Colour Psychology: Using Magnolia in Interiors

Magnolia paint

I’m happy to say it’s that time again! October presents us with our quarterly opportunity to interrogate colour expert and consultant Karen Haller about the psychology behind the use of colour in interior design. Karen has already given us an insight into using yellow in interiors and using grey in interiors in the two previous posts that have been part of Karen’s Quarterly Colour Psychology Questions series. And in this post, we will explore the use of magnolia in interiors.

The colour psychology posts have proven to be very popular and both Karen and I have really enjoyed getting your thoughts and feedback on the colours we have featured so far. So please don’t be shy, any comments or questions you may have are very welcome and we will try to respond to each and every one of you.

As many of you may know, I recently moved from Bristol back down to my home town of Dartmouth. I’m now renting a lovely large house with my other half, and whilst it is very different to the pokey flats we have lived in previously they all seem to have one thing in common – magnolia. Floor-to-ceiling magnolia in every single room. It’s the colour of choice for property developers and, it would seem, landlords too.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would much rather a neutral colour scheme than some hideous, garish wallpaper that screams of someone else’s personality. But it did get me thinking, why is using magnolia in interiors so popular? What reactions does it provoke and how does it make people feel? And above all, I wanted to know what colours go with magnolia for best effect.

Karen Haller applied colour psychology expert

So once again, I put all my questions to Karen and here’s what she said:

Magnolia has become the colour of choice for landlords who are renting out a property, or people trying to sell their property. Why is this?

KH. There could be several reasons.  They want to use a neutral colour for their property to appeal to the widest number of people to make that quick sale or to rent out. Usually white is chosen to achieve this. But brilliant white is very harsh whereas magnolia is a warm white.

Using magnolia as a default colour certainly takes any hassle out of making a colour decision and developers also know the homeowner will change the colour when they personalise the space. It appears that some landlords have just followed their lead, forgetting the renters have to then live with it.

Over time, it seems using magnolia has taken on a life of its own, becoming the standard neutral colour for landlords and developers. The colour name magnolia now appears to have negative associations.

I wonder if the developer/landlord said they used colours called buttermilk, cream or butter (which are also clear, warm whites),  whether there would be the same negative associations?

What are the main psychological properties of magnolia?

KH. Magnolia is really a cream. It is warm white, which means it is a yellow-based white. The psychological properties are actually the same as white. The positive attributes are hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanliness, simplicity, sophistication and efficiency. The negative properties on the other hand are isolation, sterility, coldness, barriers, unfriendliness and elitism.

Magnolia is often perceived as a colour that lacks any kind of personality or character. Do you agree?

KH. Every colour has personality and character.  The lighter the colour (less pigment), the more subtle the personality. So it’s understandable that the subtly of magnolia may be perceived as a lack of personality. At the other end of the cream scale is a bright sunshine yellow (pigment rich), which is full of personality.

What can people like me, who live in a rented magnolia house, do to bring a little more interest into a magnolia room?

KH. If the magnolia colour on the walls dominates the space, look at changing the proportions. This can be done by bringing in other bright, clear, warm colours, creating a tonally harmonious colour scheme.

Another way to change the proportions is through wall hangings e.g. pictures, artwork, mirrors, large potted plants or furniture like bookshelves. It’s all about proportion and balance.

What colours would you say work particularly well in conjunction with magnolia and why?

KH. As magnolia is a bright, clear, warm white, colours that will be tonally harmonious are other colours that are also bright, clear and warm and yellow based. This includes warm yellow-based blues and greens.

What are your top tips for successfully using magnolia in interiors?

KH. My top tip is to combine it with other bright, clear, warm yellow-based colours. This will create a tonally harmonious colour scheme.  If you were to use colours that weren’t in the same tonal colour family, such as colours that are greyed out, or black, or any blue-based colours, they would look harsh and jar against each other.

If people are really against using magnolia in interiors but want a colour that has the same positive attributes, what colour would you suggest they use instead?

