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In general, natural hard finishes, like stone, granite or marble, fall into two main color categories: Brown and Gray. Browns are warm in feel and grays cool. Browns are reflected in Mediterranean homes and grays are seen more in modern homes. It is important to know which color category you gravitate toward.

Basket weave pattern, dark wood cabinetry and dark metals.


Brown reminds us of nature. Wood surfaces, limestone and travertine all have a warm feel to them. Many people love the look of wood and tend to gravitate to brown in their interiors. Some people prefer natural wood cabinetry in kitchens. Wood furnishings are prominent in homes, whether highly finished or left rough in texture.

Older homes can have wonderful wood flooring. The color can range from golden oak or red oak to dark brown. Think 1920s bungalow style or Victorian. Many of these homes have stained trim around interior windows and doors. Traditional Spanish style homes have Saltillo tile flooring in a burnt umber typically with a waxed finish. If your home falls in this general description, brown is the color category that will work best in your home.

If your images that you gathered in the previous step reflect lots of wood furnishings, even those that are lime washed with a "beach" feel, brown is the hard finish category that will be right for your renovation.


Grays are found in industrial lofts and modern interiors. They can also be found in formal homes with marble finishes. This color can be sleek in feel as well as formal depending on the hard finish used. Think concrete verses marble or granite. Many people love the look of Carrara marble with veining. This marble is grey in color and has a beautiful depth to it. Pair it with crisp white, blue-grays and brighter finishes.

Modern homes built more recently may have gray tile or exposed concrete flooring and typically have large expanses of glass. The exterior hardscape may be concrete slabs or exposed block walls. Metals windows may be present. Think industrial loft or California modern style. If your home falls in this general description, gray is the color category that will work best.

Synthetic Hard Finishes.

Synthetic hard finishes, on the other hand, come in all colors imaginable including black and white. This category includes tile and countertops such as quartz. Tiles can be glazed in any color with gloss or a matte finish. Concrete countertops can be dyed a specific color. Quartz comes in bright white, black or a look that may mimic marble. This category has lots of endless choices of color and shape. The trick is to narrow down your choices and coordinate the finishes throughout the house.

If you own a home that does not have a specific style, like a builder home or a ranch home, and you are not choosing natural finishes, this category is one where you have lots of color choices.

If the images you gathered in the previous step reflect mid-century modern style homes or Scandinavian interiors, study them to see which colors you naturally gravitate towards. Some people love an all-white interior and others do not. Some people love strong colors and shapes. Synthetic hard finishes will give you lots of options.

It is interesting to note that in older homes built in the 1920’s era, the bathroom flooring is tiled in small white or white and black hexagon shaped tile. Black and white interiors can be timeless. If your home is of this vintage, study photos showing original flooring tile shape, color and patterns. Many of these original finishes look classic.

Paint Color.

It is best to determine your hard finishes before choosing a paint color since paint comes in every color possible. If you are having trouble deciding between gray or brown natural hard finishes, it is helpful to decide if you gravitate towards crisp, clean white painted walls or walls painted in a subdued muted tone, like off-white. If you like brighter, cleaner colored walls, pick natural hard finishes that are in the gray category. If you like off-white or subdued tones for wall paint, pick natural hard finishes that are in the brown category. Hold them next to each other to help with your decision.

If you are looking for a comprehensive package of hard finish suggestions, shop my various finish schemes for sale. The PDF download is a materials list of coordinated hard finishes and appropriate foundation whites for kitchens or baths. Be sure to get both corresponding rooms if you are planning a complete remodel.





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