Modern Color Combinations for Wall Paint

A handful of paint color sample cards.
  • 1-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-400

When you’re considering wall paint color, there are many different combinations you can use. Some are very traditional, especially creams and pale greens. Others are quite contemporary. Get a color fan deck from your local paint store or at least a handful of paint cards in a variety of different colors to help you decide. The combinations you choose are important for the look, flow, and feel you want to create for your home.

Tip: Spend some time at the book store, library, or online websites. There are many books available that discuss color theory and color psychology. Learn what the primary colors are. Explore complimentary color—colors located directly across from each other on the color wheel.

Dark Colors

Dark colors are popular wall paint colors for modern and Victorian style decorating. They have to be used very carefully, however. There has to be ample light for this combination to work and even though the colors are dark, they should still work well together. Burgundy and grey is an excellent example of a strong dark color combination.

Pick a situation where you can use a flat finish for the dark color since this will give a rich, smooth result. A satin or semi-gloss dark color will become very reflective and probably not give you the look you were going for. You can also contrast dark colors with light colors, which offers two great advantages. The light color will reflect the light into the room and will also highlight the dark color, giving a greater dramatic impact. A royal or midnight blue with white would be a good example of this.

A dark color as an accent for faux painting has become more popular recently as well, especially with darker greens and reds. You create a contrast by using a much lighter shade of the same color as a base and going over the top in a colorwash. This means you can have a green wall or a red wall but in different shades that provide texture and interest. Typical faux starts lighter and builds to dark using glaze and small amounts of paint.

Bright Colors

Person envisioning wall decor on pink walls

When you’re looking at wall paint color, bright primary colors can work well in a very sunny room and give a thoroughly modern slant. These can make excellent accents over a plain white wall and bold combinations of perhaps a yellow stripe and a blue stripe can be used. This way you not only add color but also design to the wall.

You can use bright paint on wall to have it stand out from three other subdued walls in a room as well. With three walls painted a muted off-white and the other bright green, for example, you instantly create a talking point and the room almost becomes a piece of art in and of itself.

You do always have to be careful with bright colors too, because they can easily overpower a room instead. Use them sparingly to create the best impact and effect. For example, consider painting that bright color accent wall opposite an outside light source—windows or doors. If you are trying this technique in a child’s room, the wall with the bed positioned on it is also a good choice. Break the bold color of the wall up by using large wall art or decals.

Light Colors

Light wall paint color is always advisable in a dark room to add brightness. However, that doesn’t mean you need to go for the old creams and beige. Be bold. Choose a bright white with apricot or peach and cream for something warmer and more comforting.

Use light and dark colors together. If you have a room where one wall receives plenty of sun during the day, paint it a bright white and let it gleam and shine to stand out from the other walls. Paint other walls a soft, darker color and you’ll feel as if you have a brand new room.

Other Things to Consider

bright colored strips

Color psychology is the real deal. Red is always a popular color for dining rooms and restaurants. Red is said to stimulate mood, increase appetite, and aid digestion. Conversely, red is not a good choice in a medical practice or your bedroom. Do some research and consider the mood you want in your room when choosing a color scheme.

Do not underestimate the power and impact of a monochromatic color scheme either. Use splashes of one strong accent color in your accessories to give a monochromatic room a contemporary look using different shades of the same color. Stay on one color strip. Select the lightest color for the ceiling, a mid-tone for the walls, and a darker shade for an accent wall. Moving across one or two color strips can result in a bad combination, though, so take care.

Picking colors can take a while. Be patient but don’t panic. It’s just paint. Take the time to plan the wall paint colors in your house, and when you’ve finished, you’ll feel as if the house has come alive.