A 25-Color Whole House Paint Palette, A Surprise And A Warning


The other day, I got a comment on another post about a no-fail whole house paint palette.

She wrote to tell me that one of her colors had failed.

I quickly read through the note to find out that her failed color is Benjamin Moore Horizon 1478.

benjamin moore horizon


She said that it looked like Crest Toothpaste and that her husband was horrified.


I used Horizon before we sold our home three years ago. I had heard so many great things about it from trusted sources. The master bedroom and bathroom were both painted Horizon. It is a light gray with a hint of blue-green. The bedroom faces south-east and the bathroom has no windows except for a skylight. I thought the color looked great in both rooms–especially the bathroom. Our bedroom, architecturally, was very boring, and I think so more mouldings and artwork could’ve made the color that much nicer.

The color in the bathroom matched our gray carrara marble perfectly. It did not look anything like Crest Toothpaste.

So what happened here that the color failed so miserably? I don’t know for sure but here are three possibilities.


  • The paint was mixed incorrectly.
  • She used a painter who unscrupulously went out and “computer matched” with a cheap off-brand. Look for paint in a plain bucket. If he can’t show you the original bucket, I would wait until he’s gone and then change the locks. Have a male call him with a stern voice and say, YOU’RE FIRED.
  • Somethin’ is going on with the lighting. If the paint is going green, what bulbs are you using. What happens if you switch the bulbs with something else? Of course, this is in a room that has no windows, or a room too dark to use without lights on.
  • Something is reflecting into the room to cause the light to be  tinged with that color.
  • There are some odd angles going on.


[tweet_box design=”default”]This is why I say… No matter what. No matter how glorious I say a color is or you read it 16 other places, you must always test and compare what is on the wall to your paint chip![/tweet_box]


Alright, that was the warning. Now, for the surprise.

Remember that I promised you three Downton Abbey paint posts?

Well, here’s the thing. I have about 20 images that I HAVE to use. I just have to, but in order to keep it from getting too confusing, (and too long!) I think I’m going to separate them and every once in a while, create another Downton Abbey surprise.

I’ve had lots of requests to do a paint palette around the pale blue, gray, green images, as well as Cora’s Bedroom and the Dower House.

And this one.


carson-hughes-beach | whole house paint palette

What I have done is to create a palette of 25 colors that you can mix and match. Below are more inspiration paintings and a few rooms which mimic the paintings from Downton Abbey.

Jay Jeffers living room beach color palette

Here’s a room by Jay Jeffers in these beachy colors.

There’s a lot of debate over what is Cora’s bedroom color.

It appears to have changed over the years, but that could be the lighting. It’s TV. The colors could be very different from how they appear.

cora-bedroom-2 | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

However, I think what’s so wonderful about Cora’s bedroom…

Cora, Lady Grantham | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

is Cora.  I only started watching the show about 3 shows into the 3rd season. When I first saw this character, I thought, “is she for real?” But then I soon realized, that she was a genuinely, sweet, sweet woman. No snobby airs about her!


And then, there’s that yummy apricot-colored silk-damask headboard. For the show, it’s probably not silk, but back then, it most likely would’ve been.girl-beach-2

I don’t know who this character is, but adore the water and the beach palette.lake

I love the way this photo turned out as a water-color.


Anna visiting Bates in prison. These are similar colors in the Downton Abbey kitchen.

Lady Edith sitting in a cool chair | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

One of the most interesting characters on the show, IMO is Lady Edith. I’ve come to the conclusion that her main problem is that she was born 100 years or so too early. She’s a modern woman and obviously out-of-sync with her place in life, it seems. Don’t you love that chair?


That is… until she took over as publisher of a magazine; it was then that she began to find herself and her voice. I was so happy for her when the delightful, Bertie Pelham came into her life.

Oh rubbish, the truth had to come out about Marigold, Edith’s illegitimate daughter.

What a catharsis it was to finally hear the words from Edith to her sister that we longed to hear!

You’re a nasty, jealous, scheming BITCH! YOU’RE A BITCH!!!

Well, not an out-and-out bitch. Because if she was, Mary wouldn’t have rallied as she did.

Alas, Edith seemed to understand that her lot in life was to live alone as a spinster, albeit a spinster mother. But true love cannot be broken and Mary who first tore them apart, brought Edith and Bertie back together again. Well, she had to! We love Mary too. How could we not? Everyone has their moments. Right?

