How to Choose the Perfect Farmhouse Paint Colors

Learn how to achieve that signature “fixer upper”, rustic style in your home by choosing the perfect farmhouse style paint colors.

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

Hello, friends!!  So happy to be stopping by again from Making Joy and Pretty Things to try to make sense of something I think we probably all struggle with a bit … choosing paint colors!!

And not just any ole’ paint color, but that perfect farmhouse style hue.

If you religiously watch Fixer Upper like me, you know how amazing Joanna is at picking paint colors for any space.  The colors always seem to perfectly compliment the furniture and accessories and the rooms effortlessly flow together.

Now you can get paint that she uses in her home.  But, at $42 US dollars for a single gallon, it can be quite pricey.

So, you head to your local home improvement store.

It can be SO overwhelming to walk into the store to a bazillion different paint samples and try to pick just one.  You pull out a pretty blue then put it next to a lighter shade and realize the first blue was so dark it was almost black.  You spy at least 300 different shades of gray that you can’t possibly tell one from the other.

It’s like after you smell so many perfume samples that you can’t tell them apart – your eyes go blind to the different shades.

Or you paint your master bedroom a color that I can only imagine would be what the inside of a robin’s egg looks like (oh yeah, I did this!)

As you can see, I am certainly no expert.  But, I’ve formulated a little plan of my own when choosing farmhouse paint colors that can hopefully help you, too 🙂

First, let’s take a look at how the pros (aka Joanna Gaines) do it.

Source: Magnolia Homes

I love this soft shade of gray.  It pops against all the white accents in the room without being too bold that it takes away from the space.

Source: Magnolia Homes

One of my FAVORITE Fixer Upper renovations and probably the best dining room.  Can you imagine gathering around here for Christmas dinner??  Amazing.  Anyway, the room is relatively dark with few windows and the white shade on the wall really makes it feel bright and airy.

Source: Magnolia Homes

She doesn’t always go 100% neutral.  The pop of green color matches perfectly with all the wood accents and brown couches.

Source: Magnolia Homes

And, she doesn’t always pick a really light paint color, either.  The darker gray/green color here is beautiful.  Notice all the furniture is white to offset the dark color and the room has a ton of natural light with the windows.

Source: Magnolia Homes

Again, a room without much natural light gets a lighter shade of greige (aka a gray + beige combo color) with white and wood accents to keep the space light and airy.

Okay, so you know you want your house to look like you were on Fixer Upper.  Where do you start?

1. look at pinterest!

What?  Is that real advice? YES!!!

When I’m looking for inspiration, Pinterest is my best friend.  There are real life people there sharing their real life renovations.  Find something you love and I bet you’ll find the exact paint color they used (and if it’s not listed, shoot the blogger an email!)

2.  consider the room you’re painting

While that darker gray/green color Joanna used in the above example looks great in a bright room, it may not look so pretty in your windowless bathroom.

If you’re painting a large room with tons of natural light, you can choose a darker paint color if you wish.  If it’s a smaller or darker room, choose a lighter shade.

Also, consider what furniture you already have.  If you have a ton of white furniture, say in a dining room, you can choose to go neutral or add bit of color.  If you’re living room has dark brown couches and accents, I would probably stick to a lighter, neutral shade.  That pretty bold focal rug really makes a statement so some lighter paint on the wall won’t drown it out.

3.  go grab all of the swatches

Okay, you know in general if you should stick to a light shade or if a pop of color would work.  Now, head to the store and grab all of the paint swatches.  If it catches your eye, pick it up.

I just went to Home Depot and snagged 50+ paint swatches.  I may have gotten the stink eye from some people (or maybe it was because my kids were doing snow angels on the floor) but, who cares!

Once you bring them home and lay them out, it’s very easy to start eliminating.  Generally, I can get it down to 3-5 colors.

For our farmhouse nursery makeover we are just starting (yay!!), I grabbed a few swatches of  white/off-white/pinkish white.

