The 18 Most Popular Paint Colors of All Time
According to our favorite paint experts.
Published Feb 6, 2020 1:00 AM
As anyone who has ever endeavored to do so will tell you, picking a paint color is stressful. Your trip to the hardware store results in numerous tiny paint chips taped to your walls in the hopes that a two-inch square will provide clarity. You agonize between two nearly identical (but different!) shades of blue-gray because you’re sure the skosh of shade difference could be your downfall. You start to question everything as you muse over whether that emerald hue really is timeless or whether it’s a trendy decision you’ll live to regret. You may end up abandoning everything and leaving your walls a plain white in defeat. Sound familiar? We’re here to help.
To narrow down the seemingly endless array of color swatches, we polled leading paint experts from Farrow & Ball, Clare, Sherwin-Williams, Behr, and Benjamin Moore to discover their most popular hues. There’s a classic array of neutrals, ranging from crisp whites to warm creams, as well as varieties of trendy matte black. But by and large, the most popular paint colors are not vibrant, overly saturated tones one might expect from a society leaning increasingly maximalist: They’re muted mauves, blue-grays, and dark reds.
If you want to give your own space a paint revamp, consider these beloved shades.
Farrow & Ball
“De Nimes No. 299 is a complex blue, perfect for those who are wary of moving into a world of color because it still has a familiar underlying gray tone, which is more visibly apparent in spaces with low light. In well-lit areas, it appears much bluer,” shares Joa Studholme, the color curator at Farrow & Ball. Studholme recommends using the deep blue-gray on front doors and other exterior surfaces for a distinctive look—though, if it’s mostly your home’s insides that you are concerned with, she says you can’t go wrong with using it in your living room or kitchen. “It’s also a great anchor to a space, so it’s perfect for use on kitchen units, especially when teamed with the slightly darker and equally complex Railings on a central island,” she notes.
Feeling something unique? Try Sulking Room Pink No. 295 as an alternative to the poppy Millennial Pink. It’s more of a dirty-rose hue, and Studholme is a fan of keeping it in living rooms to create a comforting, intimate space. “With the world in turmoil, it’s not surprising to see a move toward the comfort of nostalgia—colors that not only enrich homes but also the soul.”
Though user, beware: This color comes with a caveat. “It’s important to avoid clean white with this color, as its powdery feel makes it incredibly soft and is better used with complementary tones like School House White or fellow pink Peignoir on woodwork or ceilings,” cautions Studholme.
“Paean Black No. 294 is a Georgian-inspired, red-based black that creates an intimate feel in super-contemporary or bohemian homes while adding a distinguished look to traditional exteriors,” says Studholme of the brand’s take on the matte black trend. “It is the perfect accent for all Farrow & Ball reds.”
It’s hardly surprising that rental-friendly white is on the list of most popular paint colors, but Sherwin-Williams’ best seller is anything but plain. “Pure White is Sherwin-Williams’ most popular color because it’s a neutral white that doesn’t lean too cool or creamy,” explains Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for the brand. “I love a monochromatic look with this color. Use it on both the walls and trim; a semi-gloss finish for the trim and a flat finish for the walls.”
“Tricorn Black is our truest black and it makes a great accent color,” continues the color expert. She’s a fan of embracing the dramatic with this one—which you may as well do with a matte black color, right?—and painting either your ceiling or trim black for some high contrast against white walls.
Behind neutrals, blues appear to be the most popular paint colors across the board—though the tones vary. Aleutian, a paler blue-gray, instantly feels zen, making it perhaps no wonder that it’s a best seller in today’s increasingly stressed-out world. “I like blues in the bedroom, where they invoke a sense of calm to help relax at the end of the day,” says Wadden.
“Rainwashed is a pale green with hints of pastel gray,” says Wadden. “I love this color with a pale pink, such as Charming Pink.” If you’ve been looking for the perfect color combo to dip your toe into the ice cream pastel color trend, this expert-sanctioned pairing may just be the ticket.
