Category Archives: House / Living Room

The Great Gray Paint Debacle Comes To An End!

On Monday night I finished painting our walls in the final choice of light gray paint.  I’d finished the first coat Sunday, and we thought we liked it then.

On Tuesday morning, as the light streamed in we liked it.  On Tuesday afternoon, as the light moved away to a softer glow, we liked it.  On Tuesday night, as the night sky came out and we turned on the table lamps we said “yep, we still like it.”

Finally.  It was gray enough to not feel beige, and it was beige enough to not feel blue.  It was dark enough to contrast with the trim, but light enough to not stand out.

Living Room Dark Gray Light Worldly Gray Walls

Have you ever felt undecided and asked for people’s opinions, only to know exactly what you want to do once the opinions start pouring in?  That’s how I felt about the pale blue gray I posted about last week.

When some people chimed in with “keep trying until you’re happy” I agreed with them. But when people pointed out how good it looked and said I should give it a chance, I found myself thinking “nope, can’t do it.”  Ryan felt the same way.  Maple didn’t care; she just wanted to know why her dad was keeping her in her room while her mom played with paint brushes in the hallway.

We tested three more swatches based on recommendations. I tested them on every wall in every room.  One was immediately removed, and one stood out to us immediately.

Living Room Gray Paint Samples  Take 2

L to R: SW Worldy Gray , BM Gray Owl, Valspar Filtered Shade

Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray (SW7043) – left – was the winner.  It looks beige against the blue gray wall, and it’s more of a greige than a gray.  The other two looked pretty, but we worried they could still reflect blue into the room.

In some conditions it looks beige, but in a modern way – not the bad “builder’s beige” of the 90’s.  In other conditions it looks gray, but with slight green undertones. I would call it a “safe gray.” It’s beige enough to work ok with the kitchen’s fixed elements, but gray enough to feel fresh and modern on our walls.  And it photographs neutrally enough that I can use it as a backdrop for styled product shoots.

I googled the color and found lots of results – it turns out I’m not the only one who likes this color for difficult painting situations.

We did sit with the blue gray walls for a few days, though, because life was busy.  On Sunday night, when I finally got time to paint, we knew we were making the right choice.

Living Room Gray Paint Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray

I have one painting task left to do today – I just need to clean up the line between the living room and dining room.  Next up we’re hanging art and photos on the wall.  Instead of just randomly using what we have, I’ve been working on a plan so that I can be satisfied with the arrangement once and for all. Because of that it may take a few weeks to get everything framed and hung.

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with advice and color suggestions!  It was really appreciated, as always.

New here?  Here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the Great Gray Paint Debacle.

The Great Gray BLUE Paint Debacle Continues

My moods have been on a roller coaster ever since we started this “simple” painting project a week ago.  Yes, the house has now been in painting-prep disarray for over a week, and it’s driving me batty.

Yesterday I told you that I thought we’d found a good compromise with a pale gray – Sherwin Williams Lazy Gray.  I stayed up painting last night because I wanted to get it done and be able to put the kitchen and dining room back together today.  At 1 am I stopped working on the second coat and went to bed because I was too tired to be focused and careful.  I’m glad I didn’t push myself to finish, because today the house seems to be glowing blue all over and I can’t stand it.

Living Room Light Gray Paint Blue Tone

In the past I’ve settled for “good enough” in my design, or I’ve gotten distracted and never truly finished rooms.  But I’m tired of not having finished spaces that I love, and I want to change that this year.

I think even harder than the upheaval of our rooms is the crush to my ego that this has caused.  I never thought I was a professional decorator, but I did think I was better at picking colors.  After googling for advice on gray paints, I felt a little better when I found legit designers talking about how tricky gray can be.

My favorite is this excerpt from Emily Henderson’s post on the best gray paints.  She perfectly sums up how I feel about our house today:

Most of you who have experimented with gray’s know that they go blue very, very fast – often you think you are choosing a blue-ish gray and then when its up on your walls it looks like you are welcoming your first son. In 1992.

So what do I want?  I want the walls (both dark gray and light gray walls to complement the sea of brown furniture in the living room.  I want them to be neutral enough that I can switch out colorful, jewel-tone accessories and change things up without having to repaint.  And I want them to allow framed large photos I’ve taken to stand out.

Right now I feel like the blue is such a predominant tone that I won’t be able to add dark teal or emerald or berry colored accessories without it looking absurd. I also feel like it’s so blue that the dining and kitchen walls stand out rather than fading into the background.

Kitchen Dining Blue Gray Paint

I also want it neutral so that I can photograph my products in the space as needed.

Ryan and I are going to make a new game plan tonight.  I’m wondering if I should try bringing different fabric swatches into the room to see how they look against the current colors.  I know the feel of an unfinished space can change dramatically once it’s accessorized.

I’d love to have other opinions.  What would you do?  Would you accept the color and try living with it for a while? Or would you trust your gut and continue to look for the right color? I know that prepping to paint is the most tedious part of the task, and since we’ve already done that I’d hate to have to do it again in a few months.

PS: I’m considering trying some of the paints mentioned here.

The Great Gray Paint Debacle of 2016

What was supposed to be a quick weekend painting project to kick off the new year has become the Great Gray Paint Debacle of 2016.

First, an update on the living room. After some debate, we decided to stick with the first dark gray that we chose. It’s looking good.

Living Room Dark Gray Paint Mirror Shot

I thought that choosing the right dark gray for the living room was hard, but it turns out that choosing the right pale gray for the rest of the living space was the real challenge.

