Ask the Decorator: Updating an Outdated Home

Picture Courtesy of Seabrook Wallpaper Book Minerale

Reader Larene asked Decorating Den:

We are moving into our new home that was last decorated back in the eighties with lots of light pink flowery wallpaper, neutral carpet, brass fixtures, some tan tile and barely off white (maybe just dirty) drapes. I want to strip the wall paper and add color. And I want to paint or replace the brass fixtures. The carpet will stay for a while as will the tile.

Can I do a dark grey on the walls? Or will the grey look bad with the tan carpet and tile nearby? Can I do grey and pink in one room and tan and white in the next room or do I need to pick one ( tan or grey) and keep it throughout the house?

Carbondale interior decorator Angela Rowe had some advice for Larene:

Your house sounds like it is a child of the 80’s.  With the carpet and tile neutral, you should be okay using grey on the walls.  When selecting the paint, grey can have a cool undertone or a warm undertone.   Beige is almost always warm, so you will want to find a shade of grey that is warm to work with the beige.  Clothing designers have been combining beige and grey, so think of it as you would an outfit.

The brass fixtures will be great covered in a coat of black paint to look like iron.  You could even try emulating your favorite lighting fixture finish from the lighting store.  It is just paint, so if you don’t like your first attempt just paint over it!

You can use different colors from one room to the next, but they will need to work together (as in being warm colors.)  Pink is another color that can be either warm (when the base is red) or cool (when the base is blue) and the natural light of the home will play a role, too.  If you are not sure when looking at sample chips,  purchase the smallest container of paint and put small patches on the walls and watch how it changes with the other colors during different times of the day.

Another point to consider is how open is the floor plan?  Sometimes there isn’t a natural place to stop one color and start another.  By electing to stay with all one color on the walls it can create a larger palette to our eyes, making the area seem larger.

Good luck with your painting and remodeling!

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