Monday, April 28, 2008

Painting: In Progress

Our painters arrived this morning and have started working their special kind of magic. They seem very professional and efficient, but we ran into a slight problem. Once they started a couple of walls in my chosen colour, I realized that the colour was way too light. In fact, the walls look basically white (while the sample board I painted looks much more beige). I know the colour will darken a little as it dries and the remaining coats are applied, but I quickly realized I'm running into the same Benjamin Moore issue I had when I painted my master bedroom. For that, the colour came out much whiter than the sample card and the big chip I brought home.

I don't know why the Benjamin Moore off-whites look so much whiter on the walls than on the cards. It probably has to do with reflection and stuff, but the reality is, I wanted a much more pale beige colour.

So....I took one of the half-used gallons and the unused gallons back to the Benjamine Moore store, and after two trips, we've boosted the pigment by 50% to give a slightly darker colour. To be honest, the walls still look white to me and not nearly as beige as the sample card I painted. Even the painters agree, but the Benjamin Moore guy claimed that it would better match my sample board now. So we shall see. It's amazing how little colour there is in these Off-Whites. Basically it is a gallon of white paint with about 6 drops, a few ounces, of colour in it. So it's really easy to see how the walls read white if there is any light falling on them at all. How frustrating!

I've decided that unless I want to switch to a whole new colour (a browner beige), I'm stuck with this since we have 5 gal of paint already mixed. So I'll be patient and wait to see how it turns out once it dries and additional coats are applied.

Even if the colour isn't as beige as I wanted, the space looks amazingly bright and fresh already!

I'm so happy that green is gone. I'll try to post more update photos later this week, but my internet is going down for 2 days while I switch my phone to a new provider, and we're going away this weekend, so it may be next week before you see the final product.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Neutral It Is!

Inspiration rooms on my way to finding a "perfect" neutral wall colour:
After months of serious deliberation, I’ve finally decided on a paint colour for our main floor. And I better be sure because we have painters arriving on Monday! It might seem like I'm playing it safe because I've chosen a milky beige called Soft Chamois OC-13 from Benjamin Moore. But it was an all-consuming internal debate and the choice was anything but obvious!

I've been on the fence about a colour for our main floor. We live in a 35-year old four-level split where the main floor living and dining rooms are one continuous space, together with the kitchen (which is all cupboards and has almost no wall space). Because of the layout, the front foyer and two stairwells (to the upstairs bedrooms and downstairs rooms) would look best painted the same colour (instead of having an ugly and obvious colour change on a corner). The upstairs and downstairs hallways would ideally be the same colour too!

In other words, I needed to find The Perfect Colour. In the beginning, I was insanely smitten with a heavenly stormy blue from Farrow & Ball called Skylight. This is a next-to-perfect blue in my opinion, but blue just won’t cut it.

First of all, it’s a huge space to paint blue and I'm afraid I’ll tire of it. I love blue, but do I want a whole blue house, considering that my office is already blue, we have a blue-grey powder room and various green rooms already?
And our living room furniture is sage green, so the blue wasn't an obvious complement. The dining room rug is rose (which looks gorgeous with blue!), and our living room rug is a multi-colored blend of cream and sage and rose and blue (which looked good too). But as much as I coaxed myself to think it might work, the reality was that blue walls introduce yet another pure colour to an already cacophonous mix of shades. Besides, our dining room chairs have blue and pink stripes, the kitchen counters are olive green, a downstairs floor is brown, and the kitchen valance is burgundy! I want tranquility, not chaos!

So I started to think about green. I really wanted a “colour” on the walls, if you know what I mean, since I love the way white lampshades and table linens and white accessories look against a coloured wall. Plus, I love white things. The walls are currently a chartreuse (yellowish) green that isn't so bad, but each alternative green I considered seemed wrong. Pale sages work the best, and look lovely, but the fact is, I'm no longer crazy about my sage green furniture, and the room is sage overload with both furniture and walls in the same colour!

So I settled on a neutral palette. It feels like a cop-out going neutral, especially since it felt that with all my decorating knowledge acquired over the past year, I should be able to pull off a complex palette. But the truth is, I want a calm and collected palette. And a pale, creamy colour seems like the only choice to pull the disparate elements together.

In the past weeks, I’ve painted endless sheets of Bristol board with various Farrow & Ball and Benjamin Moore shades. I've taped these samples to the walls, moved them countless times as the light changed, and stared at them each for hours on end, trying to find the colour equivalent to *Mr.Right*. In fact, I think finding a man is much, much easier than choosing paint colours!
Since greys are all the rage, I looked at a number of grey and greige shades, but they all seemed rather cold to me, even in my south-facing room. So I kept coming back to the warm pale beiges, especially in the evenings when the light fades and the greys become rather dismal and chilly.
My final choices came down to (1) Farrow & Ball’s Slipper Satin, a creamy pale beige that seems to glow (2) Benjamin Moore’s White Down CC-50 (an antique white/ivory which I have in my bedroom and adore), (3) Benjamin Moore’s Seapearl OC-19 (a grey-toned oyster beige, pale), and (4) Benjamin Moore’s Soft Chamois OC-13 (a pale milky beige with warm-tones).

