Choosing Colors: Countertops, Floors, Doors, & More

Trying to create a space which is stylish, but also timeless, can be a tricky matter. Everyone needs a place to start. And what better place than choosing the right colors for your countertops, floors, doors, and more?

Design enthusiast and expert home décor specialist Michael Samsel of comes to your rescue here in an overview of what to think about when it comes to choosing colors that are naturally complementary. There’s even a link to a very helpful tool included herein …


Finish materials such as countertops, tile, stone, floor coverings, cabinetry, doors, windows & fixtures are all part of the complete color palette of your home. Furthermore, there are specific selections for each that, if generally adhered to, can keep your home from becoming dated and still allow you to express your color-loving self through paint, artwork, and furnishings.

Let me start by saying that there are many beautiful and interesting combinations of finishes that can be delightfully unexpected and can hold up to the test of time. So this is by no means a greatest hits list. Instead, this is a narrowly defined feature set that seems to get used over and over again and always just works. These safe-bet features are for the traditional style and are often found in mid-market and high-end homes.


More than any other room, the kitchen is the defining room of the house. Here, the sum of the parts are quickly assessed to see if the home is designed and built well.

1. Carrera marble or absolute black granite countertops. Accent counters can be done with stainless steel (perhaps for a pantry area) and wood (seen on some center islands).
2. Stainless appliances are still king. And, the bigger the budget the better. People want high end appliances. Commercial style cook stove with hood is still the focal point.
3. Farmhouse sinks are all the rage. Faucets in polished or brushed nickel.
4. Dark stained hardwood floors.
5. Painted cabinets in white or off-white color. Good cabinet detailing is important.
6. Subway tile for backsplash.


1. White fixtures only – toilets, sinks and tubs.
2. Master should have walk-in shower with freestanding tub. Secondary baths with tubs should have tile or marble surrounds only.
3. Cabinet style vanities.
4. Carrera or neutral colored tile or stone are used for countertops, floors, showers and partial wall applications.
5. Polished nickel or stainless plumbing fixtures, handles, wall sconces, and mirrors.


1. Dark stained hardwood throughout living area including main staircases.
2. Elegantly finished staircases with the proper balusters, handrail, newel posts, skirt boards, and moldings.
3. Bedrooms are either carpeted with commercial style carpet (not cut pile) or also in hardwood.
4. White or off-white painted doors, windows and trim. Keep the ceilings white as well. Satin or semi-gloss for trim, flat or eggshell for the walls.
5. Suitably sized 2 or 3 piece base, crown molding in living areas, and windows with casing, stool and apron. Divided light windows should be authentically divided – not done with a false grid.
6. Painted classic fireplace surrounds to match trim. Use true black granite around firebox.

About Color

Aside from the fact that these finishes look rich in a nice understated way, from a color standpoint, they provide a very neutral backdrop from which most other colors, even the most audacious, can live in harmony. From these finish materials we have the colors 1) White, 2) Black, 3) Silver (nickel and stainless), 4) Dark Brown, 5) Grey/Beige (carpet).

With this, rich or subtle colors can be added through paint, furnishings, towels, bedding and window coverings.

Choosing a wall color can be difficult. The white trim provides a nice contrast, so error towards soft, subtle colors to provide a nice atmosphere without taking over the place.

Wall Colors

Here’s an easy-to-take palette for wall colors to open the discussion. Identify which rooms can accommodate their own color. With an open floor plan, perhaps a single color works for all of the main living area with isolated rooms such as bedrooms, baths, and where there’s a distinct break – the kitchen, having separate colors. Keep the color intensity about the same from room to room.

Accent Colors

Accent colors are introduced with upholstery, area rugs, towels, bedding, window coverings and décor. This is where your colors can sing. There’s nothing worse than beige on beige on beige. Pattern and color can be combined to bring a room to life. And don’t forget the artwork.

Here’s a special color palette maker to create your own unique palette. Reference colors from your favorite accent pieces or start with your wall color, match the color using this tool (it’s easy to use), and you will be presented a number of complimentary colors based on formulas that use well established color theory rules. You can also build an entire custom palette and save it for reference.

Now; make your house a showpiece!

You can use this easy Color Palette tool to help you!


Thanks, Michael!

For much of the last 20 years, Michael has developed high-end homes in some of Seattle’s finest neighborhoods. He’s been the principal decision-maker for everything from location to design to the outfitting of interiors. In total, he’s  built and sold 10 beautiful homes – 3 of which were along the beautiful shores of Lake Washington.

Learn more about Michael’s work by visiting his blog at StylishHome Current



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