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Okay, so there are SO.MANY.PAINT.COLORS out there. Where do you even begin? First let me start by saying it is possible to avoid so many paint color mistakes and regrets (maybe not all?) by taking the time to create a plan and to test, test, test (the right way). You can never know how a color will ‘read’ in a space until you test it on the actual walls. There are just so many variables, and this is why color is tricky!

Maybe you’re like me and have made your fair share of paint color mistakes. That’s ok. Because I also hope you’ll realize that if you DO make a mistake, ‘it’s only paint’. So never fear, because IMO it’s even worse to be paralyzed by the choices and never decide at all! I’ve put together this little list of a few of my favorite whites, neutrals, and a few of my fave colors at the moment. You can think of this as a baseline for tried and true colors that will work in many homes (but test them first!). 

And ALSO….it’s hard to narrow it down to 10! I have many more that I really love, but I had to set a limit. I could easily pick 10 whites, 10 grays, 10 colors…and well, your eyes would glaze over! 

I’ve picked five Benjamin Moore and five Sherwin Williams colors. There are other quality paint brands out there, and you can always do color matching, but Ben Moore and Sherwin Williams are my go-to’s because I have samples of all the colors, I know they are quality paints, and they are readily accessible. 

Lets start with the Benjamin Moore colors

First Is Super White. This is just pure white and bright, and while you could paint the walls with it, it is my pick for trimwork and cabinetry. Because of the name, you may be wondering if it is the WHITEST white?  Plus, you may be surprised that there are about a million white paint shades. One is even called Swiss Coffee, and it’s a white. Surprising, right? 

Stairway/Trim

Then we have Cloud White. This one has a slight pink undertone, and it’s a great non-yellow white with a warm feel.

Mudroom

Next is White Dove. This color almost always looks amazing. It’s a warm white with a touch of cream and gray, and it’s also a fave for trim and cabinetry. Use it in a flat sheen for ceilings!  

 Kitchen Cabinets

Now let’s do a couple colors. Glass Slipper is so cool. It looks so different in different rooms. It’s a gray-blue, and I’ve heard it described like a washed out sky after a rainstorm. 

Living Room

And oh man, I never thought I liked Navy on walls (or cabinetry) until I saw Hale Navy. It is the PERFECT mix and balance of warm and cool. It looks timeless, classic, and is a deep, saturated blue. 

 Guest Bath

Now on to Sherwin Williams

I’ve got all neutrals and colors here. 

The first one is Peppercorn. This is a wonderful color for either cabinetry or doors, or to paint out a wall that has a flatscreen TV mounted on it. What that does is help the TV ‘blend’ into the wall and not be such a focal point.  

 Fireplace wall

Next is Repose Gray. To me, this is almost a universal gray color that I would recommend. I’ve had clients use it and rave about it. It’s such a nice, light gray that isn’t too warm or cold. 

Bedroom

Then we have Silver Strand, another gray. It’s so versatile, looking like a grayed out green (and maybe a hint of blue) and is especially good for rooms with little to no natural light. 

Bedroom

And then, Raindrop! A fresh color that looks great in small spaces – such as bathrooms – or anyplace where you want a happy color. Looks great against white trim, OR on a front door (and even porch ceiling!)     

Front Door

Finally, a black. Tricorn Black is one that I’ve recommended for doors, if you’re looking to paint them black. I love it on a mudroom door, or even an entry door. It looks so good in a gloss or high gloss finish. It could even be used on cabinetry, like a bathroom vanity or an island.

 Black door                             

What do you think? Are you inspired? I just love seeing how people have used these colors. I personally have (almost) all white trim and doors, but I love seeing these black and aqua colored doors.

And PS- be sure to choose the right paint sheen for your project. This is super important, too!

