Sunday, May 20, 2018

How to Use Color on the Walls or Ceiling in an Open Concept Room

Notice the Kitchen Ceiling is in the Same Color Family as the Walls Outside of the Kitchen Area
They've provided Continuity by Bringing the Main Room Colors into the Kitchen Design
Photo Via Pixabay

Most newer homes are designed so the main rooms combine or flow directly into one another. Although popular, deciding how to create a cohesive color scheme can be challenging.

Here are Three Tips to Review:

1. Choose Your "Neutral Color" and Use it On All the Rooms that Open to Each Other

A neutral color shouldn't be white, beige, gray, or tan. We think of ' light ' colors when we think about a neutral color. However, your neutral color can also be bold.

The main tip in choosing your base color is to use it on all the rooms that flow together in an open area.

Once you've established your base neutral, you're free to create separations in the space using elements or furnishings in the room.

For example, if a living room opens up to the kitchen, establish your base color for the walls in both rooms, then define the spaces using color in other décor aspects. The couches could be lighter and more neutral with darker walls, while the countertops could be darker if the kitchen cupboards were lighter.

Once you establish a base color for the walls and floors, the rest of the room becomes an effort to match and bind the elements together.

Notice the Wall Color Between the Two Spaces is the Same
Check out the Ceilings - Because of the Dividing White Beam, a Different Ceiling Color Works
Photo Via Pixabay
2. If You Prefer Different Wall Colors in Each of the Defined Spaces that are Open to Each Other, Choose Colors in the Same Color Family or Color Temperature

If choosing just one color flowing between your open space rooms is not to your liking, consider choosing colors in the same tones.

For example, choose a darker shade of a particular color for one aspect of the room and a lighter shade of the same color for the other open area.

Remember the ceiling. Rather than going with a standard white ceiling, depending on the design of your room, you could use an even lighter shade of your chosen color for the ceiling.
As an example, in a living room kitchen combined space, you could use a dark grey for the living room walls and two shades down for the kitchen color. For the shared ceiling between the two spaces, bring the grey even lighter, perhaps four shades down from the darkest shade you've selected. With this example, you've stayed in the grey family, yet provided distinctive color differences between the two rooms and tied them together using the ceiling.
With a cohesive floor and ceiling flowing through the space, walls in the same tone but different in shade still work nicely without leaving one feeling overwhelmed.

This Design Opens to Several Rooms
They've used Various Shades in the Same Color Temperature
to Create Cohesiveness and Separation - Photo Via Pixabay
3. When You're Not Sure Whether a Room Flows from One to Another

One of the difficult things people find about an open-concept space is that the rooms are available to each other.

In other words, a room is open to another yet not visible from every angle, and thus, you're still determining if it's considered a separate space.

The solution to this is 'Sightlines". Stand in a room, determine what other rooms can be seen when you're in it, and repeat this for all rooms. If there's an open connection to another room, you must be cognizant of color flow.

If you're standing in a room and the only way you can see another room is through a door, that doesn't count as 'open to the other space.' It doesn't mean you should go hog-wild with color differentials; it merely means you're not obligated to consider the flow as carefully as you would with adjoining rooms.

The bottom line is don't be afraid of color. Take your time to determine how your rooms connect, then decide what system works best for your open-concept spaces, such as one color connecting all walls or shades in the same family.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I like open concept spaces in homes, but had never thought about the color themes. Mine have always been pretty basic with the same color throughout, except for bedrooms which I've painted in deep colors in the past. My son's bedroom had deep blue walls with white trim, for example.

    1. I'm a fan of dark colors and trim that pops as well. There's so many things we can do with dark colors, especially with wainscoting trim on it. It gives the wall texture and the dark colors add depth. Your sons room décor sounds lovely.

  2. We know several families who have open concept homes and they do feel a less claustrophobic. Without exception, they all use a tan shade on the walls. As much as I love the openness, I have often thought how I would miss the many colors used in our home. I really like your suggestions for bringing color into the different areas. I suspect most people are simply afraid of being overwhelmed by the task of trying something different and having to start all over if it didn't look good afterwards. As always, great ideas!

    1. Thanks Cynthia, open concept seems to be more appealing to me as our family gets bigger and bigger. However, I do like separate areas as well. If I were able to design my own home, I'd have large French pocket doors for all open areas so the rooms could be closed off if necessary. I've seen a few homes with this, and it looks great.

  3. My new house is open concept and it is a bit of a challenge to decide on all the decor elements. I have all vanilla ice cream colored walls in the whole house for now. Even the ceilings! So my thought is to add different colors by changing the colors of wood and furniture to define the different areas. So far it seems to be working okay.

    1. Heather, that's an excellent plan to add different colors in the other elements in the room. Makes it a bit easier to do a decorating change as well. Is it wrong that when you said 'vanilla ice cream' I started craving it, lol :)

  4. You mentioned things here I never would have even thought about, but I'll admit I don't do much decorating. I love your ideas. I do like open floor plans in the living areas.

    1. Barbara, thank you, I'm with you about open floor plans, they're handy for a large family as well. I do like to be able to partition space off too though - for noise and privacy.

  5. So much to know about decorating and how to do it well. Thanks for all these tips! I am really not good at choosing paints or painting, so try to leave that to people who know how. But at least I will have some idea about what the discussion will sound like.....thanks Barbara!


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