June 15, 2023

Mastering Paint Colors: Unveiling the Undertones for Your Home

Understanding the undertones of different paint colors

Welcome to the ultimate guide on Understanding the Undertones of Different Paint Colors. Are you a homeowner with a burning desire to transform your living space? Look no further! If you’ve been searching for expert insights and valuable information on selecting the perfect paint colors for your house, then you’ve landed in the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries of undertones and delve into the fascinating world of color selection. Prepare to be inspired as we take you on a journey through warm, cool, and neutral undertones, helping you unlock the potential of every room in your home. Let’s dive in and discover the secrets that will bring your vision to life.


Choosing the perfect paint color for your home is an exciting yet challenging task. The right color can completely transform a space, creating the ambiance and mood you desire. But how do you ensure that the color you choose will achieve the desired effect?

This is where understanding the undertones of different paint colors becomes crucial. Undertones, the subtle hues that lie beneath the surface of a color, can significantly impact the final appearance on your walls.

The color of your walls sets the foundation for the overall design and atmosphere of your home. It can evoke emotions, influence moods, and create a sense of harmony or dissonance within a space. 

What are undertones in paint colors?

Undertones in paint colors refer to the subtle underlying hues that are present within a particular color. While the main color may be visually dominant, the undertones give it depth and character. They are like hidden companions that accompany the primary color, influencing how it appears in different lighting conditions and in relation to other elements in a space. Understanding undertones is essential in selecting the right paint color because they can greatly impact the overall look and feel of a room.

How undertones affect the perception of paint colors

Undertones play a significant role in how we perceive paint colors. They can make a color appear warmer, cooler, more vibrant, or even muted. For example, a beige color with warm undertones will give a cozy and inviting feel to a room, while a beige with cool undertones will create a more refreshing and calm atmosphere. Undertones also interact with lighting sources, both natural and artificial, further influencing how a color is perceived. 

Common types of undertones in paint

  • Warm Undertones: Warm undertones lean towards shades of red, orange, or yellow. These undertones create a sense of coziness and can make a room feel inviting and comfortable. Examples of paint colors with warm undertones include shades of creamy whites, golden beiges, and buttery yellows.
  • Cool Undertones: Cool undertones lean towards shades of blue, green, or purple. They evoke a sense of serenity and freshness, making a space feel airy and calm. Paint colors with cool undertones include icy blues, mint greens, and lavender purples.
  • Neutral Undertones: Neutral undertones lean towards shades of beige, gray, or greige (a combination of gray and beige). They provide a versatile and balanced base for various design styles and color schemes. Neutral undertones can range from warm neutrals like taupe and tan to cool neutrals like greige and charcoal gray.

Identifying undertones in paint colors

Importance of natural lighting in identifying undertones

Natural light provides the most accurate representation of how colors will appear in your space. It reveals the subtle nuances and undertones that artificial lighting may mask or distort. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate paint colors under natural light conditions to ensure that the undertones align with your desired vision.

How to identify undertones in paint colors

  1. Comparing paint samples: One effective technique for identifying undertones is to compare paint samples side by side. Select a few colors that you are considering and paint small swatches on your walls. Look at them in different lighting conditions throughout the day. You’ll be able to discern the undertones more easily and determine which color harmonizes best with your space.
  2. Using neutral gray or white as a reference: Place a neutral gray or white object, such as a poster board or fabric, next to the paint samples. This will allow you to see how the undertones of the paint colors interact with the neutral reference. It can help you identify whether the undertones lean towards warmth, coolness, or neutrality.
  3. Considering the surrounding elements: Take into account the colors of your furniture, flooring, and other decorative elements. Determine if they have any dominant undertones. This will guide you in selecting a paint color that complements and harmonizes with the existing elements in your room. For example, if you have furniture with warm undertones, you may want to choose a paint color with complementary warm undertones to create a cohesive look.

Understanding different undertones

Warm Undertones

Red and orange undertones: Paint colors with red undertones bring warmth and vibrancy to a space. They can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Examples include shades of warm reds, terracotta oranges, and spicy rust tones. These colors work well in areas where you want to evoke a sense of energy and warmth, such as living rooms or dining areas.

Yellow and golden undertones: Paint colors with yellow undertones radiate warmth and brightness. They can make a room feel cheerful and sunny. Shades of buttery yellows, golden beiges, and creamy off-whites fall into this category. These colors are perfect for spaces where you want to create a welcoming and uplifting environment, such as kitchens or home offices.

Cool Undertones

Blue and green undertones: Paint colors with blue undertones create a calming and serene atmosphere. They evoke a sense of tranquility and can visually expand a space. Shades of cool blues, sea greens, and minty hues fall into this category. These colors are well-suited for bedrooms or bathrooms, where relaxation and rejuvenation are desired.

