To create calm and soothing environments for their clients, interior designers rely on the pale, neutral shades that reside at the fringes of a color family: ecru instead of yellow, sage as opposed to pine, and sugared violet over eggplant. Into this quiet palette, they inject interesting texture from neutral elements, such as grainy wood floors, a fluffy Flokati rug, a distressed leather club chair, or shiny chrome lamps. These subtle schemes are often employed in luxurious spas and high-end clothing boutiques because they instill a sense of peace and sophistication. And they can conjure the same mood in your home. The trick is to pull hues from a thin range of hushed tones, which might be only a few degrees different from one another.
Decide how you want to dive in and start with our calming paint color picks to help you create your look. Note: Actual colors may be different than what appears on screen. Consult color chips when selecting a color. Palettes designed by Khristian A. Howell.
To decorate a living room that feels calm, stick to an elegant one-color palette. Coat trim in a warm ivory hue, then pick one shade darker, such as cappuccino or biscuit, for the walls so the envelope of the room is smooth and uninterrupted. Curtain panels of French-vanilla silk and wall-to-wall carpeting in a warm oatmeal shade keeps the hushed hues going. Finally, add subtle color in accessories, such as lavender pillows or a coffee-table bouquet of apricot roses.
To foster a calming vibe in the bedroom, focus on the standout feature -- the bed -- and let everything else recede. Choose linens in a color that makes you feel pampered and soothed, then take it down to its palest shade. If your favorite color is blue, look for shallow-waters aqua or silvery sky, for example, then pick a variety of textures, such as cotton sheets, velvet pillows, wool blankets, and matlasse quilts, in the same hue for interest. For window treatments and flooring, stick to unobtrusive neutrals, such as matchstick blinds or natural linen curtains, and Berber carpeting or natural varnished wood.
Take the frenzy out of the household hub by creating a serene backdrop of pale-finish cabinets. They can be modern white enamel, country-style ivory with an antique glaze, or traditional painted taupe. Against this neutral background, install countertops and backsplash materials in a consistent shade, but they don't have to match. White and gray are harmonious shades so concrete countertops with white-painted cabinets work together. Stainless-steel appliances and white wood blinds at the windows keep things simple and soothing.
A calm bathroom is a happy place. Look to your favorite relaxation spot for color cues that can shift into pale shades for the walls: the spa's aqua and mint, for example; a flower garden's pale buttercup or violet; or a beach's sandy brown, seashell pink, and tide-pool blue. Paint just one wall, only the wainscoting, or a few wide stripes to get just the right hint of color. Then stick to bleachable white for towels and rugs, which appear bright and clean.
Impart a soothing feeling right from your front door with an entryway decked out in calming colors. Keep colors light and soft, especially if you have a two-story or vaulted entryway. Consider a shade of white, but pick one with a hint of color so the white comes off as serene not stark. Most paint manufacturers have a "whites" collection. Start your search here for colors like candlelight, misty blue, and fog.