KH. The equivalents of magnolia are other whites, such as ivory, oyster white and pure white.

Do you think that people often resort to magnolia in interiors because it is the easy option and they fear having to make other colour choices?

KH. For landlords and developers, it takes all the hassle out of making a colour decision. Time is money for them and the quicker decisions can be made the quicker they can advertise the property for rent or sale.

I don’t know of any homeowner who has used magnolia when decorating their own home. However, they do use cream, buttermilk and butter, which is interesting given it’s virtually the same colour. Perhaps it’s all in the name, eliciting a different emotional response…

And so there you have it, folks! Now we know all there is to know about using magnolia in interiors. As I said, please let us know if you have any questions by leaving a comment. Also if any of you have any tips about living with magnolia, please do share your experiences. I am sure there are many more renters out there just like me who would love to know how to decorate or accessorise a magnolia home.


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  • I have light grey dining table and chairs I painted my walls labrador 5 and I didn’t think the colours work together then I decided to do it silver grey that’s even worse can you please give me some idea as to 2 what colour would go well with.

  • I am moving into a new flat & the landlord has a wall skirting. Just more than half of the wall (horizontally) is magnolia and the bottom half is white. The flooring is Broadleaf Aged Oak Wood. I am trying to shop for furniture that will compliment the walls but I am stuck. I thought I’d start from the rug but I am not sure which colours will go well. Please could you advise?

    • Hi Blessing, unfortunately without being able to see the flat I’m afraid it is virtually impossible to say. It depends on so many things, like the size of the rooms, the quality of light in the flat, the height of the ceilings etc. Sorry I can’t be more help!

  • This is very interesting to me, as I’m unsure whether I should stick with a cream colour all through my bedroom update in my old farmhouse. Can anyone suggest an alternative that won’t be too garish and/or cheap looking?

    • Hi Shirley, it really depends on the light in your home and which direction each room faces. I suggest getting some sample pots of the shades that you like. Painting them onto large sheets of paper and putting them up in various locations around your home. Observe them for at least a week and see what happens to the paint colours as the light changes through the week. You should be able to eliminate the ones you don’t like and find the ones ou like like after a few days.

  • This is good advice, I am looking at decorating my house which is white and magnolia all over however there is an interesting thing with magnolia, you can use a different shade on and opposing wall. This might sound odd but i think magnolia works well with a very very light green. for example you had three walls in magnolia, and one wall very light green with white skirting/kick boards. An example of the green i would use is Dulux Trade: Green Slate. I find its a neutural green that compliments the magnolia without making the room boring and lifeless. I always like to dress rooms with bright shine silver wall art to lift the walls it adds a modern stately accent to the room without being harsh on the eye. It all comes to personal taste but magnolia really isnt as terrible as everyone would think. Because its a pastel colour you can mix it with other pastels in the room to create a relaxing, modern and vibrant room.

  • I also believe magnolia it gardenia as my new house is painted reflects the sunshine during the changing times in the day adding warmth and light to the rooms. I wish to change the colour now after eight years but cannot decide on any other colour at the moment.



  • I’m looking for a neutral colour to be an accent wall to dulux magnolia. I don’t understand all the hate for this colour, I’ve spent a fortune on testers but the magnolia works best in my home. I don’t want anything too dark for the accent wall, maybe just a step up or two from magnolia. You say it should be teamed up with other yellow based colours, can you recommend a good match, preferably from the dulux range? I have grey tones in my flooring and greige curtains so I don’t know if I should be choosing something with grey undertones instead? Thank you :-)

    • Hi Sarah, unfortunately it is virtually impossible to recommend colours without seeing the room and working out what the light is like in the room. I would recommend taking a trip to the paint counter and collecting little paint pot samples and painting it on card. Then place around the room and look what happens to the colour throughout the day as the light changes. Move the cards around the room as well. That is really the only way you will be able to tell if a colour will work in a room. In my previous home I used a yellow-based light green with the magnolia and it worked really well.

