May 2016
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A Paint Color for All Seasons – Ochre

The color ochre, also spelled ocher, is one of my favorites.  Early in my design career I participated in a Designer Showhouse. My challenge was the foyer, all stairs and hallways. With other designers all around my areas, I sought a color to invite, complement and add a warm contemporary feeling.  My choice was ochre.  Over the course of the month that the Showhouse was open to the public, I received many calls for the exact name and number of the paint.

Depending upon where you intend to apply this luscious color there are three tones I recommend from Benjamin Moore:

Benjamin Moore 2151-50 Bronzed Beige at MyPerfectColor
Bronzed Beige
Benjamin Moore 2151-40 Sulfur Yellow at MyPerfectColor
Sulfur Yellow
Benjamin Moore 2151-30 Ochre at MyPerfectColor

I like that this color is suited to antique and traditional elements as well as transitional contemporary styles.  Whether the other designers worked with reds, burgundy, blues or greens, the ochre fit.  Likewise soft blue greys, creams and ebonized wood looked rich and fresh.

This color is understated and doesn’t draw attention to itself.  Not too bold so that beautiful art, rugs, flowers and all the other design elements have space for appreciation.  Accents of white or black create balance when added selectively.

Possibly the biggest plus for ochre is that it flatters all skin tones so everyone invited to enjoy the space looks equally fabulous.

This article was written by Faith Sheridan, an interior designer and guest blogger of Since there are often many different styles and methods of doing things, the views expressed in this article may or may not correspond to the official recommendations of the staff. MyPerfectColor feels it is important to present its readers with differing viewpoints so readers can get the best advice for their particular needs.

17 comments to A Paint Color for All Seasons – Ochre

  • I’ve been looking for the perfect shade of a warm yellow for my living room. I have favored deeper, bolder colors in the past, but your post confirms my choice! I’m looking forward to the warmth and versatility. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • I really like the ochre color! Thanks for giving the exact paint color. I have a western-red rough cedar vaulted ceiling in my family room / kitchen area. The ceiling height is 18 feet at the hightest point with a clearstory window and a skylight. The walls are divided by cedar trim at about 9 feet up in the kitchen area where the ceiling is the highest. The room’s architure is contemporary in style, but the ceiling is rustic. The kitchen table is a mahogany wood stain with a black granite and wood top, and has black leather seats with wooden legs. The style is clean and simple.

    (The living and dining room are painted a muslin and ecru color in the adjoining room, but is separated by a doorway.)

    Back in November, I painted the bottom portion of the walls in Benjamin Moore wythe blue HC-143 and the top portion above the trim in Benjamin Moore bone white. The trim and pantry door on the lower portion of the room is painted white. The floor is dark cream tile.

    The blue is a beautiful color with the wood, but it seems like a color that belongs in the bedroom and I am having difficulty finding artwork to go with it. I have some dark brown accents around the room and have cream colored sofas and curtains.

    Could you possibly give me some ideas for a paint color scheme that would go with the ceiling? I’m thinking of going with a Rustic-Contemporary style. Any advice on paint colors and finding a style that goes with the ceiling would be much appreciated!

  • Maryann, I agree that the blue, though a beautiful color, is not a fit with your finishes and adjacent furnishings. I encourage you to test a warm, rich color in place of the blue. Here are some ideas: all Benjamin Moore
    1129 hidden oaks
    1122 cocoa sand
    HC 35 powell buff
    Since these tones complement others you selected on walls and furniture, you are free to introduce accent colors in dishware, pottery, vases, rugs and such to complete your scheme. Good luck.

  • Faith,
    Thanks so much for your advice. I brought home paint chips in the colors that you suggested. The HC 35 powell buff was my pick. Luckily, powell buff came in the Color Sample jar, so I was able to paint it on a poster board to try out in the space. It goes well with the wood tones and furniture. Thanks again. I will check out your website often.
    Mary Ann

  • Shananda

    Thank you, My hallway might look great with the ochre colors. What reds do you think might work for the front door. It is a very high ceilinged hall.There is no crown molding or break in the wall which is twenty feet high on one side. So I may need a really big mirror or chair rail to break the color. I hope to paint a faux black and white diamond floor, with a red door and white trim. The hall is very dark with no window accept in door itself and that window is glazed. I need to choose a trim color for the white trim and the color white that goes with the black in the diamonds, I thought I might do the stair treads in on of the ochres and the risers in another. But maybe I should do a different white. Your site is so helpful.

