Katie’s House: Paint Colors for the Living Room

We have just two weeks until our sojourn in Walla Walla ends and we’re back in our red house for good.   I’m so excited!  After consulting the mile-long to-do list, I’ve decided that the very first house project I want to tackle upon return is painting the living room.  The problem?  I’m still not sure just what paint color I want to use, though I do at least know the color family.  I think.

First up, let me give you a little tour so you know what we’re working with.  This room has great bones and a lot of potential.  It is south-facing and filled with incredible light throughout the day.  It is currently painted a soft green – that sometimes reads beige – which is in itself inoffensive, but which doesn’t work at all with our furniture and art, or with the transition into the newly blue dining room.

Red House West - Dining Room_Miller Paint3

Our house was built in 1930, and had a major remodel done in 1960.  They opened up what had previously been a number of small rooms into one large space linked by generous archways.  The room is bisected by the front door and the dining room arch (as seen in the image above, taken from the dining room) which means that though it’s visually a single room, there’s a sort of pathway in the middle where we can’t really have any furniture, so we use it more like two rooms.  Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Paint Ideas for the Living Room 6

Here we are standing by the front door and looking toward the dining room.  I’m sure it’s hard to tear your eyes from the wonder of Beatrice, so let me quickly introduce you.  I found Beatrice (so named because of the artist – Beatrice Roitmann Metrick) at an antique store and for more than a year I would drop in and visit her.  Cameron and my mom teamed up and gave her to me as a gift, and I love her.  I find Beatrice’s heavy-lidded stare serene, my father finds it homicidal, and Cameron loves the bird in the party hat.  Something for everyone.  I think both she, and the orange couch I got on Craigslist, will benefit greatly from a change of wall color.

Here’s a wider view of that part of the room.  That cat-ravaged pink chair?  Fixing it up is number two on that mile-long to-do list.

Paint Ideas for the Living Room 9

If you were to stand next to the couch and look across the room, this is what you would see.  An indoor jungle.  I consolidated most of the houseplants so our housesitter would have an easier time watering them, but I can still admit I *might* have a problem.
Paint Ideas for the Living Room 10

The little alcove where the tulip chair sits was the home’s original front porch; they moved the entrance to its current location in the 1960s.

Paint Ideas for the Living Room 4

We’re definitely still figuring out how best to use the space, but I’ll save thoughts on layout/furnishings for another post.  For now?  Paint!  I’m on the hunt for a soft white or very light gray.  It’s important that the color we choose plays nicely with Beatrice, the couch, and the orange-y fir floors.  It’s also imperative that it work with the linen curtains.  Cameron’s mom and I made them not too long after we moved in and I’ve got no interest in sewing that many hems again any time soon.

First up in the closer-to-white colors I’m considering is Seapearl by Benjamin Moore.  It’s kind of an earthy white with gray/brown (griege) undertones.


Shown against the fir floors with a swatch of fabric from the curtains


Seapearl used in a room.  Image found here.

A nice, creamy white I’ve tried out is Mascarpone, also by Benjamin Moore.  I think it’s whiter than I want for this space -and a bit on the yellow side next to the color of the floors and curtains – but it’s very pretty.



Mascarpone used in a room.  Image found here

I really loved the quality of the Miller Paint I used in the dining room, and this light gray color called Crystal Ball is a frontrunner.  Unfortunately there are no images online of this color being used in an actual space.

Crystal Ball_swatch

I’m also very interested in a couple of colors by Farrow & Ball, but there isn’t anywhere in Eugene to buy their paint and shipping expenses for a sample pot are too steep for me to pay.  There are lots of images online, though, and the colors I’m most crushing on are Cornforth White and Blackened.  It might just be worth a road trip to Portland to pick some up.


Cornforth White

Cornforth White by Farrow & Ball. Images found here.



Blackened by Farrow & Ball. Images found here.

Have you used any of these colors?  Do you have a clear favorite of the ones I’ve shown or a recommendation of your own?  Thanks for reading along – I’m so excited to paint this room and share it with you!  Make sure to check the blog on Wednesday, Mera made an enviable Craigslist score and will be sharing a couple of really great restoration methods.

