If you have noticed that many shelter magazines are showing not one, but two,
chandeliers over a dining-room table, you are picking up on something.
And, that something is a trend.
Not just a trend, but a trendy-trend.
For a classic, timeless, look, stick with a single chandelier over your dining room table.
Save the pair for a long hall .
Trust me on this one.
This is a trend, it will not last, and in five years it will announce:
“I decorated my dining room in 2013.”
Save the two chandelier/two lantern look for something like the above.
That is a timeless look that never goes out of style.
People, let me tell you, this is huge! The first step is always the hardest.
But, I am in motion. My wonderful wallpaper man is busy finishing stripping the existing paper as I type this.
The rusty green wallpaper is au revoir!
I am so uplifted just walking in and looking at the bare SheetRock.
In all my color installations/demolitions, I have never seen a wallpaper absorb the light out of a room like
ol’ Rusty Green.
It is amazing, the difference.
Furthermore, my husband hates changing anything in our house. He loves everything to stay the same.
Bless his heart, he agreed to put up with the disruption entailed by this project.
So I will say again, this is huge!
Remember, this is just the bare SheetRock, not the new paint color. Obviously, still a work site!
I know you probably don’t want to see contractor bags, you come here to look at the pretty pictures.
This is real life, though. And, it will look nice in no time.
It is a very cloudy gray day, but you’d never know it by what is going on in my house today.
I can’t wait to get my crew over from Atlanta to work on the travertine. It must be cleaned, re-honed and re-grouted, then we’ll be ready for the new paint.
Can you notice that the pink undertone in the travertine is looking much less pink, now that Rusty Green is gone? Compare the before with the ‘during’:
I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this bath.
And, not because of the textures, finishes, or colors used.
It is because the layout is EXACTLY. LIKE. MINE.
I mean, identical. Same placement of tub, shower, his sink, her sink and vanity. Same window.
Same opening to the closet area.
I have never seen this exact layout ever before in a photo.
Here is mine. I have wing walls instead of completely open cabinetry or a full-glass shower enclosure.
It hides everyday toiletries better. It hides the workings of the shower.
You know the family above keeps soap on the counter. And shampoo bottles in the shower.
So do I, you just can’t see it.
And, yes, this is the same bath
from which I am removing all the existing wallpaper.
I can hardly wait!
Then, it is going to be painted Shaker Beige, see the dollop.
Cabinets will be Ivory White.
YES, we’ve been there.
The contractor is breathing down our neck, he needs the colors picked out.
He needs them ALL, two weeks from today!
As we’ve talked about before, paint color should be the last thing that is chosen.
It should be the thing that pulls everything else in the room together.
But, sometimes that is not possible.
What are some good neutrals to use?
Where should there be an actual color?
How should it all tie together so the home has color flow?
This is when you really, really need to call in a certified color consultant.
We know how some of the prettiest neutrals can “go pink” on some walls.
We know which neutral colors turn “apartment beige” in which rooms.
We know how to pick out/rule out the tile for your bath and the counter for your kitchen.
We are trained in color flow throughout the house.
We know where to insist on oil-based paint, and where not ever to use high-gloss.
Many consultants are happy to schedule a couple of hours, one-time.
Not saying all of the above can be accomplished in two hours, but you’d be amazed what can.
I don’t work with those tiny chips you find at the paint store.
I work with large painted samples on boards.
There is now a big difference in this young man’s bedroom.
Above, the new paint color, Sandy Brown. A rich caramel beige.
Lots of depth and warmth, perfect for a cozy bedroom,
and gorgeous against the existing caramel color draperies.
Before, the color was Linen White.
With my large samples, we were easily able to narrow the color selection,
based on the undertones in the existing soft furnishings, to the clear winner.
(If you want richness, depth, and warmth in a bedroom, Linen White is not your color.)
Color harmony. A simple concept.
Made easier with an understanding of undertones.
Now, I don’t mean plain or too matching.
