If you've ever stared at a wall of paint swatches, you surely know that choosing the right paint color can sometimes be so overwhelming that it's easier to revert to a classic "designer white" and call it a day. After all, if you get your paint color wrong on all four walls, chances are you'll be staring at it for a long time before working up the courage to repaint. In other words, you need to be pretty convinced before committing to a specific hue. And while we have a ton of tricks to help you choose paint colors—from painting swatches on the wall and looking at them at different times of day to considering the natural light—it's not always a foolproof science.
So when we learned that Portola Paints teamed up with five interior design firms to create custom color palettes that not only guarantee the colors will be great, but also all work well together, we had to investigate. Ranging from the muted paint color palette of Jeffrey Alan Marks to bright and bold one from textile designer Peter Dunham, there's a color range for everyone. The designers shared their best paint colors below as well as invaluable tips on how and where to use them. Read this before picking up a paintbrush and you'll never have to repaint again.
Jeffrey Alan Marks
Million Dollar Decorators' Jeffrey Alan Marks is known for his muted elegant interiors that always include a healthy dose of color (but never in an overpowering way). Unsurprisingly, his palette featured muddy tones in reds, pinks, and blues—as well as a range of grays. "My top favorites are bright and spirited, and I often incorporate them into entire rooms or small touches of color on furniture and fixtures," he says.
His signature colors: Jules. "It defines my brand, I use it for everything. I also just used Voodoo on walls of a living room—it was so chic and understated when mixed with natural hues."
Sally Breer, one half of the design duo ETC.etera, believes in the power of color: "Paint is the easiest way to transform a space and bring the other elements in the room to a new level," she says. The firm's designer palette features a range of bold and rich colors, from warmer rusty tones to green hues ranging from hunter to lime.
Her signature colors: Black Magic: "It feels incredibly moody and magical (hence the name)." She also dreams of using other colors in the firm's palette in various scenarios, from a deep-blue Lost Highway on a lacquered bookcase to warmer tones like Pink Pepper and Lighthouse in small and dramatic spaces like entryways and powder rooms.
L.A.-based design firm Nickey Kehoe is known for its masterful mix of old and new in a Cali-cool fashion. It comes as no surprise to know that it's perfected the art of picking the perfect shade of white. "For lighter colors, it's critical to look at the paint during all hours of the day as the sun moves," says Todd Nickey. "We love to find those unusual colors. A color that lives between shades can be something that unravels over time." The design firm's palette is a mix of muted moody and dark tones mixed with almost white light shades of pink, yellow and gray.
His signature colors: "For the serene colors (Drizzle, Plaster of Paris, Pebble), I envision using them as a wall color in a sun-filled breakfast room or for master closet cabinetry. For the richer colors (Wishing Well, Deep Siberia, Pepper Sam), I'd see them accenting architectural elements such as doors, crown moldings or as the walls in a romantic library or cozy den."
Peter Dunham is known in Los Angeles for his luxe line of block-printed textiles that define breezy California living. To him, colors should be bright and bold: "I look for colors that are clean but complex, I shy away from muddy colors," he says. His palette features jewel tones across the rainbow of colors as well as a couple of trusted whites and one black.
His signature colors: Blue Heron. "This is a killer color for a bedroom of someone with blue eyes. Also, a great for a living room; really liveable and reminds me of tinted whitewash in India and the color of the sky at the end of the day in Spain." The designer also has a soft spot for Camelia, which he finds as flattering as candlelight and perfect for a large living room.
Studio Collective never shies away from dark and dramatic colors. The firm that largely specializes in large-scale hospitality projects knows the value of being bold with color. Their palette features an array of dark grays, browns, maroons, and blues, along with a couple of soft beiges and pinks and one bold green—Halfway Tree—which they say would be perfect for the corridor in a dark moody bar.
Their signature colors: Nomad. "We love it for its intense depth and oddly, is versatility. It is an unsuspected basic." They also love Angel's Landing for a sun-filled library in a beach house and Ghost Tree for a rich accent wall in a home office.
And now, seven white paints interior designers love.