On Monday I tackled painting the kitchen, dining room, and hall with the light gray we’d chosen. As I began to cut it in against the trim in the kitchen, I had a sinking feeling that we’d chosen the wrong color yet again. But I had a gallon of the paint, and I know the color can look different after it covers a wall and dries, so I continued painting.

Kitchen Mismatched Paint Light Gray Orange Cabinets

By the time I had the kitchen done, I knew the color was all wrong. It was too light; it almost blended in with the white trim, and its blue undertones looked sickly purple against the kitchen.
And that’s when I realized how mismatched* our cabinets and backsplash were. The cabinets have an reddish orange undertone, while the tiles are a yellow brown. Now that I’ve seen the mismatched undertones, I can’t stop seeing them!

Kitchen Cabinet Tile Counter Undertones

Ryan and I have spent hours talking about this and sorting through paint samples. On Monday night I sat in the kitchen for hours, trying to figure out where I went wrong and how to fix it.

At one point Ryan teased me about hiding behind my high chair command station :)

Kitchen Painting High Chair Command Center

I tried continuing our dark gray into the kitchen, thinking that maybe that would be dramatic enough to distract from the kitchen undertones. Nope. It looked pretty awful, and not just because it was one thin coat.

Kitchen Painting Dark Gray

Then we discussed reverting to the original wall color – a yellowish white that didn’t excite us, but never bugged us in the kitchen. But now, with the dark gray blue living room, the yellowish white looked pretty bad.

Last night I picked up 4 more paint samples to try. On a whim I grabbed a sample of Perfect Greige, just to see if that worked better than the grays.   The Greige appeared to work well, but it was so brown. Not what either of us wanted.

Kitchen Painting Swatches

Sherwin Williams colors, from top to bottom: Perfect Greige, Morning Fog, Lazy Gray, Gray Screen

This made it clear that we should have used grays with brown undertones.

The house has been in disarray for over a week, and frankly we’re just over this whole thing.  Late last night we decided to go with our favorite, Lazy Gray, and accept the imperfect match with the kitchen for now.  After all, as renters we can only control so many aspects of the house.  If it drives us nuts, we’ll repaint again in the summer or fall.

If we do repaint again, I will first purchase a color consultation from Maria Killiam, the designer who specializes in color. It would be money well spent, considering that we’ve now spent over $200 on this and still don’t have the perfect match.   A $50 consult is barely more than one gallon of SW paint . . . so I would have saved money in the long run.

I’m annoyed by how much money I wasted.  I feel like I could have prevented this by thinking more before we started, but frankly I was out of practice. It’s been a while since I tackled a real decorating project. So I’m just trying to learn from this experience and cut myself some slack.

At least our living room looks awesome, even though it’s not re-decorated yet! We decided to stick with the original dark gray that we chose. I don’t know the name of it, because I lost the paint chip.

Living Room Dark Gray Paint Color Formula

*While the kitchen colors feel like a disaster, I assure you I’m keeping it in perspective. There are far bigger problems to have. And our kitchen is functionally great, especially for a rental. It’s rare that an rental home has such a nice, new kitchen.

Trying to Find the Perfect Gray Paint for our Living Room

On New Year’s Weekend of 2014-15, Ryan and I discussed changing the paint in our living room. We’d enjoyed the Tate Olive accent walls for several years, but after reupholstering the sofa in brown leather, replacing our white chairs with wooden ones, and switching out the glass and chrome Barcelona table for a baby-safe wooden coffee table, the whole room was looking too earthy and drab.

Case in point:

Living Room Brown and GreenRyan had the genius idea to go with a dark gray.  It would contrast nicely with the teak wood and caramel leather tones. We looked at paint swatches and then . . . well, we had a baby and everything took 5 times longer to complete.

This year, as New Year’s Day loomed, I decided that it was time to paint. The paper swatches had been sitting out for a year.

Going gray in the living room meant we’d have to repaint the rest of the open-plan living areas, because the dining room, kitchen, and hall all flow together. They are currently “builder’s beige,” which was great 6 years ago but drives me nuts now. And the pink-undertone beige does not work with charcoal gray. Add in the orange-brown cabinets, the beige tile floors . . . and you’ve got a lot of brown tones going on.

Dining Room Before | The Borrowed Abode

So . . . over the holiday we painted, starting with the charcoal walls of the living room.  Sunday morning we woke up and were disappointed – the charcoal gray with blue undertones looked way too blue in the morning light.  (It actually looks more neutral in the photo than it did in person.)

Living Room Blue Gray Walls In Progress

The walls appeared to change color as the day progressed. Our living room gets a ton of light all day, thanks to its exposure and large windows. That’s how we knew a dark color would work. It makes it really hard to get a consistent look from colors. In the evening the walls looked like just what we wanted – a dark charcoal gray.

Living Room Blue Gray Paint in Sunlight

Ryan and I are currently perplexed. The color we ended up with is a medium gray, and it looks pretty with the brown furniture. But it’s not the dark, dramatic, modern look that we were aiming for.

Living Room Darker Gray Paint Swatches

We tried two darker grays yesterday afternoon, and one clearly had brown undertones – so that’s out. The other is a darker version of what we just covered the walls with and complements the caramel leather well.

Living Room Gray Paint Brown Leather
Today I’m going to start painting the other walls the pale gray. It’s possible that covering the builder’s beige will help us make a decision on the dark gray living room.

Either way, it feels really good to get back to decorating after a busy holiday season with Janery! It’s always been my favorite way to relax.

PS: I created a new Instagram account for the blog, where I’m sharing more real-time updates and snips of real life.  You may have noticed that the Janery IG account is being used primarily for my business, so if you’re more into the blog, come follow @TheBorrowedAbode on IG!