And I certainly don’t mean boring.
As a color specialist, it means selecting the right color.
For example, today, with my large samples, I selected a gorgeous white paint color
for a friend’s Carrara marble bath.
If you have been reading this blog, you know about my large samples, right?
Here are my inspiration photos.
Sometimes the right color is white.
So, when you have Carrara marble, for instance,
don’t be afraid to go with white walls.
There are several whites that really sing with Carrara.
An all white bath.
A very simple concept, which will always be timeless.
Beautiful. Not boring.
I am humming to myself just thinking about this project.
If she agrees to photos, I’ll post before and afters.
Before, a tin-roofed cottage painted a non-traditional minty green by the previous owner.
Which stuck out like a sore thumb in a transitional neighborhood of sidewalks lined with
classic Craftsman bungalows as well as some brick houses.
After, classic Craftsman paint colors selected for the new homeowners, newlyweds.
Minty green does not belong in a classic Craftsman palette.
Greeny-grays are perfect. Great with a tin roof as well.
Grays in the mortared stone columns are reflected in the choice of color for the house body
and the darker grays accenting the trim.
Think of the earth colors of nature and there you have a pretty complete Craftsman palette.
“Georgian Brick” (Benjamin Moore) front door, which echoes the exact color of the next door
neighbor’s brick (very close by) as well as the brick High School across the street.
The young wife liked my color palette, explained to her by her husband after my initial consultation.
She was busy performing surgery and could not attend the original color consultation.
There was just one thing.
She had her heart set on a REALLY RED front door.
But, once I explained “WHY” the more muted red I selected was picked out
(it is better for a Craftsman palette;
it reflects the adjoining neighbor’s red brick;
matches the brick of the high school very visible across the street;
honors some similarly colored decorative brickwork set in their yard, etc.).
And, with this color selection system, there is ALWAYS a WHY.
She immediately understood.
She is one smart cookie. Beautiful, too.
The system works.
And, this is it: Evaluate the FIXED finishes and go from there.
Doesn’t have to include the neighbors, but when you can reach out and almost touch their brick side wall from your front porch, better to take into consideration. Think existing stone, brick, roof, etc., that will not be changed. That is what a fixed finish is.
Felt a glow of satisfaction when a passerby walking down the sidewalk told me, “Wow, the house looks great. What a difference!” as I was taking the ‘after’ photo shot.
Many homeowners choose travertine for master bathrooms if they want a “fairly” neutral
natural stone with some warmth of color.
Travertine is very tricky to decorate around, however.
Unless you understand undertones.
Most travertine has a pink undertone.
For wallpaper, I really like this great-looking Thibaut paper (trade-only).
This choice looks great with Travertine and the existing satin stainless hardware,
with a somewhat modern vibe.
If painting, I would start with Benjamin Moore Shaker Beige, a warm neutral which has a
slight pink undertone.
A warm white with a whisper of pink could also work, such as Muslin, also a Benjamin Moore
Too much pink will just look dated, though.
Avoid yellow-beige (the wrong undertone) on walls or cabinetry.
Green is not the best choice either. See how the existing yellow-green wallpaper
(above to the right side, and also
below) fights the stone, and the Shaker Beige just looks
so much more harmonious?
Travertine is the largest fixed element in this master bath. So, we look for ways to bring
more color harmony into the space. Undertones must be considered for color harmony.
(As a side note, I am starting to move away from natural stone in my consultations.
The maintenance factor is just horrendous. This travertine which is 7 years installed, has begun
to pit and even crack in places.
I am looking at Cambria Quartz, which is 90% natural, but much easier to maintain,
for my next bath project).
In my consulting business, I am frequently told by the client that she doesn’t want things to be too matchy-matchy.
I love some matchy-matchy. Matching lamps flanking a bed, for example.
To look more restful, and to add to the feeling of balance in the room.
Too much matching, though, just looks amateur. Not collected over time.
However, I always believe in HARMONY. Colors must be harmonious, especially.
