Choosing Paint Colors to Complement Your Floor

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Dear Rob:

I’ve finally settled on the wood floors I’m going to be installing in my living room, and now I’m struggling with paint colors.  The floors, being wood, are a neutral earthy color, but I’d like a vibrant color on my walls.  Can this work, or should I stick with earth tones?  Help!

-Nikki in Vermont

Dear Nikki:

Choosing the right wall color with your floor choice can provide harmony and balance to a room. There is more than one correct option for wall and floor combinations, but there are some general guidelines that can be followed to make a good decision.

If your room has dark, warm floors such as a mahogany it is best to use a warm paint color. If you want the room to feel dark and cozy, then a darker warm paint color should be used. Without the right amount of light in the room the room can feel like study or a cave. If you want the room to feel cozy, but not dark then a lighter shade of a warm color should be used.

Paint Color ChipsFor a room with light floors such as a light beige tile, dark or light walls can be used, depending on the look you are going for. If you want the room to feel open, light and airy a lighter color should be used. If you want the color of the wall to stand out, a darker color should be used.

Cooler colored walls should be used with cooler colored floors such as natural finished maple or hickory rather than a walnut or mahogany.

Basically, warmer colored floors should be paired with warmer wall colors and cooler colored floors should be paired with cooler wall colors. The shade or depth of color used determines the feel of the room.

When choosing a color from a floor covering that has multiple colors or shades it is not necessary to match the exact color of the floor. Choose a color that blends with the floor or is one of the minority colors in the tile. One easy way to do this is to match the floor to a paint color on a paint chart and then choose a color that is lighter or darker on the paint chart. This will ensure that the color blends, but does not match exactly. This will also allow you to use many more colors in your design scheme by opening up the pallet of colors used.

Another consideration is whether or not an area rug will be used. This opens up the choice for many more wall color choices. Again, when choosing a wall color with an area rug in mind, the color does not have to match exactly. You are looking for a color that blends or is a minority color in the rug. Again, this will allow you to use many more colors as a part of your overall design scheme.

Choosing the right wall and floor color combination can bring a room to life. If possible, be sure to test the paint swatches on the wall after the floors are installed. This will help you see if the color of the wall and the color of the floors compliment each other.



  1. Sandra says

    I just painted my bedroom walls a blush shade of lilac , now I’m going to sand and stain the wood floors. What would be a good color stain to use? I love the mahogany color, would that work. We are selling the house next spring. Sandra

    • admin says

      Dark colors can be a challenge as they show more dust and debris, as well as highlight scratches. A more natural color would be best of you plan on selling, as it will work with more people’s decor tastes and therefore appeal to more people’s tastes.

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