Frequently asked questions: Can you recommend a good midcentury paint color?

Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern paint collectionThis blog has been around so long (12+ years) that I don’t talk about “basics” much anymore. I covered those, like: 10 years ago! So here’s an essential basic worth a reminder: Where to get the best recommended midcentury modern and midcentury modest paint colors? Rebecca wrote to ask — and my answer remains “the tried-and-true very first answer.”


Rebecca wrote: Hi Pam, I’m working on an exterior welcome sign and need a good recommendation for a lavender paint color. Do you have a favorite that you could recommend to me? Sincerely, Rebecca

“Radiant Lilac” — also used on the cover of the original brochure — is the lavendar color I’d recommend you try first… assuming it floats your boat on this look-see. Also, I *assume* that they can make it for you in an exterior formula, although ask about that, because the base paint color may differ and thrown things off…


My very favorite midcentury paint collection remains the Sherwin-Williams Suburban Modern Paint Collection. It was the first one ever available — original story: Sept. 26, 2007 — and far as I can tell, the colors are all pretty darned authentic to midcentury 1950s or so.

I have used these colors on my own walls — and ceilings — in my head, I’m counting five different colors I remember using — and have always been happy with them. 

That said: It’s like as a soon as midcentury modern boooooomed, Sherwin-Williams stopped making the collection cards. So you gotta dig for them.

Good news, though, we dug for you, and a few years ago, Kate made a list of all the colors … how you get 8.5 x 11 color cards (be sure to register as a PROFESSIONAL)… and there are links to the original brochures too. Here ya go:

All that said, if you want to try other historic paint colors, see this story, 20 historic paint color collections available today.

And, all my stories about paint and paint colors are in Decorate/Paint subcategory here.

Good luck, Rebecca! Send photos when you are done!

  1. Pam Kueber says:

    It really depends on the overall palette. Question: Where is your pattern? In a rug? In a drapery? In pillows? Start with the colors there.

  2. Darren M. says:

    I have heard about this “Robin’s Egg Blue”, but SW doesn’t list it in their brochure. Does anyone know where to find a color that is appropriate for a MCM color palette?

  3. Dcgrl says:

    This thread is timely since I’m staying to get quotes on painting my 1957 brick ranch. (Not the brick, just the insets of wood siding above and below the windows) All the Google shows are brick ranches that have been painted completely over in gray or cream. I think my house was originally a colonial blue, at least that’s what’s peaking through the chipped paint on the threshold. I like the idea of replicating it if anyone has any ideas.
    What about a door color?

  4. ChicagoB1GRed says:

    My bad. Interesting how they rebrand collections using different colors. I wonder what their source is for the new one?

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