Painting Your Interior All One Color Isn't the Way to Go

home interior

There are decorating myths out there that can make it harder for you to choose and use the right colors at home. The most common myth is that choosing a neutral color scheme for your home is easy, and a "safe" choice. Neutral colors seem so easy going that it's hard to imagine that they could be very, very, difficult to work with. That's one myth that is easily debunked when you learn about undertones, and why those neutrals are much more complex than you thought. 

The Myth of Painting in All One Color

There is another decorating myth out there, and it may surprise you. This bit of misguided decorating wisdom sounds like this. "Make decorating easy by painting in just one color for the entire interior of your home." This sounds like solid advice! I may be a decorating maverick for bucking this decorating standard, but choosing just one color for your interior can actually be more difficult than strategically choosing a few paint colors, instead.

So, Why do Decorators Tell People to Use Just One Color?

On the surface, choosing one neutral color for your home's interior seems like an easy way to decorate. Here's why it's a popular idea:

  • Choosing just one paint color is obviously quicker than choosing multiple colors and coordinating them all. See how the pros choose paint color here.
  • Painting your home in one color is considered ideal for flowing color from room to room, and is the best reason for using one color throughout your home. 
  • It can be less expensive to have just one color painted or sprayed throughout a home, and professional painters often recommend it.

Painting in All One Color Sounds Great, Why is it Actually Harder?

There are several great reasons why one paint color throughout all your rooms sounds like a perfect (and easy,) choice. But, no paint color will ever behave the same way in every room. To be totally honest, the color will actually change from corner to corner in the same room due to undertones, and other factors. This chameleon quality is the heart of the problem with the one-color-fits-all mantra. 

Why Does my Paint Color Look Different in Every Room?

How your paint color appears is entirely dependent on other factors in your space. These factors will change your color and make it harder to choose a single neutral paint color for your entire home. The factors that can change the appearance of your paint color are:

  • Natural Light. The abundance or lack of natural light can change how your color appears from room to room. While your living room may be bathed in sunlight, your guest bedroom feels a little cave-like. 
  • Ambient Lighting. Your choice of light fixtures, light placement, and even choice of light bulbs can affect how your color appears in each room.
  • Exterior influences. As a color consultant, I find this to be the most challenging aspect of using one neutral color throughout a home. The color cast into the windows from bright green foliage, or red clay soil, or the blue/gray of nearby water, can change everything.

How Can I Avoid These One Paint Color Issues

The most obvious way to avoid a color that changes too much from room to room is by sampling the color in every room. Sampling the colors and viewing them throughout the day and night, will give you a full understanding of how the color works in each room. Sampling paint color is essential when you would like to use just one color, as it will be a big commitment and not easily repainted. 

Consider using different shades of the same color. While monochromatic color schemes are usually used for a single room, they can be employed for an entire home, too. By varying the lightness of your chosen color, you can adjust for darker rooms by using a lighter version of your paint color, or create drama with a darker shade.