Best Zen Paint Colors

Bob Roberts
• Wednesday, 30 December, 2020
• 8 min read

“There's something in the color blue that triggers a relaxation response. It makes me feel as if I'm floating in a boat, looking up at the sky.

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Everything about it speaks of a gentle, tranquil, Zen state of mind. There's a softness to this cream, with a touch of red, that attracts me.

“These grays are just the calmest thing in the world, and the green in them means they go with everything. The darker color grounds the room, and then the lighter runs right up to the ceiling and makes it feel higher.

“You know how good it feels to turn your face to the sun? That warm, life-giving quality is one of the things that makes yellow very healing.

Chartreuse can be very acid, but this is more of a soft yellow-green, easy to work with. I see it in a master bedroom with creamy linens and a touch of coral.

“Pink represents love and tenderness. It attracts kindness and compassion, which is very helpful for emotional healing.

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It will put the sweetness back into your life.” “Everybody is working so hard, and you want to come home to a place where you can rest.

Bring in burnt orange, dark gray, or indigo blue.” Violet draws out a higher consciousness, so they say, because it's nearest to black.

And it's simultaneously warm and cool, vibrant and relaxed, vintage and fresh. “This color envelops you, quietly penetrating like a deep massage.

You can relax and regroup, physically and emotionally, until you regain your strength. It's the color of the clay pipes made by the indigenous people of our land to communicate with the creator.

“Green is in the middle of the spectrum, so in a sense it incorporates both ends and embraces all the realms of light that people need for nourishment. So we asked 10 interior designers to share their favorite feel-good colors.

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A blush-painted room filled with plants and natural decor screams relaxation. It's the perfect space to sit back and get lost in a good book.

Choose a deep yet muted gray with a bit of a green undertone for a spa-like sensation when you enter the room. Plus, science is behind it as a color that's bound to make you feel happy.

“It sets the tone for my whole morning,” says Analyses Taft-Gersten of starting her days in this white master bath. Paired with neutral bedding and decor, it's the epitome of stress relief.

The gloss makes it even better, according to Sean Leaders, who designed this room. Choose a purple with gray undertones, like lilac, so it doesn't feel too bold and vibrant.

This off-white with a tinge of pink will have you wanting to lounge all day long. Pair it with other neutrals with fun patterns like Jonathan Berger did in this room.

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This blue-green mix gives a living room by Thomas Jayne just the right amount of liveliness without being too overbearing. A room drenched in a pale blue shade will have you feeling like you're almost in a fairy tale.

A dark green will make you feel like you're relaxing among nature, whether it's a park or the jungle. With the right accessories, a dark gray can instantly bring you into a relaxed state Add a few lit candles to set the tranquil mood, and it's the perfect space to meditate, take a nap, or enjoy a meal.

Warden suggests veering towards calming blues and greens, which she describes as “soothing and grounding colors that encourage wellbeing.” Soft neutrals can also encourage relaxation, and she suggests whites, creams, bases, and lighter gray as soothing backdrops.

The founder of Clare Paint, Nicole Gibbons, also turns to blues and neutrals to create a relaxing atmosphere. “I love using serene, understated blue and neutral shades to create a sense of instant calm in a space,” she says.

“Blue-greens and soft grays can feel especially tranquil and instantly put you at ease.” She describes it as a “soft and airy blue-green hue” that creates a serene atmosphere in any room.

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“The soft green undertone creates an ethereal feeling that is perfect for soaking in a bath and relaxing,” she adds. If you're looking for a neutral wall color that mixes well with serene blue and green decor, try these complementary shades of cream, white, and beige.

If you love a warm, natural aesthetic, try using an earthy taupe on kitchen cabinetry, and you'll feel at ease in the busiest room in the house. Indianapolis-based interior designer Whitney Parkinson featured Farrow & Ball's Drop Cloth in a space that lacked ample natural light.

Living room ship lap wall featuring Cloud White by Benjamin Moore. If you prefer a more modern, transitional aesthetic, interior designer Marie Flanagan recommends Benjamin Moore's Cloud White.

This guest house project was designed to bring tranquility to visitors the moment they step through the door. When it comes to light blues, often the shade you fall in love with on the paint chip is not what you end up seeing on the wall.

But if you know what to expect from the outset, you can pick a shade of light blue that's both reliable and relaxing. Master bedroom walls painted with Oyster Shell by Benjamin Moore.

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If you're looking for a peaceful, barely-there blue that almost disappears on the wall, turn to Benjamin Moore's Oyster Shell. It's a favorite of designer Shannon Train of Houston, TX, who says it “feels like a cloud” and has an instant soothing effect.

Sitting room ceiling featuring Lookout Point by Benjamin Moore. Classic white walls can be a relaxing choice on their own, but Washington, D.C.-based designer Anna Matthews took things a step further by adding Benjamin Moore's Lookout Point to the ceiling of this zen living room.

The color balances fresh shades of green on the furnishings, and ties in with the drapery pattern to bring the room together. It might seem gloomy, but the shades of gray, especially those with warm undertones, can ground a room.

Gibbons suggests using it on cabinetry coupled with crisp, white walls, though it also fits well in kitchens, laundry rooms, and living areas. “In the spirit of feeling clean and fresh, it's our most neutral light gray with no undertones,” she says.

Neutral bedroom walls painted with Pavilion Gray by Farrow & Ball. For fostering tranquility, New York interior designer Shelly Lynch-Sparks of Hyphen & Co. prefers gray in a bedroom.

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“It has a soft, tonal sheen that is simultaneously warm and inviting; it's the perfect layer to bring a neutral palette together,” she says. “This color makes you feel calm, refreshed, comfortable, and laid back when you're in the room.

I'm sure it's a combination of all the elements living in harmony, but the paint color seems to always draw people's eye!” Take Farrow & Ball's Oval Room Blue, for example, which was recommended by two designers independently.

Designer Amy Studebaker of St. Louis, MO, used it in a client's master bathroom as a trim and custom cabinetry color. Interior designer Jennifer Barron suggests the shade as a serene bedroom color that envelops guests and creates a relaxing atmosphere.

“Our 2020 color of the year, Naval SW 6244, is a deep navy hue that is surprisingly both bold and soothing,” she says. If you're still not sold on a single shade, start eliminating options by rolling samples on poster board pieces (rather than the wall) and moving them around the room throughout the day.

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