Paint by Design: Creating your Custom Palette

When it’s time to paint the interior of your home or business, there’s more than meets the eye as far as choosing colors. We’ve probably all been in the same situation a time or two- you go into the paint store with a firm idea of what you’d like….but as your eyes scan the millions of *slightly* different little sample squares, they start to swim and blend together (who knew there were THAT many different kinds of white, anyhow?). Creating a beautiful, unique, and streamlined color story in your home can be a huge task, and if the wall color conundrum has ever happened to you… well, you’re not alone. In fact, help with paint colors is one of the most popular requests we get around here, and it’s one of our favorite ways to help clients create a beautiful home.

The Best of What’s Around

Paint on the walls seems like a fairly straightforward thing, but wow y’all, it can make a huge impact on how every item in your home looks. Think of it this way- the tone of the walls will bring out certain colors in everything- from the furniture to the artwork to the rugs and even to the trim. That painting you love that you’ve built your living room around can look completely different when it’s set in a freshly painted room. Because it’s covering such a large area and has so much presence in any given room, the paint color will pull out tones from everything- and you want to make sure they’re the right ones. Considering carefully which colors you want to be highlighted from your existing items can go a long way toward making it all work.

Interior Paint color selection - Cat French Design

Listening to the Light

We all know that colors can look different in lighter spots vs. dark. But when it comes to the play of light on your wall colors, this is actually a pretty deep well. Most folks have windows that face in different directions, meaning they will get different types of sunlight at different times of the day. But even more than that, light coming from different directions (i.e. Eastern versus Southern, etc) can also completely change the way a color appears. It would seem that more light would always make colors appear brighter but that’s often not the case- sunlight can transform color to everything from super-saturated to completely washed out depending on the strength and direction. Considering how a space will look at all times of the day and the way that light will play on a hue can make the difference between “it looked great on the sample” to a tone that truly works and goes the distance in your space.

How to make all of the paint colors balance in a space

What’s Time Got to Do With It

Something that goes hand in hand with lighting in a space is the question of when you actually use the room. Is it a breakfast nook that is only occupied for a bit in the morning? Is it a family room where you hang out in the late afternoon and evening hours, or maybe a kitchen where you are in and out almost all day? If you’ve been following for a little while, you know we’re big on function- we create each space to be beautiful but we’re always, always thinking about function, and whether it is actually a usable, useful space for every day living. We want to consider all of these factors- how many times a day you enter a room, how long you spend there, and what you need the space to do for you when we are creating that custom color scheme.

We do paint color consultations

Moody Hues

There is a lot of theory and science (yes!) behind strategically choosing a color. But that said, there’s also a strong component of the sensory experience, and how paint color can set the tone for an entire room (and house). Good ole’ Bob Ross was not at all off base when he created each of his little round paint palettes to be “happy” because really, this is exactly what you can do with color if it’s chosen with intention. A big part of what we talk about with each client is not just how they want the space to look, but how they want it to feel when they’re actually IN it. There is a very wide range here- everything from soft and serene to inviting, risky, deep, and an infinite amount of in-between. For example, do you want the color to flow subtly from room to room, or do you crave lots of visual contrast between rooms? Collecting a huge volume of information about tone and personality helps us build a unique color scheme and make the final outcome a perfect fit.

The Custom Palette

We meet clients at a lot of different points in this process- we often will start working on a whole-house color scheme at the beginning of a new build or renovation, and we also have many clients who come to us needing help with certain rooms in their existing home. We also have requests for specific items like designing kitchen cabinet and island color. We’ve done so much of this over the years that we’ve lovingly termed this service “The Paint Consultation”. Lately, we have been working with clients virtually and also figuring out a safe way to get in their space to work on creating a custom palette. The custom palette means that for each client, we’re creating a color scheme that is unique to them, and their home, and is something we generate anew for each and every project. Rather than throwing some colors out there, we take some real time to get to know each client and their space, looking not just at individual rooms but considering all of the factors that will bring together a space they’ll love.

How to make paint colors flow between difference spaces.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the CFD Portfolio page for images of our past projects! If you’re looking for a bit more help, you can always reach us at, or via our website contact page. Keep up with all the current happenings and goings-on of the CFD team on our Instagram @catfrenchdesign!