Sharkskin by Portola Paints: – A light blue that doesn’t go baby blue and also has enough gray in it to feel sophisticated and adult. I painted Charlie’s Room this color after trying a green color that didn’t work with the space, and also painted our Laundry Room this color. I love how perfectly it went with our plaid tile floors and how happy and bright it made the space.

Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Green Smoke by Farrow & Ball: We painted the island in our Kitchen this color and I am in love with it. It is a happy bright green that has such a great tone to it so that it doesn’t go too forest green or too apple green.

Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball: Hands down the best navy blue on the planet. It has the most perfect amount of green in it, so it’s not purple-y. I’ve used it three or four times now including in my Old Kitchen, and love it every time. It can be really dark if there is no light on it, and much lighter if there is. It’s just deep, and intense, and modern, and yet totally classic.

Photo by Zeke Ruelas

Wolf Gray by Benjamin Moore: We painted the Silver Lake Hill’s Kitchen project cabinets this color after finding the cement tiles that we used in there and it has now become another one of my favorite blues. (You know how much I love blue, so there is no such thing as liking too many in my book). This color is the perfect slate blue that bounces light around room and instantly brings some sophistication to the space.

Photo by Zeke Ruelas

Blue Note by Benjamin Moore: This is the moody blue that we painted the Moody Midcentury Office project. It is a very saturated color so if you are not looking for a dark room then it might not be the best for you, but for a small space or somewhere that you are looking to bring some drama it is such a pretty color.

Photo by Tessa Neustadt

Van Courtland Blue by Benjamin Moore: – We painted Sylvia’s Master Bedroom this color and it could not have been more perfect to really infuse a calm but happy color in the room. It is a really soothing blue and really plays well with some warmer toned wood, or accessories like the coral blanket we used on the bed.

Photo by Tessa Neustadt


Newburyport Blue by Benjamin Moore: It has a very similar hue to Stiffkey blue but feels a little bit more saturated and bright. Against the white wainscoting it really popped and worked well in Sylvia’s Dining Room. Not the best picture but it was such a beautiful blue on our old front door and it made me so happy every time I walked up to it. This is the color I think I’m going to paint our entry dresser …



Rectory Red by Farrow & Ball: – Since we are on the subject of doors, I went with Rectory Red on our new front door. It is definitely a bright and happy red, and is by no means subtle but it does have enough tone and saturation to it so that it doesn’t feel too fire engine red. Reds are hard, but this one makes me so very very happy.

Photo by Zeke Ruelas

Pirouette by Divine Color: We painted Nicolette’s Dining Room this soft pink that they sell at Target and it is just the right shade without going too baby pink. It is in between a coral and a bright pink, which makes it the perfect adult appropriate shade.

So, which ones are your favorites or are there any we forgot to include that you have wanting the paint color on? We are currently working on our favorite neutral colors roundup, so if you are looking for the right white, gray, cream, or beige we have that coming up very soon.

If you have any color recommendations please leave in the comments. We are always looking to expand our color repetoire …


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78 thoughts on “My Favorite Non-Neutral Paint Colors

  1. Love this! Thank you! But you mislabeled the color of Sylvia’s dining room. That’s not BM Stonington Gray, which is a great light gray with a lot of tan in it.

  2. I’ve loved Sherwin William’s Smokey Blue, Silverplate, Silverpointe and Hammered Silver.

    Is the additional cost of Farrow & Ball paint really worth it? It’s seems so much more expensive and I’ve always wondered why?

    1. We repainted most of the interior of our house with Farrow & Ball paints last year. As far as we’re concerned, the paint was worth every penny.

      A couple of reasons why: (1) there’s a depth and richness of color that we didn’t find with other brands, even when selecting colors that were close to those F&B colors we originally chose. When swatched, the other brands looked a little plastic-y in comparison. (2) We fell in love with a couple of colors that we just didn’t see in other brands, most notably the navy Hague Blue mentioned in this post. While other brands claimed to “match,” the samples we brought home just weren’t the same. (3) THE TEXTURE. We used the Modern Emulsion for high-traffic areas, but the Estate Emulsion (very flat, chalky, matt finish) for our bedroom. They feel so lovely, and both have held up really well for the areas where we painted them.

      Just my two cents!

