Last Updated on December 24, 2015 by Kristi Linauer
Sometimes I feel like the process of designing and decorating my house is a journey of self-discovery. I’ll see ideas online that look amazing, so I’ll try it out for myself, and then realize that I don’t really actually like it. Or more often, I’ll realize that it looks good in pictures in another person’s home, but for some reason (which I may or may not be able to put my finger on) it just doesn’t work well for me in my home. But I wouldn’t have known it without actually trying it, because again, the pictures that inspired me look pretty awesome.
It has happened several times (painted striped kitchen floors, anyone?), and I find that it has happened again. Thankfully, this time I haven’t gotten so far in the project that there will be any work that needs to be undone/redone.
Obviously, as you know from the title of this post, I’m talking about the white walls in the front room (entryway and dining room). While my walls haven’t actually been painted yet (so no undoing/redoing necessary), they are primed white. I’ve been living with white (primed) walls in that room for about a week now, and I’ve just come to discover that white walls (full white from baseboard to ceiling) just aren’t for me. I love how clean and crisp it looks, and I love how my bold coral buffet looks against a crisp white wall. But there are two reasons why I don’t like white walls: (1) It feels so cold and sterile. I can’t imagine wanting to spend much time in there come winter. (2) I don’t like that all of the trim (baseboards, crown moulding, door casings, and window casings) gets completely lost when they’re all painted the same color as the walls. It’s just a sea of sterile, cold white where details get lost.
Another reason why I don’t want white walls in that particular room is because I want black and white striped curtains, and just this weekend, as I was perusing pictures of black and white curtains on Pinterest, I noticed that all of the examples that really stood out to me as the most beautiful had the curtains set against light neutral, non-white walls (at least on the upper part of the walls). These curtains from The Yellow Cape Cod are always my go-to for the look I want (minus the tab tops). And hers look perfect set against the non-white neutral walls.
(She also has a picture of the striped curtains with white wainscoting on the bottom and light neutral on the upper wall, and it looks fantastic as well.)
So this past week, I’ve been really paying attention to (and actively searching for) any rooms with full-wall picture frame moulding walls that aren’t painted white. I keep coming back to this room by Sarah Richardson. These walls, with the chair rail and everything underneath painted white, and the area above the chair rail painted a different color, are absolute perfection in my book.
I think the color she used on the upper part of the walls in that room, while absolutely gorgeous and perfect for that bedroom, is probably too dark for my room. I don’t need a lot of depth of color. I just want something that will allow the crown moulding, door casings, and window casings to actually be noticed rather than blending in.
Choosing neutral wall colors is always a challenge for me. Something will look perfect on the paint card, but on the wall it turns too red, or too green, or too muddy, or too something. And since I’ll still be using a lot of bright colors, I need something that will still have that light, clean, crisp look. And that means staying away from anything that turns too brown, and keeping to colors that are more gray.
Yes, gray. There, I said it. 🙂 As long as it’s warm(ish), and doesn’t turn a cold, blue, steely gray color on my walls, I’ll humbly admit that I’m considering warm grays for my walls after being so vocal about my hatred of gray for so long. 😀
I’ve narrowed it down to two colors. I painted a sample on a scrap piece of drywall last night, so I’ve only seen them late at night so far. I’m anxious to see how they both look at various times of the day today. Anyway, the two colors I’ve narrowed it down to are Agreeable Gray and Anew Gray, both by Sherwin Williams.
I think Agreeable Gray is my favorite. It’s quite a bit lighter than Anew Gray, but still gives enough color to be interesting. I love how it looks in this bathroom against the white tile and white crown moulding.
And it was used in this dining room above white wainscoting. (The wall color in the front room isn’t Agreeable Gray.)
It was used on these bedroom walls, along with Anew Gray on the tray ceiling.
And here’s another look at it used above white wainscoting.
I think it’s such a pretty color. It gives just enough difference to really make the trim stand out, and it doesn’t feel cold and sterile like my all-white walls do.
When you see Agreeable Gray and Anew Gray side-by-side (like on my sample board), Anew Gray looks quite a bit darker. And yet, in most pictures where it has been used on the walls, it still looks quite light and airy. I think it would look beautiful against white trim, but it looks like they also painted the trim Anew Gray in this bedroom.
And then here it is used on kitchen cabinets.
Have any of you used either of these colors? I’m leaning towards Agreeable Gray, but I think that might be because it feels like the safer choice. That’s probably not a good reason to choose it. Anew Gray would give me a look closer to the walls in the Sarah Richardson room that I really love.
*Sigh* Decisions, decisions! 🙂
Oh, and I also decided to use the lightest color on this same color card as the background for my birds and limbs “wallpaper” in the music room. I think a white background will look too stark in that room as well. (And there’s probably a good reason why the manufacturers of that wallpaper didn’t set the design against a stark white background.) The lightest color on that paint strip is called Incredible White, and I think it’ll look beautiful as the background for my design. It’ll also give the slightest bit of contrast with the wainscoting and trim in that room.
I found this close-up view of Incredible White used with Extra White on the trim from Elements Of Style.
I came across a lot of pictures where people had actually used Incredible White as the trim color, and on its own, it does look white. But up against a brigher white, it has the slightest bit of color to it. I think it’ll be the perfect backdrop for my music room design, while still giving some contrast with my white trim and wainscoting.
I love that everything is starting to come together in my mind. Now I just need to decide between Agreeable Gray or Anew Gray. I really don’t want to have to spend more money and redo anything, so I’d like to get it right the first time. But of course, you know me, and you know I’ll keep redoing until it’s right if I have to. 🙂
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
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