Helping Gwen to unify her open floor plan with her favorite paint colors

unifying an open floor plan with paint

Reader Gwen loves to fill her house with color and has no hesitation using it everywhere in her bright and cheery midcentury modest home. As much as she loves painting all her walls happy colors, Gwen feels that something is a bit off, which is why she is asking for our help with her painting problem.

Gwen writes:

living room and denI recently purchased a mid-century modest home, 1150 sq ft, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath plus a bonus bed/den/office room.  The previous owner inherited the home when his mother passed and he painted the entire house a creamy white to prepare it for sale.  I, on the other hand love color and have some colorful art that inspires me.  My question is this: Is it okay to paint each room a different color?  If so, how do I pull it all together so that the house looks cohesive?  The floor plan is very open, so rooms can be seen from other rooms, the hallway, etc.  I have painted a few of the rooms, but don’t really like how it is coming together. (colors used are Sherwin Williams Pinky Beige in the kitchen, Bold Brick in the dinette, Aleutian in the living room, and Parakeet on the small LR wall section)  And, I still have some very white walls to consider!  Thank you for your help!


Gwen, I salute your use of cheery and bright colors throughout your house! In my opinion, it is perfectly okay to paint every room in your house a different color — it is a matter of personal taste — however if you do paint every room a different color and it starts to feel a bit choppy, there are a few things you can do to help remedy the situation.

living room blueAbove: Gwen’s living room.

Repeat your chosen colors

What I initially noticed when looking through the photos Gwen submitted — that she has many furnishings and decor that are either a dark reddish color, green or blue. Her wall color choices thus far are great since they repeat the colors already in her furnishings, which helps the wall colors make sense with the flow of the house. I find it very interesting that the parts of the house that are not easily changed (the green kitchen appliances, the mauve kitchen tile and the blue bathroom tile) all seem to coordinate with your furniture and decor — great job!

colorful living roomAbove: Gwen’s living room as it is.

Make long walls all the same color

Since Gwen’s living room, kitchen, dining room and den are all very open to each other, I might suggest a few tweaks to help the rooms flow a bit better. First, since there is one long wall that stretches from the living room into the dining room (only broken up with the white built-in shelving), I would make that wall all one color — which would allow the eye to travel the whole length of the room without being interrupted. I would also repaint the lone green wall the same color as the dining room, to help reduce the broken up feeling of the room’s walls. Painting long walls all the same color is something that I have personally done in my own midcentury ranch, which, like Gwen’s house, also has an open floor plan.

colorful living room editedAbove: Gwen’s living room after painting the entire long wall blue and the bump out wall red. (Note: Gwen says the dining room wall is Brick red as shown in the photo on the right. For some reason in the shot above, the camera and lighting is making it look like a coral color.)

Green and Mauve retro KitchenGwens’ awesome original kitchen already has green appliances and mauve tiles (I think those might be the same mauve tiles I have in my master bathroom) that coordinate with the color scheme, but I might reinforce the green kitchen appliances by painting the kitchen walls a green that is similar to the color of the appliances — perhaps just a shade or two lighter. Then, to repeat the color again in your house (to help the green feel more cohesive) I might paint the walls of your den the same green.


Original-green and mauve Kitchen-paintedAbove: Gwen could leave her kitchen walls pink, or paint them a shade of green to match her retro appliances.

LR,-Hall,-Den-paintedAbove: Repeating the green from the kitchen in Gwen’s den would help make the open areas of the house feel more cohesive.

blue-retro-BathAs far as the hallways and bedrooms go — I would paint the hall the same light green as the den, since it is easily seen from the open parts of the house. The bedrooms are separate enough (because they are separated by the hallway and doors) that you could paint them any color that you would like and it wouldn’t disrupt the flow of the house. Your retro blue tiled bathroom already coordinates with the rest of the house so any visitors who make a pit stop wouldn’t feel like they were visiting someone else’s bathroom at all. If you really wanted to, you could also paint the walls in the bathroom the same light green to add further repetition — though I don’t think it is absolutely necessary.

Gwen, I hope I have helped you figure out how to improve the flow of color throughout your house!

Readers — do you have any other suggestions to help Gwen’s house feel more unified?


  1. Gwen says:

    Thank you again – this is soooo fun!. I am going to try the furniture re-arrangement when I have a helper (my son) this weekend. If it works I will post pics.

  2. Corraun says:

    I can’t tell if the blue color painted on the living room wall that extends into the dining room area is the same color or if it looks a different shade because of the camera lighting. The living room wall looks a cool pastel blue and the dining room wall looks a brighter blue. If it is different you want to stay in the same color family (even if you change saturation) so it is a subtle transition on the eye. Also, from the photos of the kitchen where I think the green on the wall has been photo-shopped in for the after effect I would again say you want to stay in the same color family. The appliances have an avacado green sheen but the walls are more of a mint green. If you aren’t planning on replacing the kitchen linoleum (which is a totally different shade of green than the appliances), then you will want to paint or wall paper the walls something that will blend the the different color tones together. Hope that helps. The house itself and the furnishings are awesome!

  3. wendy says:

    My .02: I would change the brick red color to a very pale butter-white. I have an open plan and the living room is painted aqua and a custom light green, hallway is the same aqua except 25% lighter. Between those is the dining room. Painting it yet another color was too choppy and jarring.

    I ended up using Sherwin Williams Summer White, which has a golden yellow undertone, and pulling in the aqua and green with vintage art and accessories. I have the same vintage curtain panels in both rooms, which are off white with a large aqua/blue/olive leaf design.


    I am terrible at photoshop, and couldn’t get the yellow pale or soft enough, and the “curtains” are a little intense, but the linked photo gives an idea of what I’m suggesting. I’d also paint the shelving unit and white cabinet the same pale butter color:


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