How to paint an open concept kitchen & living room

Updated April 17, 2017

Open concept floor plans are popular in modern home design. They result in wide open spaces where one living space flows into the next. An open concept kitchen and living room area is often referred to as a great room, and choosing paint colours for it can be a challenge. With the myriad of colour choices available to you, deciding which ones will work best with your design style can be mind boggling. But before you settle on that old stand by, white, take the time to learn about choosing colour.

Unite the kitchen and living room. Paint the area with one colour. Choose a neutral colour to unite the rooms without overwhelming the furnishings and architectural elements.

Apply shades of the same colour. Choose a main colour. Consult paint swatches for two lighter shades of the same colour. Paint the one area with the main colour. Use the middle colour in the other space. Highlight architectural features with the lightest shade.

Select three complementary colours. Look at a colour wheel to see the colours that are across from each other. These are complementary colours and not shades of the same colour. One complementary colour will be a warm colour like orange. The colour opposite it will be a cool colour like blue. Choose lighter shades of complementary colours for a quiet mood and deeper shades for more impact.

Consider other colours in the room. Look at the colours of the kitchen cabinets, the mouldings and architectural features like fireplace mantels and columns. Take into consideration upholstery and furniture colours, and choose colours that complement rather than clash with them.

Choose colours that go with your decorating style. For example, you might opt for a grey-blue, colonial red and mustard colour scheme for a country space, where as a great room with a Tuscan flair calls for earth tones like golds and muted greens.

Highlight window trim or architectural features like columns with a bright colour such as primary blue. Paint the adjoining wall a light shade of orange.

Tone down shades of one colour or two complementary colours by adding white to your colour scheme. Use it on things like wainscoting and finish off the wall in one of the other colours. Paint the ceiling and window and door trim white.


Human eyes can distinguish 7 million separate colours. On a colour wheel there are three primary colours: red, blue and yellow. Orange, green and purple are secondary colours, produced by mixing the primary colours. When the secondary colours are mixed, they produce tertiary colours.

Things You'll Need

  • Painting supplies
  • Paint swatches
  • Colour wheel
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About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.