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Have you ever been so completely frustrated and at a loss of what to do with a space that you just pretty much gave up? I have. For years I was frustrated with my living room. The problem I had, was we had two competing focal points - the fireplace wall and the TV cabinet, and they were on adjacent walls. Naturally, the sofa orientation was toward the TV wall, and due to the room layout, this meant that the back of the sofa was pretty much the first thing you saw when you came in the front door, and when you were on the sofa, you had to turn and twist to see who was at the door.  It also cut off the room, making it feel even smaller than it is. But I didn't know what to do, and this frustrated me. I just couldn't see how to make it 'work.' This was years before wall mount TV's were really even an option, which was the tipping point that made re-working the room possible really! I also could not spend much money in this room - so I'm calling it my One Room Challenge. I didn't have a dollar amount I was holding myself to, but I only spent where I deemed necessary, and was as frugal as possible. Did I mention that this was being done after a bathroom renovation, a kitchen renovation, and in the midst of an extensive exterior renovation?? So yeah. :)

I don't have a good full pic of the room before but here's a pic I found that my daughter took randomly...and this was when the room was at an in-between stage. I had painted the walls, arranged the corner by the front door, and removed the shelves that used to be between the two windows, which held mostly kids toys. See how the sofa cuts off the room? The gray microfiber sofa had to be different...somehow....but I couldn't justify a new one and hadn't found one used that I wanted, so I planned to re-cover it. The two ottomans were just placeholder pieces. I liked the vintage one (that I had experimented with re-upholstering and it got weird in the corner) but I didn't like the other one, plus the scale wasn't right and they took up a lot of floor space. 

This room took a LONG time to come together, from the wall colors I tried, to the various furniture that's been in and out of here, to the too-short curtains (I can never find ready made curtains long enough because I have super tall windows...). Across from the sofa (which you can't see) was the TV cabinet.

Here are the items that I kept (all but pillows and ottomans). Sofa is covered farther down):

White wood dresser in background - 5.00 at a garage sale

Wood bowls - thrift stores - 10.00

Tall thrift store buffet lamp that I spray painted and added a shade to: 15.00

Mirror that I found in the basement and added a frame to: 25.00

I've since added some plants here: 10.00

Total: 65.00

So here's pictures of the in progress project...I painted the Fireplace wall in Sherwin Williams Peppercorn to help the TV not stick out so much, and we had it mounted on the wall and wires run through the wall to the left. The tape on the walls is where I was marking my shiplap and shelf lines to visualize (tip: marking with tape is so great to get a feel for layout. You can mark outlines of furniture on the floor, too, to get a feel for layout and whether or not it will work in your space).

Add here are some after shots. We did a custom built in cabinet to house the electronics, movies, and misc. I installed some faux shiplap and shelves, and carried the brass from the fireplace surround to the hardware. I spray painted the hardware on the picture and the shelf brackets (detailed above).

Breakdown of above...

White round mirror off FB: 15.00

Shelves and brackets from home depot (that I painted/spray painted): 25.00

Frame and L brackets that I made: 5.00, print cost 3.00

Books and misc decor (mostly thrifted, again): 50.00

Cabinet with pulls and contact paper top (guessing here but cabinet is made with the 1/2 in Purebond Plywood from Home Depot). One sheet is 40.00, plus about 15.00 for three pulls: 55.00

Three thrifted white vases: 10.00

TV mounting: 225.00

Electrician to wire in two outlets in cabinet area: 195.00

Cost of TV- I don't want to know ;)

Pair of thrifted MCM chairs: 30.00

Thrifted Magazine rack: 5.00

Plank for faux shiplap wall: 15.00

Paint: 60.00

Total cost: 693.00 

So this custom cabinet, I covered the top in marble contact paper - love it. I got the brass pulls from home depot I think, and same with the brackets and picture hardware. In fact, I made the frame so I got the wood (just 1 by 2 wood) from HD too. I installed the shiplap wall and shelves (also painted Peppercorn).

Finally, here's the other side of the room....

The sofa now is directly across from the fireplace wall, which is the main focal point now, and the curtains are longer and now kiss the floor- YES. And YES, I had to custom make them. By the way, hang curtains high! Some like to hang the rods up by the ceiling, but I like to split the difference and hang them halfway between the casing and the ceiling. I used electrical conduit to make the rods - super inexpensive. 

Most of my furniture is thrifted - there is so much awesome stuff out there for good prices. But you have to be patient and know where to look. :)

I'm so glad this room has finally come together. There's nothing better than hanging out here with my family, in this room that feels so comfortable and casual. 

Sofa (that I recovered): 205.00

Pillows & blankets: 60.00

IKEA side tables: 40.00

West Elm Emmerson waterfall coffee table (FB): 75.00

Accessories: 75.00

Fiddle leaf fig & monstera plants (not shown): 65.00

Curtains (IKEA and hobby lobby) with hardware from Home Depot: 150.00

Frame for silhouette (mine from preschool): 8.00

Sconce repurposed from another room: 0

Blankets/wood bead garland already on hand: 0

Total: 678.00

Not really shown (just a little in the above photo, to the left) is the piano and gallery wall above, which I didn't total here.