    • I would like to know the same. Am looking for another neutral to break up the magnolia. Did you choose a colour in the end? I note you didn’t get a reply from the author, fingers crossed that I do.

      • I would advise the same as Karen. You will see that her suggestion above was warm yellow-based blues and greens. “As magnolia is a bright, clear, warm white, colours that will be tonally harmonious are other colours that are also bright, clear and warm and yellow-based. This includes warm yellow-based blues and greens.”

    • I would advise the same as Karen. You will see that her suggestion was yellow based blues and greens. “As magnolia is a bright, clear, warm white, colours that will be tonally harmonious are other colours that are also bright, clear and warm and yellow-based. This includes warm yellow-based blues and greens.”

  • I have magnolia walls in hall and staircase, wood effect floor and banister, would like a grey carpet up stairs and landing. Would this go?

    • Hi Linda, it’s extremely difficult to say without seeing it. It depends on the undertones of the grey and the shade of the wood and the light in the space. I can’t really advise in a comment.

  • Would it look good using magnolia on the skirting boards and ceilings as well as the walls? You can do that with white to create space, can you do the same with magnolia? Thanks

    • Hi Alex, you can whatever you like. The most important thing is how the colour makes you feel. If magnolia is a colour that makes you feel great go ahead. Just be aware that it contains a lot of yellow undertones which some people may find makes them feel irritable after a while. I personally would feel totally suffocated in a room that had a magnolia ceiling as well as walls. But it really is down to the individual.

  • I have to say that I hate magnolia… For me it’s like someone smoked inside the room for couple years or when the paper gets yellowish after time, so for me magnolia is dirty colour. We tried to agree with our landlord something really similar shade just mire likely sand colour still really neutral just not yellowish but the answer was not grrrrrrtt…. But yeah we have lots of pictures and wall arts to cover that horrible walls ???

  • I have the front part of my main hallway, painted in magnolia and there is lots of light there.
    However the hallway continues behind an arch where it is rather dark. Does anyone have any
    tips as to which bright colour apart from white, would match the magnolia in the front part.
    Thank you.

  • Having spent most of the last 20 years in privately-rented accommodation (not through choice, either), I have understandably grown to despise Magnolia, or anything which looks like it. It’s cheap, nasty, and never really looks truly “clean”, even when freshly painted. It also reminds me of the colour of my mum’s cigarette smoke-stained net curtains, from many years ago, when she lived with two heavy smokers. That alone would be enough to put me off, never mind UK landlords’ obsession with this awful, unimaginative colour. Now that I am back on the property ladder at long last, I wouldn’t dream of going near anything which reminds me of Magnoia.

    Why any property owner would paint their house with it is beyond me. Private tenants are essentially the “lowest of the low” here in the UK; one reason is that they are often unable to obtain an adequate mortgage themselves, despite being “allowed” to pay someone else’s mortgage, and are not even permitted to repaint neglected paintwork in their house/flat without permission from the landlord – unlike council tenants, who can do pretty much what they like (and have lifelong tenancies to boot!). Here in the UK at least, renting privately does not exactly have a good reputation, magnolia or no magnolia :) The colour is a constant reminder that one cannot obtain a mortgage and has little control over the surroundings one resides in, which becomes more depressing the longer that one is stuck in such a situation – and the miserable look of magnolia walls does not help matters.

    Also, with reference to a respondent below, who states that brilliant white is too harsh – I disagree – this depends on the individual house. When I first viewed my current house, the first thing I thought was “this house needs to be painted totally white”. And it works, and definitely does not feel harsh. This is probably because the house is east-west facing, and is not exactly the sunniest property I have ever owned, though it probably wouldn’t work so well in a north-south facing house, or one with much larger windows. But my idea has worked extremely well, and is much better than the magnolia and darker colours which dominated prior to beginning refurbishment. All the magnolia is gone now, never ever to return :)

  • I have all the walls in my house painted Magnolia. Throughout the house o have incorporated silver and rose gold.
    For my upstairs landing I now want to put some photo frames on the wall but cant decide if white or black frame would go.
    Also, the landing has space for seating but again I wanted like a royal blue or grey velvet chaise lounge but cant decide the light shade in the upstairs landing is rose gold.. any advice on what colours you would think goes best in the photo frame and the seating.