Nail bitingly, it was touch and go on account of Edith’s future mother-in-law; at the 11th hour, Edith came clean to her about Marigold.  Fortunately, by dinner, the prude got a hold of her senses and gave the anxious couple her blessing.

edith-bertie wedding | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

The epitome of a chic wedding in 1925. And she’s a Marchioness or something now; whatever that is, I don’t know. Apparently, it was a big deal back then. Spinster no more and through marriage outranked everyone in her family.

So there!

lady-rose | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

Didn’t you about pass out when Lady Rose came waltzing in, on the last episode in this glorious frock! I mean– smashing doesn’t quite cover it. I think the bear looks ready to devour her.

Modern-Duke-AERIN-furniture-2Furniture designed by Aerin Lauder via Modern Duke


Violet obviously cooking up some plan or other at the Dower House. Or maybe, she’s just admiring her enviable surroundings. Hard to tell.

dower-house-3 Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

Another shot of Violet’s parlor

mc-living-room-setteeWe used a seashore palette in this recent job.

Please pin the following to one of your pinterest boards. I worked my fingers to the bone making it. lol

A Whole House Paint Palette Featuring 25 Benjamin Moore Colors

(you won’t use all 25 colors unless your home is the size of Downton Abbey! haha! But the colors could also appear in a fabric and you can mix them up.)

downton-25-paint-colors | Downton Abbey | Whole house paint palette

All Colors By Benjamin Moore

I know… You want to know what the colors are. Here are the first 2 rows.

Newburg Green hc-158

Caribbean Teal 2123-20

Stratton Blue  hc-142

Palladian Blue hc-144

Woodlawn Blue hc-147

Peale Green hc-121

Great Barrington Green hc-122

Georgian Green hc-115

Green Thumb CSP 870

Glass Slipper 1632

Hope that’s okay. I think I got a little grandiose with the 25 colors. Most of them are in this post or this post.

Happy Spring! We made it! Over-all, not the worst winter. We even have lots of budding trees in the northeast last year. Nothing.



5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Glee Whitsett - April 5, 2016 - 4:42 PM

    Oh my goodness, this is the most beautiful post I have EVER seen! Thank you for your hard work on it. I’ve just discovered your website, and I just love it. You made my day a little brighter!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 5, 2016 - 7:36 PM

      Hi Glee,

      Thank you so much! You made my day brighter too! Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was fun work.ReplyCancel

  • Charmaine - March 21, 2016 - 3:24 PM

    Hi Laurel, I love your blog and it’s very helpful! I have a general question about Benjamin Moore paints: Is there any advantage to sticking to colors from the same color line – namely, Affinity vs. Classic Colors vs. Historical Colors etc – ? Or does the line not really matter, as long as I test the colors together and like them in my setting?

    These paint companies sure work to confuse! Thanks for helping us to sort it out 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 21, 2016 - 5:18 PM

      Hi Charmaine,

      Thanks so much!

      It doesn’t matter which formulation you choose. And yes, their intent, it appears is to confuse. Oh well…ReplyCancel

  • Kate - March 21, 2016 - 7:15 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    I was in total despair during our lengthy house renovation project (the whole roof structure had to come off) so I jumped at the opportunity to use you “NO FAIL Color palette”. The colors that were true to those on your pictures: Revere Pewter, Ivory White. They were so far (I did not finish all the rooms yet) the best colors and truly “no fail”.
    I liked Narrangansett Green, although it reads so much more deep blue than green compare to your photos. I am still in two minds about Feather Gray that reads like subtle blue-gray only in certain lighting and only on one wall while the rest is kind of fairly cold violet-blue. (both rooms are full of light and south facing)
    The biggest concern so far is Crownsville Gray – I liked your description of it so much that when it came up dark khaki on a sample card I still painted the room in this color. The room is small and north facing but I though that there is no reason to fight north-facing light and that the dark color should make the room look bigger. (I trust your every word Laurel☺). It did not make the room look bigger but just dark any time of the day. The neighboring north facing room is Feather gray (I painted two bedrooms this color) and it looks so much lighter. When I goggled Crownsville Gray most of the time it comes up as an exterior color. There are interiors with similar hue (sort of khaki with milk) to what you show on your pics but they are painted Rockport Gray or Copley Gray. I am wondering if you listed the right color.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 21, 2016 - 9:38 AM

      Hi Kate,

      Thank you for this feedback because it helps me make things even better.

      (Please note for anyone reading this that Kate is referring to this post – https://laurelberninteriors.com/2014/06/20/benjamin-moore-fail-paint-colors-bedrooms/

      not the one above.)

