Do the colors in your home play well together? If not, you might have a missing link.


Linking rooms with color may not seem very important if your rooms can be separated by closing doors. If you can see from one room into another, however, the color relationships between those rooms affect whether your living space feels smoothly harmonious or jarringly chopped up.

Using unrelated colors in adjoining rooms can make the house feel like a disjointed series of spaces, while colors that relate to each other draw the eye from one room to the next and create a pleasing flow.

1. Create a Flow

In a house with an open floor plan or one in which rooms connect through wide openings, it's even more important to choose colors that relate to each other in a pleasing way. In this situation, the challenge is to give each space its own identity according to its function and still achieve a feeling of unity.

2. Use a Thread of Color

In this space, orange dominates in the breakfast room, while appearing as accents in the kitchen.

Give each room its own color personality while ensuring a cohesive feeling by using a single hue as a theme that runs throughout.

If you love lots of color, you can still achieve flow by choosing one hue to be a unifying thread that runs from room to room. Usually this unifying element is the woodwork -- baseboards, door and window frames, and molding at the ceiling.

The connection can be more subtle, too, such as a recurring color in the fabrics, accessories, and furniture in each room.

You also can achieve a feeling of continuity by limiting your palette to two or three colors that you use in different amounts and applications throughout the house. Each color can be used in different values and intensities to produce a wide range of effects.

3. Crosslink with Color

Open floor plans, whether in a suburban home, a condominium, or an apartment, allow architects to maximize the feeling of space without increasing square footage. That doesn't mean you have to paint all of the connecting spaces one color.

Give each area its own personality and achieve a unified look by choosing two or three colors that work well together and use them in varying amounts from room to room.

4. Look to Floors

If you paint adjoining rooms in strongly contrasting colors, connect them by using flooring or area rugs that include both colors.

The wall and rug hues don't have to match exactly; one can be slightly darker or lighter than the other, and the eye will still perceive them as closely related.

5. Unify with White Trim

Painting all of the trim throughout the house the same color of white is a no-fail way to create a sense of flow from room to room.

There are many shades of white, so select wall colors first, then choose a white that works with all of them. A sour-cream white contrasts crisply with bold colors and harmonizes with softer ones.

White trim ensures that these spaces look connected, and reinforces the effect with subliminal cues or markers to make people feel anchored as they move through your house.

Keep In Mind

It's a simple fact that light changes the appearance of any given color.

Take the same can of yellow paint and apply it to two rooms, one that receives little natural light and another that's flooded with sunshine, and it will look like two different colors.

To achieve a feeling of continuity and still give each room a subtly different feeling, exaggerate this effect: Choose two closely related hues and apply the lighter one to the sunniest space, imbuing it with a sunny feeling all day long. This works well for L-shape rooms, where one leg of the L is the living area and one leg the dining area.

Comments (1)

May 3, 2018
I love color and have Ann open living area of living dining and kitchen. Thanks for giving me ideas for cohesive painting!