  • I do have a rental and would consider this as an option, but currently have long term renters. My concern now is my own home. Currently I have SW Silver Strand in an open LR and Kitchen. I can see how the cool paint and other warm items can sometime compete. We are getting new paint for cabinets and counters. My flooring in living room is a warm plank cinnamon brown/cream floor. My room is a NW facing slightly. I have very low light throughout day. I read where it would be best to have a color with 62LRV or higher, Silver Strand is 59. I am wanting to go lighter and more of a Earthy green gray with more slight yellow undertones. I have looked at many and cannot seem to find it. When I bring them home some look blue, some look taupe in which I do not want. I love the muted light colors as well as the creamy whites. I tend to lean toward the softness of light green in combination. I also love the Farmhouse look. I am wanting to paint our cabinets creamy white and lighter granite counters. The Farmhouse look is what I like. Any suggestions would be appreciated. By the way my name is Lyndsey. I am on my husband’s Tablet. Sending it to his email is fine.

    • Hi Lynsey, finding the right paint colour is really difficult. I normally request photos if someone is seeking specific help but in this case, I don’t think that will help. It really is a matter of getting testers, painting pieces of A4 paper and moving them around the room throughout the day to ensure that the colour is what you want as the light changes. I would recommend leaving each colour up for a few days so you can check it in different weather conditions too. I know this will likely take a long time but it really is the best way to end up with a colour that you love and avoid costly mistakes. Good Luck!

  • Hi could you advise what colour I could use in my hall the walls are currently magnolia wallpaper with a small raised square sounds awful but I liked it till I decided to change all the pine wood to brilliant white and now it just doesn’t go I was going to emulsion the wall paper as too costly to rip of and start again what colour could I add to white for a mix accessories are creams and gold with a sand stair carpet its driving me crazy and now I’m wishing I had left wood really need someone with vision to advise thankyou.

    • Hi Angela, the reason why your magnolia paint no longer looks great against the white is because there is a lot of yellow pigment in Magnolia. I would suggest you choose a paint colour that has less yellow in. Perhaps you could look into beige? I know this sounds terribly old-fashioned and boring, but beige is the new grey and we will be seeing a lot more of this colour in years to come. Try typing beige interiors into Pinterest and you will see a whole host of beautifully inspiring images. Good luck with your project!

  • I hate magnolia, it looks clean and fresh to start with against white paintwork. After about six months it seems to get darker and looks like someone has been smoking in the room. I too am going into a flat that has just been painted with it, so I can’t do anything about it. To top it off they have put a taupe coloured carpet and I have a grey sofa. please what colours will brighten it up.

    • I’m right there with you Amanda. In fact, we’ve literally just had the exterior of our flat painted. It was previously magnolia and I absolutely hated it. It really affects how you feel about your home. With regards to your flat, I would suggest going with Karen’s advice and maybe exploring green? In my previous magnolia home, we did this and it made such a difference. Green tends to lift the magnolia and give it life. Good luck in your new flat and I hope you can make magnolia work for you!

  • I have been renting for a number of years (20+) and every property has been magnolia. I’m sorry as I don’t want to offend anyone who likes this colour, but I personally despise it. I can’t understand how it is classed as a neutral as I find it quite overbearing. To me it is a constant reminder that I’m in rented property and nothing I add whether it be furniture, pictures etc can take away that rented feeling, even worse when it is with brown colour carpet (another landlords favourite). I find it really depressing as well as really absorbing light, making rooms feel dark and opressive, yet I’m happy to have dark grey walls without that feeling. I really wish landlords would choose something a bit fresher. When I’ve been able to decorate I’ve always opted for sail white by crown which works perfectly with my mid century furniture.