    2. a couple of times I’ve ordered samples from farrow and ball and painted swatches and had them color matched at sherwin williams. both times I’ve done it (Hague blue, Theresa’s green) they’ve been totally indistinguishable. I think the SW paint is great quality. for what it’s worth

      1. As Kelly said, you can’t get the same depth as F&B with colour-matching. I’ve painted my hallway Pavilion Grey and two bedrooms (on opposite sides of the house) in Blackened and the way the colours change according to the light is remarkable. One bedroom faces east and the other faces west, and the paint just has life to it, even three years on. There’s nothing flat about it. Try one room and see if you are smitten.

    1. I painted a room with Target paint. The problem is you gotta REAAALLLY mix it well, otherwise it’s watery. Because it’s been sitting on the store shelf, and doesn’t get mixed with the machine at the store.

      It’s not high end paint, but miles better than Home Depot paint, IMHO. And the colors are lovely and coordinated, so it was an easy 1-2-3 DONE 🙂

      1. Thanks!

        I’ve actually had really good results with Behr from Home Depot, but I will keep this in mind. Of course, the room I want to paint pink hasn’t even been built yet, so it might be a while.

  3. HAGUE BLUE!!! It’s really the best navy ever.

    I became obsessed with the color after seeing it here ages ago and we used it for our master bedroom last year. It made our bedroom feel instantly classic and “grown-up” while still being fresh and modern. (We paired it with a heriz rug, lots of white and brass accents, and warm wooden furniture.) It’s now my favorite room in the house, largely because of the rug. So thanks, EHD!!!

  4. Just thinking about your current front door.
    In a white room, I’ll bet that red reflects all over the entry walls, making them appear a little pink (good!).
    And in a white room (house), it’s almost like that red door is big piece of red furniture, enlivening everything around it (good again!).

  5. I painted my bedroom in my old apartment Excalibur Gray from Benjamin Moore. It’s this moody gray with some lavender in it, enough to make it definitely not a neutral. Oh I loved it.

  6. LOVE that you like color! I see so many blogger homes and everything is white walls and that looks fine but it is not a look that I love. I am especially fond of the navy and grays – I have both in my home (we have oak trim throughout our entire home and have found that colors look so much better with the oak trim).

    1. For some reason, I really dislike oak trim when it is paired with white. However, paired with colors (especially navy), it feels much more luxurious and like it has more depth. I bet your home looks lovely.

      1. I totally agree with you! When we bought the house, ALL of the walls were white. Needless to say, that white went away within a month of us living there.

  7. My fave color is Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore. It’s soothing yet happy, and for our Master it looks equally beautiful with all the duvets we have (white linen, beige with blue and red flowers, christmas quilts, etc.)

    1. Yes to Palladian Blue! It’s in our master bedroom and my daughter’s room too. For her room, it’s the perfect backdrop for lots of pops of pink. We pair it with gray and some darker blues and it has a totally different vibe.

  8. Thanks Emily, beautiful rooms, beautiful colors. I can’t wait for your video on wall paint. When you do that post, please please please push people to buy their furniture before they paint their walls. To me, it’s so backward to paint your walls and then go out and look for furniture (or is that just one of my quirky pet peeves?)

    1. I read another designer who says it is ok to choose paint first bc you might pick furniture thinking you will like a color in on your walls but hate it when blown up. What do you think?

    2. I think it was Sabrina Soto (but it might have been Tanya Nayak) who suggested buying furniture and decorative items first because it’s a lot easier to find a broad range of paint colors than decor colors. This was years ago and paint matching has come a long way, but I think it can still be good advice. Besides, if you want your paint to “go” but not “match,” it’s easier to work with the things for which you have fewer options.

  9. Van Deusen Blue by Benjamin Moore is another awesome, saturated blue. It’s not quite navy and picks up different tones throughout the day depending on the light. I have it in my den and have also used it in client’s homes. It’s always a winner!

    1. Just painted two accent walls in my bedroom with Van Deusen blue. Absolutely loving it. Going to pair it with Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore for the remaining walls. Fingers crossed as the grey hasn’t gone up yet!

  10. One color I have used throughout our whole house is Hematite by Valspar. It’s like a charcoal grey mixed with navy. We used it on our front door, shutters, back deck, guest room, etc…. It looks amazing with Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter and Galveston Gray, the two other main colors in our house. We have paired it with herringbone slate on our front porch and it’s perfect. Oddly enough I found it by taking a random outdoor pillow from Target to Lowe’s and trying to match the color!

