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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wilson

This online consult solved a client's colour dilemma

It's fun for me to see visitors to my website popping up from not only Toronto and the GTA, but from dozens of countries around the world. It's nice to feel the global connection! After Canadian visitors, I see visitors most commonly from Britain and the States, and the same is true of my Instagram world. A short while ago, Kelly, a lovely woman from Florida, reached out to me; as a subscriber to my blog and a follower on Instagram she knew my style aligned with hers, and she was struggling with a wall-colour issue.

Above is one of the inspiration shots that she sent me, and here's part of what she wrote:

Hi Susan,

I hope this will explain enough or more than enough for you to go on. I am looking to choose a main wall color that will stay for a good while. I’d like to build a simple palette that I can just change out pillow colors or rugs for something different, or add a splash of colors. As I age I want less and less and a more simple but warm inviting feeling.

Here is my dilemma: all of my doors and trim are painted 25% of SW 1058. They do not match with the wall of course. I was trying to find a color that would go with it and not have to paint them. As you can see in the photos, my home tends to shadow with a blue tone in some areas (kitchen, family room are north facing, living room and stairs are south facing) I have a pool in the back yard and a lot of greenery around the home and a lot of windows.

The dilemma: these walls look blue in certain areas, making the peachy-pink floors even peachier-pinker. Kelly was also planning to switch out the too cool grey stair rail and trim for something that harmonized better with the rest of the home's fixed elements.

As I do with all online consults, I had sent her a questionnaire that would give me the information I needed to select the best possible colours, along with instructions on how to take photos that would accurately show me the existing colours in her home. Kelly has a great vision for where she wants to go with her interior, and lots of great ideas in place for how to get there, one step at a time, so she was great to work with!

It was easy to see from her photos that the tile was the bossy element that would need to be acknowledged, worked with and softened. The current wall colour has a very slight green undertone, which in many cases can work wonderfully to 'neutralize' a pink beige tile floor, but because of the cool light in parts of her home, it was reading as slightly blue.

I could see from Kelly's inspiration pictures that she was really looking for a very soft white, airy envelope that she could fill with neutral decor, lots of texture, hits of dark brown or black for contrast, and accents of greenery. This one below is so beautiful; I was excited when I saw the direction she wanted to go!

Source unknown-if you recognize please let me know

This next inspiration pic from her also begins with white walls:

Lots of layered neutrals, natural textures, hits of black, plenty of greenery to bring nature in :-)

Kelly had some Benjamin Moore White Dove, a versatile off-white, left over from a recent bedroom painting project, so she tested that on the main floor to see how it worked in both the north- and south-facing areas of her home. (See this post on how to test your paint colours correctly)

You can see how much warmer the White Dove looks out in the living room (left), compared to the current colour on the wall beside it. In the family room (right), it was still pretty cool, and would definitely mean painting all the creamy coloured doors and trim which make the White Dove feel stark in comparison.

The kitchen cabinets are an orange-y wood and her backsplash is a pretty subway tile she recently had installed, with very slight hints of a peachy undertone that works well with the wood. She definitely needs a wall colour that will not feel too cool next to them:

You can see on the far right that the current wall colour looks blue grey next to the cabinets, rather than the white look she wants. The White Dove tester on the wall behind the sofa looks better, but is still a bit cool in comparison to the trim and the floor.

I recommended to Kelly a colour that I've used in a few homes in the past as a perfect white to make pinky-orange travertine floors look great: BM Mayonnaise. It's a warm creamy white that will give her that airy white envelope, but has an ever so slight peachy undertone in it that will resist blueing out in her north facing areas the way that other seemingly warm off-whites have done. This colour would work well with her existing trim as well, which was important.

Another option I gave her was to take her trim colour and ask Sherwin Williams to mix an even lighter version for her walls--also giving her a creamy white with a very slight peachy undertone.

I recommended (as always!) that testers of these colours be painted up in large swatches in all the different lighting of her home. That way she'll be able to check that the colour doesn't blue out in her cooler lit areas, while not being actually visibly peach coloured in her warmer lit rooms.

If it did turn out to be too peachy in the warmer lit rooms, well, we can't fight Mother Nature, but we can switch paint colours between rooms ever so subtly-- if there's a natural corner or division that allows us to do so without it being noticeable. Kelly's home could definitely do that, if in the end it were absolutely necessary, to make all the rooms happy in their own light!

Kelly had let me know that she loved a layered and textural look, and she had lots of good ideas for moving forward with her interior decor. Her home was built during the Tuscan period and she was looking to update from that look. Here's what she sent me showing her current living room and her plans for it--she had lots of good ideas already in place! The long horizontal framed art is hung so high because a taller bookshelf was just moved from that spot to make way for the new sofa, and you can see the top half of her current heavy entertainment unit disassembled and on its way out, in the foreground ;-)

I gave her a few suggestions for how to minimize the Tuscan curves and get the refined relaxed feel she was drawn to in the inspiration photos, with a couple quick sketches to illustrate them:

Simple, straight curtain rods along with bamboo blinds mounted above the windows will eliminate the Tuscan curve and unifiy the windows, Curtains framing the blinds, and a small rug layered over a larger jute area rug, will add layers and texture. I agreed with her plan to add a chair/chairs and to replace the coffee table, as something with more weight would be better in front of that sofa. Greenery is absolutely necessary to create the feel she likes so much, so I added some plants as well. It's not visible in the photo, but there's an arched alcove on the other side of this room, and I recommended drywalling over it as part of the de-Tuscanification (is that a word?).

In her lovely family room, I simply recommended another rug layered on top of her jute for consistency, and to move the two armchairs slightly away from the wall to give them some breathing space and to allow a striking oversized piece of art in her favourite neutrals to slide behind them. This would create an impactful wall here so that the room is not all about the television wall, visually. Family rooms can often benefit from something to balance out the weight of the tv unit.

She already had plans in place to switch out any remaining Tuscan-style lighting fixtures. To that I added that the existing brass door handles throughout the house be replaced with black or oil-rubbed bronze, which will add more of those hits of high-contrast with the creamy white walls that she she was drawn to in her inspiration shots.

Kelly was fun to work with, as she had a very clear idea of where she was going, and really understood what colour problems needed solving in her home. She has a great sense of style and her home is on its way to becoming a beautiful, fresh new version of itself. I'm looking forward to seeing the progress shots as she works through her plan (so if you're reading this Kelly, don't forget to take photos!)

If you are feeling stumped by a colour or decorating problem in your home, don't hesitate to reach out to me too-- I love to help! Sometimes it just takes a nudge in the right direction to get you going--or if you prefer, you can have every single step and detail laid out for you! I adapt my on-line consultations to whatever level of support each client needs. I have full room design packages, as well as colour-only consultations. This post gives a detailed description of my colour consultations, if you're curious!

Until next time, keep well!


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