    • Magnolia is a dilution from brown This is shown on BS colour chart not cream which is from yellow. Magnolia is a one coat wonder whereas white may need a second coat to obliterate it’s deterioration to marking is also less It’s also a cheap off the shelf option.
      Why not simple White BS OO 55 which does not contain the blue which is added to brilliant white The 2 whites side BT side are notably different.

    • Mix it with white in a bucket it then becomes a Beige add 25% Magnolia OR live dangerously and create your own colour from reduced end of lines Happy painting

  • I bought a house 4 years ago (mid Victorian worker’s cottage – high ceilings, small rooms and tall but narrow windows set in 50cm thick walls so not great light). As it had been done up by a developer it was painted throughout in magnolia and neutral mushroom coloured carpets.

    I like it partly because I had spent the past 10 years renting and gotten used to magnolia walls. I’ve read some of the comments and the 2nd one from Rosie the artist has acted as confirmation that I am right in keeping my house magnolia it’s not as harsh as brilliant white but costs the same for a 10 litre bucket. Also, it let’s pictures and other art hanging on my walls (and curtains complementing) speak for itself instead of having to fight the walls for attention.

    This article made me remember what it was like when I owned a flat 20 years ago which I decorated with different colours in different rooms…. Picking colours because I thought I liked them (apple white in the vestibule, duck egg blue in the hall which was too a bright blue and butter milk in the lounge which turned out to be primrose yellow!) and having to suffer them for several years as they were too bright and vibrant!

    Perhaps I like the neutral (bland?) magnolia because I have Asperger’s Syndrome? But, thanks to this article and comments, I know it’s right for me ?

    • Alen, I’m so pleased to hear that reading this article has confirmed for you that magnolia is the right colour! Colour is such a personal choice and it’s so important to pick one that makes you feel good about your home. From what you’ve said, that colour for you is magnolia!

  • Stacey~ Some years since I wrote here about my tiny council cottage, which only seems to throw light around with Magnolia. It is interesting to read the comments about the psychological end of Magnolia rather than the actual colour itself. Having tried Brilliant white, almond white,Orchid White,and a host of other colours including the new greys, it is my house and there is so much snobbery about this beautiful colour. ~ Older cottages with little light, or small dull rooms, [I did not mention in last post that I am an artist, hence fairly good at colour and it’s impact], I look at people buying grey in a climate like Ireland and UK, unless modern with lots of light, these trendy colours look awful ! Whilst creams like , dare I say it, Magnolia look terrific with wooden flooring, lots of green fresh plants, fresh flowers, mirrors and good paintings. Red Sofas look particularly good [in my opinion]. Like I said before, if I say ‘warm butter’ or ‘dawn light’ people say ‘Wow, your home is beautiful, it glows’ [so it is my little secret and a lot cheaper than Farrow and Ball, oh Elephants breath was disastrous in my home and costly too.

    • not if it has not been cleaned prior is doesn’t , Landlords use it because its clean, and as cheap as 5 litres of white paint .

  • I’ve bought a town house
    Which has been refurb throughout
    Top to bottom
    Decor. My husband bought
    Magnolia through out ?
    To me it looks yellow base !!
    We are having oak doors throughout house
    On the ground floor is open planned
    With kitchen island and living erea
    My kitchen is off white with plum gloss island and glass units
    Is magnolia a good choice ?

    Please help me xx

  • My bedroom is open to my stairs/hall and I need to redecorate both. As the bedroom is in the eaves with lots of white ceiling and is a large room I am going bold in colour with either Dulux Burnt Autumn 2 or Fire Cracker 4. The colour will also go down the stairs with the hall to be painted in a neutral. Would magnolia be the best neutral or do you have a suggested neutral for the hall please? The floor in the hall is a dappled tile of cream/brown.

  • The reason landlords and developers use Magnolia is because it is dirt cheap compared to other colours,including Buttermilk,Gardenia and the like.Go to any DIY store and it becomes so obvious.I am a retired decorator and so I know a bit.

  • Gardenia is nicer choice of colour and doesn’t have the negative connotations that Magnolia now has. Magnolia is popular partly due to it being a “shelf” colour which doesn’t require tinting a base to obtain the colour you want and the increased costs that are involved with that, sometimes up to 20% extra in cost. It is a BS colour – 8 B 15 and can be obtained from any brand/trade centre/DIY centre/Paint Merchants. Although never try to touch in another brands Magolia with a differing brand…BS Standard leaves a lot to be desired! It is universally known and doesn’t require homeowner/developer/office manager, etc to give it much thought. People seem more savvy regarding colours these days so Ivory Cream, Gradenia and other pale creams are also sold as “shelf” colours and slowly replacing Magnolia as the standard colour of choice.

      • Hi Karen, my whole lovely new build flat in painted in magnolia and I’m doing me best but don’t know where to start! It is south facing with the large lining room window getting sunlight all day and the rear of the living room window is west facing getting the sunset and the large bedroom also magnolia is also south facing but the hall and bathroom have no windows so are very dark also magnolia! I have taken some pictures but am not sure how to upload these to get some tips if possible? I’d really appreciate your input! Thank you so much ?

  • I have a tiny rented Council Cottage, it is really small and narrow, and dark in winter. I have tried most colours… and still, Magnolia [how I wish they would change the name] people have said , what’s the lovely colour on the wall, when I say Magnolia, they just stare as if it’s a ‘dirty’ word. If I say ‘Buttermilk’ they say, it’s lovely !! ~ I have been using an Orchid White for some time now but it doesnot have the purple [warm] colour that is in Magnolia, Yes, ive tried White, Greys Taupes and they dont work in Ireland, where there is grey skies. I am very artistic but when pictures are hung, and other colours brought in, it works !!!

  • “I don’t know of any homeowner who has used magnolia when decorating their own home” – I’ve just bought my first house (after renting in yes – a magnolia house – for almost a year).

    Guess what colour i’ve painted throughout the entire house? Yep, Magnolia! I love it, as you’ve mentioned white feels to harsh whereas magnolia is warming yet clean, airy and simplistic. My house isn’t very big so these are important characteristics to me.

    I find it interesting that so many people – my own friends included – hate magnolia. Yet these are the people who own black or white cars…

    Long live magnolia!

  • pls i need to know the colours to mix to have magnolia and other colurs and guild on how produce paint textcoat,emulsion,any other you know pls.

  • pls can you be of help,i need to know colours i can mix together in order to have magnolia colour,my e-mail address is there,you can send it to me and any other colour you know,am a painter and also a producer but there colours i dont know how to produce,pls you can be off help.and if you have manual on how to produce paints,emulsion,textcoat,stain,flexcoat and any other if send,and if you have a price tag on them pls let me know.thanks.

    • Hi David, thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read my blog post. Unfortunately I am a writer and not a paint expert so I am not qualified to provide you with the information you need. I suggest that you contact one of the major paint manufacturers in your area and seek the advice you need from them. I hope you manage to find the information you need and so sorry not to be able to help. Good Luck!

  • I have painted the room magnolia but i’m thinking one wall turquoise or black which one is better?

  • I think it’s all about the name – change the name on the tin to a different name and it would sell in buckets to homeowners. We have it everywhere, contrasted with white ceilings. With your personal choice of paintings on the wall etc I think it looks very effective. What I don’t like, which is what I see most everywhere now, are homes that are decorated all on the same lines. Some flowery wallpaper on one wall, ‘heart’ features hanging and those ‘words’ things that say Home Sweet Home etc. Where are the individual touches these days? Most look like everyone has shopped at B&Q, Homebase etc and bought the same magazines.