Take a look at my latest paint transformation. A small bath with dated fixed finishes.
No styling, no photographic tricks, just the transformative power of the right paint color.
Well, we all have our likes and dislikes.
And, if you have been following this blog at all during the last six months since I started it, you’ve seen a lot of rooms that I like, since I try to keep the negative verbiage to a minimum.
But today, please indulge me, just this once, to name a few things I don’t like.
These are some things that bug me in otherwise beautiful homes.
#1. Too many personal photographs.
Especially on bookcase shelves.
A plethora of family photographs= visual clutter.
Pick a few gorgeous ones of meaningful life events (weddings or christenings, for instance).
Invest in pretty frames that complement each other. Don’t mix a hodge podge of frame styles or color finishes.
For all your other cherished photos: Why not invest in a nice leather archival photo album, fill it with your favorites, and place it on the family room coffee table where you or your friends can actually take the time to enjoy looking through the pages?
If you have too many displayed photographs, I can practically guarantee that you don’t really “see” them anymore.
#2 Paperback books on display
This downgrades an open bookshelf immediately.
If you don’t have a decent collection of hardbacks for your shelves, use the space for some other type of collection or grouping until you do. A good designer or a friend with a practiced eye can help you style your bookshelves for maximum visual appeal.
And, as a p.s. while we are talking about books: don’t fall for the contrivance that is shown in some magazines of covering your books, paper or hardbound, in white butcher paper. That is the silliest thing I have seen lately. Books are to be seen, and read, not covered up as strictly decoration.
When you buy a paperback: Read it, then Pass It to a friend, or Donate It. Never open-shelve a paperback book.
3. Skimpy drapery.
Look through any high-end decorating magazine. Quality draperies “kiss” the floor, but yes, you can puddle your draperies if you live in New Orleans or the in English countryside. Otherwise, it is a bit dated looking. The kind of pleats you see will be soft, unpressed pleats, and several widths of fabric to look luxurious. I am not saying this isn’t an investment. It is, but well-done draperies finish a room. For a budget decorating project, use two panels of ready-made curtains per side of the window. Hang the rod high, and let the rod extend out beyond the outer sides of the sill.
4. Pink or orange wood cabinetry anywhere.
This is a very dated look. And, yes, I know men hate to paint wood.
Here is orange:
And here is pink:
#5 Using colors out of the blue that ignore a room’s fixed finishes.
Here, below, the yellow wallpaper is just wrong in every way for the space. It is too bright for the muted blue counter and tiles, and it is not repeated anywhere else in the room, and so it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Middle image, the correct color (In Your Eyes, Benjamin Moore) takes into account the fixed muted blues everywhere else in the room. Bathrooms and kitchens are the two worst offenders, because of tile and countertops being expensive to replace.
Do you have something decoration-wise that bugs you? Do tell!
I am often asked, What is the best color for my ______ room? What do I say?
So what is the best color for a workout room?
Here is a hint: NOT BORING BEIGE!
Think about it: you are stimulating your heart, and your other muscles when
you work out. Why not give yourself something pleasing to stimulate the eye as
well. I like to recommend that we start with your favorite color, and go from
Anything that pleases your eye will help encourage you to go in and really use your work-out room.
Many work-out rooms (home gyms) are in low-natural-light areas, such as a
Beige is probably the worst possible color for a low-light area.
Contrary to anything you may have been told about keeping low-light areas light
in color, “A light color will never come to life in a dark room.” (wise words from Maria Killam).
Beige just looks dingy when there is little or no natural light.
So, which room would you rather exercise in, one that looks like these two, below:
HERE are some dedicated home exercise rooms in a variety of colors to give you some inspiration.
Cool gray walls and persimmon flooring.
Muted green walls with bright blue accents.
Gray walls AND ceilings with silver accents.
Happy yellow walls with an accent rug in charcoal gray.
A more Spa-like green.
A cleaner yellow combined with greens and taupes, bamboo flooring.
