Love it or hate it, magnolia is a paint colour which is... well, pretty much everywhere.
Magnolia is a neutral and timeless colour scheme which is easy to mix with other colours. To complement the buttery yellow undertones, try earthy oranges, olive greens, warm blues like turquoise, soft peaches or classic white.
So whether you're trying to spruce up a rented property without any major redecorating, or you've recently decided to embrace this warm white hue in your own home, then this is your ultimate styling guide to pairing colour with magnolia walls.
Although it gets a bad rep (and some people would say it's dated), it's telling that this colour became so popular in the 80's and 90's. And it's still the most trusted colour when it comes to selling houses quickly.
With its buttermilk, yellow undertones, magnolia pairs beautifully with neutral décor and natural light. If you're feeling nervous about this wall colour looking old-fashioned or out of touch with modern styling, then read on for colour combination top tips as well as tried and tested styling advice!
Are Painted Magnolia Walls Having a Comeback?
Once the height of fashion and sophistication, before (apparently) becoming our most disliked paint shade, many of us still prefer to opt for a neutral tone when decorating.
And with Dulux's 2023 colour of the year having some suspiciously magnolia undertones, I think that we are definitely seeing a shift back to natural, earthy, warmer palettes. Here are some reasons to embrace your magnolia walls:
Brings warmth & cosiness - I personally painted my whole house white, and whilst this definitely gives me the modern minimalist vibe I was after, there is no getting around the fact that sometimes it can just feel a little bit stark and clinical. No matter how much different lighting I try to add in, it's not the cosiest space to cuddle up with a film in the evenings!
Magnolia may not feel like the sexiest colour choice, but in terms of real livability, it can create a soft, warm and inviting backdrop for family life.
Works well in north-facing rooms - cool tones can make north-facing rooms feel uninviting and drab. So a colour like magnolia with warm yellow undertones can be the perfect antidote for these sun-starved rooms.
A heritage hue - buttermilk, magnolia, off-white - whatever you want to call this shade, it really is a classic. Try it for a traditional, calming and natural feel which works perfectly in homes of all shapes and sizes.
A neutral base to layer pops of colour & texture - I think that the real problem with magnolia is that we are used to seeing it styled in bland, dated homes. But as soon as magnolia is given a 21st-century refresh with natural materials, cosy throws and textured rugs, it takes on a whole new life (read on for more info!).
5 Ways to Style Magnolia Paint in 2023
Whilst magnolia is a forgiving neutral and will pair inoffensively with most colours, there are definitely certain colour combinations that you'll want to stick to for the best results. Remember that magnolia has warm yellow undertones, therefore it will work best with other warm-based shades (think olive green, terracotta or vibrant aqua).
So without further ado, let's get to the fun part!
Read on for the interior design know-how to get the best out of your magnolia colour scheme.
Muted corals & earthy terracottas
Farrow & Ball Faded Terracotta
Little Greene Marigold
Dulux Matt Blood Orange
Craig & Rose 1829 Cadmium Chalky
First up is my (possibly favourite!) combination - magnolia paired with muted corals and earthy oranges. These complimentary shades really elevate magnolia from your standard neutral colour to soft, natural and lived-in.
Earthenware pottery, wooden furniture and antique fountain grass stems are accents which really work to accentuate this look. It has an aged vintage feel whilst still being completely on-trend.
Warm natural olive greens
Dulux Overtly Olive
Farrow & Ball Olive
Little Green Olive
Dulux Willow Tree
Green is my favourite colour for bringing the outdoors in, so I'm always on the lookout for colours that pair well with it!
Whilst a deep emerald green sofa may pop better against your brilliant white walls, a magnolia room favours a softer, warmer green like mint or olive. This will infuse a fresh, clean and calming vibe to any space.
Let as much natural light into the room as possible with minimal window dressings, add a large jute rug and incorporate some statement greenery (eucalyptus or dracaena would work well).
A pop of turquoise
Little Greene Canton
Dulux Teal Voyage
Farrow & Ball Vardo
If you're after a slightly bolder style, then why not pair your magnolia walls with a gorgeous aqua accent? This colour combination can look classy and expensive with the simplest of colour palettes.
Use turquoise as a pop of colour in your sofa, with gold and soft almond scatter cushions. To bring the room together, use splashes of this gorgeous green-blue in statement artwork. Furniture in a gold finish will only help to further enhance feelings of opulence and luxury.