  • Hi please help me I have magnolia walls and grey large gloss tiles on floor I want to put a wallpaper on one wall as a feature wall what colour should I go for and what colour dining table and side board

  • I am in the process of painting a house which is going to be on the rental market fairly soon. I am using magnolia and got a large quantity to paint both bedrooms, living room and stairs/landing. Do you think I should consider brilliant white in the kitchen and bathroom as the units/suite and tiles are white? or do you think magnolia is acceptable for the these rooms?

    • Hi Alex thanks for your comment. I’m afraid I’m not an expert on the rental market so I can’t say for sure. But what I can tell you is that in the last 4 rental properties I lived in magnolia was used throughout, including the kitchen and the bathroom.

  • hi i have a small bedroom recently painted magnolia i have beech and white wardrobe and bedside drawers dado rail in white gloss as is the skirting and doors i really want to make the room look warm and cosy but dont know what colours to use please help :-)

  • Hi I need some help choosing colour combinations. I have magnolia walls and a chocolate brown leather sofa. I am changing my curtains as I want to throw some colour into the room. What colour combinations do you think would go the best to make my room really stand out? And should I also have a net in the window? Please help.

  • Great post, I want to say I love magnolia. But I think you right, its the easy option. What is your opinion on painting wall and ceiling magnolia? What about white ceiling with magnolia walls, as many people suggest making the ceiling whiter than the walls?

    • Hi Calum, great that you love magnolia. With regards to painting the wall and ceiling magnolia, I would say that unless the room is really rather large, light and airy, perhaps painting the ceiling magnolia as well might be a bit much. Like you say it is most usual to paint the ceiling in a lighter shade as it creates more of a feeling of space in the room. By painting it white it will be lifted slightly so I would suggest sticking with this normally. However, if you have the room and like you say you love magnolia, why not give it a go?

  • Hi there I am searching to change the colour of my wall in my kitchen. I have a magnolia kitchen and red tiles which can not be changed but want a different look with the walls. Would a subtle grey work??? Thanks in advance liz

  • Hi thanks a lot with all this information I just want to know that my room curtains are purple and one wall aubergine geometric wall paper does magnolia high gloss furniture with a metal bed goes with it .thanks

  • hi, I have learnt a lot about the colour magnolia.I need your opinion about which curtains to use in my living room which is small(19ft by length and 8ft by width). The wall is painted magnolia and wallpaper borders (burgundy background with imprinted gold flowers)has been fix in the middle of both lengths of the living room and one breath(where a window is fixed).my sofa has a leopard skinlike colour having brown shades being predominant.I have pillows in the sofa being cream in colour.

  • Karen, Yemi did leave a comment on my old blog and the comment has slipped through the net in the transfer to the new blog, which is why you cannot see it here. Yemi’s comment was:

    Hi Karen,
    I love your expositions on Magnolia. I do have a lot of hassles on issues with colours combination. I would always want something unique but not loud.
    Now, i am seeking your opinion. I have purchased Magnolia to paint my living room. And i have an arc/curve that forms the entrance to the dining room, though facing the living room, would it look nice if i paint that arc/curve with brilliant white or do you have any other suggestion?
    I have gained a lot from your article about other colours one can use to balance Magnolia.
    Expecting your reply.

  • Hi Yemi, thanks for your question.

    Brilliant white is a actually a cold, blue based white. Magnolia is a warm, yellow based white. Put them both together and you will see they will jar and could be quite straining to look at.

    Look at the colours you are using in the adjoining room and pick one to curve. This will in effect link the two rooms together.

    To create a truly harmonious colour scheme look for colours that have a warm, yellow based undertone that are clear (i.e. no black added).

    Enjoy putting together your colour scheme.

    Karen :)

  • I love Magnolia and I have just painted my whole house with it. I am now looking for a suitable colour for my sofas. My other house is painted gardenia and it is lovely as well.