Violet and purple undertones: Paint colors with violet undertones bring a touch of luxury and sophistication to a room. They can create a sense of depth and drama. Shades of deep purples, lavender grays, and muted violets fall into this category. These colors can be used to add elegance and depth to areas such as dining rooms or home libraries.

Neutral Undertones

Beige and taupe undertones: Paint colors with beige undertones provide a versatile and timeless backdrop for any space. They offer a balance between warmth and neutrality. Shades of soft beiges, warm taupes, and sandy neutrals fall into this category. These colors work well in living areas or bedrooms, providing a cozy and versatile canvas for various design styles.

Gray and greige undertones: Paint colors with gray and greige undertones have gained popularity for their modern and sophisticated look. They provide a neutral base with a hint of warmth or coolness. Shades of warm grays, greiges, and soft charcoals fall into this category. These colors are ideal for creating a contemporary and versatile atmosphere in any room.

Undertones and color combinations

Harmonious color schemes with matching undertones

Creating a harmonious color scheme involves selecting colors with matching undertones. When the undertones of different colors align, they create a cohesive and balanced look. Here are some examples of harmonious color schemes based on matching undertones:

Warm harmony: Combine paint colors with warm undertones, such as earthy reds, golden yellows, and creamy beiges. This creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Consider using shades like terracotta, honey, and caramel for a harmonious warm color palette.

Cool harmony: Pair paint colors with cool undertones, like soft blues, tranquil greens, and lavender purples. This creates a serene and calming ambiance. Opt for shades such as sky blue, mint green, and lilac to achieve a harmonious cool color scheme.

Neutral harmony: Choose paint colors with neutral undertones, including warm beiges, greiges, and soft grays. This creates a versatile and timeless backdrop. Combine shades like sandstone, taupe, and dove gray to achieve a harmonious neutral color palette.

Contrasting color schemes with complementary undertones

Contrasting color schemes involve combining colors with complementary undertones. This creates visual interest and adds depth to a space. Here are some examples of contrasting color schemes based on complementary undertones:

Warm-cool contrast: Pair warm undertones, such as rich oranges or deep reds, with cool undertones like icy blues or cool grays. The warmth and coolness complement each other, creating a striking contrast. For example, combine a warm terracotta with a cool aqua or a deep red with a pale blue for an eye-catching effect.

Warm-neutral contrast: Combine warm undertones, like golden yellows or earthy beiges, with neutral undertones such as greiges or soft grays. This creates a balance between warmth and neutrality, resulting in a sophisticated contrast. Pair a warm golden yellow with a greige or a deep beige with a cool gray for an intriguing combination.

Cool-neutral contrast: Pair cool undertones, like soft blues or lavender purples, with neutral undertones such as greiges or warm grays. This creates a calming contrast with a touch of sophistication. Combine a cool periwinkle blue with a warm gray or a soft lavender with a greige for a visually appealing combination.

Undertones in different rooms

Undertones for living rooms and bedrooms

When choosing undertones for living rooms and bedrooms, it’s important to create a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.

Warm undertones: Consider using warm undertones like creamy beiges or soft golden yellows. These colors create a cozy and inviting ambiance, perfect for spaces where you want to unwind and relax.

Neutral undertones: Opt for neutral undertones such as greiges or warm grays. These colors provide a versatile backdrop that allows you to easily incorporate various decor styles and color schemes.

Undertones for kitchens and bathrooms

For kitchens and bathrooms, it’s essential to strike a balance between functionality and aesthetics.

Cool undertones: Consider using cool undertones like soft blues or mint greens. These colors can create a fresh and clean atmosphere, ideal for spaces where you want to promote a sense of cleanliness and hygiene.

Neutral undertones: Opt for neutral undertones such as greiges or soft grays. These colors provide a timeless and versatile backdrop that complements a wide range of kitchen and bathroom designs.

Undertones for accent walls and trim

Accent walls and trim offer opportunities to add visual interest and depth to a room.

Contrasting undertones: Choose accent wall colors with contrasting undertones to create a focal point. For example, if the majority of the room has warm undertones, consider an accent wall with cool undertones to create a striking contrast.

Complementary undertones: Use trim colors with undertones that complement the main wall color. This enhances the overall aesthetic and creates a cohesive look. For example, if the wall color has warm undertones, consider trim colors with complementary warm undertones.

Popular paint colors with different undertones

To provide you with some inspiration, here are examples of popular paint colors with different undertones:

Warm-toned paint colors

Sherwin Williams’ “Accessible Beige” – A warm, creamy beige with subtle undertones of yellow and brown. It creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Benjamin Moore’s “Hale Navy” – A deep, rich navy blue with warm undertones. It adds depth and sophistication to any space.

Behr’s “Nevada Sand” – A vibrant and warm yellow with orange undertones. It brings a sunny and cheerful vibe to a room.