      I feel badly that you’re not happy with all of the colors, but there are a few important points; I may not have mentioned them in the original post. It feels like I wrote this a decade ago, but it wasn’t really that long ago.

      I always recommend testing colors and should’ve mentioned it here. It is always necessary to make large samples and put them up in several places, especially if one is unsure.

      It’s important to understand that north facing light is going to be relentless in its effort to work against you. And that is something I should’ve stressed more in the post.

      Paint is only one element of the room. It’s something I also need to convey more often.

      And lighting. For instance. One overhead light in a bedroom is going to render everything with a lot of shadows. I don’t recommend it unless there are also at least 2 or 3 table lamps and/or wall sconces.

      But, what are the other materials, furniture? floor color, window treatments, colors? If the room feels too dark, do you have a mirror(s) in the room? Is there art on the walls? Any metallic and or glass finishes?

      About the colors that you’re seeing on your monitor. I have to confess that what happened is I was working on a PC at the time that rendered everything blue, so I color corrected and made things yellower than they should’ve been. I did not realize that my monitor was off and adding blue to everything.

      When I got my Mac 17 months ago, it felt like everything looked yellow. That is why I say that colors on your monitor are only a suggestion of how they will look.

      Something else is that paint CAN get mixed wrong. I’m not saying this happened to you, but it has happened to clients of mine and we caught it before the room was painted!

      Based on your feedback, I am going to tweak this post in the near future and write another post and link the two together. ReplyCancel

      • Kate - March 21, 2016 - 11:01 AM

        Dear Laurel,

        Thank you very much for your reply. I followed your recommendations almost to the letter – I bought all of your recommended paints in sample sizes first and put them on large cards so I can move them around a room. I checked on these cards against white background and just to be sure painted large patches on different walls. I looked at them with light on and on a grey morning and in the sunny afternoon etc etc. I bought colors that BM website suggested as similar and one and two shades lighter to the Crownsville Gray.
        Please don’t feel bad that not all of the colors worked for me as I wanted them to work and I understand that there are so many things that can affect the way the color look on the wall/screen. I live in the UK where natural lighting, architecture, house layouts and sizes are very different to NY so it is not surprising that not all of the colors worked well.
        It just shows what a lengthy renovation can do to a person☺. I knew it was too good to be true and probably a figure of speech but I wanted so badly for these “no fail” colors to exist that I found the only distributor of BM in the UK with scandalous prices (samples at $9 plus shipping). However I’d rather paint my entire house Crownsville Gray than see my builders again.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 21, 2016 - 1:55 PM

          Oh Kate,
          You’re such a doll! I bet you can relate to a few of the posts I’ve written recently, that have delt with the kinds of builders we’re happy to see the back-end of.

          Lucky for me, I’ve had few of those experiences, but I hear about them and some of my clients have had them.

          I really am going to do a post about this because it’s so important. And you just brought up another point and that is… where you ARE in the world!

          I think I need to make it more clear that the colors are a guide and that for individual cases, the color might need to be darker or lighter, or something else.

          One of the freakiest things I ever saw was in a client’s kitchen. They had already painted it and it was a nice shade of teal. But there was a wall at a 45 degree angle to the adjacent wall. I think it was the eating niche. The color was entirely different. So different that I said that it was cool that they used two different colors. Well, it wasn’t two different colors! I’ll never get over that one. One was much lighter and greener than the other. ReplyCancel

          • kate - March 22, 2016 - 12:48 PM

            Dear Laurel,

            Yes, I can relate to most of your posts even from my geographical location☺. However our house market is the opposite of the one in the States – our old house was sold way above the asking price after one weekend of viewings. That is how bad the supply and demand situation here. That leads to a similar situation with builders – the demand for expansion of existing houses is so big that at summer the whole city is covered in scaffoldings. As a client you can only expect to be ripped off for a badly done job.
            However on a positive side – I believe that part of the demand was due to us painting house and a front door, enhancing architecturally bleak façade with iron flower baskets, moving to the storage all the clatter and strategically dotting plates of exotic fruits and expensive looking orchids.
            Selling lifestyle surely works☺.
            Thanks to your blog I was encouraged to use color on the walls after living a decade in all white home. And this is not a decision that people take lightly!
            I was reassured by your advice not to listen to painters, as they know nothing about the colors and the relationship between them. It is a counterintuitive statement but it is true.
            It would be lovely to see a post/s on how color works in a room not only in relationship to its position to the north/south but to its size, celling height, purpose and neighboring rooms. Once you decided to paint in dark saturated colors the set of problems is different to when you stay within light/neutral color scheme. For example dark blue/green walls in my bedroom refuse to visually enlarge the space with its mysterious darkness as the fairly low white celling tells the eye exactly were the edges are. The celling is screaming to be painted either in the same color as walls or in few shades lighter mix. But how do we marry dark celling in one room to the white once elsewhere? And don’t let me started on glaring white radiators ….
            The latest dilemmas are: what is going to happen to a currently “builders beige” south facing dinning room that has glass wall/door to the garden when I paint it Night Train? Would usually airy and sunlit room become like a cave compare to a bright garden space? Would I be able to find anything in my small purely lighten (day time) utility if seduced by your yummy description I will paint it Kendall Charcoal?
            I will write a report on that but today my Narrangansett Green bedroom was indeed green thanks to the ever-changing lighting and I loved it.

