Let’s talk about paint colors – starting upstairs

All of them! The truth is, I have little idea of what I want. I could stick with white walls. Sometimes that looks great. But I kind of don’t want my house to look like it was rehabbed on spec. I think I want a slightly subdued off white on my ceilings and trim. Not quite the bright white of the primer, but it needs to be neutral so I can just roll/spray/brush it out everywhere. Mrs. Blandings expresses the struggle of picking out just the right white pretty well. But she knows better than I what she wants. She should be friends with my mom.

I won’t use the same kind of paint or gloss, but these may end up the same color. I read articles about how to choose white paints, and it sounds like Benjamin Moore White Dove is fail safe. That’s what I want. Something safe that I’ll never get tired of on the parts that are annoying to redo.

In the kitchen and bathroom I have more freedom because the ceilings can’t have flat paint anyway. I thought I might have painted the walls pearl grey and kept the trim and ceiling white, but I was never sure about this, and some are steering me away from it. I do know that the white ceiling is a tad bit too bright with the rustic tile and grey grout, but I think the off white would work fine. I’m not sure if you can see what I’m talking about from this photo, but the morning sun almost makes the photo show real colors.


So anyways, I kinda give you carte blanche to give me ideas in here. I have grey, white, and a darkish blue going on already, and plan on putting a marble top onto my Phase 2 vanity. So I could keep paint kinda basic or bring in another color that looks good with the blue. The trim and radiator will be some kind of white.

Moving on from there, the hallway has a lot going on and is only 5 feet wide. Picture dark stained doors and light floors. Possibly blond. I’m thinking I should practice restraint here just because the space is narrow and the architecture is busy. But… I don’t have to.


In the back bedroom I’ll have this maple dresser/buffet and a small upright teak cedar chest. At least to start. The braided rug on the floor in this photo goes with my navy blue dorm bedding. And remember, that room has some exposed brick.

buffet and rug

In the front bedroom I may not bother to paint the walls at all since there’s Phase 2 work that will alter them a little bit. (More on that later.) But here’s what I’m putting in the room. This has a fancy marble back splash, and there’s a matching 3 drawer dresser. I might be better off moving this stuff to the back bedroom someday.

wash stand

Then a very good friend of the family gave me this rug, which takes the room beyond the point of no return into the traditional direction.


I figure this room can look like a bed and breakfast or a whorehouse, and obviously I’d prefer the latter. But I’m also making some Phase 2 changes to the walls, so I might call the white primer good enough for now. Whether or not I paint and decorate anytime soon, we can talk about what I should do.

So what do y’all think? I’m open to hearing any ideas now while while I try to figure out exactly what I want.


6 thoughts on “Let’s talk about paint colors – starting upstairs

  1. Jo

    Yikes, lots to consider. Love the final rug and dresser together. Only one bit of advice and I’m not sure it applies: if your trim is Dove White and you have ceiling cornice, paint your ceilings some slightly darker shade to make the moldings stand out. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music


  2. Mary Elizabeth

    Chad, it sounds like you are really unsure of yourself color wise. I’m going to suggest a way to proceed rather than
    specific colors. Your idea of off-white woodwork is a good one, as it will unify the house. Leaving the rest of the walls for after you move in will make it awkward in some ways–having to move furniture and paint around it, etc.–but I think you will be happier with your final color choices if you live in the house and see it in different lights. But I’d like you to consider getting the bathroom and kitchen all done before you move in.

    Here’s how you can start with the bathroom: Your tile and grout will dictate your color choices, but you can decide whether or not to add more colors by experimenting with shower curtains. Here are some from Country Curtains to look at:

    The ones I would look at for your blue-tiled bath are the ticking stripe (both light blue and navy), the blue moire, and the blue toile. The blue toile h brings you a little more toward the Victorian, like some of your furniture. They are a little high end in price, but they will send you swatches of all the fabrics for free. You can also pick up a few shower curtains at whatever discount store is near you (Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, Home Goods, for example), bring them to the house and look at them in the daylight next to your tile. Then if you find you really like one of them, bring the others back.

    When you’ve decided on the shower curtain, take it and a tile chip (do you have one left over?) to the paint store and look at the paint swatches. Sometimes the paint store has a color consultant, or you could just ask your parents or a friend, anyone who you think has an eye for color, to go with you. You can go with a lighter version of the blue for a monochrome look or an entirely different color, like a yellow.

    I love your marble top washstand in the bedroom. That marble has a definite color in the stone–looks like a dark pink or light cranberry. If you decide to keep it in your bedroom (see what I mean about living in the house first?), that and the rug will dictate your color choices. In the bedroom, you might consider an off white for three walls and then an accent wall of a cranberry, which will pull colors from your washstand and the rug. I’m not wedded to the specific color, but just reminding you that you need to consider the colors of the predominant elements. And unless you are very fond of pink walls, the cranberry will go with the pink in the marble.

    As long as you have a working bath and kitchen and the guest room ready for the Pope, there’s no pressure about any of the other painting. 🙂


  3. acroteria

    Perhaps it’ll be a comfort to know there’s someone out there (me) that doesn’t coordinate wall colour with anything other than trim colour and degree of natural light into the space. Rugs, furniture, etc. come and go more (too) easily to be the basis for wall colours (in my opinion). My brown-eyed wife has “colour coordinating/matching” OCD with a strong prejudice for the “50 shades of white”. Given I grew up where snow often fell 6 mos. out of the year and I have blue eyes, I don’t much care for white at all (but I see the dress as white and gold, so what do I know?)



  4. CindyH

    for the bathroom, I love this color combo – sky blue, midnight blue and splashes of sunflower yellow and pumpkin – but that’s just me. You may find some appealing palettes here:

    I’ve seen traditional oriental rugs combined with all kinds of styles and looking great – eclectic rocks my world! (or would if I ruled my world)



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