Few questions give pause like the one so often heard in paint stores: “Do these two go together?” But while some do-it-yourselfers respond by pairing Soft Beige with Linen White, professional colorists favor bolder combinations. Rooms with chair rail offer a perfect opportunity to create less-expected pairings. “Use lighter shades above the rail to pull the eye up and darker ones below to ground the room,” says Susan English, a color consultant in Cold Spring, New York. “One reliable strategy is to pick two shades from the same color family or even from the same paint strip.”
In the rooms shown here, however (all painted with shades from Benjamin Moore
), English identifies less-conventional pairings: brights with deep saturated colors, and easy-to-live-with pale shades with stronger neutrals. In all cases, a surprising contrast on the bottom half of the walls adds a sophisticated edge.