Reddish Laminate Floors? What Wall Color Will Work?

I just received an email from Sandra who’s struggling with her paint color to go with her red-toned laminate floors.


Dear Laurel,

So pleased I found your blog; I love so many of the ideas. And, the humorous comments are so much fun to read.

My issue is that we purchased an older home in Montreal with paprika colored laminate floors (not an easy color to work with). Hence, I desperately need your help for my walls. I’m thinking of doing a creamy warm white to offset the red in the flooring.


Laurel, I was also thinking about maybe a warm grey paint color. But the BM color I selected turned out to be a cool gray paint color which goes quite blue.

It did not look blue on the chip.

[Please read how to select your paint colors so you don’t make a hideous mistake]


Oh, and just in case, you think that changing the laminate floor is a good idea.


It would be for someone else, perhaps. But, we only put it in five years ago. So, it’s staying.

Any advise for me? (I realize it would have to be a blog post)






This sounds interesting. So, I asked Sandra to send in a few photos of the rooms with the laminate floors. Of course, this was with the view of possibly using this info for a blog post.


She was game and sent in a few photos so that I could see what’s going on.


Immediately, I could see that Sandra made a mistake that we all make.


She began redecorating her room without a plan. Please go here for easy-to-follow 12 step decorating plan that works every time.

Although, I don’t know her exact thinking, it appears that she just jumped in and went with a color that’s different from what she has. But, it looks like she wasn’t thinking of the room as a whole.

This is in no way faulting her. 99% of you who are not professionals do this. Your room designs are completely ad hoc. And, sometimes, it works out. But often, you find yourself, you know.

Painted into a corner! Sorry, I know I say this every now and then. And, every time I apologize for the platitude.


Now, the truth is, I have no idea what Sandra has in the way of furniture, except for two pieces of cream colored upholstery with a slightly green cast.


OR, at least that’s how it looks in the photo.

Please note that the furniture may appear to have a greenish cast because the red in the floors will automatically bring out any small amount of its complimentary. The opposite of red, is of course, green. For a review of the color wheel, please go here where we talk about analogous color schemes.


My first thought was– Can we simply change the floor color?

Well, not with a laminate.

Not unless we wish to paint the floors white. And, that’s a possibility. But, I don’t think that’s going to work for Sandra. Please remember that any floor can be painted. We just talked about painting a ceramic floor in this post about a kitchen refresh.


But, here’s the thing.


People sometimes confuse laminates with engineered floors. (for a post that talks extensively about hard floors, go here.)

While both products are laminated onto either plywood or a particle board;


engineered hardwood floors


an engineered hardwood floor has a layer of real hardwood on top. The thickness of this layer can vary. But, usually, it can be sanded once or twice and be refinished.

A laminate floor, however, is usually particle board with a photo of a hardwood floor laminated onto that and then a plastic film layer over that.

So, obviously, that can’t be refinished.

For a superb article which goes into greater depth about the difference between laminate floors and engineered wood floors go to this post on They also list the pros and cons which I think are very helpful.


Can we re-stain a laminate floor?


Well, it might be possible to make it darker, however, you are going to cover up the aluminum oxide protective coating. Of course, you can put a poly over it. However, I’m not sure if I would do this. Since laminate floors are relatively cheap, it makes more sense to just change the floor.


But, Laurel? Would you really recommend a laminate floor?

Yes, in some situations.

And, some of the laminate floors, these days look quite nice.


Of course, if you don’t like the color of your laminate floor, and changing the floor is an option for you, that is a great place to start.


Another very helpful post I wrote a while back talks about ways to fix wood stain that came out too red without having to totally refinish it.

This will work only on real wood or engineered wood. I would not try it on a laminate floor. I think it’s a recipe for a big bloody mess. Of course, if you have some left over samples of your laminate floor and wish to experiment, that is what I would do.

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way.

Later, I received some more information from Sandra that is helpful for me to understand what is going on.


The paint currently on the walls is Barren Plain 2111-60


Benjamin Moore Barren Plain - laminate floors living room


But, it looks too blue for my taste, Sandra said.


Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60

Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60


Please notice how it looks bluer in the photo than it does in the image from Benjamin Moore.


Benjamin Moore Barren Plain - laminate floors - too red

The last two pictures were on the walls a few years ago.


laminate floor - too red - hall

That color went nicely with the floors.


kitchen - laminate floors

However, my goal is to brighten up the place.

No matter what the color ends up being, it will be a Benjamin Moore color. I do not want any blue or yellow undertones. What I envision is something fresh. And, also very warm almost creamy.

But, you are the expert.


[Thanks, but not in the way you might be thinking. I can only guess at what color might look good if I am not there.]


Some colours Sandra wrote that she is considering are:


Dove white
Swiss coffee
Dove wing
White blush
Ivory white
Classical grey


Thanks so much for all of that Sandra.

I want to be very careful not to sound like I’m picking on Sandra. So, please note, that I have made more MISTAKES in this business than there are days in the year. And, some of them have cost me dearly. So, if I see something, I’m going to say something in the interest of all of us avoiding making costly mistakes.


One thing I noticed in the above list is that two colors are not named correctly.


Although, some of the colors DO have different names in Canada.

But, Dove White should be White Dove oc-17

There is another color, Dove Wing 960 which is a very nice off-white. It would be very possible for a busy clerk in a paint store to misread Dove White as Dove Wing.


benjamin moore dove wing 960Above is Dove Wing

Benjamin Moore White Dove

As you can see, Dove Wing is a fair amount darker than white dove.

To help avoid disasters that can happen when the name is written incorrectly, (or number) I include both the color number AND name. That way, if I spazz out and invert the numbers, which don’t match the name, someone will hopefully catch it. And then, inquire which one I met. Yes, it’s happened to me a couple of times.

Classical Gray should be Classic Gray. This is such a detailed oriented business; it used to drive me nuts.


Now, it’s time to dig in. Again, this is a lovely home. My job is to work with what we have and

“make it work.”


Right now. I am pretty much forgetting everything Sandra said. haha. But, we’ll circle back, later on.


Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60


This is the current wall color throughout the main living space. Again, it is Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60.


Here’s what’s freaky about this color. It certainly looks cool to me. At least in Sandra’s living room. But, as you can see, if you scroll back up; there’s a heavy snow cover up north. In addition, I believe the images were taken in the morning and the window is west facing. All of those things are making this color go as cool as possible.


But, the crazy thing is that this is actually a very grayed down YELLOW.


Yes, I KNOW! I told you it was freaky crazy. But, here’s the proof.


via Camp Chroma Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60

via Camp Chroma Benjamin Moore Barren Plain 2111-60


So, how come it looks blue? It looks blue because to make gray we add white to black. And pure white has a lot of blue in it. Plus, the lighting in the room, snow cover, other furnishings.

But, IMO, this color is not a good fit with the floors.

Sandra wants WARMTH.

And, I think her instincts are right on the money; I agree with that completely.


However, here’s where she and most people mess up. She’s put her focus on the walls and the walls are not the issue.


It’s everything else. First. When we’ve figure out everything else, the wall color is not as difficult. There are dozens of colors that will look good in here. But, all factors need to be weighed in.


The primary issue that I see that we need to first focus on is that red-toned laminate floor.


And, it is not going anywhere. So, we have to work with what we’ve got.

I’ve probably said this before, but my son had a music teacher, in high school,. A jazz music teacher. Charlie Lagond. Awesome musician! And, I’ll never forget one time Charlie said, with a wink:


“If you play a wrong note; play it again and it won’t be wrong.”


Well, it is exactly the same in interior design. If you have a color you don’t like. Make MORE of it, and it’ll become a neutral.


I know, but please hear me out.


The worst thing you can do is have a lot of its opposite (complimentary) color.


So, before I do anything else, I want to bring in more warmth. I want to bring in MORE of those rusty reds and other warm colors. And, the place to begin is on the FLOOR.

