The Palette: A monochromatic scheme of three grayish greens, plus a not-stark white.
Walls: Green Copse, RL1694
Window box: Journal White, RL1052
Built-in shelves, exterior: Royal Marsh, RL1709
Built-in shelves, interior: Volute Green, RL1729
Why It Works: Green is naturally calm, which is why it's often considered a neutral. All three of these greens are muted (and sophisticated) shades with cool undertones that read gray. They share the same tonal value, which keeps things low contrast. Nothing shouts or jumps out, so there's a smooth flow between the darker walls and the lighter cabinet. The white picks up the gray tones of the greens. It's light enough to add contrast and highlight the trim, but it's not bright and jarring.
Good To Know: A monochromatic palette (different shades of the same color) is relaxing and elegant—as long as the undertones match. Put the colors you're considering side by side, isolating them from other colors and surroundings that could skew them. No one color should stand out.
The Palette: Cool whites with deep navy that hits the spot between blue and black.
Walls: Brilliant White, RL1001 (flat)
Window box and built-in shelves, exterior: Brilliant White, RL1001 (semi-gloss)
Built-in shelves, interior: Amalfi Navy, RL1921
Why It Works: Although the same white is virtually everywhere -- walls, trim, and the cabinet -- it appears in different sheens for a subtle change-up and depth. The flat paint on the walls allows the semi-gloss trim and cabinet to star. (Have a dark room or worried about white walls getting dirty? Use an easy-to-clean eggshell or semi-gloss on walls to bounce light around, then go a step glossier on the trim and architectural features.) The dark navy on the back of the cabinet adds a high-contrast pop, but it's tucked away so the room stays serene. It's a sophisticated shade that's not too blue or purple, and not as harsh-looking as black.
Good to Know: All-over white creates a clean, contemporary look. It freshens up cottage or traditional style rooms. Choose a white with some warmth to avoid a stark look.
The Palette: An organic scheme of three grays, plus a steely blue metallic.
Walls: Lintel Grey RL1118
Trim: Box Pleat White, RL1067
Cabinet exterior: Brimfield, RL1152
Cabinet interior: Ballgown, ME109
Why It Works: Grays harmonize beautifully -- think of the variations in a pebbled walkway, old stone building, or rocks along a river. The charcoal gray on the cabinet has a similar anchoring effect as black without being too commanding. It's also the key to warming the mid-range gray on walls. (If you want drama and richness, flip-flop the two. Even with a dark color on the wall, the room will still be neutral—as well as sophisticated.) Small touches make a big difference, too. Metallic gray inside the cabinet adds richness and depth. The pale gray on trim has a silvery cast that comes out even more with a glossy sheen.
Good To Know: A gray scheme usually needs to be warmed with accessories and furniture. Natural textures, such as sisal rugs, and warm wood tones will keep things organic and sophisticated. For metal, gold (with softer finishes, not full-on shine) is a surprise favorite paired with gray, adding warmth and elegance that silver doesn't.
The Palette: Whites with a greenish cast, charcoal, and a khaki metallic.
Walls: Egret, RL1048
Trim: Polo Mallet White, RL1051
Cabinet exterior: Brimfield, RL1152
Cabinet interior: Sussex Grey, ME124
Why It Works: A push-pull between warm and cool, light and dark gives the palette energy. Walls and trim are barely there neutrals (with just enough color variation to be noticeable) that give the room a clean look. Bring in the charcoal gray cabinet, and the room feels instantly warmer. A soft khaki metallic inside the cabinet has similar warm undertones as the outside. With a green cast, it's also a bridge to the white walls.
Good To Know: Pairing light and dark together creates high contrast -- and high energy. The greater the difference between two colors, the bolder the look. To tone things down, choose colors that are the same intensity.
The Palette: Four wispy shades of white.
Walls: Tibetan Jasmine, RL1007
Bed: Chalk White, RL1016
Window box: Picket Fence White, RL1002
Bedside table: Brilliant White, RL1001
Why It Works: An all-white palette is easy on the eyes and mind. Different shades of cool whites, even though subtle, ensure that this room isn't one-note. Painting the bedside table the brightest white is the equivalent of adding a little pop of color, but staying in the family.
Good To Know: Choosing white is tricky, so get the sample out of the store and into your house. White is easily influenced by light and colors that surround it. Paint a sample on a large piece of foam core board so you can move it around to see how it looks in different light and when placed by different furnishings
The Palette: A yellowy-green beige substitute, with white to brighten and black to ground.
The Colors: (available at The Home Depot)
Walls: Arrowroot, RL1345
Bedside table and window box: Brilliant White, RL1001
Bed: Black Dose, RL1161
Why It Works: The yellowish-green neutral keep things calm -- great for walls, especially in a bedroom. Although pale, it has enough kick to be considered a color and provides contrast to let white trim shine.
Good To Know: Painting multiple surfaces in different solid colors will create a color-blocking look. (Yep, even neutrals can get in on the color-blocking trend.) If the surfaces are large, such as walls, or dominant (a bed) the effect is more noticeable. Want to take it even further? Bring in solid-color bedding and a solid-color rug.