  11. One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re using Farrow and Ball paint outside, it comes up a lot lighter than inside. Our front door is Stiffkey Blue and I wish it was darker – it looks perfect inside. It also faded quite a lot but we went for a matt finish and the front of our house gets full sun from 12 every day so it didn’t really stand a chance.

  12. My favourites (both blues!) are Borrowed Light and Stone Blue from F&B but I’d love to try BM’s Wolf Grey above too

    1. I second the recommendation for Borrowed Light by F&B. I painted my kitchen cabinets Bright White by BM, and the walls Borrowed Light– it’s a wonderful pale blue, that has an almost luminous quality to it. Great for my very dark kitchen and wonderful adjacent to the dining room which is painted Stiffkey Blue.

  13. I noticed that most of the colors suggested are cool colors and I’m wondering if/why EHD is hesitant to use warmer colors? Are they simply out of style? or do they look genuinely bad in paint form? I ask this because I am always hesitant to use warm colors as well and I’m wondering about the longevity of the cool color trend.

    1. I get tired of seeing cool colours. I think blue is a favourite for a majority of people which is why it gets used everywhere…I have a preference towards warm so seeing all these rooms gives me an impression of being cold. I like my space because it feels cozy so I’ll stick with my warm charcoal, warm white, mustardy-yellow, orange and warm yellow-greens. pick colours you love and you’ll never be disappointed

  14. Green Smoke!!! Would you ever paint a whole room this color and if so, what elements would the room have to have, e.g., wainscoting, a lot of Windows, etc. I am dying to use it with fuschia or purplush/eggplant accents but also sfraid!

    1. although neutrals, 2 other colors I constantly recommend…agreeable gray and repose gray…both SW. They go with everything/anything. Repose gray looks great with furniture painted SW BLACK Fix which is on the same color chip.

  15. I like this post. But I wish there were more suggestions for colors, especially greens. There were tons of options for blue, but only one pink, one red, one green. Would love to see a round up of a larger variety of paint colors with suggestions on the types of room styles they would look great in. Please do more follow ups the way you did with the expensive California casual style.

  16. This is such a good list. Thank you for doing the legwork 🙂 what kind of gloss do you usually go with for interior rooms? These photos look matted, and the red front door definitely is glossy.

  17. I grew up in the Newburyport that color is named after (in Massachusetts) so I love seeing how popular it is. Really reminds me of home!

    A few paint colors I am obsessed with (all Benjamin Moore): Shoreline (beautiful light gray… Looks amazing with white trim), Silver Chain (one shade darker than Shoreline), and Healing Aloe (light gray/green).

  18. Emily-Love this post! What are your favorite exterior paint colors? I love the picture of your red door, but can you tell us the colors of your stucco and trim?

  19. After seeing Orlando’s GENIUS “Orcondo” reveal I was inspired by his fav Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore to paint our master bedroom and I’m so glad I did! I love how depending upon the light the grey shifts from subtle sea green to pale blues to greys. It has made such a difference this summer helping to create a cool serene space and I absolutely love waking up to it every morning. THANK YOU ORLANDO! AGAIN! 🙂

  20. I’ve been thinking about the color here called ‘wolf gray’ ever since I saw the post about the kitchen. I just got a sample from Benjamin Moore and I don’t believe that is the color at all. the wolf Gray sample I got was truly a gray, no real hint of blue at all. if I had to guess I would say that the color is really labrador blue number 1670 or West Coast number 1671.

  21. Thanks for doing this post! I have been AGONIZING over paint colors for my new house. Specifically, it’s the “whole house palette” thing that’s tricky. After about 1 million chips, 1 thousand sample pints, and infinite hand-wringing, I found colors I love for every room, but they’re all different and I’m leery of my interior looking disjointed as a result. Any suggestions or words of wisdom?

  22. Let me start by stating I like your taste and have followed you since your first week on HGTV DesignStar, when I picked you as my favorite. That said, I have to complain that in your entry about non-neutral colors, you gave us 10 colors, and only 3 of them are not blue. And for you–let’s face it–blue is a neutral. So in this entry about non-neutral paint colors, you provided us with 70% neutral colors. We know you love blue. What if I I hired you and told you that you could NOT use blue?

    1. I also wish there were more colours in this post. As someone who doesn’t like blue it would be nice to get paint recommendations for colours other than blue.

  23. My 9 year old has her heart set on a bright aqua blue room. Like Tiffany box blue. I would love something a bit lighter and more sophisticated (more toned down and with a tad of gray). Would love to find a sophisticated aqua color that we can both agree on.

