It seems like every online home decor publisher is focused on wall colors lately.  Last week, every email in my inbox was trying to convince me of the top shades.  A self-professed color fiend, I eagerly read them all and then gave it some thought…  Naturally, I didn’t agree with every wall color suggestion.  Nor could I resist compiling my own list of top wall colors.  However, for me, the top shades fall into two categories.  First, there’s the tried and true colors–those that almost always look polished, beautifully offsetting a variety of decorating styles.  That list follows in this post.  Then, there are the paint colors that surprise and delight–unexpected hues that are surprisingly chic and versatile.  Stay tuned for that list.  But first, here are my picks for 7 fool-proof, always chic wall colors…


This is a very pale shade.  Not brown or gray, putty is like a cross between taupe and just a hint of yellow.  Hard to define and conveniently neutral, putty often reads traditional, but compliments modern interiors with equal grace.  Here are some examples of chic, putty-colored walls…

putty colored dining room by Valorie Hart

New Orleans-based designer Valorie Hart drenched the walls of this dining room in putty-colored paint, creating a lovely backdrop for the eclectic mix of gilded frames, periwinkle glass lamps, and ginger-accented dining chairs.

a Putty moment

Here, putty marries with both smoky gray and earthy peach in a more modern-feeling room.

Putty colored living room

In this living room by Zize Zink, putty-colored walls and sofa blend beautifully with a wide variety of pieces, including: an art deco end table, a fun flamestitch upholstered settee, a collection of silver candlesticks, and even modern art.


This light brown to tan shade can skew warm or cool, but always makes a pleasing backdrop against which brighter color can shine.  Three of my favorite rooms with camel colored walls follow here…

Alex Papachristidis Camel Dining Room

The uber talented Alex Papachristidis chose camel for the walls of this dining room, mixing in neutral tones like chocolate and ivory as well as punchy red and shades of blue from cornflower to cobalt.

Camel bedroom vignette

In this bedroom vignette by sisters and design duo Kristen Fitzgibbons and Kelli Ford, lacquered camel walls balance the canary yellow mirror and leopard-clad chairs.  (Featured in Veranda.)

Amanda Nisbet Dining Room in Camel

This elegant, camel dining room by Amanda Nisbet plays the warmth of the walls and gilded details against cool shades of lavender and indigo, setting a stunning scene.

Dove Gray

One of the most complex and difficult colors to nail, the right gray–like dove gray–is an ideal vehicle for establishing an air of sophistication that compliments nearly any color scheme.  The challenge is identifying a shade of gray that maintains its neutrality.  Grays can often turn blue, purple, green, or brown in different lights.  Be sure to check out these tips for choosing the right shade if you’re thinking of going gray (or any color for that matter).  And, of course, here are some images of super chic homes to inspire you…

Dove Gray bedroom

Jean-Louis Deniot chose dove gray for the walls of his Los Angeles bedroom (featured by AD Russia)–a contrast to the warm wood finish of his nightstands and brass light fixture.  The other furnishings, however, follow suit in shades of texture-rich gray.

dove gray salon decorated by Katie Ridder

Dove gray envelopes this soothing but stylish salon decorated by Katie Ridder and featured in Elle Decor, complimenting a variety of neutral tones, brass fixtures, and pops of crimson.

Dove Gray Paris Apartment

This Paris apartment’s architectural details are highlighted by dove gray paint–a canvas against which works of art and unorthodox color combinations can peacefully coexist.  Photo by Richard Powers.


Departing from the aforementioned neutrals, aqua is a pale shade with surprising depth.  Nearly transparent with a hint of warmth, this shade of blue has range and widespread appeal.  Consider these aqua hued rooms…

Aqua, 1 of 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

In this polished living room by the Mendelson Group, aqua sets the stage for an eclectic array of furnishings, energized by a jolt of jonquil yellow.

Aqua room

AD Russia showcased this traditional-leaning space that feels fresh thanks to aqua paint and expressive art.

Aqua living room with minky brown sofa

Any color–from espresso to cobalt to aubergine to tangerine–sings against a wall of serene aqua blue.  A tiny little  aqua pillow ties the scene together for a cohesive look.  (As seen on

Stormy Blue

Another blue hue that never disappoints is stormy blue-gray.  A bit moody, stormy blue works well with yellow metals and most wood finishes.  It’s a shade you’d find in a museum, offsetting art from nearly any discipline.

Fool-Proof Paint Shades | Stormy Blue

This dining room, featured by Nuevo Estilo, is a gorgeous example of the power of stormy blue.  Mixed neutrals harmonize in its presence, beckoning a motley of styles to intermingle.

stormy blue living room with traditional painting

A sleek silver velvet sofa and traditional painting are equally at home against that perfectly moody, stormy blue wall.

sophisticated stormy blue space

This space oozes sophistication thanks to carefully curated modern art and furnishings and stormy blue walls with gilded panels.


With its deep, saturated pigment, espresso lends a space a sense of drama.  However, I think espresso owes its allure (at least in part) to its cool undertones–an unexpected quality in brown shades that typically run warm.  Check out these espresso brown rooms…

Espresso brown walls

Federico De Vera’s espresso brown walls (via Elle Decor) are studded with art and an arresting sight.

Espresso | 7 Fool-Proof Paint Colors

Also from Elle Decor, this photograph captures Sig Bergamin’s use of deep, espresso paint to offset a rainbow of colors, an array of furnishings, and a riot of patterns.

masculine espresso brown room

A funky, masculine vibe dominates this nearly-all-brown sitting area (from Lonny) where an espresso-hued wall brings out the richness of the chocolaty brown velvet sofa.

Moody Teal

By far the boldest recommendation on this list, there’s just something about a moody teal room.  It feels sultry, mysterious, and impossibly chic.  I can’t help but be moved as look at these teal rooms.  Can you?

teal dining room

This dining room has a whimsical feel, tempered by moody teal walls and drapery.  Found on Tumblr.

a teal and amethyst salon

Moody teal joins forces with ethnic textiles, an amethyst Murano glass chandelier, and a snakeskin coffee table to compose an impressive scene decorated by Landy Gardner.

stunning dark teal dining room

And last but not least, a moody teal dining room with Gothic windows and mid century furniture (featured by LATimes) is the final example of this gorgeous shade.

Ready to paint?  Whether you were inspired by this list or not, leave a comment and tell us what wall colors you considered and ultimately chose.  Happy painting!