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

4.  know your undertones

So, you picked a pretty gray.  It’s perfect.  You paint your whole room only to realize it has PURPLE undertones.  It’s Barney’s dream room (if you don’t get that reference, be happy 😉 ).

How do you find out what undertones are?

Grab your swatches from step 3 and look at the darkest color on the swatch.  The undertone color will immediately jump out to you.  If it’s still a light white color and you can’t see for sure, put it against a white piece of paper for some contrast.

That color your see in the darkest color on the swatch will be present even in the lightest shade.  That’s how you end up thinking you picked a clean gray but end up with something purple-ish gray.

Once you find the undertone, you can probably eliminate a few other colors.

This step is especially important when choosing a neutral farmhouse paint color (i.e. some form of gray or greige).  When choosing a gray, think about what undertone you want.  If it’s the perfect greige, look for something with a brown/taupe undertone.  

Look at the picture below.  Color the bottom two colors with your hand and just look at the top gray.  Doesn’t it just look like a regular gray with no undertones?  Then, compare it to the whole swatch, especially the darkest color.  The last color definitely has green undertones.  So, the gray on the top  is going to have green undertones, too!

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

5.  get samples

The step I always seem to skip over for whatever reason probably would have saved me from living in a robin’s egg in our master bedroom.  GET SAMPLES.

If you have 3-5 colors, you can get samples for a few dollars each.  It will be well worth it in the end to spend the few extra dollars rather than realizing after you paint the entire room that you don’t like a color.

For our nursery, we grabbed samples of gorgeous white and alabaster.  I eliminated the other two colors after I brought them home and taped them to the wall.

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

6.  Paint small sections on the wall

This is really such an important step.  You could go through all the aforementioned steps, bring the sample home and still love the color in the paint can.  But, put it up on the walls in the room it’s going to go.  Comparing the actual color on the walls next to your furniture and decor can be a game changer!

In the nursery, we painted a small section of the wall with both samples next to each other.  I originally was going to use one on the walls and one as the accent color.  But, after putting the colors on the wall, I realized I didn’t like the pinkish white at all!!  So glad we got samples this time!

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

Now, I just talked a lot in general about choosing paint colors.  But, how does this all relate back to choose farmhouse paint colors?

To me, farmhouse colors all center around neutral.  And the farmhouse style look primarily revolves around two colors: white and gray.  You can go neutral two ways with these colors: warm or cool.

Take any color (let’s say gray) and add a green or blue undertone and you get a cool neutral gray.  Take that same color and add beige or taupe undertones and you get a warm neutral greige.  Which way you go is a personal preference and you saw in the examples from Fixer Upper that they use both cool and warm undertones.

I found an interview with Joanna Gaines from before she had her own paint line where she listed some of her favorite go-to paint colors.  If you’re at a total loss where to start, start here!


How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Silver Strand     2.  Mindful Gray    3. Oyster Pearl     4.  Passive     5.  Intellectual Gray

I scoured the internet my local Sherwin-Williams and Home Depot stores to find a bunch of other farmhouse style paint colors.

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Alabaster     2.  Repose Gray    3.  Pure White

4.   Amazing Gray    5.  Colonnade Gray     6.  Requisite Gray

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Gray Clouds    2.  Accessible Beige    3.  Dover White 

4.   Spatial White    5.  Greek Villa   6.  Snowbound

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Comfort Gray     2.  Egret White    3.  Versatile Gray

4.   Gossamer Veil    5.  Front Porch   6.  Useful Gray

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Aesthetic White     2.  Reflection     3.  Agreeable Gray

4.   Olympus White   5.  Popular Gray   6.  Anew Gray

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Natural Gray     2.  Cathedral Gray     3.  Burnished Clay

4.   Antique White     5.  Elephant Skin     6. Silver Marlin

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Edgecomb Gray     2.  Wish     3.  Silver Satin

4.   Blue Lace     5.  Paper White    6. Sandlot Gray

How to choose the perfect farmhouse style paint color.