    1. Have you looked at the Water colors by YOLO Colorhouse paints? Their paint is excellent no/low-voc and covers well. It’s sold through some Home Depots, special retailers and online. We painted our bedroom in Water 04 and it was sophisticated, calm and had wonderful depth:

  24. I look forward to your posts every day and love your style. I was so excited when I saw the title of this post, but truly disappointed at the end. I LOVE blue but they seemed to take up the entire list. I was interested in seeing much more of a variety of non neutral colors. Could you do another post that includes more greens, reds, etc. ?

  25. I recently painted my bathroom Sheer Romance by Benjamin Moore. It is a pretty French blue that looks great with white tiles and some colorful artwork.

  26. I love SW Oyster Bay for green. It’s not overwhelming and compliments a ton of furniture styles and colors.

    1. That does look like a great color. And from pictures on the web, it goes with lots of different styles inside and out.

  27. I painted my bedroom Benjamin Moore Jojoba. The room gets almost no light and with wood floors it feels like being in a lush green forest.

  28. How would you describe the different between Wolf Gray and Van Courtland Blue? In these pictures, they look similar… I’d go look at my fan deck, but I’m trapped under a sleeping toddler… #designermomproblems

  29. Been looking at paint colors for several months now. My kitchen cabinets need a makeover big time! Want to go with a blue, but the grey counter tops do not give enough contrast with the lighter blues and I worry that a darker blue will be too dark when I like a bight kitchen! Thanks for your postings, always looking : )

  30. Thanks for the post! I’ve had the sad realization that our north-facing living room just can’t take cool colors. Everything turns icy blue, lavender, or peach. We got an emerald green velvet couch, and have finally settled on BM Monticello Rose–a deep rose-brown color that is warm and saturated enough to deal with the light. It feels like a risk, but we are going to try it!

  31. I have Prescott Green from Benjamin Moore in my living room and I still love it after 5 yrs. I think it was a heritage color and seems kind of old -New-England-y but it works great with my casual LA room. It changes with the light through the day and all of it makes me happy. Worth looking into if you want a lighter, interesting green that pairs well with blues and grays.

  32. Lately I have been obsessed with teal and am trying to find things to paint. I painted my old picnic table and a bench and it came out great. The last one I used was vintage teal by valspar.

  33. I absolutely LOVE the Pirouette by Divine Color. It is my DREAM to have a pink kitchen and no one has understood it until now when I can show them that pink does not have to be restricted to baby girl nurseries. I think the slate blues would be a lovely accent with the pink in a kitchen space… but that may make it a little too baby-ish… Anyways, these are all such beautiful and happy colors! Definitely saving this post:)

  34. I love love LOVE Pirouette by Divine Colors. It has always been my dream to have a pink kitchen and no one has ever understood but now I FINALLY can show them that pink does not have to be restricted to baby girl nurseries and can truly look sophisticated while still instantly bringing a smile to your face. I think a dark slate blue with gold hardware would be a lovely accent color in a kitchen but then maybe that’s pushing it with the baby color boundaries… Anyways, these are all such lovely colors, definitely saving this post:)

    1. Oops!!! I thought I accidentally deleted my first post so it looks like there’s a double post by me so sorry!

  35. So because we are constantly getting request asking what color we painted certain rooms and because we have done some of the leg work in finding which colors really work well, we have pulled together our go to paint colors that we have tried and tested – and love. So without further ado here are some of our recent favorites in no particular order. really?

  36. a couple of times I’ve ordered samples from farrow and ball and painted swatches and had them color matched at sherwin williams. both times I’ve done it (Hague blue, Theresa’s green) they’ve been totally indistinguishable. I think the SW paint is great quality. for what it’s worth

  37. We are trying to pick a navy blue for our home exterior that has to go with the original red-orange brick on the front of the house. My thought is that we need a navy that has more of a green undertone rather than a purple one (as green and red are complimentary colors). So of course I love that you described Hague Blue as leaning towards green! SO many navy colors we’ve tried have a purple undertone, and they do not look pretty with the brick.

    We were originally excited about BM’s Hale Navy, but it leaned too purple. Blue Note is one that we’ve already sampled on the house and my ONLY worry is that it’s too saturated – I was hoping for a muted navy with some gray in it.

    So, I’m searching for a muted navy with green undertones. (Headed to the paint store now to try Hague Blue.) Any other suggestions?? Thanks in advance for anyone with advice!

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