Cool-toned paint colors

  • Farrow & Ball’s “Skylight” – A soft and ethereal blue with cool undertones. It evokes a sense of calm and serenity.
  • Dunn-Edwards’ “Silver Spoon” – A cool gray with blue undertones. It creates a modern and sleek look, perfect for contemporary interiors.
  • Sherwin Williams’ “Rainwashed” – A soothing and cool green with hints of blue. It brings a refreshing and tranquil feel to a space.

Neutral-toned paint colors

  1. Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter” – A classic greige with warm undertones. It’s a versatile color that complements various design styles.
  2. Behr’s “Natural Gray” – A soft gray with neutral undertones. It provides a timeless backdrop that pairs well with any decor.
  3. Sherwin Williams’ “Agreeable Gray” – A warm gray with beige undertones. It offers a subtle warmth and creates a cozy atmosphere.

Final tips for successful color selection

  • Test, test, test: Always test paint samples in your own space before making a final decision. Lighting conditions and surrounding elements can significantly affect how colors appear.
  • Consider the purpose of the room: Think about the mood and ambiance you want to create in each room. Cool tones can promote a calm and serene atmosphere, while warm tones can add coziness and vibrancy.
  • Harmonize with existing elements: Take into account the furniture, flooring, and architectural features already present in the space. Choose undertones that complement or harmonize with these elements for a cohesive look.
  • Seek inspiration: Look for inspiration in design magazines, websites, or even nature. Pay attention to color combinations that resonate with you and consider incorporating similar undertones into your color scheme.
  • Trust your instincts: Ultimately, trust your own preferences and instincts. Select colors that make you feel happy and create an environment that reflects your personal style and taste.


How do you coordinate undertones?

When coordinating undertones, it’s important to consider the dominant undertone in your color scheme. Choose colors with similar undertones or complementary undertones to create a harmonious and cohesive look throughout your space.

How can you tell the undertone of grey?

To determine the undertone of grey, observe it under different lighting conditions. Cool greys have blue or green undertones, while warm greys have yellow or brown undertones. Pay attention to how the grey appears in natural light and artificial light to identify its undertone.

How do you choose cool or warm paint colors?

To choose cool or warm paint colors, consider the overall mood and atmosphere you want to create. Cool colors like blues and greens evoke a sense of calmness, while warm colors like reds and yellows bring warmth and energy. Think about the desired effect and how it complements your space.

How do I choose a paint color that flows?

To choose a paint color that flows, consider the existing colors and finishes in your space. Look for colors that have similar undertones or complementary hues to create a cohesive and harmonious flow. Test the colors in different lighting conditions to ensure they work well together.

How do I know if I need cool or warm undertones?

Determining whether you need cool or warm undertones depends on your personal preference and the desired atmosphere in your space. Cool undertones can create a calm and soothing environment, while warm undertones bring energy and vibrancy. Consider the overall feel you want to achieve and select undertones accordingly.

Is Grey a cool or warm color?

Grey can have both cool and warm undertones. Some greys lean towards cool tones with blue or green undertones, while others have warm tones with yellow or brown undertones. It’s important to consider the specific shade of grey and its undertones when determining its overall coolness or warmth.

How do I know my undertone color?

To determine your undertone color, observe the natural undertones in your skin or other features. If you have cool undertones, your skin may have hints of pink or blue. Warm undertones are characterized by yellow or peachy tones. Understanding your undertone can help guide your color choices for makeup, clothing, and even paint colors.

Do cool undertones look good in grey?

Yes, cool undertones can look good in grey. Cool greys with blue or green undertones can create a calming and sophisticated atmosphere. They can complement cool-toned furnishings and decor elements, resulting in a cohesive and pleasing aesthetic.

What are the 4 undertones of gray?

The four undertones of grey are cool (blue or green), warm (yellow or brown), purple, and pink. These undertones can give different shades of grey unique characteristics and can be used to evoke different moods or complement specific color schemes.

What are the three types of undertones?

The three types of undertones are cool, warm, and neutral. Cool undertones have hints of blue or green, warm undertones have yellow or peachy tones, and neutral undertones have a balance of both cool and warm tones.

What are the undertones of neutrals?

Neutrals can have various undertones, including cool (blue or green), warm (yellow or brown), or even pink or purple undertones. The undertones of neutrals can affect how they appear in different lighting and their compatibility with other colors in a color scheme.


We hope you found this guide on Understanding the Undertones of Different Paint Colors both enlightening and empowering. At Horizon Painting, we’re passionate about helping homeowners like you create spaces that truly reflect your unique style and personality.

If you’re ready to embark on your painting journey or if you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team of experts is here to provide guidance, recommendations, and professional painting services tailored to your needs.

Remember, color has the power to transform your home, and we’re here to make that transformation a reality. Contact us at Horizon Painting today and let’s bring your vision to life.