Color Your World with Wall Paint

Being in my home is like sitting inside a paint-store catalog or brochure. Although the rooms in our house are far, faaaaar from paint-store catalog perfect, I do believe in using lots of wall colors.

A buttery yellow by Benjamin Moore greets visitors to my home, whose foyer, living room, stairway and upstairs hall walls all evoke sunshine. The kitchen and family room walls are awash in natural greens. The powder room and dining room are a tasty “pear” color. And the boys’ hangout cave is something like misty mountain cloud. (We thought the restful, palest-of-blue colors would encourage chilling. It doesn’t.)

One teen’s bedroom is decked in Detroit Pistons Red and Blue (no chilling here). And the other son just recently selected wall colors for his room that were inspired by colors in his favorite tie (“Honorable Blue” and “Moderate White,” by Sherwin-Williams).

We encourage our sons to help decorate/design their spaces, and we aren’t afraid to experiment with colors that reflect who we are and who they are.

That philosophy of allowing wall colors to reflect your personality rings true for several interior designers, color experts and homeowners.

“Paint color is the most important thing in a room,” said Karen Cline, an interior designer and owner of Cline Interiors in Rochester Hills. “It can create any type of feeling.”

Cline’s historic 1929 Rochester Hills home features lush, deep-chocolate brown walls (Benjamin Moore’s “Whitetail Brown”) in the living room.

“We love it because it is a wonderful complement to the white moldings and wainscot,” she noted. “The brown also allows artwork to be the focal point in the space — the colors in the artwork pop.”

Cline’s master suite bedroom is a veritable Tuscan countryside. Awash in Benjamin Moore’s “Maple Sugar,” it provides a warm, sunshiny depth of color. “The room is large enough that it can use that drama,” she added.

Speaking of Tuscan, homeowner Susan Keels also delights in warm tones, especially in her kitchen. Keels, director of sales and marketing for Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, dipped her paintbrush in Sherwin-Williams’ “Adventure Orange” for the kitchen in her Troy home.

“I absolutely love a colorful home with color dimension flowing room to room,” said Keels, who cooks amid terracotta-hued walls that boast a warm, inviting, hospitality vibe.

“I also enjoy cooking Italian food and that color reflects the feeling of being in Tuscany, which enhances the dining experience when I am entertaining and serving Italian food to my guests.”

Great Lakes palette

Some homeowners pluck inspiration from long-ago memories or vivid vignettes and natural nuances where they grew up.

That would be Katie Brown, whose cozy and imaginative approach to the home arts has been refreshing for a new generation of homemakers. Now in her seventh season of her TV series called Katie Brown Workshop, aired on public television (she formerly had shows on Lifetime, A&E and Style networks), Brown said much of her wall-color inspirations come from northwest Michigan’s Petoskey, where she was born and raised.

“If you open up my veins, Lake Michigan would come out,” she said with a laugh.

Design, cooking, gardening, entertaining, managing a household, and raising a family are all a part of Brown’s repertoire (see  You may have seen her on Oprah, Good Morning America, or Live with Regis and Kelly, or perhaps you’ve garnered entertaining and gardening tips in books such as Katie Brown Entertains and Katie Brown Decorates.

“My roots grew in Michigan, and I still draw lots of my inspiration from the scenes of the Great Lakes State,” she said. In her current home (in Connecticut, and she also has a family cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula), she painted her bedroom a grey-green shade that comes “right from summer swims in the cold waters of the Upper Peninsula.”

Brown’s living room is a light sea foam shade that is “just like the water under the Mackinac Bridge on a sunny day.” And she painted the bricks on a wall in her kitchen the color of bright-red Michigan cherries.

Dressing your walls

Not sure what colors you gravitate toward? Just open your closet. Today’s color trends are as varied as today’s fashions, and your personal attire selections obviously say a lot about your favorite colors.

Cleveland, OH-based Sherwin-Williams is celebrating individualism these days — a trend toward not being trendy at all.

Whether you’re known for your love of antique maps, fascination with 3D animation or collection of batik-patterned dresses, embrace that passion and use it to navigate your decorating direction, said Jackie Jordan, director of colors marketing for Sherwin-Williams.

“Status is no longer about consumption, it is about personal identity, and our ‘Today’s Colors’ evoke that sense of uniqueness.”

“Today’s Colors” are grouped into four palettes: Purely Refined, Bold Invention, Restless Nomad and Gentle Medley.

“Purely Refined” is all about timeless hues such as muted blues, lilacs, greens and grays, interweaving with understated neutrals.

“Bold Invention” encourages playing with vivid greens and a range of intense turquoises and blues. Pops of hot red and unexpected neutrals balance it out.

World cultures blend into the “Restless Nomad” palette, which features dusky darks to hot vibrant pinks and reds, to earthy, food-influenced hues that evoke eggplants and cabbages.

Vintage florals, leaf motifs and more make up the Sherwin-Williams “Gentle Medley” arena. Earthy neutral tans combined with freshwater blue, mint green, copper and chartreuse pastels give any space an airy, yet grounded quality, said Jordan.

