Home & Garden

Perfect Southern Paint Colors for Kitchens, Bars, and Libraries

Five designers offer their favorite hues for spaces with intricate millwork


In a Southern home, rooms like kitchens, bars, mudrooms, laundry rooms, and libraries often feature lots of built-ins. This custom millwork and cabinetry deserves a little drama when it comes to paint colors. Standard white is always timeless, but hues with depth and richness add a layer of personality and soul to these spaces. Below, five Southern designers share their favorites for these special spots.

Color: Classic Burgundy, Benjamin Moore

“We knew the library (of NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson’s home, above) would be a nighttime cocktail room. I consider oxblood red a neutral because you can put anything with it. And while this particular finish was a custom lacquer, Classic Burgundy by Benjamin Moore is very, very close. It’s also my go-to for furniture that needs a makeover.”

Barrie Benson, Barrie Benson Interior Design

Color: India Yellow, Farrow & Ball

“I love a nice bright kitchen, and this specific ochre is a perfect refined option. This color totally changes shades throughout the day as the light hits it differently. I imagine the cabinetry with polished nickel—the kind that tarnishes a little like sterling silver. How chic would it be paired with blue and white Portuguese tiles and white marble? A totally classic color combination, and one my grandmother has had in her kitchen for years.”

Jared Hughes, Jared Hughes Design, Atlanta

Color: Railings, Farrow & Ball

“This is a really dark, moody, charcoal blue. It’s a strong, handsome color that complements pretty much anything. I especially love it in a high-gloss finish mixed with brass hardware.”

Rachel Halvorson, Rachel Halvorson Designs, Nashville

Color: Wenge, Benjamin Moore

“This rich chocolate tone is perfect for a library, a kitchen, a bar, or a mudroom. A high-gloss finish or lacquer will keep the space reflective and bright. I like brown in general because it’s a great backdrop to greenery through a window, and it’s not a total break from traditional wood tones so it’s timeless. This really is a true chocolate brown—definitely not heading in the orange family at all.”

Colleen Waguespack, Colleen Waguespack Interiors, New Orleans

Color: Brassica, Farrow & Ball

“This subtle lavender is lovely because it is cozy and elegant and reminiscent of an old English drawing room.”

Jen Langston, Jen Langston Interiors, Charleston, South Carolina

NOTE: For a true color match, pick up a paint chip or sample. Computer monitors and phone screens are calibrated differently, and may show variations.

More on Perfect Paint Colors: 

> Southern Summer Whites

> Eye-Catching Front Doors

>A Southern Tradition: Painted Floors

> Perfect Porch Ceiling Colors

> A Mess of Southern Green Paints

> Shutters, Dining Rooms, and More