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Barbie's Windows 

Hi Christine.  I just recently came across your blog and thoroughly have enjoyed it!  I love your style and your talent is clearly reflected in your work! 
Sticking to short and concise:  Just moved into our first newly built home 5 weeks ago...and I'm having a hard time figuring out the best timeless/practical window treatment for these windows.  I was thinking of roman shades for the 3 long living room windows and also over the kitchen window.   But b/c of the cabinet to the right of the sliding glass door, I really don't know the best window treatment for this space.  Probably going with a very light gray/light yellow (since the sofa is light yellow) and beige theme for colors.  Open to any and all your ideas and suggestions!
I really appreciate your time and thoughts!!
- Barbie
Hi Barbie,
Roman shades are a beautiful option.  But, with or without them, I would definitely add drapery panels. 
The long panels add rhythm, and far more visual weight than just the Roman shades alone.  Hang them high, (close to the ceiling) and hang an additional panel to the left of the slider to cover the slider.  (same height)  I would stack them off to the sides, like in the photo above, maximizing the size of the windows, and nearly covering that wall.
The combination of Roman shades and drapes is one of my favorite combinations; a far more finished look than just the use of one treatment.  Layering gives the room more textural variety, as well as an overall more finished look.
Congratualtions on your new home Barbie!

Miranda's Fireplace Mantle

Hi Christine,
We have this 1980's oversized mirror in our two story living room. Love the functionality (can see the little ones upstairs) but hate the dated look. What do you suggest?



Hi Miranda,


My first thought is to replace it with a piece of art rather than another mirror.  The mirror is simply reflecting a ceiling fan, not exactly an awesome focal point.  Your scale is good, so I would look for something a similar size.



One example would be the piece below- 70 x 48 in size, Raindrops by Uttermost.


Or- if abstract is not your style, you could do something like this:  Serenity from Uttermost.  I used this in a commercial job once- a salon.  It was even more impressive in person.   I would then lose all of the little accessories on the mantle, and just add one plant or set of vases, on one side.  Like the photo below: 


I like how in the photo above the decor is sitting on the mantle rather than hanging on the wall above it.  I do that whenever I can, it helps to tie things together.  Another option is to have a set of things accross the mantle like these candles: 


The scale of your smaller decor can't support the larger scale of the piece above it, creating a disconnect.  It is currently working as two separate units, the small items sitting on the mantle, and the large mirror above it.  It should operate as one unit, overlapped and tied together.




Victoria's Home


This may be too long but please if you have time read to the end.  I didn’t know how to make it shorter.

Found your blog last night at 2:30 AM after two weeks of agonizing over an exterior paint color. I’ve gained 5 lbs and lost a lot of sleep.

Next year my husband and I are moving from beautiful Northern Virginia to Kaysville, UT. This will be our 18th move and the last before going into assisted living or dying whichever comes first.

We have contracted to have a little home/cottage built in a Destination Homes development, Hill Farms. 

We are building the Kingsley floor plan with a Colonial Revival elevation.
There are no specific colors for the exterior, Destination hands you a paint deck and says pick a color. STRESS…what, really…YES!

They are using PPG paints which is part of my dilemma, I’m NOT at all fond of their color deck!

What I don’t want…brown, tan, dark beige and no red doors…did I say NO BROWN in any form also I don’t want a gray that goes blue. I want an East Coast look not a Utah look.

I'm leaning in two directions, a dramatic gray or something really light…yep, opposites. I want people do go, wow that little cottage is a stand out.

I’ve seen the cottage painted in white and it looks unfinished, like it needs something. I like the idea of white because you could paint the door so many fun colors but like I said, it looks unfinished in white. 
I’ve considered SW 0077 Classic French Gray but would have to use PPG1010-5 Downpour as the closest matching color.
Below is a house painted in the SW Classic French Gray in the Hill Farms community
Yeah, I know the color directly left above, SW 7018, is a brown green or at least it looks that way in the photo.  I love this combination especially the door color 

And now for the other direction that I’m going which takes me out of my comfort zone.

This is my niece's house in American Fork. It’s gorgeous. She has painted it BM Tapestry Beige 975 with BM Wythe Blue for the door.

My daughter thinks that this color would be too light/boring for my little cottage…but I think it could work and would be something different from my usual green gray.  I really love the color, it tends to be a little on the yellow side which is really not something I’ve ever done before. The house to me tends to look white without being stark white.
What I want at age 68 is for someone to say this is the color, it will be fab…do it.

Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. It’s really hard to pick a paint color for a house that is being built 2400+ miles away where I presently live from a 1” x 2” paint chip.  It’s making me crazy!!!