Then yesterday, I decided (or so I thought). I chose the Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin and excitedly checked with my painting contractor to see if he minded using it. He was amenable to the idea, so I phoned our (only) local F&B supplier to see if they had enough product on hand. To my dismay, they only had 2 gallons in store ($69.50 per gallon, FYI) and I’d have to wait a couple of weeks until the next shipment arrived!!
Since I’m going on vacation in 3 weeks, already have painters booked, and find myself utterly fed up with paint chips, I decided to switch to Benjamin Moore's Soft Chamois just to get this over with! Soft Chamois OC-13 is a nice, soft, quiet beige that I can best describe as “milky beige”. It will look lovely with the sage furniture, the olive countertops, and our dark wood furniture. It'll work especially well with both rugs, which was my main concern since they add the most colour to the rooms.
Just for information, I noticed that the actual Soft Chamois paint (from the sample pot) seems darker on the wall than on the paint chip, whereas the White Down I used in my bedroom is much whiter on the wall than on the chip (where it's rather beigey). So I really hope the colour works out once it's on all the walls because these sample chips seem so unreliable with darker colours looking lighter on the chip and vice versa!
I feel like the consummate bore doing a beige room - but being unable to start from scratch and having to tie everything together – gave me little choice in the end. Eventually we want to replace the furniture with something more elegant and lighter coloured (like the sofa below) and then I can consider changing to my coveted blue walls! But until then, this is my transition colour to make sense of all the bits we’ve already got.
This summer I intend to replace the drapes in the living and dining rooms (I have some favorite sample fabrics, in linen) and eventually I'll replace my student-days coffee table with something more elegant. I have a cool grey leather armchair that needs re-upholstering and another I want to slipcover, but those are eventually. For now, getting these walls painted thrills me!

Once the painting is done next week, I'll post some before and after photos to show the progress...

More inspirational neutral rooms:

All Photos House to Home

Monday, April 21, 2008

An Update (and pretty photos...scroll down!)

I've had a great start to the week, except for the fact that I just realized the next three weeks will be utterly insane. I'm leaving to visit my parents in just 3.5 weeks and today it occurred to me that I don't have much time left to get everything that needs done, well, done!

I have to go through files tonight and pull all my tax documents and start doing my taxes some night this week. You'd think that since I'm getting a refund I would have done it long ago, but I am a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to sitting in front of tax software in the evening. My day job is tedious enough!

And I need to find a birthday gift for my sister-in-law, whose birthday we're celebrating next weekend at David's mum's house (which means 2 days out of town). We set a $50 gift limit on birthdays which sounds like a sensible idea but I often find it hard to buy really nice gifts (in Calgary anyway) for under $50. I always find some over-budget thing I love....

And in the next three weeks I have a hair appointment, a dermatologist appointment, a massage booked, a harried work schedule, and an appointment with a really renowned physiotherapist that I've been waiting for 6 months to see. Oh, and I have a dental appointment. And I haven't bought any spring clothes yet. I desparately need shoes and tops. Oh, and to lose 10 pounds before summer. Damn, and it's already April 21st!

And to top it off, I have a painter coming tonight to give me a quote on painting my dining/living rooms since it's a huge job and David hates to paint, and with my migraines and bad back, it seems a little too much! I love to paint, but one room is plenty. Not a huge room and foyer and stairwells. I'd need to take at least 2 days off work too. Not happening...

So, in lieu of a proper post, here are some romantic and inspirational photos from a UK retailer called Graham & Green. I have no idea of their reputation, but their rooms are awfully pretty!

Enjoy! I love these whimsical hooks:

And this lamp is glorious. I would change it to a dusty pink shade:This tufted headboard is so Renaissance:The chair was called a "nursing" chair. Suddenly I feel all maternal...Fake fleurs are still pretty and good for those of us in northern climes with late springs!:

Gosh, I am not a femme fatale enough for this dressing table:

A lovely vignette:

Pretty outdoor pillows:
A Lucite chair and more pink! Isn't the wallpaper so old-world and lady-like?
Pretty etched glass for madame's toilette:

A mirror to die for:
And the piece de resistance, a chair I adore:

Happy Week!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

~ The Pretty Room ~

Nothing beats a pretty room to make my heart skip a beat and feel suddenly at home.
There are all sorts of "pretty" rooms, from simple to sophisticated, but by my definition they all have tranquil pastel palettes that soothe the eye and the soul! Soft pinks and blues and lavender, complemented with lots of white, can't help but make a room look oh-so-pretty.
Curvy furniture in feminine colours looks pretty and nurturing, and lots of softly-textured pillows in magical fabrics are inviting and enveloping. Small elements like a bouquet of flowers, a "curlicue" sconce, a delicate lamp, or a canvas of floral wallpaper are often the only flourishes needed to soften and make a simple room go from plain to pretty.
The photos shown are some pretty rooms I've found in the last few months and saved to a "Pretty" folder for a rainy day. I wanted to post more photos, but just didn't have time to go back and dig out even more images from all the country magazines I love (that are often the cat's pyjamas of romantic pretty!).
All the rooms shown have elements I find pretty, some more subtle than others. They share soft colours, feminine motifs, pretty (sometimes country or elegantly curvy) furniture, bouquets of lovely flowers, and a certain feminine je ne sais quoi. They all make me want to redecorate for spring!
What do you find especially pretty? A certain colour? A certain flower? A particular style of furniture? A romantic pattern?
Sometimes I think I want a genteel, slightly worldly and academic house, but then I see these exquisite, relaxed, pretty rooms and I just want to forget sound and sensible and go wild with curvy, romantic, pastel loveliness!
Luckily that look can be mimicked in many rooms by bringing in some flowers, adding some pretty pillows or bringing in a few candles and a new pastel accessory or two for spring. We just bought a celedon green glass vase for our living room, at an art sale, and it's eye-catchingly pretty for spring! Happy Dreaming!
All photos Domino, except for mint green bedroom (10th photo) and elegant lavender living room (2nd photo) from Traditional Home. First photo is from Country Home.