Selecting Paint Colors for Open Areas

Selecting paint colors for open area floor plans can seem daunting. Keep these points in mind and you’ll see how easy it is to put together a cohesive decorating scheme using paint color as the common denominator.

A Single Color

Choosing one paint color for all the walls that you can see within the open area is one way to tackle the problem. Most people will opt for a neutral, which is always a safe choice. To visually separate areas from one another and identify each area’s function, use different color schemes in furniture and decorations.

Varying Shades

If you choose to use one color, you may want to vary the impact by selecting colors that are one or two shades lighter or darker than the main color. This will give you continuity among the various areas within the open floor plan, but will also define the various uses of the space. An example would be a kitchen that is open to a great room that includes space for living and eating. You might paint the kitchen the main color, the dining area a deeper shade and the living area a lighter shade.

Faux Finish for Impact

Using faux finishes in one section of an open concept floor plan can give impact to that area. Begin by painting the entire room with the base color, then choose one or two walls and add stripes, sponge painting or a color wash. That area will “read” as a separate room within the large open area.

Complimentary Colors

You can throw darts at a color chart to pick your colors, but to ensure the colors co-exist, try using a color wheel. Pick any color you want to start with and the complementary color will be directly across on the color wheel. If you pick blue as your starting point, then the complementary color would be yellow. For example, paint the blue on the walls of the living area and a shade of yellow on the walls of the eating area, then use accents of yellow in the living area and accents of blue in the eating area.


You want to have a unified look to an open concept floor plan, and the easiest way to do that is by using the same trim color in all the areas. Crown molding, door trims, baseboard molding and window casing should all be painted the same shade of white.

Adjoining Walls

You may not like the effect of two colors meeting when you are trying to define spaces. But if you use the same faux painting technique throughout the space, it will give a sense of consistency and will lessen the impact of the change of color.

Keep these tips handy when you begin your project to remind you that a consistent decorating scheme will help unify your space while clearly defining the use of each area.

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