Therefore, I went in search of a great Oriental area rug. Actually, I went over to Overstock and they have a TON of gorgeous rugs on sale. I selected four possibilities which you can see below in the small widget. If you click on any of them, you’ll go to that page on Overstock.

I want a rug with that warm, rusty-red. A big rug to cover a good amount of the floor. I would have other coordinating rugs to cover other areas of the laminate floors.



We could also do a large seagrass rug and layer a small Oriental rug over it.


As for the wall color.


Now, that we have a basic idea of a rug, we can use that as a jumping off point.


Overstock hand-knotted Oriental rugI like all of them, but I decided to work with this one.


I do like the toasty tan color. However, I agree that it could be lighter.

So, for now, I went with Ballet White. Ballet White is one of the 144 colors in the curated Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection. It is sold together with the Palette Collection which includes 40 palettes using the colors and boards and home furnishings.


Ballet white will look like a light khaki in the room.


I think. But, I really don’t know for sure. I would make samples of three or four colors.


And, it would look terrific with White Dove oc-17 and other Benjamin Moore off-whites for the trim color. Did you know that for all 144 colors in my collection, I put in the trim colors that should look the best.


But, here’s another thing.


I can’t see where all of the walls begin and end. But, I would paint the kitchen a different color than the living room. If you need help with a space that’s too open, please check out this recent post.

Maybe a warm red.

There are some beautiful corals and warm reds as well as ballet white in the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection.


laminate floors living room - with Benjamin Moore Ballet White hc-9


This room is reminding me of the Gentleman’s Gray palette I created back in 2016 for the Laurel Home Ultimate Paint Palette Collection that comes with the Essential Paint Colors..


gentlemans gray family room palette


Benjamin Moore ballet white oc-9
While ballet white is not in this specific palette. It is part of a “palette family” that I group together in the paint guide. Any color in the palette family is good with the rest of the colors in that family.

ballet white with raphael sandberg wallpaper dark blue

Above is a bonus board I created using ballet white oc-9. Do you see how this room could be in the same home as the other board? There is also another paint palette, in the same family, that goes with this room.

Wouldn’t it be nice if human family members all got along that well? ;]


Scot Meacham Wood Design - color scheme - Benjamin Moore Gentleman's Gray - interior color scheme - Chest-photography by Thayer Allison Gowdy for House Beautiful


Scott Meacham Wood did a room with this same palette. It’s a classic color palette, I think. You can have a room be more blue, more red, gold or neutral. Or, put the focus on different colors in the palette and/or palette families in adjoining rooms.

For more of the Gentleman’s Gray color Palette please check out this link

That’s one way to build a color scheme. And, my guides will give you a ton of inspiration.

For this home, I zeroed in on the “problem child.” (assertive floor color)

It’s the whiny child that’s not going to stop whining. If you can figure out the core issue to the whining, they usually stop.

That is, unless they’re my children. But, that’s another story. ;]

While I was looking through the HOT SALES, I noticed that there are lot of furnishings which go with this color scheme. And, of course, they’re all on sale!


One thing that’s very important.


And, that’s if you’re using LED lighting, to use a warm LED light to mimic incandescent lighting. It is fine if some of you prefer the stark white. But, for me, it makes me crazeeeeee. To read more about what kind of LED bulbs to get, please check out this post about living room lighting rules.

And for hundreds of other rules, if you have not already, please consider getting 333 Rules & Tips You Need to Know Guide.

Well, I hope that helped address part of my design process. And, gave you some direction for choosing your paint colors.


Just know. I never START with the wall color. (unless I absolutely have to)


I start with the GIVENS in the home.

If the givens aren’t working and can be changed, then we can explore that.

Sometimes changing one thing; for instance like the floors in this kitchen, can make a tremendous difference.



Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales


32 Responses

  1. Ummmm…this tip has saved me so much time and trouble–srsly–thank you, Melody. Can confirm that this is way better than hauling and wasting materials on painting samples yourself–and also that these look totally different from the “chips” because they’re real paint on large squares. Sniff and touch tests of the squares confirm they’re real. Some of the dinky BM chips turned out to be totally different when seen on the much larger Samplize paint samples. Wish I’d known about this for previous apartments–would have saved me a lot of grief (and my bf a lot of energy!).