20 responses on “Katie’s House: Paint Colors for the Living Room

  1. netzyd406

    Hi Katie, I love Beatrice too!! Like you I have also been painting and tried to find a grey for the bathroom. In the store, it seems colors always look different when that color is actually on the wall. For your choice I like the last color – Blakened. Isn’t it fun to really change your home with color? You two are so creative! I so enjoy reading both your articles- they are not separate blogs? Happy day! Netzy

    1. k80bennett

      Yep, one blog two writers. Thanks so much for reading along and commenting – I’d love to hear what grey you end up choosing!

  2. Carol Crump Bryner

    I like all the not-grey colors. Just my preference for warmer and brighter walls, I guess. I like the Chrystal Ball – it seems more white than grey. But what a sweet room, and I love Beatrice and love your family’s comments about her. You will have so much fun when you get home painting this room. Can’t wait to see the result.

    1. k80bennett

      I like the grey now, but I’m trying to remember our Oregon winters and how the very last thing I want to see is more grey. I’m still mulling over colors, but I’m eager to make a choice and start painting!

  3. papict

    I am no expert so my opinion is based solely on having painted and decorated houses very many times. Have you considered a grey that has a little splash of blue to it rather than the beiger greys? A blue-grey might chime better with the adjacent room, flatter Beatrice and work with your orange sofa since blue and orange are complementary colours. I am about to embark on decorating our new house so am about to face these same decisions. Good luck with finding the right colour for your room.

    1. k80bennett

      Well, anything that flatters Beatrice! I’ve been a little hesitant about the blue-based greys because many of the ones I’ve seen can read a little baby blue. If, as you embark on your own painting (new house; exciting!) you find one you like, please let me know!

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks Stephanie! I totally agree about those Farrow & Ball colors and I’ve about resigned myself to a Portland road trip just so I can visit their store.

  4. panda flannel

    I like Crystal Ball and Seapearl. Mascarpone reads a little dated to me, and the Farrow and Ball colors – mostly the second one, actually – seem like they might skew a little blue, which really bums me out in a Northwest winter.

    Also, I know you said you weren’t talking about layout yet, but I can imagine the main seating area moving to where the tulip chair is, the credenza moving to that back wall where there is currently the hutch and mirror, and the current seating area, where Beatrice is, turning into a beautiful little jungle/library nook.

    Your house is so beautiful!

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks PF for all your input! A jungle/library nook sounds heavenly and will certainly be considered when I start moving things around.

  5. Barbara Daughter

    Hi Katie,

    I’m partial to the greys, wanting more contrast between your wall color and the white woodwork. One that will make both of them “pop.” I shopped and shopped for greys, wanting one that had a violet undertone. The one I chose is darker than the ones you’re considering, though. I think MN winters are sunnier than the NW, but our living/dining area doesn’t get much light. I decided to not fight it and go for a cozy vibe with mid-light to midtones for the paint.

    Let us know what you decide.

    1. k80bennett

      That sounds lovely Barbara! I painted our bedroom a mid-range bluey-grey last winter (Stonington Grey) and love how cozy it is. xo

  6. Gillianne

    I painted a mascarpone clone on my home office walls, a bright space with white linen curtains, and was disappointed by its yellow undertones, which trended green in artificial light. The Farrow & Ball colors are lovely, but it’s hard to commit without a sample to try in the space, don’t you find?

    P.S. We’re about to move from Vermont to Eugene, so this is a timely topic for me, especially because we’re not really familiar with the light in the PNW.

    1. k80bennett

      Ah, thanks for sharing your experience with the paint. A greenish tinge would be a real bummer. I’m pretty sure I can’t commit to F & B without a sample, so I’m figuring out how I can get to the store in the next week or two. Welcome to Eugene! I grew up here – then fled for more than ten years after high school – and then decided it’s a lovely place to live and chose to come back. It can be relentlessly grey in the winter, but it always lifts and we’re extra appreciative of those clear days 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *