16 April 2010

Help me help my new house

Hi, I'm Julie Warner, author of Kitchen and Home Appliance Blog for my family's appliance company, Warners' Stellian.

This is my second post as a guest blogger for Paul (here's my previous post).

Paul suggested I use this opportunity to solicit help from you all in decorating my first house, which I will be moving into in June.

My friend took this picture of me during the home inspection (notice the legs in the pantry in the background). I'm sitting between the living room and kitchen, probably giggling nervously at the prospect of making so many design decisions.

The homeowners' current colors of blue and yellow don't particularly suit my taste. And actually, they're the exact colors of both my high school and college (Go Marquette!). So, these feel more like my past than my future.

I'm thinking gray -- darker in the living room, lighter in the kitchen. The living room has a lot of light, as does the kitchen, to a lesser degree. We're ripping up the carpet to reveal the hardwood floors of this 1953 house.

My friend (and future roommate) that took this photo is inheriting the furniture for our living room (pictured in its current home):

Not pictured is an oversized chair that matches the couch. The biggest hurdle?

Blue laminate countertops. Right now they pretty much match the living room wall (the bright color starts to make sense right about now).

What I'd love your help on:

Wall colors
Are grays a good choice?

Ceiling fan
You can kind of see the blue ceiling fan in the above picture. I'd like to replace it with something less....blue. I'd be open to creative ideas.

Accent colors
I'd love to do a gold or mustard in the living room, but I'm lost for the kitchen because of the challenge of the blue countertops. For instance, I'm afraid to set out my red Viking food processor.

The couch is a bit drab, but I'll gladly take it because I'm saving my pennies for a European dishwasher, Electrolux steam washer, Miele vacuum and Vermont Castings grill (I'm such a product of my environment).

I'm also not sure if I should paint the wood furniture black. We could probably fit another chair or loveseat, if I can come up with a good idea for what I should have.

I also need to devise a plan for the small eating area (behind the breakfast bar in the picture), for which we have a blond wood table and four chairs. We can paint those too, if we want.



  1. I think gray is a great idea...I'm using it a lot lately in my work. A slightly cool gray would go well with the blue counters. My personal favorite is Wickham gray by Benjamin Moore. It's very subtle and looks great with white.

  2. Thanks Jennifer. I'll check that shade out. There are so many grays that it's a bit overwhelming for me to choose from.

  3. Hi Julie, I personally love gray. It is a beautiful neutral. Can portray a casual look if on the blue side or a sophisticated look if on the khaki side. If you are planning to keep your white cabinetry as shown, I would use a non-blue gray. The blue counters will reflect their color around to the other fields. You can keep the ceiling a crisp white and perhaps incorporate either nickel or brushed nickel knobs, handles and accessories into the mix. I would love to see you use all white ceramic and glass accessories.

    Of course this is just my 2 cents - but since you put it out there, I hope this helps. My personal home is in grays, creams, shades of taupe which nickel accents for the hardware and black nickel and crystal fixtures. If you'd like to contact me, see my website.

  4. Ooops, that's with nickel accents etc.

  5. Congrats on your new home!!

    I love grey, and have used a lot of grey in our home. A wonderful light grey is Pratt & Lambert Windham. ICI Veil is another good one. I haven't used BM Stonington Grey, but I've heard lots of good things about it.

    Funny you should be working with a blue countertop in your kitchen -- I'm going to be guest posting for Paul on Tuesday about a blue, white, and grey kitchen I designed for a school assignment. I hope you'll check it out, it might give you some ideas for your kitchen :-)

    Why not put your red Viking food processor out on display?? It would be a great pop of colour in your kitchen :-)

    Check out bellacor.com and lampsplus.com for lighting ideas. You can narrow down the choices by style, colour, price, etc., which can help in the decision-making process.

    You can spice up the sofa with some pretty & colourful throw cushions.

    I'd hold off on painting the furniture till you've settled in and made some definite colour and decorating choices. Once you paint wood furniture, it's hard to go back!!

    Have fun!!


  6. Robin: I believe the existing hardware is nickel, so that's one fewer step! What you say about non-blue grays also makes sense to me. I think I'll buy some small cans and test some colors out over the primer for a day or two. I'll see if I can keep the accessories that simple; I think that might be a challenge for me!

    Kelly: I CAN'T wait to see the guest post tomorrow. As you can imagine, I've been browsing innumerable images of kitchens and living rooms trying to piece together my own. Thank you for the very specific paint and supplier advice :)

  7. I would only vote for grey if you get a lot of sun in the rooms (ie, sunny side of house and not many rain days), or the grey could quickly become very depressing. Personally, I'd go for a white in the kitchen, to give you a red, white and blue colour scheme. You could probably use a layer of white paint over the yellow before you hit your grey anyway. Agree that the fan is uuugly and that painting your furniture either gloss back or white would be great.

  8. I'm with Chookie on this. I always start with the light. You didn't tell us if you live in a sunny place or a cloudy one, or whether you have lots of windows, or few. If you have south light, which tends to be warm, I think the grey and blue - and that splash of red in your kitchen - might be very nice. But if you've got primarily north light, or not enough light, I think the grey would look chilly and depressing. In that case, I would opt for something warmer - like that gold in the living room.

    If you're stuck with the blue counters in the kitchen, you might go for an Italian/Mediterranean kitchen. Get a couple nice pieces - maybe Deruta pottery - and take your pallette from that. This would use (and warm up) the blue counters and make a nice transition to that gold in the living room. For an example of the colors and the pottery, go look at this image: http://www.oldworldpottery-online.com/images/d76r%5B1%5D.jpg


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