Design Pros Would Never Use These Paint Colors in Their Home

Updated 02/21/19

There are no "rules" to follow when it comes to designing your dream home. If an eclectic gallery wall speaks to you, go for it. If your style is purely minimalist, embrace simple designs and muted colors. And if you love bold, maximalist patterns and textures, more power to you. 

While there's no right or wrong way to decorate a home, there's also no harm in turning to a few experts to help narrow down some of your decisions. That's why we turned to a roster of interior designers to determine some of the worst interior paint colors. And in an effort to save you from the turmoil of sifting through endless swatches of paint samples, they're also sharing a few colors to consider using instead.

Ahead, discover eight paint colors that might be better left untouched and eight alternatives to help you create a stunning space that's still filled with color. Of course, these are only opinions, and if a neon, slime green wall is calling your name, we won't stand in your way.

THE COLOR: Off-White

INSTEAD, TRY: Greige

Greige Paint
Liljencrantz Design

In designer Emma Beryl's experience, certain slightly off-white shades of paint stand out as colors to avoid. She explains that they can have a tendency to appear as different, less-appealing hues depending on the lighting of a room. "I've had a hard time with Benjamin Moore Antique White because the undertones can read salmon in certain lights," she says, for instance. Others can look a bit dingy when they're not well-lit, she adds. Instead of these shades, she recommends going for a greige paint with cooler undertones.

THE COLOR: Royal Blue

INSTEAD, TRY: Cornflower Blue

Light Blue Paint
Max Humphrey

"The world loves blue," according to interior designer Megan Hopp. "It's the most popular color among clients and I myself go through phases where it's the only color I want to use over and over again," the designer continues. However, the one shade that Hopp feels misses the mark when it comes to interior paint is royal blue. "The bright medium tone is jarring and nearly impossible to use without the feeling that a craft project went awry," she explains. For an alternative, she suggests trying a cornflower blue that's not too dark or too light.

THE COLOR: Lime Green

INSTEAD, TRY: Dark Green

Dark Green Paint
BHDM Design

Although "slime" green ensembles have been trickling into the fashion world, designer Rayman Boozer of Apartment 48 doesn't see the bright, electric color fit for an interior. "Lime green holds too much light," he explains. "I tried it once years ago in my own kitchen and regretted it immediately," the designer adds. Rather than blind you and your house guests with such a sharp color, try going for a deeper, more sophisticated shade of dark green.

THE COLOR: Neon

INSTEAD, TRY: Soft Gray

Soft Gray Paint
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Neon is another color that's been having a moment in fashion but that might not translate well inside your home, according to both Homepolish designers Larisa Barton and Crystal Sinclair. "Neon-based paint colors create an abrasive feeling in any room," Barton says. "It is great to use color but when it is too alarming it distracts from everything else," she continues. Sinclair agrees, calling the hues "overbearing." Instead of utilizing this bold color, go for a more serene interior paint shade like a soft gray—one of Barton's favorite hues of the moment. "It allows for you to have a light clean space without feeling too sterile," she notes.

THE COLOR: Pale Pastel

INSTEAD, TRY: Paper White

White Paint
BHDM Design

Sinclair also considers hues like pale blue, yellow, and pink some of the worst interior paint colors because of their tendency to come across as brighter than a traditional white shade. "I call it frosty because it looks bright like frosting," she says. Instead of these colors, she recommends using a fresh, white shade of paint like Paper White by Benjamin Moore. It's a timeless color that can really work in any space.

THE COLOR: Basic Brown

INSTEAD, TRY: Chocolate Brown

Brown Paint
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

"Don't paint your wall basic brown ever," Hopp advises. According to her a medium shade of brown is one of the worst interior paint colors you can use. However, that doesn't mean that all brown paint colors are off-limits. She approves of certain beige tones, as well darker, chic hues of chocolate brown. It can work as an accent color or as the main interior paint in an entire room if you're going for something a bit more moody.

THE COLOR: Red

INSTEAD, TRY: Cool Blue

Cool Blue Paint
Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Boozer recommends staying away from red paint colors, especially in the bedroom. "It's a bit too aggressive and doesn't allow you to relax," he explains. If you have your heart set of a red shade of paint, consider using it in smaller doses, otherwise, opt for one of Boozer's favorite interior paint colors, Windmill Wings by Benjamin Moore. "It's a cool, calming blue—but not boring," he notes. According to him, it works every time.

THE COLOR: Builder Beige

INSTEAD, TRY: Whale Gray

Gray Paint
Liljencrantz Design

Builder beige, which you might recognize as the rather generic color that many homes come with before an interior designer gets a chance to update things, makes Sinclair's list of the worst interior paint colors. "This not white, but white color somehow eats any lighting the room may get," she explains. "It dulls a space and nothing pops," she continues. For a neutral paint color that won't feel boring, go for a chic gray shade. Whale Gray by Benjamin Moore is one of Sinclair's favorites and would make a great alternative to boring beige.

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