Decorating From Scratch-Choosing a Color Palette

I am working with a new client who by choice, has decided to bring absolutely nothing with him to his new home other than his clothes. For some people this would be a dream come true…”Woo Hoo I won the lottery and I am buying everything new!”  For others this would be a horrible nightmare, for example the home owners who lost everything during hurricane Sandy. I thought it might be fun to share with you my decorating process and how I am creating a home for my client starting from scratch.

When decorating from scratch there are two equally important first steps; creating the floor plan and the choosing the color palette. In this case I was asked to begin work on my client’s home before the closing so I was not able to get in and measure for the floor plan for a few weeks so I started with a color palette.

Since I had no inspiration pieces such as art work, carpet or fabrics to pull color from I began by asking my client lots of color preference questions.  His favorite color is Orange and his favorite neutral color is Gray. To get a little more inspiration I spent some time walking around his new town.  Located on the water it is a town with a history rich in both nautical and factory work. I wanted to be sure to honor this in the color pallet I chose for his circa 1850’s home.


What colors did I see everywhere I looked? Orange and Gray! Two of my client’s favorite colors. The down town is lined with Orange brick buildings and Gray cobblestones.

Newburyport MA

I also saw lots of deep blues and Navy reflected in the water of the harbor. My palette was chosen. I decided to use a warm Gray as the anchoring neutral with Orange with accents of Navy.

Here is the color pallet I presented to my client which he loved.

We painted the walls of his living room, dining room and kitchen which are all open to one another Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter. I also added a little pop of Orange to the back of his built in bookcases which flank both sides of a window seat. Here is a sneak peak of the built in with the orange on the back and Revere Pewter on the walls.

little pop of orange


Before settling on the final color pallet I chose all the fabrics for the window treatments, pillows, and carpet. It is kind of like a puzzle when starting with nothing. For example I found a Gray and Orange fabric I loved then tweaked the Orange to better relate with the fabric. Everything relates to each other and you need to think about not only the room as a whole but the flow of the colors throughout the house. In my next post I will show how I used my color pallet throughout the first floor so that everything flowed and related to one another.

Have you ever decorated from scratch? If so, what inspired you to choose your color palette?

If you would like help decorating from scratch or just getting a better color flow in your home, give me a call.

15 Responses to Decorating From Scratch-Choosing a Color Palette
  1. Kristie Barnett, TheDecorologist Reply

    Love your colors, Linda! Can’t wait to see more of this space 🙂

  2. Sherry Reply

    Great job, Linda! I never would’ve thought to approach it this way. Hope we get to see the space after he furnishes it.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Sherry and I will absolutely share pictures when it is finished.

  3. Kelly Reply

    Your client’s town looks beautiful! I love the colors you put together reflecting those colors. Can’t wait to see everything put together!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Kelly! It’s a fun job although very time consuming.

  4. Sheila @sZinteriors Reply

    I love where you’re going with this, Linda, and can’t wait to see more. The orange backed book case is brilliant!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks so much Sheila! I will share pictures once everything is done.

  5. paula Ryan Reply

    I have to do this all the time, but with a twist. My husband and I own a construction company and built custom and also “spec” homes, we don’t do cookie cutter houses so I always try to pick good neutral, which I have used Revere Pewter, and throw in a pop of color in bathrooms to give it some life…but not too much that people are freaked out to buy it!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      It’s a fine balance isn’t it Paula when you want to do something “on trend” but don’t want to put off your more conservative buyers. I think Revere Pewter is always a safe choice…anything but “builders beige”!

  6. Leslee in TN Reply

    Looking so forward to seeing the finish of this client’s space!

  7. Laurel Anderson Reply

    Linda, I love the colors as well, and how you chose them. My own home is all wood surrounded by green ( all year round in Costa Rica) and that influenced my choices for interior decór. I loved that you took note of the deep blue of the harbor, very intuitive, and the colors are masculine. Looking forward to pictures of the finished home.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      thanks so much Laurel! I have visited Costa Rica and most of the hotels we stayed in had the most gorgeous lush colors of the rain forest and the tropical birds and flowers. It was a color lovers paradise!

  8. [...] I wrote about HERE, I am working with a new client who by choice, decided to decorate from scratch. Ther...
  9. Patty Reply

    I think those color choices are wonderful and that is the best blue I have seen with Revere Pewter. One thing though, it is color palette, not pallet. A pallet is a wooden structure to hold large objects, also called a skid. Sorry, I am a spelling nerd!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thank you Patty for the correction. I am very embarrassed… if “spell correct” doesn’t alert me I will usually not pick up the error. Thanks again!

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