Claudine, I would love to send you a photo of our recently purchased 1916 Craftsman home. It is painted yellow, with Green trim and red accents. Many people love the colors, which are historically accurate but we find it a bit much. We need help. Would you share your ideas with us please? If so, where can we send the image?
By Anonymous

After replying that I would love to help with their color choices, I received this email and photos of their beautiful home.

Dear Claudine,
Thank you for agreeing to share your color advice on our recently purchased 1916 craftsman style home.  I've attached the street view photo...  The home was expanded and remodeled by a gifted architect in 1994...   The architect made every effort to be historically accurate, including with the paint.  I like the idea of being true to her vision and the craftsman style but I have mixed feelings about both the exterior and interior colors.  The exterior has brighter colors and a wider palette than I ordinarily like.  Inside, I'm not sure what colors to use given the extensive oak trim.  I want the rooms to feel light and open.  Generally, I like neutrals and love your color sensibilities.  What would you do with this house?  Thank you so much for your time and advice.  

Lovely Craftsman style bungalow - expanded and remodeled

beautiful arts and crafts details

yellow/green-teal/rose-mauve color palette

didn't I tell you it was beautiful?
but I can definitely see how a palette of yellow, green/teal and mauve/pink
could be a little out of the comfort range for most of us

 Craftsman style is all about nature
and as style goes, was a turn away from the Victorian era 
with its dark dramatic colors and elaborate furnishings
and the short period following Art Nouveau, 
which took the turn towards nature, but continued in the more elaborate vein

Craftsman style was non-fussy, 
Asian in inspiration
clean lined and all about nature in its subject matter, 
and in the extensive use of woods and its color choices.
Like most of the eras that have passed
there are good and bad elements
things we love and things we need to change to fit our modern lifestyle -
the trick is in embracing the style and nature of the era
while making it work for us in the 21st Century
with our love of bright and open spaces, vaulted ceilings, and modern conveniences

This is a typical Craftsman color palette, greens, reds, russets, golds
the palette was strong and common to the craftsman/arts and crafts era

Bearing in mind that a true Craftsman home embraced the colors of nature,
we should be able to find some modern alternatives - here are a few suggestions:
the stonework on your home would blend beautifully with these beige/gray tones
the white trim and accents show off the architectural elements

again, the stone on your home will blend beautifully with the gray/green  of the main color.  
A russet color door is a perfect way to make a welcome entry

a beige/brown/gray combination
note that all of these homes have been trimmed in white to show off the beautiful
details of the homes

taupe, black and white

another gray/beige palette

I love how the white trim is accented with a dark charcoal gray to make the architectural elements stand out.  These cool gray, beige and green tones are soothing to the eye.

tan/blue-gray and white -
 the tan is a slightly warmer palette than the previous colors

These would all work well - 
all are organic colors without being too strong or too garish.  

Now for the inside.
You mentioned you like neutrals and want everything to feel light and open - 
a difficult task with everything being oak, and a particularly yellow/orange oak tone -
which, while it may be historically accurate, reminds me more of 60's paneled wood rooms or 80's country style with extensive use of oak, than how we live today.
Contrasts are what make a room interesting and there is very little contrast between the wood floor and the extensive oak millwork - making all those lovely details kind of blend together.
I know.  That's what they did - wood tones everywhere - 
and if you love it and want to remain historically accurate, 
then feel free to completely ignore my next suggestion - 
which is (speaking strictly as a designer) to change some of this oak color to white
(I feel the cringing of the true wood-tone lovers out there)

the oak details bisect this room into so many sections
it is difficult to find a place to rest your eyes 
and the warm tone of the wood tends to come toward you, 
making it the dominant feature of the room
because of this, I would go very neutral on the wall colors
remove the wallpaper border
and lighten this room up by painting some of the oak white for needed contrast
decide what features you like best about the room and paint the rest
as it is hard to make a room light and open when its main component is heavy oak

neutral 'cool' tones (grays, blues, greens and taupes for example)
will be your best palette with the warm wood tones

adding white trim to some areas will lighten and brighten your rooms, but

if you are a wood lover and want to keep that element,
light grays and beige grays are the perfect companion

The entry is truly special
the details in the wood are beautiful
however, again there is little contrast to showcase them
So while this is a beautiful room with lovely handcrafted woodwork, it all blends in together.
This should be a showplace.  It is the first impression of your home
and a place everyone who comes to your door gets a glimpse of.
and as there isn't a lot of wall space that isn't paneled with oak 
that we could paint to make a difference
you may consider some of the following examples to add light and contrast to this room

that essentially is the look I would carry through the entire house
some white painted wood
some original woodwork in the important areas
light neutral tones

GOOD LUCK!  Please let me know what you decide to do!



