Calm seems to be in short supply these days. From the endless news cycle to the incessant ping of email and text alerts, stress is just a part of our every waking hour. But if you're looking for ways to channel some serenity, color therapy is one of our favorite ways to feel a little more relaxed at home—and, serendipitously, it's also one of the quickest and easiest ways to transform a room, thanks to the kaleidoscopic array of paints available at your local hardware store.
Ready to take the plunge and give your home a calming color makeover? Take a cue from some of our favorite designers. Whether you're looking for the ultimate shade of white—warm or cool—or ready to try something more statement-making like a seaside-esque blue or a purple hue inspired by aromatherapy, we've rounded up the chic, calming shades that top interior designers return to again and again to breathe new life into their clients' homes.
Read on to find the perfect shade to make your home into a relaxing retreat. See? You're feeling calmer already.
Dunn Edwards Crystal Haze
"The paint color is what sets the stage for the entire feel of a room," explains designer Robin Strickler of Design Works. "Crystal Haze from Dunn Edwards is our number one go-to for the main body of the home." Strickler loves it for its versatility above all: "This color is a chameleon, in that it works with both cool and warm hues. It makes grays feel warmer and tans feel cooler," she explains—sort of like a magic trick. As far as neutrals go, it's one of the best.
Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray
As the name rightly suggests, "Agreeable Gray" is another versatile pick that makes the (often intimidating) task of picking a neutral much simpler. "It's a soft hue that's not too cool, and it pairs nicely with both lights and darks," Strickler notes. "We love to use this color in a primary bedroom or in a home office, as it offers a subtle contrast with many different wood tones."
The term "Primary Bedroom" is now widely used to describe the largest bedroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term "Master." Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
Sherwin Williams Ceiling Bright White
When it comes to whites, this one is a classic. "It's crisp without feeling stark, and works beautifully with all stain finishes to give an organic and soothing feel to any room," Strickler says. Its slightly cool tone makes it feel more modern and fresh.
Portola Paints Fade To Black
If white isn't your jam, there's no reason to fret. LA-based designer Stefani Stein uses darker hues with textural treatments to create a warmer, more welcoming feel. "One of my all-time favorites is Portola Paints and Glazes' 'Fade to Black’ Roman Clay," she explains. She suggests pairing it with "softer hues and inviting textures" to round out the look and add an element of coziness.
Benjamin Moore Steep Cliff Gray
A rich blue-grey is the perfect way to create a soothing atmosphere without settling for true neutrals. "I like to use a bold but muted color that provides warmth and draws the eye," says designer Lauren Nelson. "The color pairs well with the more neutral patterns at play in this space and makes them really pop," she says. We love how much character this neutral-adjacent hue imbues into the space.
Benjamin Moore Simply White
Multiple designers cited "Simply White" as a favorite, making it a tried-and-true pick among those in the know. "It's a favorite white of ours—it's clean and bright, but also has a softness to it," says Nelson. A bonus tip: because of its subtle warmth, Nelson says this hue "works especially well in rooms that don't get a lot of direct sunlight"—a good bit of intel for brightening up windowless spaces.
Benjamin Moore Crystal Springs
“It can be challenging to find a color that is calming, and yet remains a recognizable color," admits Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors. So naturally, when he came across "Crystal Springs", it was love at first sight. "It’s a powdery blue that has a hint of green in certain lights," he explains. "It pairs well with other colors, such as teal, celery, and marigold as demonstrated in this inviting guest bedroom—It's colorful and yet soothing.” We love how this bright, invigorating shade is a little out-of-the-ordinary but still easy to work with.
Benjamin Moore Palace White
Another designer-approved tip for striking the perfect color balance in your home: don't be afraid to improvise a little. "For this project, we cut the recipe in half so that we could keep each space light and bright," explains Pacific Northwest designer Charlie Hellstern. "For clients with this French Provincial home, choosing a soft white that wouldn’t compete with their art collection was imperative," she explains. "We love how soft Palace White can be."
Benjamin Moore Celery Salt
Another non-boring neutral we appreciate for its unexpected nature: "Celery Salt," which Kevin Isbell describes as "a soothing pale yellow-green that plays well with lots of other colors." While it definitely has a character of its own, it's not overbearing. "It’s the perfect backdrop that helps keep other colors from overpowering a room," he explains.
