Interior Painting
Interior Panting

Selecting interior colors for your home can be intimidating? I’ve noticed something again and again over the years during color consultations with Clients. People are much better at choosing wonderful colors than they give themselves credit for. The main reason people lack confidence and have trouble selecting colors for their interior residence is not lack of color sense but finding the time to make interior color selections a thoughtful and rewarding endeavor.

Reviewing colors shouldn’t be thought of as a chore with a deadline. Selecting colors should be fun and rewarding. Here’s a few guidelines to make this selection process more an adventure than a duty. If you can put in a little time, you’ve got this.

What Do I Want for My Interior Colors?

Maybe with a Mocha or your favorite adult-beverage, get comfortable and have a conversation with yourself. Look around the interior of your house and ask yourself this: “What do I like about my house and what makes it special to me?” Check off those things you see that you like and take note of what those things are.

Now, notice how everything in your house is a function of the architecture. The placement of the windows, the height of the ceilings, the contours of open space. Then you notice lesser architectural features such as doors, baseboards, a fireplace, cabinets. But what frames the rooms and the furnishings within those rooms? That’s right, the walls. Now it’s time to consider how color can be selected and utilized to define, accentuate, and personalize the interior of your home.

The Three F’s to Consider When Selecting Interior Colors

Now that you’ve considered the architecture of your interior residence let’s look at the Three F’s. Flooring, fabrics, and furnishings are the central architectural accessories in your home. Dramatic walnut flooring, a hand-knotted Persian rug, or Berber/Loop carpet all create visual focal points. Pleated drapes, leather sofa, woven wall tapestry all produce sensual impressions. Heirloom China cabinet, paintings, large tropical plants all create personal statements.

How should flooring, fabrics, and furnishings be presented within the frame of the room? This is where color really comes into play. Thoughtful color selections can bring the flooring, fabrics, and furnishings into foreground focus, the middle-ground focus, or the background focus. It’s your choice and color is here to help.

Foreground, Middle-Ground, Background

Where colors appear on your walls makes a big difference in the aesthetics of the room. Careful consideration of the foreground, middle-ground and background colors can make all the difference when bringing a dull room to life.

Background Interior Colors

Let’s begin by considering background colors. A good background color has a passive presence thereby putting the active visual focus on the flooring, fabrics, and furnishings. An additional benefit of a background color is that color’s ability to impart clean lines and a well-tailored look to the interior’s architectural shape. Interior wall and ceiling lines will appear clean and light, shadows in corner and lower areas will appear softer, and the interior will feel airy and open. The perfect milieu for your flooring, fabrics, and furnishings to take center stage.

Two colors from Sherwin Williams that Clients have had great success with as background colors are Shoji White SW 7042 and White Heron SW 7627. Sherwin Williams White Colors

Middle Ground Interior Colors

Middle-ground colors accessorize seamlessly with the flooring, fabrics, and furnishings. It is no different than accessorizing an outfit. I was working with a Client and a Designer, and everyone was stumped about a color for the Great Room: this was an expansive room with dark wood flooring, patterned drapes, and furniture all with the same dark blue fabric.

The colors under consideration just didn’t suit the room because the colors were either too strong and forward or too pale and recessed. I suggested to the Designer that Benjamin Moore’s color Sail Cloth OC-142 might be worth considering. Sail Cloth was unanimously applauded as the pitch perfect color and the Designer remarked to me that it was exactly the middle tone color that was needed.

Middle tone color was the Designer’s phrase for middle-ground color. Sail Cloth beautifully balanced the flooring, fabrics, and furnishings, created a beautiful complementary canvas of the walls, and the room had a very elegant but hospitable vibe.

Foreground Interior Colors

I’ll be honest and say this right now: foreground colors are often seen in commercial spaces. With that said, I have seen Clients’ use foreground colors to dramatic effect. In one specific case, the Clients had blonde wood flooring, two couches with off white linen fabric, stereo speakers in the corners, and a floor-to-ceiling vinyl record shelf. The walls were painted in SW 9149 Inky Blue. The Inky Blue acted as a foreground color giving bold energy to the architecture and the vinyl record shelf seemed to be an interactive part of the architecture. Very cool. Foreground colors have proven that they go very well with the Minimalist aesthetic.


One thing to consider during your color type and color selection is lighting. Lighting will have dramatic effect on the colors in your interior home. The most common source of interior light is sunlight, and sunlight shows off all color types and sheens in a very favorable light. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). There are many types of interior lighting all with varying illuminative capacity.

Interior lighting has three broad categories: Overhead Lighting, General Lighting, and Task Lighting. These three categories of interior lighting are achieved by specific lighting sources. Overhead lighting can be ceiling-affixed fixtures, recessed fixtures, track lighting, pendant lighting/chandelier lighting. General lighting can be wall sconces, floor lamps, and table lamps. Task lighting can be reading lamps, floor lamps, or wall socket lights.

No matter what type of light fixture you have and no matter where that light fixture is located the most important thing is what type of light bulb is in those light fixtures. The most common types of light bulbs are LED (Light Emitting Diode), CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), fluorescent, candescent, and halogen. Each type of light bulb produces a different type of light that will affect the appearance of the paint colors on your walls.


When you have narrowed the colors down and have your paint color sample boards or color swatches, hold them up to the walls and woodwork at various times of the day both when you have lights on and when you do not. You’ll begin to see right then how background colors, middle-ground colors, and foreground colors will truly look in different light at different times of the day. This little trick of matching up colors to lighting type and lighting source will greatly help you get a true read on your potential color selections.

Feel free to call TSP with any questions regarding color selections and particularly anything you have read here. We’d love to hear from you, and we enjoy assisting our Colorado neighbors in the color selection process. You can reach out via our contact form.