Hi everybody, Mera here. We recently got a question from a reader about a house that she and her husband are purchasing in Anchorage, and I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts here and helpful to have other folks weigh in too.
First let me say that I was waaaaaaay flattered to be asked for design advice. I pretty much feel like Oprah’s new Nate Berkus. Second, if you have a question about a design conundrum or a room in your house that just doesn’t feel right, email us pictures and let’s talk about it! Seriously, we love thinking about this stuff (it’s extra fun when it’s not your own house!) and you’d be making us feel like a million bucks just by asking! And now to the question that started it all:
Here is the house we are buying. It has a bright yellow living room. We NEED to change the color, but we aren’t sure what would work. (These pictures are from the listing and show the previous owner’s stuff):
The living room/dining/kitchen area has huge south-facing windows with dark wood blinds. We expect to use those blinds a good amount. But all the sun means we don’t need anything extra to “brighten” the room. It’s already bright enough in the summer, and facing the street, I expect it will still be pretty light in the winter too. We have a gigantic stone fireplace in the middle of the room, which we aren’t fond of, but aren’t sure we are going to do anything to for at least a year or so.
The kitchen cabinets look lighter in the pictures than in real life – they are darker wood too. We just don’t know what colors would make it look homey/cozy, but also match the dark wood and not add brightness.
Congratulations on the new house! It looks like it has great light and loads of potential. I love the windows and how open it is! That fireplace is going to make it so cozy during the winter.
I’m with you that changing the paint color will make a big difference. I love yellow but something about it evokes 1990s feelings for me, maybe because this iconic logo burned my tender brain:
Katie and I bandied about a few paint color ideas and agreed that we think white is the way to go in your living room. We’ve heard good things about Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White (but see previous post regarding possible vomit smell situation) and I like Pittsburgh Paint’s Delicate White.
I think the white will help to balance out the warmth of the wood floors and window trim. I wouldn’t worry about it being too bright–if it seems stark after your furniture is in place it may be that what you need is more texture. A colorful rug, some throw pillows, a blanket over the back of the sofa and some tall plants (my plants are weeping jealous sap tears right now thinking of all that light!) may just do the trick. Here is a beautiful bright white living room with loads of light softened by texture:
Here is another light-filled white living room that works because of the exposed wood and the textiles and plants:
After changing the paint color, doing something to the stone fireplace will have the biggest impact on the room. We had a stone facade-d fireplace once upon a time, and Chester pried off the stones and tiled it (he says they came off fairly easily). I wonder if prying off the stones and then drywalling is an option? It would make the whole room seem much more modern. Also, with the windows, the hallway, the dining area, and the fireplace all in view there’s a lot going on in this room. Making the fireplace less of a thing could make the whole room feel more restful. Here is a before and after example of what I’m getting at:
The layout of the kitchen looks great. I can’t tell for sure, but it looks like the counters are laminate made to looks granite-ish. If you’re looking for a relatively quick and inexpensive way to update the counters, check out this idea for creating the look of concrete (this is the same technique Katie used to create her laundry room faux encaustic tile backsplash):
I’d also be tempted to take down the cabinet that is above the counter on the left side of the photo and replace it with open shelving (I regret not having at least some open shelves in my own kitchen, so it’s not impossible that I’m just projecting). It’d be a fairly easy fix and one that would do a lot to make the kitchen feel more up to date, like in this otherwise traditional kitchen:
I think new lighting could update the kitchen quickly too. I would choose simple flush mounts for both kitchen lights (instead of the dangly chandelier over the counter). For over the table I’m thinking something simple and sculptural that doesn’t take up too much visual space:
Finally, I like the looks of that recessed knotty pine chevron area in the living room. White walls will really highlight it and it could be a great place to hang a special piece of art. So, thems my thoughts! Thanks for letting me live out my designer fantasies here on Red House West! We can’t wait to see what you do with it; it’s going to be great!