A fresh coat of paint might be the oldest trick in the proverbial design book, but we are continually amazed by its lasting impact. Whether you want to spruce up your powder room or give your living room a transformative, floor-to-ceiling makeover, a new hue delivers time and time again. But, just because there's an entire rainbow of shades to choose from doesn't mean all pigments are in play. In fact, there are some colors that designers refuse to use in their projects.
So, what's the deal? Which colors have received the professionals' seals of disapproval? We tapped a few top designers to share their hot takes on the most controversial hues. Though these designers do not hold back on the colors that are banished from their repertoires, you'll see that their answers are not unanimous. (While some designers love warm, cheery colors, others prefer to keep them far away from their mood boards.)
That said, remember that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder—and paint colors are no exception. While we believe that your home's palette should reflect your lifestyle and personality, we hope these perspectives will help bring some clarity to your search.
As a designer who prefers colors that lift her up— "the way a bright, sunny day does"—Isabel Ladd believes that pared-bared grays and taupes aren't the best choice for her projects. "I don't recommend colors that remind [you] of cloudy days," the Kentucky designer explains. "[It's important to] really think about the mood you want to evoke." While gray or taupe might make for an excellent accent shade, placing either color front-and-center doesn't make for a cheery space. Instead, she aims to enlist smile-inducing shades such as light peaches, creams, and bold marigolds.
Red Flags for Red and Orange
Though some designers may believe that red and orange walls can create a warm, inviting effect, Crespo Design Group's Enrique Crespo isn't sold on these bolder hues. Not only can you quickly tire of an eye-catching pigment, but Crespo also says that a maximalist color can be downright stressful. "Red is a chaotic color that is known to increase a person's heart rate and make them excited," he explains. "[It's] the opposite of how you'd want to feel while relaxing in your living room, for example."
If you want to experiment with the bolder end of the color spectrum—but don't necessarily want to give your guests heart palpitations—consider turning down the brightness. "I love a deep maroon but a bright or fire engine red just doesn't feel right in the home," shares designer Grey Joyner of Wilson, North Carolina.
Walk Away From Cold-Toned Whites
Though white is a fail-safe neutral that can withstand time and trends, the exact undertones in your swatch can make or break your space. That's exactly why Leslie Murphy, co-founder and creative director of a Memphis-based firm called Murphy Maude Interiors, steers clear of whites with blue and purple undertones. Simply put, this exact shade can make a home feel like a museum—and not necessarily in a good way. "We are ready for the warmth," she shares. "Give us all the greige and wood-toned and Hygge palettes!"
See You Later, Cream
Of course, not everyone is ready to embrace warmer neutrals. Take Megan Molten, who says she would never use cream in her home. "They can make things look too dingy and leave a warm overcast on everything," the South Carolina designer explains. Instead, she looks for bright whites that are not too cool, but not too warm. "This gives the perfect foundation for layering art with pops of color, soft furnishings, rugs, pillows and accessories," she adds. "It allows everything to pop that much more and gives that clean, crisp finish we all love!" Topping her list of favorites are Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace and Sherwin-Williams' Superwhite.