  • Shananda, glad to learn you too love ochre! From your description, it sounds like you are creating a dramatic entry. For reds that complement the ochre, I suggest 2080-10, Raspberry Truffle or you could also use a browner version, 2082-20, Plum Raisin.
    As for white colors to work with black/white on the floor, I suggest a white slightly grayed like OC-23, Classic Gray which will transition the eye from the walls, door and floor. Similarly, on the steps if you use ochre on the treads a neutral like HC-98 Providence Olive will balance.
    As you already know, testing colors before a major paint task will help your decision. This is especially important when you describe the lighting level. I hope you have a wonderful entry light fixture and rather than 1 large mirror think about creating rhythm by using 3 in a row. I don’t have a photo to check that out but you will know if that’s a possibility. Good luck!
    Faith Sheridan, ASID

  • I’m loving this color Ochre for my foyer. So if I pick Ochre for my foyer and hallway which leads to my kitchen, what color would I pick for my kitchen and family room? They’re one big open space. The kitchen cabinets are a medium honey maple and countertops are a light neutral color. The family room has a medium beige sofa, stone fireplace, red/gold tone rug. I orginally was thinking a deep warm yellow (Sherwin Williams Empire Gold) and painted the fireplace wall a red shade. I can’t wait to hear from you. I’m prepping the walls today! I’m so glad I found you!

  • Thanks Julia and I have some thoughts for complementary colors in your kitchen and great room. I do suggest you test them first before you begin painting.
    As you know I don’t have any images, just your description. That said I suggest a transition to a neutral such as Providence Olive HC-98; 2151-50;HC-38. Since you already have red in your rug add some accents in other accessories. You could be daring and add some turquoise, a hot color now, in a pillow. I like HC-138.
    Let me know what happens with your choice.
    Thanks, Faith

  • Hi! The ochre color sounds nice. I am trying to choose a color to paint my hallways…I have a yellow accent wall (cream couch and 2 yellow chairs) in my living room and a lavender accent wall (silver/gray chairs) in my dining room…do you think ochre will work or do you have another suggestion for the wall. I am having a rough time choosing a color for the hallways.

  • Stacey, you mention the yellow accent wall in your living room and the lavender accent wall in your dining room. But I don’t know what color anchors the other walls. That would be helpful but I am guessing it may be a neutral.
    In this instance I think the ochre may be too strong for your hallways. I suggest you play off the neutral wall color and use a deeper tone in your hallways. Ochre could be an effective accent color to use in accessories like pillows, vases, lamps and such.

  • I like the ochre color but I am wondering if it woud be too strong.
    I was thinking of Bleached Yellow. I have a dark brown sofa and cherry furniture.

    Also I have a cranberry colored carpet in my bedroom. My husb painted the walls a silvery blue. To me it looks like a “bruise”. My furniture is Cherry. What color might you suggest that would blend with the cherry furniture and cranberry carept.

  • Hello Faith,
    I am designing an interior of an Herb and Spice Shoppe. I am using Ochre on the walls. I want to paint the ceiling tiles and grids in a dark coordinating color (not black), was considering a shade of brown. I see you mentioned Chocolate Sundae and also Raisin Torte. I am planning to remove the existing ceiling lights and installing hanging fixtures. The floor is darker wood pine plank. I am going for a French style boutique. I’m having a touch time choosing the ceiling color and the trim color. Hope you can help. Thanks Rita

  • Faith,
    Our harvest moon orange hall leads to the bathroom. the bath is a long narrow room and we’ve just put in a clawfoot tub on a platform finished with cedar shipboard, with surrounding walls of cedar. There is one window which is pretty well shaded and eastern facing. the color is currently a light royal blue (previous owners) and we’re looking for a new color to complement the beautiful tones of the cedar (it’s knotty and lovely!) any thoughts? thanks so much.

  • Marlies Murphy

    HELLO Faith,

    We own a 100-year old Tudorstyle house. My husband and I have decided to fill in the spaces between the oak beams with Stucco, using an ochre color for the stucco. However, we are at a loss about what color would go well on the wooden beams, and which would complement the ochre stucco parts of the house. Thanks for your advice. Marlies

  • Hello Faith, The ochre color is a very warm color. We have a somewhat open floor plan. Our living room walls are in the brown family. The living room goes into our dining room and kitchen. These rooms are faux painted in the ochre family tuscan style. Our molding is linen white. Our kitchen leads into the den where I am having a problem. Our fireplace is cherry. Our furniture is black. Our rug is beige. We have half cathredal ceilings with a skylight and sliding glass doors. I can’t seem to find a color that would go with the cherry fireplace. I would like a more modern look about the room. Can you help?

  • Rick @ Antique Stools

    This really helps a lot!!!! Thank you!!!

  • I am remodeling my kitchen and can’t decide on a paint color, my new kitchen will have cranberry maple cabinets, new venetian gold countertops, light oak laminate floors, flat balck hardware on drawers and cabinets, and SS appliances. I currently have a Earth Red in the kitchen and part of the dining room (open floor plan living room wall extends through dining room and is painted a beige color plan on not changing that) I like earthtone colors love the warmth, I am considering painting the kitchen and walls extending to the dinig room in a East Lake Gold by Sherwin Williams, the dining room and kitchen get plenty of light. What do you think?

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