When you approach the paint aisle or a paint deck, it's not uncommon to feel a little frantic. There are so many colors to choose from! How will you find a relaxing palette in all that rainbow? The solution is to look for the same favorites you reach into your closet for on a Saturday: faded, softened, and comfortable colors like denim blue, cashmere gray, washed-linen white, and corduroy brown. Typically, a color becomes "relaxing" when it's influenced by gray. Aqua, for example, shifts to cornflower, parsley softens to sage, and burgundy becomes mauve. Try on the shades in this palette, and your rooms will adopt a mellow new mood.
Decide how you want to dive in and start with our relaxing paint color picks to help you create your look. Note: Actual colors may appear differently than on screen. Always consult paint color chips. Palettes designed by Khristian A. Howell.
Sticking with the wardrobe cues, pick from other time-softened favorites to dress a comfortable living room. Look for a sofa upholstered in bomber-jacket brown leather or chenille the color of a nubuck shoe. Wall colors should be similarly broken-in, such as muddled mint, sheepskin, or faded-jeans blue. If you have old wood floors, leave them uncovered so the scrapes and nicks show. Or add a rug that is faded with time, such as braided rag or Turkish kilim.
A relaxing bedroom should feel like a comfy pair of pajamas when you step into it. Take wall colors directly from your favorite garments and textiles, like a chamois-color suede jacket or a fluffy white terry cloth robe. Use a time-faded quilt and flannel sheets to make an inviting nest on the bed, then pull colors from there to dress the windows.
Dining rooms tend to feel fancy, but that doesn't mean they can't also be beloved. Take inspiration from the old-fashioned tones in heirlooms like crockery, needlepoint, and family china patterns. Paint walls porcelain white, faded rose, or an intense gray the color of tarnished silver. Underfoot, a charming French Aubusson-style rug would extend the muted color palette to include russet, slate, and celadon. Whether you choose new or secondhand furniture, look for mellow tones, such as mahogany wood or ivory paint.
To pick up those relaxing gray-influenced shades in the kitchen, start with the flooring. Slate tiles, wood floors with an ash-gray stain applied, and even old-fashioned brick pavers will establish a foundation of timeworn color. Then install cabinetry and countertops that echo the tones: mahogany cabinets with concrete counters or taupe-painted cabinets and honed nova blue limestone surfaces. Herb-green hues, such as rosemary, sage, and thyme, are natural choices for walls and textiles.
Bathrooms are hard, sterile, functional spaces, and a good way to make them feel more relaxed is to introduce colors that recall favorite places in nature. Sticking to muted, grayish tones, think of the color of the sea on a stormy day, harvest-time wheat, dewy grass, or blue spruce trees. These shades can be applied in wall tiles or paint colors, or they can appear simply in a hand towel that softens a white porcelain sink.
Set guests at ease with a relaxing color scheme in your entryway. Start with a serene neutral base, such as a pale misty gray or a medium stone gray, or if you prefer color, go with a muted blue. For an accent, pick up on a casual shade used in the room adjacent to the entryway. For example, if the walls of your living room are a pale sage, elude to the hue in your entryway by using a slightly more saturated version of the color in accents.