Grand totals:

65.00

693.00

678.00

$1,436.00 - for mostly ALL thrifted stuff. NOTE that no labor at all is included, except for the 2 pros hired - the TV mount installer and the electrician. No design fees are included either. :) Many times, people have unrealistic $$ amounts in mind when wanting to re-do rooms. I get it, I really do. It adds up, fast! The retail price for that West Elm coffee table? 499.00. Tax not included. That right there would be 40% of what I actually ending up spending. I love quality and I'm willing to pay for quality, I just have to pick and choose what to spend on and what to save on. I also don't have a rug in the LR, or my totals would be at least 600.00 higher. And I am not a high-end designer by any means, but don't get me wrong. I like to work with people like me, who want personality, beauty, and a pretty room but need help pulling it together without sacrificing their retirement! 

This took lots of time to come together, and patience for sure. I probably even underestimated costs, but I recalled everything as best I could and I think it's pretty accurate. I kept better track of expenses on my kitchen and bathroom renovations, which I'll cover in future posts!

 

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Have you ever been so completely frustrated and at a loss of what to do with a space that you just pretty much gave up? I have. For years I was frustrated with my living room. The problem I had, was we had two competing focal points - the fireplace wall and the TV cabinet. Naturally, the sofa orientation was toward the TV wall, and due to the room layout, this meant that the back of the sofa was almost the first thing you saw when you came in the front door, and it cut off the room, making it feel even smaller than it is. But I didn't know what to do, and this was years before wall mount TV's were really even an option, which was the tipping point that made re-working the room possible really!

I don't have a good full pic of the room before but here's a pic I found that my daughter took randomly...

So you can see how the sofa 'cuts off' the room and blocks the view of the front door. Not to mention, this room took a LONG time to come together, from the mismatched ottomans that were basically placeholder furniture until I could find something that worked better, to the too-short curtains (I can never find ready made curtains long enough because I have super tall windows...). Across from the sofa (which you can't see) was the TV cabinet.

So here's pictures of the in progress project...I painted the Fireplace wall in Sherwin Williams Peppercorn to help the TV not stick out so much, and we had it mounted on the wall and wires run through the wall to the left. The tape on the walls is where I was marking my shiplap and shelf lines to visualize (tip: marking with tape is so great to get a feel for layout. You can mark outlines of furniture on the floor, too, to get a feel for layout and whether or not it will work in your space).

Add here are some after shots. We did a custom built in cabinet to house the electronics, movies, and misc. I installed some faux shiplap and shelves, and carried the brass from the fireplace surround to the hardware. I spray painted the hardware on the picture and the shelf brackets (detailed above).

So this custom cabinet, I covered the top in marble contact paper - love it. I got the brass pulls from home depot I think, and same with the brackets and picture hardware. In fact, I made the frame so I got the wood (just 1 by 2 wood) from HD too. I installed the shiplap wall and shelves (also painted Peppercorn).

Finally, here's the other side of the room....

The sofa now is directly across from the fireplace wall, which is the main focal point now, and the curtains are longer and now kiss the floor- YES. And YES, I had to custom make them. By the way, hang curtains high! Some like to hang the rods up by the ceiling, but I like to split the difference and hang them halfway between the casing and the ceiling. I used electrical conduit to make the rods - super inexpensive. 

Most of my furniture is thrifted - there is so much awesome stuff out there for good prices. But you have to be patient and know where to look. :)

I'm so glad this room has finally come together. There's nothing better than hanging out here with my family, in this room that feels so comfortable and casual. 

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I sent out a quick survey - only 2 questions - to my email list recently, because I am so interested in what people's home decor/design challenges are.

The questions were: 

1) What are your BIGGEST challenges in design/decorating?

and 2) There's a TON of info out there - what would help you with your challenges?

I got back so many fascinating, good answers. Answers like:

Designing wall space

Envisioning creative layouts on a budget in odd shaped historic homes

Finding what I love and tying it all together

What to put on my walls - I'm at a total loss about how to decorate my walls

Making rooms flow together

Spatial Organization

What furniture to keep and/or what furniture to buy - I want a new look for my __ room

My room doesn't feel 'finished' and I don't know what to do

I need my small space/room/house to have maximum storage and function, and I don't know how.

