Choosing paint for an entire open floor plan

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By: Emily A Clark

I recently received an email from a reader who was struggling with choosing paint colors for her very open floor plan. I've been there/done that, and thought I would share what I've learned and a few quick tips. . .

STICK TO ONE COLOR.
When you're choosing a paint color for an open floor plan, you're usually talking about a good amount of square footage. Even if you're not, it's a safe bet to go with one color overall so that it flows from space to space easily. Want to vary things up a little? Play with shades of the same color, using the same paint card, if there's a place that makes sense to break it up a bit.

NEUTRAL NEVER FAILS.
Neutral paint colors almost always make sense in a wide open space. (You can always add color and pattern in other places; keep reading.) And, if you're eyes are going crossed from trying to decide between several different neutral paint swatches, I would recommend erring on the side of lighter than darker. It's nearly impossible to choose the perfect paint color for someone online, but here are a few popular neutrals that you might want to use as a starting point:

(These colors look so much darker on my monitor than in person. . . )

ADD COLOR AND PATTERN IN OTHER PLACES.
An open floor plan doesn't have to mean a lack of color. Look for other (smaller) places to use different paint colors: a kitchen island, built-in bookcases, your light fixtures. . . And, sometimes, it might be possible to add a little pattern to visually divide up the space. I used stripes on the two walls around the front door in our last house to separate the entry from the rest of the space.

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