Farrow & Ball Treron
Looking for a soothing shade that also speaks volumes? Charleston-based designer Cortney Bishop favors "Treron", a shade that she says "does have a bit of a traditional feel, but is perfect for a home that also has some natural materials in need of a neutral, yet colorful contrast." She notes that this paint's personality is easy to get along with: "It has a bit of a vintage vibe that says, 'I’m not complicated, there’s nothing fussy about me… I’m here to keep the peace.'"
Benjamin Moore White Dove
"If you’re looking for an allover white for the majority of your home that feels serene, White Dove might just be the ticket... especially if you’re seeking a softness and more of a calming off-white that does not read stark or too creamy," Bishop recommends. "That balance of warmth and coolness makes it one of our studio’s favorites."
Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray
Another dreamy neutral that Bishop adores, "Amazing Gray" is a muted hue that does it all. "It’s become one of my favorites," she admits. "Its warmer undertones still make a statement, but don't feel incredibly overpowering. Painting your walls this color will still read depth while offering soft sophistication all in one!" (What more could you possibly want?)
Farrow & Ball Pink Ground
Willing to go outside the ordinary with your paint picks? Designer Liz Caan has just the thing. "A calming color that I love to recommend when a client is willing to try something new and isn't afraid to embrace color is Farrow & Ball Pink Ground," she says. "I, personally, am a huge fan of pink and love the lightness of this particular color. It’s soft, warm, and tender—and it honestly looks great with any color." Though pink walls may be a hard sell for some, it's easy to see just how versatile this hue actually is when it's on the walls. "It can be sophisticated but also very youthful. I particularly love it with a great red and conversely with a deep emerald green," Caan suggests.
Farrow & Ball Brassica
Another pick that's not for the faint of heart: this stunning but surprisingly serene hue from Farrow & Ball. "I tend to lean towards cooler shades and hues when suggesting a calming paint color to a client," explains designer Timothy Brown. "This deep and rich color resembles that of lavender—the flowering plant known to help the reduction of stress and anxiety. I'm always finding ways to add this color to a room, whether it be through the paint on the walls, the addition of a throw pillow, or within the art in the room," he says.
Clare Paint Irony
"I frequently find myself gravitating towards grey-based colors when selecting paint," says Decorist Designer Megan Wright. "I think it’s because it's a perfect 'non-color' color, and typically grounds the design so well without competing with anything else." She favors Clare's warm, cozy deep grey for its calming effects. "It allows products to shine while creating the perfect serene backdrop. A silent hero, if you will!"
Benjamin Moore Pecos Spice
A trendy pick we can all get behind, "Pecos Spice" may remind you of the desert-chic aesthetic that's become so big lately. "I’m a sucker for an earth-toned paint color," admits Wright. "There's just something about a color you would find in your natural surroundings that makes you feel at home!"
Kelly Moore Sea Pine
Just gazing at this muted, serene shade for a few minutes is enough to make anyone feel a little more relaxed. For Decorist designer Lauren Martin-Moro, founder of Los Angeles studio LMDA, the hue is reminiscent of scenic forest views. "This primary bedroom is located on the second floor of a house with lovely treetop views, so we wanted to envelop the room in comfort and echo the natural outdoor surroundings," she explains. Sea Pine served as the perfect "grounding color to anchor the room while subtly highlighting the neutral colors found in the larger furnishings," she says.
Sherwin Williams Halcyon Green
Another soft grey-green that feels unmistakably calming, this hue from Sherwin Williams is a favorite of Decorist designer Jessie Yoon of Casa Nolita—a designer who often returns to muted hues when crafting her spaces. "Don't be afraid of pastel colors with low saturation for walls!" she advises. "They look soothing, and easily complement other accent colors."
Benjamin Moore Space Black
Yoon's other go-to hue takes on a more dramatic flavor, so she advises using it sparingly to create a relaxing effect without overpowering the space. "A dark grey accent wall always helps to make a room feel grounded and cozy," she explains.
Farrow & Ball Wimborne White
"There are probably millions of different white paints you could buy, but the effect from one shade to another can be staggering," explains Christine Gachot of Gachot Studios. While the number of white paints on the market can seem downright intimidating, finding the right one is essential to achieving the right feel in your space. "When we want to imbue a space with serenity and comfort, we always turn to Farrow and Ball's Wimborne White. It’s a deep, neutral tone that doesn't veer too red or too yellow. It isn’t cold or sterile either, which is the last thing you want in your home," she notes.