    • Hi Lydia, I must admit that since I did this article with Karen I have actually grown to like Magnolia a lot more. Once you know what to team it with it actually comes alive a little bit! I can confirm that green works really well with magnolia.

  • I’m surprised by Karen saying that the psychological properties of magnolia are actually the same as white… the “positive attributes are hygiene, sterility, clarity, purity, cleanliness, simplicity, sophistication and efficiency.” I would never bestow magnolia with any of these, what I consider to be, positive virtues. I associate magnolia with words such as bland, dull, insipid, a real middle of the road colour. I just see it as being a lazy and anonymous colour. In fact to say magnolia has positive attributes is the antithesis of what I imagine many people in design circles would believe to be true.

    • Hi Gerard, Thanks for sharing your views. What is happening here is colour association / colour meaning which is different to colour psychology. These are the concious feelings you have associated with this colour. It’s not a colour I would use in my home.

      Every colour still has psychological qualities which hold true regardless of what we feel of about the colour.

      There’s no ‘recipe’ when it comes to a colour name, some paint companies have their magnolia that is quite yellowy whilst others add a higher percentage of white.

      It does seem to be a colour name that really sparks emotive comments, think that’s one of the reasons for Stacey picking it ;)

      • Hi Karen,

        Thanks for your reply. I can see there is a real distinction between colour psychology and colour association. I find it somewhat difficult to dissociate from my emotional reaction. Perhaps as an interior designer I need to be better at doing this? Having said that I base so much of what I do on my emotional connection to a space, that I do focus more on the association with colour than the psychological properties. Haven’t quite thought about it in this way before… :-)

  • Magnolia and good old Gardinia given a fancy name and add more white for a subtle tone my clients think they have discovered something new. Who am I to burst their bubble

  • Yeay! You did it! You wrote about magnolia. I have to say I disagree a bit with putting magnolia in the same box as vanilla white. I would have loved vanilla white. Magnolia is ghastly compared to vanilla white. At least the one that we have here. Magnolia is more like a orangey/yellowy tone. After we moved in we convinced the landlord to start painting in a cafe latte/vanilla white tone instead of magnolia. SO the other flats that have been refurbished since have that wall colour. Much better in my opinion :)

    • Yes, I did! And having had Karen’s input I now know why I find it so hard living with magnolia. The colour itself doesn’t actually bother me, (my house is a kind of creamy vanilla colour) it’s more the proportions, like Karen said. As the whole house is magnolia and all the curtains are floor length and cream, it’s a bit overpowering. I really couldn’t work out what colours I could introduce that would work well with magnolia either. I think though that I need to get some nice pictures to put up and maybe a nice big mirror. And I think I’ll probably go with a nice greeny colour for some accessories. Glad you are happier with the colour of your place now! Cafe latte sounds lovely, very calming! What colours have you chosen to go with it?

      • I think for me with my minimalistic style – black, brown and grey it was very difficult to make that work with magnolia without it all become just bland. I went for a lot of greenery inside. Bought plants and started getting flowers every other week. It made a huge difference. Do you have some green items already or will you “have to” (poor you) go shopping :)

    • Thanks for your feedback. It made me realise I didn’t clarify my comment very well when I wrote that the equivalents of magnolia are other whites, such as ivory, oyster white and pure white.

      With each of the four tonal colour group there is a white that tonally relates to that colour pattern. Magnolia belongs in one of them. Ivory, oyster white and pure white in the other three.

      There are of course thousands of white but each will tonally relate to one of the four groups.

      Each paint company seems to have their own version of magnolia, some are more yellow and as you mentioned orange/yellow and others a light cream colour.

      Cafe latte is closer to ivory, a warm white with a hint of black whereas magnolia is also a warm white with no black which makes it increases its brightness.

      It’s great there are so many whites to choose from ensuring there is one to suit everyone’s tastes and personality.