Neutral but Never Boring

December 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Does your home scream 1972 when you enter the front door? Are you stuck with metallic wallpaper on the ceiling in the guest bath, orange shag carpet in the basement, or an avocado bathtub? Then maybe it’s time to update. But this time, instead of hopping on the latest hot new trend (I could name a few here, but I’ll resist), how about giving your home a classic re-do. Something that will stand the test of time, or at least a decade or two, without branding your home with a particular year. For that kind of longevity, we turn to a neutral palette, but neutral does not have to mean beige and it’s hardly ever boring.

-The key to a neutral palette is texture. You could have an all-white living room but if that white includes fuzzy white pillows, a shiny white marble table top, and some warm white chenille upholstery, then the room will have plenty of interest.

-Neutral does not have to mean just one color either. In this room, the walls are a latte color, the sofa is dark brown leather, and there is plenty of color in the books and objects on the white bookshelves. What makes this room work so well is that the stonework on the fireplace is a feature and because the other furnishings do not stomp all over the subtle colors in the stones, the room’s palette includes peaches and golds and grays and tans and taupes — more than enough colors.

-Neutral allows you to bring in color in the art, pillows, and other more temporary furnishings and accessories without clashing with a strong wall color and a brightly colored sofa.

-Neutral allows you to change your accessories with the seasons and the holidays without overpowering the existing color palette or the holiday decorations.

-And when you’re selling your house, neutral allows potential buyers to see themselves in your home and that is critical for a successful sale.

So as you choose tile and furnishings and paint for your newly updated space, consider neutral because neutral does not have to be boring.

Adding Smart Color to Any Room

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Spring is coming and are we ready! It’s time to add color to our homes. But before you drag all your furniture to the middle of the floor,  take down all the artwork, and dash off to the paint store for a can of Chivalry Copper SW6353 or Chartreuse SW0073, stop! Think about how you want to add color to your room, especially if it’s a trendy new color hot off the pages of STIR Magazine (

If you are the type of person who loves to dive into a color trend head first and is not daunted by the idea of switching it all out when the next trend rolls in, then you are all set. But if you are the type of person who desperately wants to update your room but you are not planning to update again for many years, then I’m really talking to you.

Adding smart color to your room means painting the walls and installing tile and other architectural materials in a color that will stand the test of time and hold up to upcoming color trends without making your house look dated. Remember Harvest Gold? Avocado Green? How many of us are stuck in houses where the owners put a color trend into a fixture that would need to stay there for 20 years??

Here’s a way to stay current or get trendy in a smart way. Put the color in the items and materials that can be changed easily later. In this bedroom featured on the BHG site in a piece by Debra Wittrup (, the designer painted the walls a warm taupe– flexible and adaptable to almost any color scheme. Then the wonderful melon color was added in the window panels, the lampshade, the pillows, bed linens, and accessories. If the home owner gets tired of melon, out it goes to be replaced by another fun color scheme with relative ease.

Now, granted paint is cheap and relatively easy to switch out, but trendy paint colors can also be applied to small pieces of furniture, like  a wooden table or chair, instead of the four walls of your room. Accent walls are another way to add smart color to any room without the hassle and expense of a complete overhaul.

Enjoy color! Be smart about it!

Can I Paint My Ceiling Dark?

January 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Next time you’re in a large restaurant or a public building, look up at the ceiling.  If it’s like the one in this old library in Nashua, New Hampshire, it’s dark. Of course, this ceiling is three stories high. The effect of the dark ceiling is to bring it down visually and make the enormous space seem a little cozier to us way down on the floor.

The same is true in a room in your home. If you have a large space with a high ceiling and particularly if the ceiling really feels too high, then painting it a dark color will square out the room and make its dimensions seem a little more homey.

Unfortunately, if you have a 7-ft ceiling in a bedroom, a dark ceiling might make you feel like you’re the batter in a waffle iron. Cozy is not quite the word to describe that effect. So I recommend a lighter tint for smaller rooms. You can still move away from the white ceiling, but just use a tint of the wall color (10-30% of the full-strength hue). Or use a coordinating tint — something you pull from the bedding or other accent pieces. Using a tint on the ceiling will highlight any crown moulding you have in the room and will unify the color scheme.

Caution: because the ceiling is horizontal and does not get much light shining on it, any color you choose will appear darker up there than it does on the paint chip. Try a sample board first before tackling the ceiling job — a neck-breaker and mess-maker, for sure!

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