PAINT COLORS & INTERIOR FINISHES: THE HIERARCHY
If you’re looking for the best paint color for your walls or cabinets, you MIGHT be looking in the wrong spot. That’s right, if you’re looking at your own PERSONAL TASTES, you could be getting it allll wrong.
The FIRST place to look is your interior finishes. Aside from sampling properly, coordinating your paint color with your interior finishes is the HUGEST topic. This doesn’t mean you can’t love this paint color too, but sometimes we have to tuck our personal tastes in our back pocket for a while, while we tune in to the needs of our space.
I have HUNDREDS of blog posts about the best paint colors for a WIDE RANGE of finishes (type any word into my SEARCH bar and have fun!). THIS blog post is specific to PRIORITIZING particular surfaces in your home – especially when they don’t coordinate.
FINISHES TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A PAINT COLOR FOR YOUR WALLS
BTW, this info can vary depending on your room and its particular finishes. If you don’t have one of the following finishes in your space, move to the next in line.
These items are PRIORITIZED from most important to LEAST important.
This can be stone or brick, as long as it has a dominant presence in the room (a wee small brick surround has less importance).
A fireplace like THIS is going to be the boss…
However, a fireplace with a more simple surround can leave more room to consider other finishes in the room…
2. COUNTERTOP & BACKSPLASH
In the kitchen, the countertop and backsplash call the big shots if you’re picking a wall color. If you happen to have painted cabinets, THEY fall into first place, over the countertop and backsplash.
As for the bathroom, vertical tile installations usually call dibs over the countertop – this includes tile behind the countertop or around the tub/shower.
It’s not only that the countertop (below) is EASY to coordinate with, but the backsplash tile is vertical, so it takes priority…
Undertones and colors in carpet, tile and vinyl matter a lot. Wood flooring CAN matter if it’s a super dominant stain color, gray wash or whitewash. However, if it’s a more flexible wood stain, it’s not as big of a player (because it’s more versatile and will humor a wide range of colors).
In this next photo, the gray wash of the floor has a violet undertone and will be a BIG consideration when choosing the wall color…
However, a more moderate wood floor like this falls low on the list as it’s easier to coordinate with…
Of course, there are always exceptions. For example, the countertop in this next bathroom is relatively easy to coordinate with. However, the tile floor is dominant and calls some pretty clear shots. In THIS case, the flooring is a higher priority than the countertop…
Remember, these blog posts are about general GUIDANCE. you can then take these tips and apply them to your own space in a way that makes sense!
4. SOFT FURNISHINGS
Soft furnishings are seen as being more replaceable than the above hard finishes (although you might disagree, depending on your situation). This includes pieces such as sofas, chairs, drapes, area rugs, and linens.
5. PAINT COLOR IN THE ADJOINING ROOM
While you want there to be flow from room to room, it’s MORE important that your paint color suits the ROOM ITSELF first, and then work out from there.
If you don’t have ANY of the above to consider, it sounds like you have a pretty clean slate! In this case, consider your room’s exposure, and your personal tastes, and have some FUN!
SURFACES TO CONSIDER WHEN PICKING A PAINT COLOR FOR YOUR CABINETS
In order of most to least important (as it relates to interior finishes).
1. COUNTERTOP & BACKSPLASH
As it relates to the kitchen, if these two surfaces aren’t well-coordinated, the BACKSPLASH takes priority when choosing a cabinet color.
The backsplash is on the same vertical sightline as the cabinets, whereas the countertop is horizontal. This means you’ll usually notice the coordination between the backsplash/cabinet BEFORE the countertop/cabinet combination.
If you’re choosing a paint color for your bathroom vanity, the countertop will matter more than any vertical tile application. In this next bathroom, the backsplash tile DEFINITELY calls the biggest shots when it comes to the vanity color…
If your space is well-coordinated, all surfaces could carry equal value
Undertones and colors in carpet, tile and vinyl matter a lot when choosing a cabinet paint color. However, as with choosing a wall color, wood flooring tends to be more flexible/versatile unless it’s a SUPER strong stain color or gray wash.
The green is a GORGEOUS CONTRAST to the violet-blue undertones in the tile floor
3. EXISTING WALL COLOUR
If you’re not repainting your walls, the existing color plays a pretty big part. HOWEVER, of the finishes listed here, it’s likely the least expensive to replace. I say this because sometimes you can’t make ALL of the surfaces in your space 100% happy – something has to give, and this something is often the wall paint color (or don’t paint your cabinets).
Of course, there are exceptions. For example, if you have a very small backsplash area and a HUGE expanse of tile flooring – the flooring might take priority. Or maybe you have black countertops that are SUPER easy to coordinate with, meaning the floor is a bigger consideration. Consider your space and which surfaces matter the MOST to your cabinets.
IF YOUR FINISHES DON’T COORDINATE, WHICH ONES DO YOU PRIORITIZE?
It depends on your home. And while there are always exceptions (too many to even BEGIN to cover), this next tip should get you considering your space with the right lens.
Generally speaking, vertical surfaces are prioritized over horizontal ones.
For example, if you’re choosing a cabinet color, MOST times, the backsplash is more important than the countertop. If you’re choosing a paint color for your living room, the stone on your fireplace could be more important than the flooring.
Because these surfaces are VERTICAL and are more visually attached to the cabinets (or walls) they’re being associated with. However, if your surfaces ARE well-coordinated, they carry equal value and should suit the same colors.
Remember, if your interior finishes aren’t well-coordinated, there might not be ONE color that makes them all 100% happy – it’s often about finding the next best thing!
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