Paint color ideas aren’t easy to come up with.  Every color is influenced by its surrounding colors.  But who would want a monochrome world?  As a self-admitted color junkie, I sure wouldn’t want a world without glorious and vibrant colors!

Paired with white woodwork and an espresso vanity, these Super Shiny Red walls look spectacular!  The gorgeous glow comes from how the colors work in harmony.

Here are two tips for choosing colors with confidence:

For woodwork next to a vibrant wall, choose off-white with a hint of the wall’s color.  A great paint color idea would be an ochre yellow wall and linen white woodwork because linen white has a hint of gold that complements the ochre yellow.

Use powerful colors as accent walls and make the adjacent walls a neutral color that leans toward the accent color.  An example would be a tangerine accent with a warm light gray, or other combinations we’ve previously discussed.

Why is our designer paint finish such a showstopper in this foyer?  Along with our skill applying glazes of complementary colors, the woodwork is a subdued beige that plays a supporting role to the terra cotta.

We’re big believers in giving clients what they want.  We know you’ll spend more time in your space than we ever will!  Yet even with our talent and skills, we had a recent experience that says a lot about visual discord…

We were asked to give a quote for Venetian Plaster along a wall behind a church’s altar.  It’s our kind of project because it’s such a warm and inviting, yet also intimate, setting.  Except that they wanted acidic deep purple and the other walls were already mint green!   I’m not making this up.  I couldn’t imagine someone meditating in a room so discordant that it might make people queasy.

We didn’t get the job, maybe because of the look of horror on my face.  I’m not a color snob—but it was like asking a gourmet chef to make an omelet with Egg Beaters, Velveeta and a microwave. Not long ago, mint green was all the rage for hospitals, churches and schools.  Those interiors still invoke bad memories for us color-sensitive types.

A project in a church that we did have the honor of working on – we specified the total color palette and applied faux wood grain to the balcony railing and faux marble to the columns.

Before our renovation, the walls were beige and, of course, that dreaded mint green that used to be everywhere.  The yellow pews clashed with the beige and green and it all looked rather depressing.

After our renovation, the light gold, yellow and amber we used provided an uplifting and restorative sense of well being that the space didn’t have before. (Ahern Painting was the contractor on this beautiful job.)

Developing color intelligence takes education and balance—just like learning music, dance …or how to make an omelet.

Choosing colors based on instinct or passion can go beyond visual discordance and lead to a full-on visual disaster!

Here’s a house as pink as bubblegum. It might work in the Caribbean or New Orleans, but it is utterly out-of-sync here in New England.  The house’s color was obviously determined based on a deep passion for pink.  If that love for pink had been toned down to a breathy blush and then paired with a neutral taupe brown, this house could have been the stunner they were hoping for.


Color intelligence can and should be learned! An interior designer or artist can help. Paint companies publish books on design and color palettes are often laid out so you’ll know which combinations get the best results. Benjamin Moore and Bio-Shield also provide online tools for choosing colors.

Personally, I take the most inspiration from color combinations found in nature. Snorkeling in a coral reef and marveling at tropical fish reminds me how “The Creator” is the best way to describe the spiritual force that many call God. Only a God or Goddess could paint a single fish in such complementary and breathtaking colors. If a mere mortal tries those same combinations, they’re either called a genius or considered insane.

Regardless, I’ll keep working on color combinations inspired by nature and continue to develop my color intelligence. My combinations will never be quite as breathtaking as “The Creator’s” dazzling fish, but I still get to embrace visual harmony and be a creator in my own right!

Arteriors: connecting feeling to art.  Your source for paint color ideas with intelligence and visual harmony.