Doors I love
Thanks for considering my question…

Hi Victoria,
Hmmm..  Well let me start with one phrase that you said,
"I want people to go wow, that little cottage is a stand out."
I would take that piece of information, and rule out one direction.  The lighter gray, or gray green is a a terribly popular color pallet.  I think it is lovely and would likely blend in to your new neighborhood beautifully, but is less likely to stand out. 
Now,  I want to mention your niece's house, the off white/white combination. 
One of the things that makes white walls work in a home (interior or exterior) is texture.  For example- take this bedroom:
The white walls are beautiful.  Now imagine the room without the paneling on the headboard wall.  The room is still nice, but not as interesting.  Your niece's home has the shake siding, far more texture than your exterior.  Will it look nice?  Yes.  But I will say not as nice as your niece's, because of her increased texture.  Am I suggesting not to go that route?  No, I am simply warning you that your house will be different.   The off white/white combination does one thing beautifully, and that is, it will  let your front door stand out.  Your symmetrical architecture is also perfect for this.  An off white field with white trim and your cute door will be a stand out combination. I went a little cooler on the off white than your neice. 
Option 1:
Field: Natural Choice, SW7011
Trim: Pure White: SW7005
Door: Quietude SW212
or- for a slightly greener door, try Cascade Green SW0066
Option2- go bolder than the light or medium gray- go with a drak gray.Contrast is what draws people's eyes to something.  The downside- fading will be more noticeable- and re-painting will have to happen sooner.  (I had to get a little practical in there)  Here are two homes painted in Roycroft Pewter:  (your builder should be able to match to Sherwin Willimas paint colors even if they don't use them.  Everyone can do that these days- don't let them be so lazy)
You can still use the same trim and door colors.  Remember- the whiter white trim will give you more contrast- which is a good thing.  Please know that I don't even know your roof color- please take that into consideration.  Now, stop stressing, this is not worth gaining weight over!  ;-) 
I get a LOT of requests for posts like this, I can't begin to get to them all.  If readers seriously want my help,  you can purchase it here in my store.  With the service, we chat on the phone, to get a good feel for what you are hoping to achieve, and I also send 8 x 11 samples of the paint, with three different combination options. 

Kathy's Lakeside Cottage


Dear Christine,
My husband and I have been lucky enough to buy a lakefront cottage as a gathering place for our kids and extended family.  It looks fine from the street side, but from the water...not so much.  The basement level 2 sliding doors, main door, and small window (just to the right of the right side sliding door) and posts all seem misplaced and unbalanced.  The two spiral staircases are hazardous and eat up the small amount of deck space above, but we need a route to the water.  Any suggestions for how we can  improve the look and safety of the house from the water   Thank you so much--I love your blog!









Hi Kathy,


Congratualations on your beautiful cottage.  Let me give you six little steps to make it fabulous.


1.  No Metal- change it to wood.  The metal makes the place look like 1985.  We're going for Forever timeless here-not The Goldbergs.  It might not be the fact that it's metal that's bad, but just the fact that it looks so dated.

2.  Change the fluted Greek columns to square.  Fluted Greek columns are a very formal look.  This cottage is not nearly formal enough to pull them off.  Go with a simple square- no smaller- the size is good, shape is not.

3.  Increase the scale of the trim.  The size of your trim, on the other hand, is way too small.  I am referring to the trim around the outside of your windows, doors, gutter areas, etc.  We want it much more pronounced.  It might sound like a little thing, but it is not.  It is a BIG thing in making the home charming. 

4.  Add a porch railing.  When you replace the metal one on the second story- add one on the first.

5.  Change the siding to board and batten or a wood shake.  Your siding is small.  Larger siding would also be a good look- board and batten or a shake would update it tremendously.  If in all of your plans you don't want to spend all of the money I am suggesting- skip this step before the others.  But- this one will also help.

6.  Repaint.  I would still keep the color light and neutral, and I admit, I can't see the roof color, but an updated color, like Driftwood Gray from Cabot Stains in the house below would be beautiful.


Thanks for writing in Kathy- you're a lucky lady to have a beautiful lake side home like this, and I know you'll make it even more beautiful.


Still a Chair Rail Snob




As "a chair rail snob," maybe you can help.  I'm finally removing wallpaper from my dining room.  I have a 2 1/2 inch and a 1 inch chair rail with a 9 inch wallpaper border between them and wallpaper below.  I plan to paint the space where paper was to match the tan above the rails.  Do I need to remove the lower 1 inch rail or could I leave it?  I like trim and wondered if a double rail effect would be ok.




Hi Nichole,

My first instinct is to remove the whole thing, and add a beefy chair rail. or none at all.  I would definitely not paint the center portion the wall color, this accentuates the small size of the trim.  If anything you could perhaps paint it all (both trims and the space between them) your trim color,  making it all look like a chair rail.  Here is a link to a blog where someone did something similar, except at the ceiling rather than the center of the wall.  The "snob" in me would not want a drywall texture in the center portion, making it so laborious, it would hardly be worth salvaging the existing trim.