  2. Brilliant post, Laurel! And thank you for pointing out that snow makes things very cool- we used a lot of Richmond Gray and it’s amazing how green it looks, although we love it, because we have a lot of the aforementioned red wood (in our case, fir).

    I wanted SO much to use Queen Anne Pink- but then, luckily, my color test board fell on the floor- I don’t have to tell you how hideous that looked, because of course you wouldn’t make that mistake. But at least it was only a piece of cardboard, and not a whole room. I did end up using Nantucket Gray & Cleveland Green palettes and they look great!

  3. Perfect post!
    Fabulous way to live with (actually show to greatest advantage!!!) an assertive feature!

    Barren plain is a color that I tried in my kitchen (similar great white north light) that has two large south windows and three small north windows over the sink. It was awful with the warm cream cabinets. Revere Pewter (HC-172) provided the perfect warm/cool mix and went with the checkerboard dark gray/cream flooring (Forbo clic linoleum – so simple I could do it myself).

  4. Hi Laurel,
    This is a perfect example of showing how talented & experienced you are. Your solution & the room design you came up with are just beautiful!
    If Sandra follows your advice, she’ll fall in love with her floors.

  5. Laurel – I love this post (as I do all your posts) in particular because I’m currently redoing a house in the CA desert. I found a helpful resource for Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball & Sherwin Williams color samples that doesn’t involve painting patches from little sample cans. I searched the blog to see if you had mentioned this company – Samplize. You can order stick-on roughly 12 x 12″ samples of almost every BM & FB – actual paint samples (3856 BM colors). BM samples are $5.95 and FB $7.95. Using your suggestions for white paint in north facing rooms I was able to order them (they ship uber fast!) and quickly eliminate several by seeing them in different light, and different parts of the house. I wanted to share this with your amazing community. You rock.

  6. Laurel-We often see pics of rooms like the one with the blue/white bold wallpaper here-and it looks fabulous on one wall. Would you do this on every wall? Know you’re not a fan of accent walls…

  7. Imagine the Scott Meacham Wood picture with a breakfast nook and a kitchen to the right and a fireplace wall opposite. That’s my dilemma! What color do you pick??

  8. I am gobsmacked. I saw the floors and wondered “can this house design be saved?” and the ballet white with the oriental rug widget is FANTASTIC! I absolutely would have that entire room in my house, and I don’t even like red and orange much. The accent blues and the wall color look so great together. Thank you so much, Laurel!

  9. Hi Laurel:

    I am looking for an inexpensive large picture to put above my sofa. I want something eclectic. Would you recommend places I could search?
    Kindest Regards

  10. I LOVE my painted kitchen floor, once we finish the kitchen the whole house will have painted floors. We did 8 inch planks and I sanded and painted them myself. I get so many compliments on the kitchen and I truly believe its because the floors make the space feel airy and bright.

  11. And that precious little pup will look great with the new colors – so sweet!! Thanks, Laurel, for another inspiring post. It’s encouraging to see how working with “imperfect” elements can be done with such beautiful results.

  12. What a wonderful post! Thank you for it. I was wondering if you could share the name of the chromatic graph of the barren plain paint color? I found it very helpful. Since I am starting a kitchen remodel in looking at paint colors for my walls and cabinets, I thought that it would be helpful to use that tool in choosing mine

  13. I really loved this post! It may be the best ever! I am wondering if your floors are an aggressive color and tend toward orange and your bookshelves plus fireplace and mantle are all Designer White, could you paint the bookshelves a darker color to imitate the warmth of wood to help balance the floor. Thank you for all your wonderful information.