Conversely, go bold. Sherwin-Williams’ most popular red is sophisticated and timeless. Fans of the modern farmhouse movement, in particular, will love it. Try using Rave Red in your entryway for a dramatic first impression,” recommends Wadden.
“Headspace is a soft blue-green hue with a calm, airy vibe,” says Clare founder and CEO Nicole Gibbons. “This color would look exceptionally dreamy in a serene bedroom paired with soft neutrals and a mix of patterns.”
With a name tailor-made for the Millennial demographic Clare is sure to attract, we can see why Current Mood is a best seller. “While it’s true most people opt for safer neutrals, Current Mood is a deep, moody green that totally goes against the neutral trend,” says Gibbons of the rich emerald hue. The shade is another one that’s been enjoying a moment in the spotlight lately; equal parts sophisticated and bold, it’s perfect for creating a statement in a smaller space like a powder room.
Greige is back in a big way. The versatile neutral is easily one of the most popular paint colors; subtle enough to act as a backdrop to any design aesthetic, you can’t go wrong with this shade. “Penthouse is a sophisticated hue that reflects light beautifully. It’s an extremely versatile color that pairs beautifully with any colors or patterns and would look great in any space,” says Gibbons of the multifaceted hue.
If a darker neutral isn’t quite what you’re looking for, consider Whipped. “[It’s] our best-selling color and most popular shade of white,” shares Gibbons. “It’s a warm white with a soft, delicate feel and would look great in a living room accented with pops of color throughout. This white is versatile enough to work in any space, but it’s an especially great choice for north-facing rooms.”
The boldest Benjamin Moore best seller? Hale Navy, a classic dark blue shade that can be styled virtually any way. Don’t let the boldness of the color turn you off; according to Andrea Magno, color and design expert for the brand, navy is the easiest of the dark colors to implement given its timelessness. “This color is frequently associated with a crisp nautical look, but it has moved beyond that association to one that is comfortable against modern furnishings and art or it can create a focal point in an otherwise neutral room,” says Magno of the many ways to design with navy. She also recommends pairing it with accents like reds, pinks, and yellows for some chromatic contrast.
“One of our most popular whites, White Dove is a creamy [shade] that pairs perfectly with an array of colors, from pales to deeps,” says Magno. “This hue has a bit of warmth without a yellow cast, making it very appealing and easy to use with both warm and cool colors.” Take a page from the color expert and use it to spruce up tired-looking wall trim or doors.
“For an ideal neutral, look to Edgecomb Gray,” advises Magno. “This muted hue has a touch of gray but is also warm, creating a pleasing balance that works well in many homes and [with] a wide range of decorative styles. It’s the kind of color that works exceptionally well as a backdrop, as it can tie a room together.”
Maybe you’re willing to branch out a bit into a slightly tinted neutral. Enter Porcelain Peach by Behr. According to the company’s VP of color and creative services, Erika Woelfel, the mildly orange tone hints at a larger color trend. “We’re seeing oranges transition from sweet and tropical to burnt and brewed, with a slight cast of red,” explains the expert. “The lines between these two color families will continue to blur, as orange continues its influence.” Woelfel’s preferred way to decorate with Porcelain Peach? Paired with another soft neutral, Amazon Breeze.
“Dark Crimson is consistently among our most popular colors and is a classic, refined choice for a front door,” says Woelfel. “Bright red-hot hues are giving way to rustier versions with orange and brown undertones.” Tap into this up-and-coming trend with a deep shade of red.
Behr announced Blueprint as its 2019 Color of the Year, and since the announcement, the popularity of this deep blue-gray has skyrocketed. “Warmer than denim yet softer than navy, this shade is versatile enough to be used as an accent or swathed across an entire space. I love layering Blueprint with other shades of light and dark blue for a chic, monochromatic look,” says Woelfel.