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Anna Marie's Place

Hi Christine,

I called my mom to ask her how I could get your advice, and she told me about your blog! My husband and I just moved into an older home with a heavy, dark feel. We want to brighten it up as much as possible. We plan on improving the lighting with a tube skylight and recessed lighting, but need help with painting and furniture ideas (don't worry, that couch is definitely a goner). We would like to put in a sectional couch and an upright piano. We won't be able to change the blinds or do any remodeling for a while. I'll send a short video in a 2nd email.


Hi AnnaMarie,

Thanks for writing in, so sorry that it took me so long to respond.





Let's start with that firepace.  I found a great before and after on a blog called Velvet and Linen.  With this fireplace, they plastered over the river rock, and then painted it a nice white.  You still don't want it to stand out, and painting the walls next to it the same white is the way to do that. 










Keep your beam wood, but paint everything else white. China Doll or Swiss Coffee are some of my favorite whites.


From there- let me give you some pointers on your furniture arrangement.  Start with a central focal point.  That means either mounting the television over the fireplace, or having it next to the fireplace. Having it on the opposite wall, where it currently is, leaves the room feeling "off".    If the television is the main use of the room, let it be the focal point.  if you rarely use it, move it to a different room, and avoid the issue altogether. You will notice in the floorplan that I put the television right in front of the skinny window.  That was on purpose.  Those windows have no redeeming qualities that deserve any attention.  Ignore them.  Moving your television to the side will only only make it too wide a focal for your furniture arrangement.  The room is off center.  I was trying to straighten it out a bit by widening the central focal point. 


Below is a rough floorplan for you:


Now for colors.  Remember that you are young and fun.  Find some terrific pillows and wall decor that express that. 

 I would add a large area rug right over the carpet to give the space more personality. 

I put a series of decorative shelves opposite the fireplace.  The height will give the room some rhythm and interest, and you can find some cool sculpture, combine it with some books and photos and make a great wall out of it. 

I would add to the project list replacing the door trim and baseboards.  They are dark and small.  I would have them much much larger. 

For your upright piano, find an inexpensive second hand piano.  Spend some money making sure it sounds good, then take a chalk paint class and make it super fun. 


Don't forget to upholster the bench with a fun fabric. 


The Ranch House



Thanks for your blog!

We are finally doing the roof and am terribly unnerved at choosing a product you want to keep forever.  I am thinking about using Tamko Heritage rustic black.

Your ideas would be greatly appreciated.  (Bench and shutters are on the outs also ;p ) thanks


- Elaine


Hi Elaine,


Black is such a nice safe selection.  A truly timeless color.  Keep a black front door, and you can change your house color ten times and it will still go. Select it with confidence, you made a good choice.


I don't know what your floorplan looks like inside, so this might be impossible, but- I would suggest a stronger entrance.  Your front door is practically hidden in a corner.  Check out below what your house would look like with a double door. 




I would also create a little front porch feel.  Changing the pitch of your roof and actually having a covered porch would be quite expensive, but you could simply add a raised deck area.  I would extend it all along the area from where the house comes out by the fireplace, to the end of the house.  Then add a couple of chairs and a table, and you have created a little living space, to watch the neighbors walk their dogs while you sip some tea.




 Also- see how on the left you have window, window, window, window, big solid space of siding?  I would plant a bush in front of that big solid space of siding, about the size of a lilac bush.

Thanks for writing in!




Prairie Style?  

I feel like I need to do something to the brick which looks so dated, the colors, etc... would love your thoughts. You have so many good ideas!

Thank you!!




Hi Melissa,


I love your home.  I would describe it as "Prairie Style" which was popular in the late 19th and ealy 20th century.  It was most common in the midwestern United States.   Your low pitched roof, with strong overall horizontal feel, with your horizontal bands of windows, to me, give it that look.  (Although it is maybe not a perfect Prairie Style home)  It has so much potential.  My first concern is not the brick; although you might decide to white wash it. 

The biggest change will be made in three ways.

1. Landscaping

2. Paint color 

3. Trim size



See the notes I put on your home above.  You have an amazing row of windows that are half covered by a hedge.  That is sad to me.  I would remove those first thing. 


Also your area under the overhang is not good looking, and should be covered by landscaping.  Those two changes will make a huge difference.  If your porch continues the length of the home, I would also remove the big bush covering it up. Most of your bushes are detracting rather than enhancing your architecture. 


Secondly- your one solid paint color is definitely drab.  I cannot even tell what size your trim is.  If it is small, I would increase the scale of the trim, then brighten the home with a higher contrasting field-to-trim look.  Check out the photo below: 


Now if you just painted your home the way it is now all dark gray- it woudl be just as drab, maybe worse, but check out the amount of white in the home above.  It is that wonderful contrast that makes it so pretty. 


It doesn't have to be white.  Look how pretty this wood stain contrast is: 

You could also have the trim darker than the field for a different look. 

To really update it, you could change the siding to a shake shingle, like the photo below: 


With your architecture, you could even put in a more contemporary railing, like this one: 


While I'm spending your money, you could also add some large sidelights like this home:  (also with cool wood stain windows)  I love your home, it's going to look great!





Linda's House

Hi Christine,

Your blog is a treasure. I love your aesthetic sense and your ability to visualize the promise that lies within each house.

I'm hoping you may have advice for me. I have tried so many samples for repainting and I can't seem to find  the right colors. The neighborhood homes are mostly muted earthtones, lots of tan/brown.

I am deeply grateful for any ideas (paint or otherwise) you may have.

Thank you!



Hi Linda,

If it were me, I would go darker on the field color, and not as dark on your eaves trim color.  I'm trying for more subtle, but richer. 



You can see my paint sample squares in the center of your stone picture.  (with a little bit of your roof in the corner).  I still suggest sample quarts.  ;-) 


SW7505 Manor House Trim color


SW7694 Dromedary Camel Field color






Jogging Path


Hi Christine,
On the advice of a designer friend we painted the entire interior of our home Sherwin Williams "jogging path".   We love the color but are struggling with what accent colors to use for bedding, etc. What colors would look good with that paint color?
Thank you,


Hi Nancy,

I know I have said this 100 times, but I will start by repeating myself by simply saying that I would never select a paint color prior to other colors in the home for this very reason.  Here is a recent post. Where I explain in more detail, so I won't dwell too much on it.  With that said, jogging path is a good neutral, and you can go a lot of different directions.  My advice is this:


Have your large furniture contrast with your neutral paint color.  For example:  A combination like this would be great:


The sofa is a creamy color and will contrast nicely.  Or you could go darker like this:

However, one way you could go wrong is by selecting neutral furniture that is close to your paint color.  Sometimes they could end up clashing, sometimes it could simply be too much of the same color. 


I am certainly not saying NOT to repeat the color, indeed you should, but not in your large pieces. 


Look at each room with your paint sample:



Can you see what I mean by going lighter looking good, darker looks good, another medium tone neutral looks yikky.  If you want to know if blue or green or red accents will look good, I'd say, yes, yes, yes.  It is your other neutral tones that will make it work or not work, not your accent colors.