When we purchased our forever home, it was quite the project we had undertaken. The home itself is in good condition for being built in the late 80’s but everything from the original appliances to the wall papered rooms needed updating. It is a large Georgian home, so we expected to tackle room by room over the course of the next five years. After living in it for a few months and staring at bubble gum pink walls that gave us aneurysm every time we passed through the room and orange brown walls that made us feel like we were prehistoric, we decided to choose a few rooms and hire pros to paint it nice for years to come. It’s amazing how something so simple as a paint color can change everything from your mood when you walk into your home to the whole energy of the space.
In the past, I used cheap basic paints of an array of colors and painted the rooms in our starter home myself. I did them as quickly as I could because once I started painting I was all in, yet I regretted starting in the first place. My husband insisted we hire a professional team of painters so it would look sharp and we wouldn’t have to do it again. At first I was hesitant spending that amount of money on something I could do over time, but with 10-14 foot ceilings, a toddler, and new pregnancy I gave in to the hired labor.
I knew I wanted a timeless neutral palette of colors for our home, and I chose Benjamin Moore for the quality and discount we got at a local store. When it came to narrowing down the most basic of neutrals I was flabbergasted. I felt as if I was in design school. I was reading up on natural light, southern vs northern exposure. The undertones of colors. Like who would have thought there was actually over 50 shades of gray? Green undertones on an off white? Not to mention the light reflective value. You’ve got to be kidding me, one white can out bright the other. I was getting dizzy reading up on all the blogs reviewing the Benjamin Moore neutrals. I found one color that had a great LRV but the wrong undertones. Another color was great for southern exposure…next…moving on. To top it off our house is finished on all four floors with a reddish orange oak trim. Every detail from the interior doors, molding, and windows has it so it is tricky to find colors that compliment the wood instead of making it clash or blend in. I even hired at the request of my husband a local interior designer to ensure we were on the right path. She actually gave me other choices. She suggested we paint our living room deep teal, which we almost did but got cold feet- thank God we didn’t, but I might use it for our dining room one day. She gave us a few other suggestions, but at the end of the day I went with my gut and chose what I thought was perfect for our space. While I was nervous watching the first few layers of paint spread across the walls the end result was exactly what I wanted! We get many compliments and I’m glad we not only hired painters, but chose colors that spoke to us even if they were possibly boring or not typical.
Here are the before and afters of some of the rooms we painted, the color we chose, and the runners up. So many shades to chose from it was hard. Like Collingwood and Edgecomb gray are very similar, but a slight undertone can make all the difference in the finished product.
Living room to the master/ my office
It was the most blinding stomach wrenching shade of bubble gum pink. From the changing room to the main room the color was painted ceiling to floor. How just how could they live with this for thirty years? The owner was astonished I didn’t like the color as he claimed it was very feminine. They even left me a gallon in case I wanted to do touch ups.
The interior designer suggested Halo, which I found to be dull and murky. I chose a classic Ivory White. It is warm and inviting and adds brightness to the room which lacks not only natural light but a ceiling light fixture.
Photos do not do the transformation justice. It is really night and day. It feels like a normal space versus a trippy time machine warp to Barbie world. The ivory really enhances the wood trim and doesn’t feel sterile like a hospital ward.
This room drove me nuts! Some may disagree, but the brown orange drove me nuts.
We almost went with a dark teal color Dragonfly.
I researched high and low for the perfect cream. Gentle Cream is what I chose and I highly recommend it. Whether it be a bedroom, main open space, or a cozy room that needs brightened up, this is a solid go to color. It is THE perfect cream! It has a lower LRV 67 which makes a richer cream versus a lighter off white. The undertone is warm without being too yellow and goes well with grays too. I’m so happy with this color!
Runners up were: Balboa Mist, Albalone, Classic Gray, Navijo White, and Wind’s Breath.
It wasn’t awful but the room was dated and not our style. It’s a room we as well as guests use often, so I wanted it to have some flair. I almost went with a calm blue green and chose Healing Aloe, which I still adore and will someday find the space for. We ended up going with a deep blue and chose Van Deusen Blue. It is deep, rich, and soft without being too harsh. I absolutely love it and it still looks good with minimal natural light.
Runners up were: Hale Navy, Newbury Port Blue, and Gentleman’s Gray.
Our entry lobby has barely any light as well as our second floor mezzanine. It was painted the same murky blah taupe color ceiling to floor and made us want to crawl under a rock and die. We have wainscotting throughout, and I know it is custom to have it painted white, but my husband wanted a darker color to shield the marks of kids and scuffs. I wanted an earthy greige or gray without being too loud. On the top I chose an off white with classic white ceilings in Oxford white.
After many swatches taped on the walls for months and studying them as if they were a CIA case I chose Dune White on top and Collingwood for the bottom. The color combination rocks! The Collingwood is the perfect subtle greige that works with all types of lighting and has minimal undertones although the undertone is faint purple. Dune White has very soft gray undertones without making it gray at all, but it works well with gray counter colors. My space went from drab to fab instantly!
Before dark and dull.
Before and after.
Off white runners up: White Dove, Paper White, and Ivory White.
Wainscotting runners up: Edgecomb gray, Gray owl, and Dove Wing.
Our kitchen was another lovely shade of putty taupe. While it wasn’t horrible by any means, my husband begged and pleaded me to paint and change it to something bright and cherry since we spend most of our time in the kitchen. Even when we have parties, we may have a great space set up in the entertainment room to chill, but everyone seems to always gravitate towards the kitchen. He really wanted yellow but not a soft or subtle yellow. He wanted some energy. He wanted a fun and vibrant yellow. I threw caution to the wind and chose Mellow Yellow. It is not so mellow and the color pops with our white cabinets. It is one of my favorite rooms. We can’t have a totally neutral house, and we wanted our personality to show through some of our interior choices. We have minimal natural light in the kitchen due to an attached solarium and this really makes the space feel alive without giving one a headache. It is a rich solid yellow without orange undertones. Depending on the lighting it can look a bit brighter than the picture.
Runners up: Yellow Rain Coat
Our bedroom was painted a bright powder blue with floral borders with one wall a floral wallpaper which we decided to keep for the time being to add some character and taking down wall paper seemed like a pain. We chose to paint the three walls and take down the border to freshen it up and cover the 1,000 painting nail holes that took over the walls. I chose a neutral color I thought would blend well with the floral and navy wall paper but after the first coat I aborted the mission. London Fog looked great online. It’s a few shades lighter than Thunder (see below)
It made the room look depressed We quickly reverted back to a blue and chose Benjamin Moore White Rain, which is a chalky soft powder blue. It isn’t a color you would normally see in a kid’s room. It is cheery in the morning when the sun beams in and soothing at night in the shadows. I love it, and the color goes well with the wood work too!
If you need more color guidance for your own projects check out this interior designer’s blog http://www.kylieminteriors.ca
She also gives reasonable over the phone consultations!