Hi all, it’s Mera and Katie teaming up to answer some design questions we recently received from Heloisa, a Red House West reader. Details about her house and photos are posted below, and we also included the first paragraph of her email because it’s basically everything we’ve ever wished someone would say about our blog and reading it put big, huge smiles on our faces:
I love your blog – and I’m not too much of a blog follower but I stumbled upon yours and got hooked. What I find different is that you both have such sophisticated, yet simple and fun decor taste. And you go for all kinds of DIY projects without necessarily knowing how to do it beforehand. To me, it always reads: ‘you can do it too!’
I’m writing to ask for some advice – any you could give – on choosing wall colors. I know this is no simple task. I need to take action as I am sick of my monochromatic home and I was hoping perhaps you could get me started. I’m hoping with some advice I can move from talk to action… (I’ve had 12 swatches of different colors painted on my dining wall for over 4 months now…notice on picture below next to mid century hutch):
I feel I have quite a few nice pieces of furniture (mostly thanks to craigslist) but it doesn’t seem like it is coming together…I’m thinking it might be the lack of paint and art on the walls that makes things look a bit dull. What do you think?
I love the dark/bluish greys, loved the emerald greens I saw on your post and love wallpapers. My initial idea was a dark grey on the wall the tv will be mounted on and one light grey throughout the open space. But I do love the dark wall colors…but not sure how it will look as this space is not super luminous throughout the day. I wish more light would come through but this is the typical Baltimore row house and not many windows…so I do want to maximize the light that comes through. I also thought of painting the ceilings some kind of white to give contrast. Anyways – I’m open to suggestions, light or dark colors and am ok with taking some risks!
So there it is…any ideas you could spare? I hope so!
First of all Heloisa, you have great furniture and a beautiful space! We love all your plants and are impressed by your Craigslist prowess. Katie is crazy for the hutch in the dining room, and Mera is ready to burgle the hand planter from the table next to the chair. Your home is lovely!
We – like you – think your space will benefit from the addition of color, art on the walls, and a few cozifications. We’re going to take this step by step and we’ve broken our answer into four categories: Paint Colors, Gallery Wall, Over the Sofa, and Textiles.
Even though we’re big fans of wallpaper and saturated color, we think painting your walls a single color all the way through will highlight the openness of the space and make it look brighter. We’ve got some ideas for bringing in the jewel tones and patterns you love in other ways, but we’ll get to that in a bit! We think your instinct for light gray was right on, and we really like the idea of having white trim and a white ceiling that contrasts with the delicate gray walls. We learned from Katie’s recent foray into the sometimes harrowing world of gray paint that choosing one is no easy task, but we’ve got some suggestions for swatches to try in your space. We would definitely recommend you look for cooler grays rather than warmer ones, which can often skew tan.
We suggest purchasing sample pots and painting them on a big piece of white paper (a poster board cut in half works great) and sticking them not just on the wall, but also on the floor to get a sense of how they work in your space. Here are three you might want to try:
- Katie is really happy (deliriously happy) with the Crystal Ball by Miller Paint she used in her living room. Miller Paint is an Oregon company (and as far as we can tell doesn’t retail on the east coast), but many paint retailers will be able to find a formula and do a color match for you.
- Crushed Ice by Sherwin Williams is light and fresh and would be worth a try:
- Sterling by Benjamin Moore is another one that looks nice and bright:
Art is a great way to liven up a space and add accent colors and personality. We like the art you have hanging next to the window (great mix of frame sizes and shapes!) in your living room. We would consider moving that and expanding it, so that it is behind and around the TV. Having art around a TV gives the eye another place to focus, and makes the TV seem less important. Having a gallery wall that includes some vibrant art will make that wall a focal point, but without actually painting or wallpapering it a different color from the rest of the space. Here are some examples of TV/gallery wall combos that we think look just right (you can also check out Mera’s TV/art wall here):
What to Hang Over the Couch
We wonder whether you’d be able to relocate the gorgeous credenza that is currently to the left of your couch over to the wall next to the window (where your art is hanging). Moving it will break up that long horizontal line and make it more natural to center something over the couch. Because we suggest you hang a gallery wall behind your TV, we think you should stick a single large piece over the couch so things don’t look too busy.
Large art can be really expensive, but a beautiful rug like this vintage Moroccan one (hung horizontally) could be a great alternative. The colors are gorgeous and this would be a great way to bring those darker tones you love – and some texture – into the room.
You could use your considerable Craigslist skills to find a big mirror, which would brighten things up by reflecting light around the room. We think one that’s a little ornate would be an interesting contrast to your mid-century look – maybe something like this:
Or, if you’re still interested in bringing wallpaper into the space, you could frame a panel (or two or three) of your favorite pattern. Just make sure it’s not too busy so that it doesn’t compete with the gallery wall.
Now for our favorite part, textiles! Colorful pillows and throws will tie your space together and make it feel “done” once you have more art on the walls. Here are a few rooms that are mostly white and grey, but that come vividly alive thanks to the addition of colorful fabrics:
Because emerald green was mentioned specifically in the question, and because it’s a color that we love too, here are a few richly hued pillows and throws that we think would look beautiful in the space (although not necessarily all together):
Thanks so much for sending us your question Heloisa! We hope we gave you a few new ideas and if you’re willing to share pictures of your finished space down the road, we’d love to see them!
We’ll be back on Friday for our final post of 2014 – yep, Red House West will be taking a break so we can spend the holidays with family and friends (and, you know, work on our houses). Thanks for reading along!