How I Created A Cohesive Interior Design In Our Home
When I was decorating all of the “public” areas of our home, one of my main goals was to create a cohesive interior design throughout all of those areas. I didn’t need them to all look alike, or to have the exact same color palette throughout, but I didn’t want the rooms feeling choppy and disjointed. I wanted the house to feel like there was a general flow from one room to another.
That was the plan, and while my execution of that plan hasn’t gone perfectly (some of it took a whole lot of trial and error, while other areas still aren’t quite right and will need some tweaking in the future), I think I’ve pulled it off for the most part, and it started with the neutrals I used throughout the house and in almost every room.
I’ve seen a lot of houses where the cohesive interior design is accomplished by painting the walls in every single room the exact same solid neutral color. There’s nothing wrong with that plan as long as that’s what the homeowner truly wants and likes. But that’s really not me, so I tried to use the same concept with a bit of a creative twist.
I’ve used the same two neutral paint colors in almost every “public” room of our house — Behr Polar Bear and Benjamin Moore Classic Gray. In the living room, the walls are Classic Gray and the crown molding, baseboards, window casings, and door casings are all Polar Bear.
In the music room, which is right next to and open to the living room, I used the same colors with a twist. All of the trim in the room, including the slatted ceiling and wainscoting, is Polar Bear. Above the wainscoting, I stenciled the walls to create a wallpaper look, and I used both Polar Bear and Classic Gray for the “wallpaper”. (Here’s the step I took to take the wall design from looking like a stencil to looking like wallpaper.)
In the hallway, which is right off of the music room, I used Polar Bear on all of the trim and the built-in cabinet (which isn’t visible in the photo below). For the walls, I did a horizontal strip in Polar Bear and Classic Gray.
And then in the hallway bathroom, I used Polar Bear on all of the trim and wainscoting, and Classic Gray on the upper walls.
And finally, on this end of the house is the guest bedroom. I consider this a “public” area of the house because once we build our addition and have a proper master bedroom, the door to this room will remain open at all times (unless we actually have a guest using the room) and the room will be visible to anyone who enters the hallway. So in this room, once again, all of the trim is Polar Bear, and I used Classic Gray on the closets. Then I carried both colors onto the painted floor.
At the other end of the house (beyond the kitchen, which doesn’t have much paint except the painted cabinets) is the sitting room, where I used Polar Bear on all of the trim as well as the picture ledges and TV frame. Then I painted the walls Classic Gray.
I’m still working on the details of my studio, and while it will probably end up being a bit more colorful than the rest of the house, I do consider it a “public” space as well, so I carried the Polar Bear and Classic Gray onto the painted floor in this room. Also, all of the trim in this room will be Polar Bear, and it’s very possible that the Classic Gray will appear somewhere else in here once all is said and done.
Once I created a canvas using those neutrals as a base in each room, then I layered in lots of color in each room. I tried to keep them all somewhat similar, and in the same color families, so that the colors in one room wouldn’t look jarring against the next room. That doesn’t mean that they had to match exactly, just as long as they coordinated for the most part.
And that also doesn’t mean that I got everything right. As I mentioned above, there are areas where I plan to go back and tweak a bit. One area that I’ve mentioned in previous posts is the hallway bathroom vanity, and once that color is changed, the bathroom will then require a new shower curtain.
I like the color on its own, but this bathroom is visible from the music room (where I have a raspberry velvet settee) and the living room (where I have pink curtains). And this vanity is a little too orange to look cohesive with those colors. You can see what I mean here…
One of these things is not like the other. One of these things doesn’t belong. 😀 See what I mean? That vanity definitely throws a wrench into my otherwise cohesive interior design. I don’t need everything to match. The music room settee and living room curtains don’t match. But to my eye, they don’t fight each other, either.
But the vanity is easily fixed with a quart of paint. And once I get that vanity color more in line with those two colors, where they play nicely together instead of fighting each other, the vanity will look just right with the rest of the house since it’s against that backdrop of Polar Bear and Classic Gray that runs through the rest of the house.
So that’s the process I used in my attempt to create a cohesive interior design throughout the house. But creating that cohesive look doesn’t have to end in all of your rooms with walls painted the same solid color. If you like that look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re like me, and you crave a bit more excitement and pattern, you can mix it up by using those same neutrals throughout the house in different ways — solid walls, stenciled walls, striped walls, striped floors, checkerboard floors, walls with standard trim, walls with wainscoting, etc.
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
Thank you!! I love this post. It is very helpful!
Thanks so much for this post!! The way you broke it down was very helpful. Nice to hear and see the thought process behind your paint/color choices. Keep up the great work. Love your blog! Katie:))
Wow – your home is so colorful I never even noticed the walls all had the Classic Gray is some form or another or that you used it on the floors too. It baffles me that I didn’t pick up on this.I think I was so focused on the creative elements, it never registered. Well done.
This is exactly how I feel!
Me too! I never noticed the gray!
I love your blog and have since your condo days. But I was surprised with this blog. I’ve never noticed the two colours were in each room, I just saw that they were great. You are amazing! God Bless.
You are so clever. Thanks for this great example.
You are my idol. I wish I had all your design talent and DIY skills. I can do alot, but not anything near what you do.
Charlotte Clark, age 73 and going strong in Dallas
Kristy, I would absolutely Love your old Shower curtain.What will it cost me to get it? I’m going to paint our bathroom and can’t find anything as much as I love your shower curtain. My text # is (304)615-7269
Would you use the classic gray and Polar Bear colors again or a different neutral. I guess what I am asking have you got tired of your picks,
I still love them both and would absolutely use them again if I were starting over today.
Well done, I haven’t realized the two main paint colors through out the house. Brilliant!
Love this well thought out design. You’ve given me some fantastic ideas for my next round of paint.
We have north-facing windows (sad face), so no sunshine ever in our rooms. But, I love, love, love Sherwin-Williams’ Silvermist in our dining room/galley kitchen/laundry room. Depending on the season, and time of day, is this silver blue? Soft blue? Silver green? Greyish green? I have no idea, and we’ve had it since… 2014? We aren’t bored of it yet. Now, SW Mink in our living room makes it feel like a cave (shame on me for jumping on the Mink bandwagon), but husband loves it. I’m going to show him your post and see if I can convince him to go lighter. Because one of the things I greatly admire about your style is that your bold colors aren’t overwhelming, due to your consistency of the neutral base.
Hey pretty lady, can you tell me where you found the prints above your benches in the music room? I just love them!
I thank you much,
Wow! I too never noticed the background colors in each room! The colors you chose are a perfect foil for the other colors in the furnishings and accessories. And the use of various patterns with those same colors just shows your professional eye. Your home is lovely, colorful, soothing, and restful even with the punches of color. Good job, Kristi!
I really enjoyed your post about the studio bath tile strip, and definitely loved the wavy vertical tile idea. But then this discussion of a cohesive design reminded me of the lovely tile strip in your hall bath! It seems to go beautifully with the Classic Gray and the Polar Bear also, but is of course, more traditional. I just wondered at your thought process, as I wondered why you wouldn’t use that same tile. Whatever – I’m sure it will be beautiful, I just was considering a similar backsplash, and thought maybe there were reasons for not using that style. I have a hard time with colors and tones, so I appreciate your being specific about the orange vanity issue. As always, beautiful work!
The tile in the hallway bathroom is (1) discontinued and not sold anymore, and (2) has been painted. The original colors had a lot more brown, and when I did the colorful makeover on that bathroom, I didn’t want to remove and replace the tile, so I painted it so that it’s a lot more light and neutral and less brown. I plan on replacing that tile in the near future, and I’ll be replacing it with a more modern/less traditional tile.
This will be a bit different from your other comments because I HAVE noticed your Classic Gray — in fact, it’s how I first came to your blog. For more than a year, I’ve been trying to find a color that will look on my walls how Classic Gray looks in YOUR home. In mine, the color goes distinctly blue, regardless of NSEorW-facing windows. I even had samples made at 3 different Benjamin Moore retailers, thinking perhaps my first sample wasn’t mixed properly. I’ve sampled colors used by other favorite bloggers, too, but Behr’s Campfire Ash looks like purple marshmallow Easter eggs on some of my walls, Gray Mist looks yellow or blue, Spring Bud looks great some places but electric green in others, and White Dove looks like dingy underwear. I’ve never had more trouble with paint in my life than when I decided I wanted to go with a whole-house neutral.
I’m so sorry you’re having so much trouble! I can completely relate, though. I tried so many neutrals throughout the years, and was always disappointed. I’d see them work beautifully in other people’s homes, but in mine, they’d fall flat or have awful undertones. Even now, my favorite Behr Polar Bear is great as long as it’s kept to walls, trim, and even floors. But I originally tried it on the ceiling in the living room, and it looked PINK! I mean, really pink! On the Behr display at Home Depot, Polar Bear isn’t even in the pink/red section. I think they have it listed as a neutral in the yellow section. I asked the guy at the paint desk about the formula, and it has no red in it at all. And yet, it was pink on my ceiling.
Once I found Classic Gray, I was so excited to finally find a neutral that seemed to work all throughout my house. In my house, it’s a true neutral. I don’t see any undertones at all in it.
I hope you can find the perfect neutral for your home!! The hunt is frustrating, but hopefully it’ll pay off for you.