Today's rooms have more open space, more light, cooler palettes, cleaner furniture lines, simpler fabric and curtain choices.


Fussy is out.
Fresh is in.

Here's some tips on how to refresh your living room and give people a better picture of you when they visit your home...

Get rid of the iron filigree pieces on the walls.  Filling a wall with curlicues of wrought iron is out. Replace it with a mirror, a grouping of art, family photos.  It will be an instant update.
Ivory Lane

Country Home

Janie Molster

Shop Style


Old fashioned lamps can drag down a room.  Likewise, not having enough light in a room throws a dim light on things. Some rooms have no overhead lighting and rely completely on lamps.  Refresh your room by replacing shades with a straighter drum style shape in a simple linen or burlap fabric.  Replace any overdone bases or elaborate bases, too.  No fringe, beads or heavy fabrics.  Add a lamp or two - and make sure the bulbs give off enough light.

Nothing does more for a room for less $$ than a fresh coat of paint.

Be sure to update the color to a more modern neutral tone - something with a bit of gray in it.  (Most colors look better on a wall if they are grayed-down a bit.)  Get rid of the 'accent' wall and don't go too dark and heavy.  If you have had darker walls, go lighter.  Here are a few of my very favorite wall colors - tried and true -
Accessible Beige (Sherwin Williams)

Magnetic Gray (Sherwin Williams)

Chelsea Gray (Benjamin Moore)

Pale Oak (Benjamin Moore)

Collonade Gray (Sherwin Williams)

Gray Horse (Benjamin Moore)

Whisper Gray (Dunn Edwards/California Paint)

Worldly Gray (Sherwin Williams)

If all of your non-upholstered furniture is in brown wood tones, crack open a can of Annie Sloan's chalk paint and give one of them a fresh new life - and it will freshen up your room, too.
Whimsical Perspective

Lia Griffith


(a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket.)

Small accessories everywhere?  Edit the amount and the size and your life will get much much easier. Don't be afraid to introduce larger scale accessories - they make more of a design statement.   Small accessories can be grouped to make more impact.
Talianko Design Group

Even over carpeting, a rug isn't merely something soft beneath your feet, its a room definer and makes 'rooms' within a room by defining a seating or an eating area.
Brass is back, and with it the freedom to mix your metals.  You can enjoy metals of all hues together. Brass with silver, bronze with chrome, iron and stainless... go for it!

Matching sets of everything is out.  We don't like our rooms to look like the furniture store anymore.
Mix it up.  Go for the 'I've collected these furnishings over decades, finding just the right pieces to go together' look, instead of the 'I bought the whole set on sale at the furniture store' look.  In the bedroom or the living room, mix up the accent tables - go for an ecclectic mix rather than matching sets.


Choose simple curtain panels with little embellishment and shades as opposed to fussy curtains and valances.  While blinds or shutters may seem to have replaced curtains, don't discard the idea of panels to soften and frame a window, even if they are not used for privacy.  Curtains and/or blinds add color, texture and emphasis to windows.



I love your thoughtful blog – and need some help.

We have just re-done our kitchen – walls are OC Horizon, Benjamin Moore.  We originally had Classic Grey, but it was too “putty” next to the counters and backsplash.  (You can see a little bit of the OC Horizon in the right corner of the attached picture).  Kitchen counters are an interesting mix of blue and green grays.  I like the slate and moss colors.

We are updating our adjoining living room which is currently Camouflage – much too dark for the space.  I’d like to find a nature inspired green-ish gray to replace Camouflage.  We’ve tried Gray Owl, but it turns very blue in the space.  The living room has some browns and golds in it, so I don’t think extending the Horizon will necessarily work, but I’d like something that flows.  Trim in both rooms will be White Dove and ceiling will be Ceiling White.

Now considering Soft Fern (seems ok-ish, but maybe not light enough), November Rain (looks kind of sad and maybe a bit too beige-y on the wall) and Silken Pine (seems very light).  What do you suggest?

I’ve also attached a picture of what the final living room may look like in the event that is any help.  Lots of windows, but a northern exposure.

Benjamin Moore is the paint of choice …

Thanks so much!


Hi April.  That northern exposure is why things are looking a little blue.... but lets see what we can do. I think the Soft Fern should work -

Benjamin Moore SOFT FERN
do you really think it is too dark?  With your white wood built in, and white trim, it should look great!

Benjamin Moore DARK LINEN

Your northern exposure can really mess with your color - so make sure you do try swatches first.

Benjamin Moore DARK LINEN
Dark Linen is considered a 'white' but you can see how different exposures and lighting change it.
Natures Essential is quite light, but again, you will have to see it on a swatch in your own room.
Benjamin Moore URBAN NATURE

Urban Nature has more pigment, but in a room with a lot of natural light it is beautiful.
Benjamin Moore URBAN NATURE  
Dune Grass is another great green color.  

The trick in finding a lighter green for walls is making sure it is grayed down a bit, so that you don't end up with mint or celery walls (makes me think of hospitals).

Here are a few others...
I hope one of these will work for you.


Benjamin Moore CROQUET

Best wishes!