How to downsize/get rid of sentimental items we don't need.

And for question 2, answers like:

Design magazines and pinterest, I suppose

More time and more money...lol...bit sized pieces and local examples of setting the decorating bar higher, paired with how they accomplished that on a smaller budget

There is a ton of info but I don't have the time to sift through it, locate what I want, or often, have the ability to do it. EX: I want floating shelves. Even after I locate it, it will take me forever to get it on the wall.

Someone taking me through combining some older decor I love with new pieces so it all blends with the style I've created.

Guides based on color palette (how to used a color palette to create a flow from room to room)

Knowing what would help me and where to get it, affordably.

Having a plan or guide to follow, otherwise I don't know where to start or ever get to the point where I feel like I've 'finished' a room.

 

If you didn't answer the survey, what would you add?  I would love to hear! And if you did do the survey, do these other answers resonate with you? I know SO many people have these challenges, and I've been trying to come up with a hybrid of DIY/design advice that can help get a project going! Thank you for your answers!

 

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PHOTO BY SARAH SHIELDS

 

There are those that love wallpaper, and more of us that loathe it. But that may not necessarily be the case anymore. When my husband and I bought our last house, my criteria was absolutely no wallpaper. I couldn’t stand it, and I nixed any house that had it. Well, that and wall to wall carpet everywhere. But back to the wallpaper. I remembered many a day tediously spraying and scraping wallpaper at my grandparent’s house, in which every room was wallpapered top to bottom, with several layers. I seem to recall even a ceiling or two were wallpapered. Wow. 

Anyway, I relented on the wallpaper point somewhat, because the house we ended up with did have some, but at least it was contained to a border in the kitchen and two upstairs closets. (That’s all gone now, in case you wondered.) And I’ve decided that wallpaper works in some cases, so I’ve definitely changed my tune.

That’s right, wallpaper is back in vogue, and I actually do like much of what I see. If you’ve been a previous wallpaper snob like me, you might consider it if you have an area it would work for. Some ideas: you can add an accent wall with it, like in a bedroom on a headboard wall, or add it on wainscoting for a very custom, luxe feel. You can do this without having to commit to spending hours scraping it off later or leaving it to the next owners, because today you can get amazing temporary ‘wallpaper’, which is basically like contact paper that easily goes on and peels off when you want to remove it. So guess what I’ve installed? Yep, wallpaper! Would I do an entire room in it? No, but again, a small area or a wainscot or a focal wall would be great for this, again, think of it as an accent. And because rolls range from approximately $25-45 apiece, it is definitely more of an investment than just paint and you’ll probably end up needed more than you think you will, especially when having to match a pattern. What do you think of my ‘subway tile’ walls?

PS- I made a mistake when I did this project...can you spot it?

I am TERRIBLE with links-goodness, I can't figure out how to create links on here :/

So forgive me for not linking, ugh, but check out the following: Devine (target has it), Spoonflower, and Tempaper for some options!

 

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I don't know about you, but I bet you're like me, always wishing for more hours in the day. With a to-do list that never seems to shrink, and in fact, keeps getting added on to, even though you're always DOING.

Yeah. I'm trying to get help working on my business, outsourcing those things I just can't do, or that take me FOREVER because I don't know how. Like this website here. And setting up ads and opt-ins and on and on...and automating as much as possible. So that I can have time to blog, which I don't do enough of. I have wonderful employees that help me immensely, in the midst of their busy lives, too, while I try to figure stuff out. Because business ownership is HARD, especially when so much has changed in my industry and in social media and it's tough to know where to focus energy a lot of times (and there's a lot of distraction, too).

And then there's my house, which is like having another child (I already have four kids so...yeah). Did I mention it's a very OLD house? VERY time consuming. And that's what brings about this post. I ask for help from my family, and now I'm starting to ask for help from my friends. And you know what? They are HAPPY to help. Just like I'm happy to help them. And it takes such a weight off. And I had a neighbor girl come weed for me, and a friend is going to come work her green thumb magic in my yard, and another friend is helping me get ready for a photoshoot (I will definitely blog THAT). Not to mention a crew of friends who helped paint our garage (and that was such a sweet relief, too). And that's the essence of what makes life go better. Not trying to do it all, but to lean on others. And to help others when we can, and accept help from others. We're all in this together.

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