Purple reigns

From deep smoky wine to wildly pumped up fuchsia, purple also reigns in indoor color schemes these days, say the experts at Montvale, NJ-based Benjamin Moore.

Just ask busy mom Caren Collins Fifer of Novi.  Her daughter, Torey, enjoys a bedroom brimming with rich, cheery hues.

“Torey’s bedroom features one wall that’s a deep purple and three walls a nice pink,” says Fifer, who is executive director of the Farmington-based Southwestern Oakland Cable Commission (she oversees television productions for the cities of Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi).

The Fifer clan’s computer room has tones that are more muted. “We wanted it to look ‘rich,’ so we went with a burgundy wall and three mustard yellow walls.”

Fifer suggests that if you want to use a lot of bold color, consider offsetting it with white ceilings and beige carpet.

“One purple tone to watch for is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Vintage Wine,’ ” added Sonu Mathew, the company’s senior interior designer who also blogs about color and design at

“It is an anchoring and rich hue with a deep brown base and a hint of smoky violet. ‘Vintage Wine’ is the perfect foil for the latest wood finishes, leathers, linens and other textiles.”

For those who want purple with a little more punch, check out berry-kissed “Royal Flush.”

Mathew also noted there’s a range of pale-yet-power-statement colors, such as “Smoke,” a subtle blue gray that is best described as an update of spa blue with an injection of sophisticated and seasoned gray.

In arriving at its 2011 color palette, the Benjamin Moore color team first tracked recent cultural, social, and even political conditions and how they are impacting fashion and design trends. Styles include Soulful, Spirited and Dreamy.

“Soulful” is reminiscent of ethnic glam designs, map motifs and hand-worked decoration such as beading and embroidery.

“Spirited” features an idea where riotous colors (Royal Flush, Grape Green, for example) are juxtaposed with lots of gray, black and white.

If you’re thinking reality can be a tad harsh, you may find paints from the “Dreamy” line to be just the ticket. Hues that are pale, frosted and opalescent, such as “Gray Mirage,” “Genesis White” and “Porcelain” are appropriate options.

For Rochester Hills resident Susan Jacobs, dreamy is all about green hues that echo the feel of a forest. Her spare bedroom is painted Benjamin Moore’s “Woodland Green.”

“It’s a calming color,” says Jacobs, a watercolor artist. “If I’m in there in the morning, the lighting makes it seem like I’m in the woods when the morning sun filters through the trees and the sun hits the ground in spots.”

Deeper colors also evoke forest hues. If you’re looking to add some rich, dark tones to your walls, you may want to consider the Aura interior paints available at Shelby Paint & Decorating, which has three locations in southeast Michigan, including Rochester Hills.

“Aura paint gives you the long-lasting protection of two coats in one,” said Brian Eisbrenner, president of Shelby Paint & Decorating. “The dried film thickness of the paint is twice as thick as a traditional paint, which provides incredible hide and wash ability.”

Aura paint also covers more area than traditional paints. Typical paints cover 300 to 400 square feet per gallon. Aura interior paint covers 400 to 450 square feet per gallon.

“This type of paint never needs more than a second coat in even the deepest colors,” Eisbrenner said. “It’s also washable in any sheen, so you can use the sheen of your choice in any room.”

Dark, light, rich, pale, whatever your preference, whether you want a peaceful or a more dramatic feeling in your home, a new paint color is the best starting point, said interior designer Cline.

Added homeowner Susan Keels: “It’s all about creating an experience. Think outside the ‘vanilla’ walls and show off your favorite color story.”


Special events, color-shopping tips, paint recycling and more:

Get floored: Who said walls and ceilings are the only ways to add paint color to your home? Floors are fun, too. An enamel undercoat, painter’s tape, paints and your imagination are all that’s required to create floor “rugs,” by Lowe’s. Go to for more information.

• Snap to it: ColorSnap is a free, color-matching mobile application that allows users to quickly and easily match the colors found in their favorite images with more than 1,500 Sherwin-Williams colors. Check out Area Sherwin-Williams stores are at 27958 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak, (248) 548-0166; and 3054 John R Road, Rochester Hills, (248) 299-0188.

Be good to the earth: Paint Recycling Day: Shelby Paint & Decorating features Latex Paint Recycling Day 9 a.m.-2 p.m., April 23. The shop is collecting paint and remanufacturing it for a donation to charity. “Traditionally latex paint ends up in landfills,” says Shelby Paints president, Brian Eisbrenner. “We will be remanufacturing it into usable paint and donating it.” The store is located at 109 S. Livernois, 
south of University, Rochester Hills, (248) 651-1440,

Desktop designer: Visit to explore the company’s Virtual Fan Deck, a free download that you can keep on your desktop and use endlessly as needed without having to constantly log on the Internet. Benjamin Moore paints available at Shelby Paint & Decorating, Rochester Hills. Fancy Color Paints & Interiors, 3883 Rochester Road, Troy, (248) 524-3633, Wallker Crawford of Royal Oak, 617 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, (248) 546-4661; Teknicolors Inc., 33488 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, (248) 646-5924; and ACO Hardware, 3182 Walton Blvd., Rochester, (248) 373-5370.