  14. I have always loved that wallpaper that looks like blue oak leaves. Is it a Schumacher? A Cole and Son? Also, in my condo, I have a kitchen floor made up of 12 inch X 12 inch beige tiles. I would love a black and white checkerboard kitchen floor. The kitchen floor is roughly 7 feet by 9 feet. Maybe you could do a post on checkerboard tile floors.

  15. Hi Laurel,
    “If you play a wrong note; play it again and it won’t be wrong.” is priceless advice!
    Thank you for sharing that as well as all your knowledge as always.
    I am smiling because I see my area rug and pillows in one of the boards above and it is confirming that with your blog advice, I am making good decisions. I also like the addition of a little black in that first board.
    Thank you, once again!

  16. Laurel, thank you—this post is brilliant. I’ve been trying to figure out why my cotton balls paint goes green (and looks weird) in my north-lit dining room. It’s the freakin’ aged ORANGE (well, rust colored) hardwood floor. Im going to rethink paint color & look for a white that’s better with the floor. SHEEEESH. Pretending the floor isn’t there doesn’t work.

  17. OMG Laurel! You just very simply solved a dilemma I have been struggling with since moving into my new place — and improved two rooms that open into each other. Thank you!
    I have that predominantly warm toned, large Karastan Kirman rug discussed in last week’s post, along with a dominate piece of wood furniture in the room that has an orange tone that bothers me greatly. I have been trying to tone down and cool these too warm for me colored items by adding too much blue. Doing the exact opposite as you have instructed here has solved it! I removed a turquoise lamp from this orange toned hutch and took an orange ginger jar lamp from my bedroom. So much better!
    The turquoise lamp was switched out onto a desk in the adjacent room that is predominately blues, greens, whites.
    These two rooms are like those you laid out with the complimentary paint palette flow above. Thanks again for your spot on solutions: just beautiful! Now I am late for work, haha!

  18. So very informative and perfect timing as am in the midst of upgrading my home which will include the installation of ‘engineered hardwood’ flooring throughout the main level (at least). With that said; do know what I wish to avoid in color (orange or red tone) and type (not oak) but am still having difficulty in choosing/envisioning. With much appreciation of your expertise and researching your blog before I take the plunge. -Brenda-

  19. So much fun, thank you Laurel! I’m a liitle off blog topic here. Rereading old post “Mrs. Laurel builds her parisian dream house”. Unfortunately, the link is not active, sold out, of course. I can’t see floor tiles on photo anyway and wondering could you please write a new post. “Mrs. Laurel build her dream master bathroom”. I’d kill for it!

  20. Your advice reminds me of a Q&A in a British magazine many years ago. The letter-writer was re-doing a guest bedroom and had just bought what she thought were two pretty blue floral print quilted bedcovers on sale (so non-returnable). But when she got them home, she found the blue harsh and unattractive, and wanted advice on toning them down. The reply invited her to purchase more of the fabric to make curtains, and then add some solid darker blue pieces to the room, so that the floral became background rather than focus.
    But the real lesson here is that it is essential to envisage the room as a whole, with all its elements, and the walls are the easy part once the rest is worked out.

  21. Wow! When I read “laminate” and “red” I was like–this is impossible and let’s all throw in the towel (I’m dealing with a red brick wall that’s causing me similar feelings of hopelessness). And then when I saw the image of the rug Laurel chose, I was all–has she lost her mind? But the room and palette solution that results is amazing!! It gives me hope!

    I wonder how it works! Is it that the rug works optically with the floors because it’s a more persimmony orange/red which makes the reddish floor look toned down and calmer by comparison? Is this an optical illusion?

  22. You really hit the mark with your suggestions, Laurel. The 3 widget rooms are wonderful.
    Love the idea of a large seagrass layered with a smaller & warmer tone rug.
    And the ‘Fitzhugh’ orange lamps in widget #1…
    can you offer a source for them? Thanks again, Laurel… always great ideas …

  23. Think William McLure and PAINT THE FLOORS! He painted his white with a border but they could be painted and then stenciled as in Tory Burch/Lee Radziwill. And I think it could be DIY if you were careful. It is a lost cause to try to make red floors work IMO.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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