Hi Claudine,
I love your blog and I think it is so nice that you offer to answer questions from your readers.  I have a question for you now. We are getting ready to put our home on the market and I would really appreciate getting your opinion on what color to paint our open-concept first floor, in order to update and improve its appearance as much as possible. I am especially concerned about choosing a color that will help our small kitchen, with its dated "honey-spice" maple cabinets, 
look as good as possible! 

My current color scheme is somewhat dated (it is currently golds, sage greens, and rusty reds.) Though we don't have a lot of money to upgrade and redecorate our furnishings (my husband was laid off several years ago, near retirement age, and has been very underemployed since), I've been trying to update with accessories, and we are good painters, so I would like to repaint all the walls and trim.   What color(s) would you suggest to help update our home and show it off to its best advantage? 

--the flooring throughout is natural oak hardwood that needs to be refinished, and when we do, it will be stained a darker, a gun-stock color (to match the stairs that we remodeled awhile back. One photo shows an extra tread in that color next to the cabinets.)


Though we have plenty of windows, when the leaves are on the trees (our home backs up to a wooded ravine), it can feel dark--especially at the far end of the family room!

--   Two "elephants" in the small, awkwardly designed family room: a large brick fireplace (I like the color of the brick, but could paint it and/or the mantel if necessary,) and a sage green sectional that I can't afford to replace.


I would love to paint the maple kitchen cabinets a warm white or cream, but my husband says, "Over my dead body!", and the realtor says that people around here are o.k. with wood-stained cabinets, as long as they aren't oak, so I guess they will have to stay as is!

--The backsplash tile is a hard- to- describe golden-ivory color, which seems to just complicate the paint color finding process, without doing anything for the overall appearance of the kitchen!


The granite countertops seem to "clash" with the cabinets, especially now that the maple has aged. They are a cream color with gray streaks (and golden-peach colored streaks that are not as noticeable). It appears to have a muddy-green undertone overall. (I was really disappointed in how this granite looked once it was installed--in the warehouse it looked much whiter! I should have hired a designer!)  Do you think there is a color that can make this all look better? 

Aww, so happy you found the blog!    As for your cabinets, I've seen a lot worse. These maple cabinets will present nicely once we have changed the paint color in the rest of the room.  Repainting is a smart choice.  Paint really makes the largest impact for the least cost.

Color is going to change your life.  Your house is quite lovely, with a little color change to bring out its best assets, it should show nicely for sale.  

I would definitely paint the fireplace brick - for ease of sale, probably a white or cream.

When you are selling a home, you need to made it more generally appealing. Removing more personal items, decluttering, and adding some items to show it off. Wall color needs to be more neutral, so that prospective buyers will be able to envision their furniture in your space.  This will widen your appeal to more possible buyers.

The best compliment to warm wood is a cooler tone.  In your kitchen, the backsplash fades to blah and the granite loses its pizazz because the walls are pale and very similar to the tile and stone - there isn't enough contrast to showcase it.  

The yellow/cream tones walls are a warm tone, as are the cabinets and the floor.  Warm colors tend to move toward you, and cooler tones recede.  By the same token, warmer tones make a room feel cozier, smaller, closer.  Cooler tones feel more spacious, more calm. So, I'm thinking a beautiful gray tone will be the perfect color to bring out the cabinets, the floor, the granite, back splash and the brick.  

These are some colors I would consider.  These are all in the gray family, which will make your rooms look larger, feel larger and more serene.  But gray isn't just concrete and cloudy skies, nearly every color has a gray version.  I specifically chose colors with a slight blue or blue/green undertone to not only compliment the wood tones of your kitchen, but also make your sage green sofa feel more current, while staying neutral. 

The pallet of green, gold and russet is a more dated color scheme, but with a new paint color and a few accent color changes, you can create a whole new look, and a more current one.

VAPOR TRAILS, Benjamin Moore
GRAY OWL, Benjamin Moore
COMFORT GRAY, Sherwin Williams
CONTENTED, Sherwin Williams
To test these colors - which you should do because the trees in the ravine and your home's light may affect wall color - paint 2 coats (dry after each coat) on foam core board that you can move from room to room.  Leave a 2 inch white border so that the current wall color doesn't interfere with the color. Try a couple of colors to see which you like the best.

I would carry the same color, or a variation of if,  throughout these rooms.  Keep the trim a soft white throughout.   Here are some examples of using a blue or blue-green with the sage green sofa in your living room.
Not exactly Sage Green, but still a good example of greens and blues together.
To update your color palette, remove the gold and red accents and add blues with accessories.
More blues and sage greens
good wall color, touches of deeper blue
another good blue with sage - Navy or Indigo.
Most homes are under-lighted.  Make sure when you show your house, that you add more lighting - either with additional lamps or brighter light bulbs.  I only see a couple of lamps in your room, and no overhead lighting, and in a room that size you could use more.
I hope this helps you.  I think going with the gray walls (with blue or blue-green undertone) will make a huge difference, and adding in some blues or blue-greens as accessories will update your look.  But make sure you also have adequate lighting.
Best of luck,

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