          • Laurel Bern - March 22, 2016 - 10:16 PM

            Hi Kate,

            You’re giving me such great material! And some of this is answered in today’s post.

            I have another post on here from maybe around June 2014 (I think about dark walls) And I should just look it up. It’s a photographer and I think she’s English, but her rooms are all very dark with dark ceilings too. But yes, if the ceiling is low and the walls are dark, the white is only going to make it appear lower, so perhaps start with a lighter shade of Narragansett.

            Years ago, my old boss had a decorating store and her walls were a deep English library green and the ceiling was a lighter version of the same color. The only thing is that ceiling was very high, like maybe 12 feet. But it was very nice.

  • Merridy Menna - March 20, 2016 - 2:34 PM

    Will you be listing the names of the rest of the paints? ( Pretty please😊)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:59 PM

      Hi Merridy,
      I will try to. I had plumb run out of steam and needed to finish the post.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Silverman - March 20, 2016 - 11:58 AM

    Another great post….as usual! I especially loved your comment about getting a stern male voice to call and fire the painter. As women, we may have come a long way, but it’s still a man’s world in some ways…especially when it comes to old school trades. I even had one contractor very succinctly tell me, when I was the project manager on a renovation, that he does not take direction from me! Maybe I should have grown some balls for that occasion!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:58 PM

      Hi Susan,
      Yeah… unfortunately, it’s sometimes the only way. ReplyCancel

  • taylor greenwalt - March 20, 2016 - 10:58 AM

    Hi Laurel..I love Horizon Blue…its one of my favorite colors! I think this lady was color blind!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:57 PM

      Hi Taylor,

      Well, anything is possible which is why I wrote all of the things that can go wrong. That’s why one must test a lot including the actual paint to make sure they mixed it correctly!ReplyCancel

  • Kerry - March 20, 2016 - 10:34 AM

    What is the name of the second color from the left on the third row? I have been looking for this color and have not been able to find one that works in a south facing sunny room!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:56 PM

      Hi Kerry,
      I believe that one is supposed to be Dunmore Cream HC-29. It’s really a lovely soft gold– a warm and good to live with color.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria Carling - March 20, 2016 - 10:34 AM

    Hi Laurel, I live in the South West of France. …do you happen to know if Benjamin Moore paint is available here? Or equivalents ? Thank you….ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:51 PM

      Hi Victoria,
      Gosh, I have no idea if the paint is sold in France or not. But you could probably order it some other way if you wanted to. But I imagine that they have nice paint there as well.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica S. - March 20, 2016 - 10:26 AM

    Oh dear, I wasn’t expecting to find Downton Abbey spoilers on my fave design blog. You are forgiven because I love you. However, I hope you’ll consider putting a spoiler alert at the top of the page for other fans who haven’t finished watching the show.
    (Edith gets married?!)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:50 PM

      I’m sorry if you haven’t seen it yet Jessica, but the show is long over! March 6th was the finale in the US. I wouldn’t have published it otherwise. It never occurred to me to put up a spoiler alert for something that’s already aired. And actually, today is the last day to see it on PBS.


  • Shirley Thompson - March 20, 2016 - 9:22 AM

    Hmmm…I used Horizon 1478 BM matte paint in my main bath – one window south facing. It’s a gentle soft light grey that pops the aqua/turquoise/light blue accents. Trim is BM Regal Super White semi-gloss. Both appear true to color at the BM store.

    Laura may be right about the computer color match – I forgot an small area behind the toilet (Toto skirted Aquia). Since the painters and paint were long gone when I discovered the bare area, I went to Home Depot for a qt of Behr matte paint color matched to Horizon 1748 and it wasn’t close. I ended up using a “dirty white” left over form another room and worked just fine. I also think it depends on the base of the white when color matching.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:45 PM

      Hi Shirley,

      Computer matching as you discovered is a crap shoot and not one I’m willing to take. I made the mistake–once, early in my career and learned my lesson!ReplyCancel

  • Susan - March 20, 2016 - 9:13 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    beautifully captured images and color palette! I was wondering what software you used to turn the images into watercolor.