You have beautiful ideas! I am going through a divorce and need to update my sad looking bedroom (literally and figuratively)! I have a very small budget. I like things simple and am drawn to cozy country atmospheres. I want a cheerful color but not something I will tire of quickly. I have dark hardwood floors, white quilt bedding and brown wood furniture. I am thinking restoration hardware atmosphere. What do you think? Would a grey be too drab? The trim is BM white dove and much of house is BM camouflage. Should I change trim to crisp white? Any suggestions would be welcome!

I think a gray may be just the color you are looking for.  Too drab?  Only if you go with the most dreary concrete gray you can find - because nearly every color has a 'gray' version - a grayed down tone that is soothing and cool and lovely, or deep and calm.  

take this gray/beige color:  Cape Hatteras Sand by Benjamin Moore
Cool, calm and soothing
lovely with white and wood tones

or Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore

and if you like Restoration Hardware, their Silver Sage is a green gray that is simply beautiful and looks different nearly every hour of the day

and Benjamin Moore's 'Gentle Gray' is a lovely blue/gray
I don't think you could go wrong with any of these, 
and I don't find them dreary
at all.  



I am working with marble gray white and black in master bath. want to do yellow, also in bedroom. What color from shermin williams best matches the Dunn Edwards Golden Gate? love that color.

Golden Gate has long been one of my favorite paint colors. 
 Both warm and at the same time neutral, it goes well with most wood tones.  

I would recommend purchasing the true color from Dunn Edwards. To get a truly good 'match' get a tester pot from Dunn Edwards and take it to your Sherwin Williams store to match as they have a computerized matching system.   If you do not have a Dunn Edwards nearby, you can purchase matched paint online from this website (please note I have not personally used this site, but it looks like they know what they are doing).



Claudine - You have such wonderful taste in colors so was hoping you could help me out! I am trying to pick a color for my living room which is in between the kitchen and the master bedroom (old house with long add on). The kitchen is a light grey with heavy blue undertones and I just painted my master bedroom in Silver Fox from Benjamin Moore which I love. I am trying to find a brown / grey color for the living room since my furnishings are more on the dark brown / reds and golds. I am hoping to switch out some of the furnishings but cannot right now so was hoping to find a color that blended well from the kitchen into the bedroom - staying away from anything too gold. Any suggestions??? I was looking at BM Kangaroo and Bennington Gray. Thank you!
By Amy

Dear Amy:
Bennington Gray by Benjamin Moore is a perfect color and I think that both reds and golds would work well with it. It can darken a room with low ceilings, though, so depending on what your situation is, you can try Grant Beige for a lighter tone if needed.

Kangaroo by Benjamin Moore is equally lovely with the warm reds and golds - and will transition just as nicely as the other two suggestions into cooler tones when you decide to make the change.  Happy painting!



Hi Claudine! Great website! I'm trying to figure out what color to paint our study. It doesn't have any windows and we are going to replace the door with a glass door to try and let a little more light in but it's still pretty dark. We have wideplank wood floors in there and the built in cabinets are dark brown. We definitely need to lighten the room up. Any suggestions? I'm wondering if Navajo white would work? Or maybe a very light beige?
By Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:    
I'm not a fan of Navajo White, basically because it was the contractors go to color all through the 90's and just ended up looking like a dirty white to me.  You can add a little more pigment and still have a color that will brighten a room - try any of these:
Blue Green Gem - Benjamin Moore

Castleton Mist - Benjamin Moore

Classic Gray - Benjamin Moore

Cliffside Gray - Benjamin Moore

Edgecomb Gray - Benjamin Moore



Wow, love this website! Claudine, wondering what you think for a brand new townhouse at the beach. The first floor has a large foyer which will become a sitting room, and is open to the rest of the first floor which includes a kitchen and very large family room. I am thinking the entire first floor needs to be one color since there is no separation of the rooms. I would live a light, beachy feel and am open to anything! I also would love a suggestion for the second floor going up the stairs and hallway to bedrooms. Thanks so much!

First of all - I'm green with envy!   
When I think of beach living I go to lots of white semi-gloss woodwork, and soft sea and sand colors.  Something like this:

Wythe Blue - Benjamin Moore
2012 Color of the Year
Perfect for beach living

Benjamin Moore beach-y palette

Marscapone - Benjamin Moore

More beach-y-ness
Benjamin Moore palettes

Sherwin Williams - Halcyon Green

Sherwin Williams - Hazel
sprinkle in some wood tones, some soft sandy beiges or gray/beiges

Hope that these suggestions help!


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