Go with the Flow: Whole House, Whole Color

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Creating a cohesive feeling throughout an entire home is what I and other color consultants are often called upon to do. Typically, the goal is to create what’s referred to as “flow.”  It’s an overused expression that is not really specific, and often results in “boring.”  But in my view, even with subtle colors it’s far from monochromatic, and certainly not monotonous. In fact, creating “flow,” means to introduce harmonious colors—often in adjacent rooms and sometimes even in the same room—that are not in the same color family at all.

An Example
The beautiful home that’s the subject of this post is a Victorian house in the Boston area. The owners, an energetic young couple, had done most of the groundwork for renovating by themselves, and it was time to select the interior paint colors. The emphasized their desire for a warm and restful palette that would emphasize and complement the lovely architecture of their historic home, without dominating the spaces.

The Story: A Whole-House, Full Spectrum Palette
The owners were excited to use colors from EcoHues and Ellen Kennon throughout the house. They loved the idea of “No Black,” and complex color formulas, even in colors that are what we’d typically call “neutral.”

As we selected the colors, I provided them with actual 8″x10″  painted color cards. I particularly enjoyed hearing their exclamations of enjoyment in seeing how the colors complemented each other.

The resulting palette is soft, harmonious, yet interesting. Because full spectrum paint colors by definition are so complex and mutable, it was possible to keep the actual number of colors to a minimum—with maximum benefit—considering the size of the house and number of rooms throughout.

Ceilings throughout were done with Ellen Kennon’s “White Opal.” The walls in the master bedroom are Ellen Kennon’s “Gustavian Gray;” the master bathroom is Ellen Kennon “Pumice,” and the nursery is Ellen’s “Dusk.”

The foyer, kitchen, stairwell, sunroom and 3rd floor walls are EcoHues “Dune.”  Ceiling in the foyer and in the mudroom is EcoHues “Spring Showers.” Living room walls are EcoHues “Fieldstone,” and the dining room is EcoHues “Blue Grotto.”  First floor powder room walls and ceiling–along with 2nd floor bathroom walls–are EcoHues “Pacific Mist.” The 2nd floor office walls are EcoHues “Perfect Taupe.” On the 3rd floor, the walls and ceiling of the small bathroom are EcoHues “Spring Showers.”

Start the Tour!

Foyer: EcoHues DUNE up the stairs

EcoHues "DUNE" - Foyer, kitchen, up the stairs into 2nd floor sunroom/hall area

EcoHues “Dune” is a versatile color for many areas!
Standing in the entry, you look up the stairs, and also see into the dining room straight ahead. At left is the kitchen, with the living room to the right of the foyer.

Kitchen wall curved, EcoHues Dune

View 1 into kitchen. EcoHues "Dune" on walls, Ellen Kennon "White Opal" for ceilings throughout the house. Foyer is at left.

Kitchen view, EcoHues DUNE

View 2 into kitchen. EcoHues "Dune" on walls, Ellen Kennon "White Opal" for ceilings throughout the house.

Dining room
I suggested using EcoHues “Blue Grotto” for a rich, sophisticated wall color that would create a bit of drama in the dining room while creating a cool focus for the more earth-toned adjacent rooms. Visible from the dining room, through the entry to the pantry, is the same granite counter top material as used in the kitchen–a beautiful, very deep blue-green with iridescent flecks.

View from dining room "Blue Grotto" into foyer, "Dune"

View from dining room, EcoHues "Blue Grotto," into foyer, EcoHues "Dune."

“Blue Grotto” wall color is the perfect choice to highlight this unique oil painting.

Dining Room - EcoHues "Blue Grotto"

On the other side of the dining room, this oil painting is framed by EcoHues "BLUE GROTTO."

Living room
“Fieldstone” creates a warm, earthy feeling for the living room. It’s a lovely complement to the white and gray  marble fireplace on the other side of the room (not shown here).

Living room: EcoHues Fieldstone

View into living room from foyer. Ecohues "Fieldstone" on walls. Ellen Kennon "White Opal" on ceilings.

Upstairs: 2nd Floor
Going up the stairs we enter the 2nd floor sunroom. Off the sunroom are the master bedroom, the nursery, an office, and a bathroom. The sunroom, painted in EcoHues “Dune ” as are the first floor foyer, kitchen, and stairway walls, is a warm hub for the adjacent spaces.

View from 2nd floor sunroom into bathroom

Sunroom, EcoHues "DUNE," view into bathroom, EcoHues "PACIFIC MIST"

The tiles were an inspiration for using “Pacific Mist” on the walls, a perfect fit.

View 2 closeup Pacific Mist

Closeup view: EcoHues "PACIFIC MIST"

Being right above one end of the kitchen, the large, airy nursery has the same wonderful, historic curved windows (see the kitchen closeup view). On the other side, the nursery opens into the sunroom.

Nursery - Ellen Kennon "Dusk" view into sunroom, EcoHues "Dune"

Nursery: Ellen Kennon "DUSK" walls, view into sunroom, EcoHues "DUNE"

What could be better than a perfect taupe wall color for this home office? We used EcoHues “Perfect Taupe,” with Ellen Kennon’s “White Opal” on the ceiling.

Office: EcoHues "PERFECT TAUPE"

Office: EcoHues "PERFECT TAUPE"

Turn around, and look into the sunroom…
Through the opposite door is the master bedroom with Ellen’s “Gustavian Gray” on the walls.

Office view into sunroom

View: Office, into Sunroom, where walls are EcoHues "DUNE" abd ceiling is also Ellen Kennon's "White Opal."

3rd Floor
“Dune” continues up to the 3rd floor, where there is one still-unpainted, very large room and a small bathroom. This small bath has a very luminous feeling, where  EcoHues “Spring Showers” was used on the walls and the ceiling, too. This very pale gray with lavender tones creates an airy space and is a lovely complement to the marble mosaic floor and warm wood cabinet.

Soft Spring Showers in bathroom

Wall and ceiling are EcoHues "SPRING SHOWERS"

The Client’s Story
“My husband and I had spent the last 3 years renovating our Victorian house and were finally nearing the end.

Deciding on what colors to paint the walls felt overwhelming.  Barbara arrived with beautiful paint samples (with incredible names) and together we quickly made selections for most of the house.  From Gustavian Gray in our master bedroom to Dusk for the nursery to Spring Showers for the ceiling in the foyer, it all came together perfectly.

The paint colors are perfect for each room and we couldn’t be happier with the results.  Barbara also helped with selecting the exterior trim color to complement our new shingles as well as the incredible blueish-purple color for the ceiling of the front and back porch.

Working with  you was a great experience. Thank you Barbara!”

5 Responses to “Go with the Flow: Whole House, Whole Color”

  1. debra disman

    Congratulations Barbara. This looks like a real tour de force. I love the rich, muted tones, subtle, but with that hint of richness…so appropriate for the venue!

    • bjacobs

      Thanks Debra and Kristie, I appreciate your reading the post and making comments. I love working with vivid colors but enjoy the subtle type of palette as well. It’s all about the clients, and of course the architecture.

  2. debra disman

    …also, the complementary orangey-toned wood, and subtle blue on the walls…several posts on this sort of combo in Color Friends….! (Provide interest without too much “pop”.)
    Well done!


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