    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:42 PM

      Hi Susan,

      I use sketcher for Mac and then I run most of them through a bit of finishing (for the skin areas mostly) in pic monkey. ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Rideout - March 20, 2016 - 8:58 AM

    Thanks Laurel, loved this post. I will miss Downton. In the beginning I despised Edith but as she grew as a character I found myself liking her. Funny as time passed I was disappointed with Cora, I don’t think they let her character develop and she wasn’t as interesting as she was in the beginning. Especially when Mary “killed” Kemal Pamuk and Cora rallied to help her.

    Sorry I digress, onto color. I purchased a small green and gray chinoiserie vase on clearance from Ethan Allen around 5 years ago. I decided to paint my laundry room green based upon it and a Harrison Howard print. I chose Georgian Green. Its funny how green isn’t looked upon favorable by alot of folks but my little laundry room (5×8) is tucked away so I just did what made me happy. Lighting does make a huge difference. Now if I could find a nice fabric for window treatments I will be all set. Have a lovely Sunday!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 10:40 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      I missed the first two seasons of DA and the beginning of the third, so missed a lot of that.

      I think that the English love green. (on the whole) It was more popular about 20 years ago. I’m sure it’ll come around again.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Dwelle - March 20, 2016 - 1:08 AM

    We are updating our house (small, old ranch built in the 80’s) to sell in a couple of years. I was freaking out about paint colors until I discovered your blog! We wanted to do one neutral color throughout the house and took your advice re painting tests on several spots of one wall as well as throughout the house. We chose a couple of grays by SW (no BM within 100 miles) and tested. On the Rocks is the winner – it varies between brown and gray depending on the light, but looks great in every room! Thanks for your excellent advice. Would love to see something about placing artwork – we have lots of original paintings and not much wall space in our new house.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 1:28 AM

      Hi Ann,

      I have several post here about art and art walls. If you go to the search box which is located on the sidebar, right under the Hall of Fame Banner, you’ll see it. Just type in Art or Art walls and they’ll all pop up.

      Glad the paint posts have been helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Cathlin - March 20, 2016 - 12:32 AM

    Ahhh! I was so nervous reading the title – and frankly, the Downton palette makes me want to just paint my house all over again? Except it turns out that given your contractor and painter even a ten color palette makes their eyes bug out a little. 😀

    On horizon…that is one we aren’t using, actually. I’m opting for Paper White in the bathrooms. Horizon read too baby blue with zero green. Same for Oyster Shell – no gray just straight up blue. These both came right from Benjamin Moore and in strong natural light I could see how you described them but in our rooms it was like. Whoa. Baby shower colors.

    Which isn’t a word against the palette (I’m using as many colors as I can from it!), but a testament to the importance of poster board swatches in the intended rooms.* 😄

    *on the wall. Flat. In natural light at multiple times of day. <–nailed it? 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 12:42 AM

      All interesting Cathlin.
      I’ve found that bathrooms can be especially tricky. My color is Shoreline which on the chip has zero blue. However, in certain lights, (I have one small frosted window) the color can look a little blue. Not baby at all, but pale gray-blue.
      At night, there is a faint tinge of blue green, but really faint. I like it best at night.

      I put up 25 colors, just because I’m a little nuts. :] I went in and made a little change. Of course, one wouldn’t use 25 different paint colors in your home, but it gives a good amount of choice. Also, some of the colors could be part of a color palette. ReplyCancel

      • Cathlin - March 20, 2016 - 1:17 AM

        I just want more rooms and more color 😄

        But yes, totally get the palette thing.

        And we have a lot of tricky NE rooms. I think that’s what I like about the Paper White, it reads so light and clean but then there’s this barest hint of green.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2016 - 1:30 AM

          Yes, northeast. I did a bedroom once and everything— even pink looked green! lol. We ended up doing a cream color and it was lovely. I don’t remember which one; it was at least 12 years ago.ReplyCancel

          • Cathlin - March 20, 2016 - 1:35 AM

            Ha! Yes I loooooove green but it’s been interesting – I basically have needed to NOT use green bc everything is skewing that way, anyway! Need to take a moment: Narragansett Green. That color is just plain gorgeous. All. The. Time. (Like I said, following the palette!)