Aonther bold, fun choice, terracotta red (tip: don’t ever paint out a ceiling like this).
Mustard with walnut flooring.
And another look at my favorite, Yankee blue with zippy striped carpet.
This is Benjamin Moore Maritime White
We’ll look today at interior entries and foyers, and the importance of repeating shapes, colors and motifs for unifying the space.
So, let’s look at what works with interior entries/foyers, from grand to humble. And for clarity, I’ll mention a few things that in my opinion don’t work.
ALL YOU DÉCOR BUFFS WHO LOVE GRAY RIGHT NOW, DOES THIS, below, DO IT FOR YOU?
SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL, above. A great example of good design that probably didn’t cost a fortune. What is repeated here?
WATER REFERENCE: See the subtle reference to the ocean in the coral print pillows and the jaunty black and white photograph? Both repeating the reference to the water. Just enough.
VERTICAL LINES: The slats on the settee repeat the vertical lines of the tongue in groove panels and the vertical border of the rug. Also, the center pillow has a strong vertical motif.
BALL/CIRCLE MOTIF: The circles on the two end settee pillows repeat the balls of the little sconce. Are you seeing that when things are repeated, they are more pleasing to the eye?
COLOR HARMONY: The pale blue wall is perfect with the pinky-beige paver tiles. No clashing undertones in this humble but lovely space.
NOW, I’ll BREAK DOWN THIS “HIT AND MISS”, below:
THE MILLWORK IS NICE, AND THE PAINTING MAKES A BEAUTIFUL STATEMENT ON THE LANDING. THE HANDRAIL IS PERFECT.
However, they should have repeated the black, on the door. The ash finish of the wood door is off, it needs to be black.The countrified rust and beige check coloration on the relaxed-Roman shade comes out of nowhere, do you agree? I think a cozy ebonized settee with a soft cushion covered in a rich emerald green (cue color from the oil painting) would be much prettier and more welcoming than the oddly place round table, and would have kept your eye away from the A/C return vent. And, if I were styling this entry, I would certainly add a rug. Additionally, I find the flooring a tad busy since it is stained a different way than the stair. P.S. I hate rounded door hinges. See prior post on Does your Million Dollar Home have $2 hinges?.
NEVER OBSTRUCT YOUR STAIRS, but otherwise love this rustic rear entry, below. Can you name the two main repetitions used here to nice effect?
FARMHOUSE PERFECTION, below. Repeating the color black again here. I could just die over the iron door strapping and original hardware. The arch of the bookcase references the ellipses in the transom, and repeats in the lantern as well. The strong vertical lines of the tongue in groove paneling, stair spindles, and bench spindles work perfectly. The rug has motifs which reference each of these.
This can be a wonderful look: paint your ceilings the same color as your trim. Here is the formula. Use semi-gloss oil-based paint on the trim. Oil-based semi-gloss is also what I like to specify for painted kitchen cabinetry. Then, use flat latex in the same color for the ceiling. Here, I specified Benjamin Moore Vanilla Ice Cream. This creamy white is a perfect match for the subtle stripe in the wallpaper. And, how did I find this perfect match? With my large samples, of course!
One more tip: make sure that your painter paints the air conditioning vents and speaker covers. Yes, you can safely paint your vents and ceiling speakers (by hand with a brush, please and thank you). Don’t be afraid to venture out from the dreaded “Ceiling White.” A good color consultant can help you find your perfect color match!
What does a color consultant do? That is a question that I am frequently asked.
My goal is, always, to help you love the look and feel of your home. If I had a mission statement, that would pretty well sum it up. I believe Jane Austen, my literary hero, wrote it well: “There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.” So, what I want to do is to make your home a haven, a place of comfort, a place of beauty, and a place where you can retreat after a busy day. I want your home to be the place that you look forward to.