1.  Revere Pewter     2.  Gray Owl     3.  Wickham Gray

4.   Moonshine    5.  Balboa Mist    6.  Silver Moon

Sooo many pretty colors.

I hope this helps you a bit when choosing your own paint colors.  Slapping on some new paint is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to update a room.  It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do!

If no color really stood out to you, or you went color blind looking at so many shades of gray/white, check out this post from The Weathered Fox.  In her post, she matched 25 paint colors from Joanna Gaines’ paint line to Benjamin Moore paint colors.  That definitely takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect “Fixer Upper” color.

Also, most stores offer color matching to their competitors’ colors.  I found this out while we were renovating our current house and even knowing that the match may not be 100% perfect,  it was a game changer!

Do you have a favorite neutral farmhouse color?  Any colors from above jump out to you?

Wishing you a joyful day!


Happy Notes copy    

About Sarah

I’m Sarah - - a wife, boy-mom, procrastinator, part-time pharmacist, full-time crafting addict and lover of joy-filled days. This is a creative space for all my DIY and home decor projects and making our house a JOYful home.

33 thoughts on “How to Choose the Perfect Farmhouse Paint Colors

  1. Wow your post and the weathered fox post are very helpful. Up refreshing my kitchen including painting my cabinets and I’ve been avoiding choosing paint colors because it’s hard! So thanks for your help….j

    1. Thanks so much, June!! I agree, The Weathered Fox posts is AMAZING! Definitely takes the guesswork out of choosing colors. Good luck choosing colors for your kitchen!

  2. Decisions, decisions!! I recently posted on instagram how hard it is to pick a paint color. I guess the swatches aren’t in tune with my brain 😉 Thanks for your tips!

  3. Great tips, Sarah!! I just went through this process a couple months ago and brought home a gazillion samples! I agree, finding the undertones is so important! Thanks for sharing! xo

  4. Great tips! Thanks! Also, you listed the swatches at the end with the # and name of the paint but I didn’t see which were from Sherwin Williams and which were the Home Depot colors?

  5. How about outside colors. We have an 1836 farmhouse in rural New England which is the traditional white. I’m thinking gray with white trim. Part of our roof is red metal.

  6. I’m in the process of painting most of the interior of our home I need the prettiest palette! Passive (gray) walls, ceilings and trim crisp White Cotton by Sherwin Williams. Absolutely love it. It’s a chameleon color, changing tones throughout the day, but intimate and cozy at night, without going drab. It’s so refreshing to have this cooler neutral after years of tans, yellows and warmer shades. I did all your steps, and am really happy with the choice. Great tips!

    1. It sounds absolutely perfect Sharon! LOVE passive gray, it’s the perfect choice to run through any and every room and I couldn’t agree more about the cooler tones making their way in!

  7. 3Great post. Love all of the colors. Any suggestions on a color for my living room? Dark brown sectional, medium colored hardwood floors, red brick fireplace, cream rug with large flowers of sage green, barn red, Brown’s and gold. No natural light. Color now is too dark on walls. Any suggestions anyone has would be great!

    1. Thanks so much for reaching out Brandy! I’m actually gathering light beige/taupe samples for a friend right now and was thinking I might need to put together a post about them all to share with others too. Watch for some ideas coming to the blog soon Brandy!

  8. Hello and thank you so much for your article. My mind has been awhirl with all of the colors. I have done research online, scoured Pinterest and visited paint stores. I finally purchased a couple of different grays to paint on my walls to try out, but was thinking..okay, so you might or might not like these, then what? I live out in the country so it takes an hour to drive to the nearest Lowes or Home Depot. So, I must consider colors that are complimentary as I am painting my entire home. And I have vaulted two story high ceilings, so do I go dark on the ceiling or light? My kitchen connects to the living room so do I use one type (like eggshell) in my kitchen and then go to a matte in the same color for my living room? Or do I stick with the same…So many decisions and things to consider. But your article was very helpful in 1) understanding how extremely complicated choosing paint colors can be and 2) providing me some excellent examples to choose from. So thank you thank you! Terry

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