Complete the look with oversized statement vases of pampas grass, and the softest high-pile rug underfoot.
White: simple, elegant, classic
Dulux Pure Brilliant White
V33 Renovation White Satin
Farrow & Ball All White
Crown Matt Brilliant White
If minimalism is your bag, then this may be the perfect option for you.
Keep magnolia simple with fresh white skirting boards and crisp white furniture.
According to colour psychology, both colours are associated with feelings of clarity, purity, cleanliness, simplicity and sophistication. So for a light, bright and inviting space, give this neutral duo a try.
This is a particularly classic and traditional look which is timeless. For a nod to current design trends, throw in some greenery and statement wall art.
Soft apricots & peaches
Farrow & Ball Pink Ground
Dulux Matt Soft Peach
Little Greene Mushroom
Laura Ashley Pale Chalk Pink
For a peaceful and calming vibe that works particularly well in a bedroom, try pairing magnolia with the softest touches of apricot and rosy pink.
Opt for rustic finishes like light wood, wicker and linen curtains. You can also add texture with a boho rug or some soft tactile cushions. Crisp white bed linen helps to retain a clean and modern feel.
Finish the look with plenty of dried floral sprays like pampas grass.
+ 3 Colours to Avoid With Magnolia Walls
So now you know which colours work best with magnolia, the next question is - are there any colours you should absolutely avoid? Well, it's not to say that you can never make the below options work, but I'd be very careful about how you incorporate them and steer clear if possible!
Purple has become a popular accent colour in recent years, but try to avoid this cool-toned hue with magnolia decor. It will clash with the buttery yellow undertones and runs the risk of looking tacky.
The biggest problem with this combination is that it just looks... dated. Whilst you may be able to get away with a warm chestnut leather sofa, it's going to be more difficult to pull off deep chocolate browns without feeling like you've stepped foot inside a time machine. So it's probably best to step away from the mahogany furniture if you're wanting to get the best out of your magnolia colour scheme.
Now don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of matt black finishes. I think they can add a stunning contemporary feel to any home. But... please pair black with brilliant white! A monochromatic scheme looks so much fresher and crisper this way.
You can just about get away with a grey sofa (if you must!), but this is where I draw the line in a magnolia colour scheme.
What colour carpet goes best with a magnolia room?
If you're lucky enough to have wooden floorboards, then a light oak finish can look stunning paired with magnolia walls. Or, if you prefer the comfort of a carpet underfoot, then a neutral textured flatweave is a good option.
What blinds work best with magnolia walls?
Install lightwood Venetian blinds for a contemporary yet classic look. This works well if you're using other natural materials as the basis for your room. You could also try bright white wooden blinds, if you're opting for white woodwork and ceilings.
What colour curtains accentuate a magnolia colour scheme?
Have your curtains blend into the background as much as possible when your walls are painted magnolia. This helps to make the most of the natural light coming into the room and retains a modern look and feel. Think whites, creams and natural textures.
What colour should I paint my ceiling with magnolia walls?
If you've painted the woodwork white, then a white ceiling can really help to finish off your room. Alternatively, paint the ceiling in the same magnolia shade. It's best to keep it simple.
What colour feature wall looks best with magnolia?
If you want to spruce up your chimney breast or make an accent wall, then try a warm dusky pink, a soft beige or an earthy green. That said, magnolia often looks at its best when left classic and untouched, so think about ways in which you can incorporate pops of colour in your furniture choices and accessories instead.
Brighten Up Your Home With a Neutral Colour Scheme
Whether you've recently moved into a new house that's painted head to toe in magnolia, you're preparing your current house for sale, or you just want a paint colour that you know works... then I hope this post helps you to rejuvenate your magnolia walls!
Magnolia can be a synonym for 'lifeless' or 'lacking personality', but as we've seen, this certainly doesn't have to be the case when used thoughtfully and with an eye for modern details. With so many different shades to complement this neutral shade and various ways to style it, you can really have fun with this often-overlooked colour!
Before you go ahead with any paint choice in this article, remember to buy a tester pot so you can give the colour a try before going all in! Depending on your specific shade of magnolia and the aspect of your room (i.e. is it north facing, south facing, etc), then this may sway your colour choice. These are our top picks, but always make sure it's appropriate for your own individual room.
For more tips, read our article on choosing the best paint colour for your room.