You see, it breaks my heart when someone says that they hate their house. Why would anyone want to feel that way? That’s what I am here for! I have access to designer carpet, wallpaper, fabric and custom furniture, available to trade-only, in addition to helping select paint colors. If we need to rearrange the existing furniture, I have someone who can come in to move things around and hang or re-hang pictures and mirrors. Sometimes a fresh eye is all that is needed, and that is what I can be.
Now, let me be clear. I don’t have any particular gift of vision. I see exactly the way that anyone with normal vision sees. However, it is the understanding of what I see as compared to other colors that is perhaps different than many.
After going through True Color Expert Training with Canadian color expert Maria Killam, something that was not in me before, actually became a wired-in part of my visual understanding. Have you ever heard someone say, “The lightbulb in my head went on” ? That is exactly what her course did for me. It turned on a lightbulb of understanding undertones of colors, and of how to achieve visual harmony through common undertones, color flow, focal points, and repetition. The rhythm of a home. That’s what I do.
Every house is different, and that is why I love doing what I do. But, my best work happens when the client trusts me and implements the ideas to make the changes I am suggesting. People are naturally resistant to change. But, when something is not working (functionally or visually), you must be prepared for possible changes if you want to be happy with your house. The things that are holding your home back from being its best: those things won’t magically get better, and you are not going wake up one morning to find that you suddenly love something that you now hate. That I can promise you.
It is my passion, my calling, and a joy to select colors as a certified color professional. I stay current by writing this blog and by reading dozens of other décor blogs and magazines.
And, on a final note, if you are a decision-making executive affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, I now offer a number of pro bono hours each year in the Birmingham, AL metro area to Habitat House homeowners who are selecting the color finishes, interior and exterior, for their new Habitat House. Click on the “about” section in the top bar, and you will see how send me an email. Please include the details of your request, including the time frame and location involved.
Benjamin Moore Smokey Taupe is one of the great interior colors. BM-983. Such a beautiful complex neutral! Remember, always paint a large sample when considering a new color (paint your sample on a 1/2 sheet of white poster paper, 2 full coats, so you can move it around the room).
And, did you know color should be the last thing selected? The right wall color should pull everything else in the room together, beautifully!
Let’s look at the beautiful Benjamin Moore paint color called Sea Haze, pictured in actual rooms.
As a Certified True Color Expert, trained by Canadian colour (I add the ‘u’ to the word color because she does) expert Maria Killam, I know that color on the wall can’t be chosen successfully from a tiny paint chip from a fan deck. And, I know that the color on the chip isn’t even paint, it is a printed interpretation of a paint color. That is why I always rely on my large painted samples when helping a client select paint color.
Sea Haze is what I call a magic color, because it changes beautifully with the light. Of course, every color changes with the light. Sea Haze just has so many permutations when the light is changing, and each one is wonderful. Here is Sea Haze used in a tranquil bedroom:
And Sea Haze used in a Candace Olson-designed bedroom/bath combination, where you can see some of the various shades which the color Sea Haze can read.
My very first kitchen consultation had greeny gray granite countertops as the focal color in the kitchen. The existing beige color on the walls wasn’t doing a thing for the focal color granite in the room.
At the initial consultation, I selected Sea Haze with my
magic wand fan deck as the probable choice. Once the large sample was painted up and brought over, it was the clear choice. The client and I could immediately see that the granite color simply came alive next to Sea Haze. Remember, Sea Haze is a magic color, and changes beautifully with the light.
Here is the actual Sea Haze sample I used in the kitchen consultation. Notice how the color of the large sample brings out the rich greeny grays of the existing granite countertop. That is what the right color does in a room. It creates visual harmony. Remember that, because it is one of the most important things that will happen when you paint the right color on your walls. The right color creates visual harmony.
Are the paint colors in your home helping you achieve visual harmony? With furniture, between a pricey antique and even a wonderful reproduction, there could be many thousands of dollars’ difference. With paint, it costs exactly the same to paint a wonderful color which gives visual harmony, as it does to paint the wrong color which never will!