If You Give a Handyguy an Idea . . .

It all started when we offered to host my husband’s family of 21 for Christmas dinner.

Which caused us to look around our 9-year-old house and its tired, finger-print laden walls.

And we looked at each other with that little gleam in our eyes. We really ought to paint . . .

* * *

On Friday morning, we got up, fully intending to go cut down our family Christmas tree. As we looked around the family room where the tree would go, and my husband said, “You know, if we’re going to paint before Christmas, it would be a lot easier to do it when the tree’s not in the room.”


“I can get that corner done, and then we can go get the tree this afternoon, and I’ll finish painting tomorrow,” he optimistically suggested.

Within ten minutes, I was driving to Sherwin Williams and he was cleaning out the family room preparing to paint.

* * *

At 9:00 on Friday night, guess who was still painting?

And guess who didn’t have a Christmas tree?

Well, that’s not entirely true. While he painted, I set up the faux Christmas tree in the living room and decked it out with my favorite fancy silver and gold ornaments.

See? Isn’t it pretty? (NOTE: this is NOT the room we were painting.)

my fancy tree

I still want to learn how to make my ribbon look a little less amateur. Anyone got any tips for me?

* * *

When I woke up Saturday morning, our family room had been transformed from a murky beige to a gray/blue/teal/green. I was hoping for more of a gray/blue, but this works. It’s fresh and pretty and much lighter than the tans and taupes we had going on in there before.

family room teal

See, this is how it was before. I actually took this photo two Christmases ago! (And honestly, the room never seemed that light. It always felt pretty dark to me. There’s not much natural light coming in through that window, and the back wall color was actually a shade or two darker than the side walls. Anyway . . .)

family room before

Of course, this throws off my entire color scheme, which has always been earth tones with accents of burgundy and forest green. (Note the switch in throw pillows.) And since the family room opens into the kitchen, it is going to affect that room as well. But I’m getting ahead of myself. It was Saturday morning, remember?

* * *

“I’ll just finish the baseboards,” he said. “And then we can go get the tree this afternoon.” Because every time we paint a room in this house, we replace the dinky 3-inch builder’s grade baseboards with nicer 6-inch baseboards.

The best laid plans . . .

While he finished the baseboard, I made a ‘quick trip’ to Target to get some things I needed to finish up my living room Christmas tree.

The quick trip to Target ended up including A.C. Moore, Home Goods, and eventually Costco to pick up our new TV. (Oh did I mention? Not only were we planning to paint and get our house decorated for Christmas over the holiday weekend, we also had a new TV on our agenda. Merry Christmas to us!)

By the time I got home, the baseboards were done, but there was a television to install.

“Why don’t we get the TV set up tonight, and we’ll go get the tree tomorrow?” he suggested.

Sounds like a plan . . .

So that’s what we did.

Yesterday after church, we headed out to our favorite tree farm with some of our good friends and found the perfect Christmas tree.

shane family christmas tree

And last night we managed to get it set up and decorated and still had time to watch an episode of Monk our our new TV before tucking everyone into bed.

kid tree

* * *

Somehow, miraculously, today we have a newly painted family room equipped with a brand new “smart TV”, two Christmas trees set up and decorated, and bonus! The foyer banister has been decked out and bedazzled in its holiday glory.

Of course, on my to-do list is the following:

  • new curtains for family room
  • new blinds for family room
  • new curtain for kitchen
  • paint kitchen
  • paint dining room?
  • paint foyer?
  • new lampshades for family room
  • new chair for family room?
  • decorate mantle for Christmas
  • hang pictures/portraits/paintings (not only were they all taken down, many need a new home now)
  • put away all boxes/bins/storage boxes/christmas crap not in use this year
  • make fudge for teachers
  • finish Christmas shopping
  • blog/work/write/tweet/repeat

Overwhelmed much?

But here’s the cool thing about painting a room in your home. You are forced to remove everything from the room, and you get to start over from scratch. At eight years, we have now lived in this house longer than we’ve lived in any other place in our lives. It’s time for some updating.

So . . . The forest green curtains are not coming back in. It’s time to replace the blinds, which have been broken and stuck in the halfway-up/halfway-down position for well over a year. The children’s portraits that were over our mantle are going to need a new home. I’ve already been planning a mantle decorating overhaul. (Stay tuned . . . I’m working a mantle project with Target and Nate Berkus!!) The computer armoire that was in the corner of the family room is gone for good. That has already opened up the room quite a bit. We ordered a simple corner desk for that space, where the kids can use their laptop. (I’m hoping that arrives today!!) We would love to replace the mission chairs that my husband brought to our marriage 18 years ago from his parents’ basement with one nice, comfortable chair for the corner by the fireplace. For now the Christmas tree holds that spot. We also probably need new lampshades.

The couch and the leather chair stay. And that does pose a bit of a challenge — as the colors and pattern in the couch are stumping me. Whatever we put back in the room has to work with the couch and the gray/blue/green paint. Take a look. I did already pick up new throw pillows. I still went with red tones, but rather than the deep burgundy, I went with a lighter rosey red that I’m hoping works better with the gray/green/teal paint.


I’m not sure what color curtains to put behind it. I was contemplating cream or beige. But perhaps going with the red would be more fun? I don’t want to focus on the red, though. I’m kind of tired of reds. I want that to be more of an accent in the room.

Then there’s the kitchen. We removed the dated valance from the sliding door. I think we will leave it this way.

kitchen sliders

But I’m not sure what color to paint the kitchen. You can see here how the teal ends and the beige begins in that corner. We can carry the gray/teal in from the family room or we can go with a cooler stone/gray/beige neutral tone. Either way the warm tan/beige has to go.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s also really fun to start fresh. Our family room had become a real sty. Because that is the room we truly live in, every corner and nook and cranny had gathered stuff. Now all the clutter is gone and we can put back only what we really want in the room. I feel about 10 pounds lighter this morning, even though I have SO. MUCH. TO. DO to get this room (and my house) put back together.

So many decisions . . . and truly, very little time. If we want everything to be in place in time for Christmas!!

Did I mention we also hope to paint the kitchen and dining room? HA!!

I’d love to hear your suggestions for the curtains . . . the pillows . . . the lamps . . . HALP!

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10 thoughts on “If You Give a Handyguy an Idea . . .

  1. Do you know / read Young House Love? They’re a great home design blog that you might enjoy. Two things I noticed in your room – I love the dark leather chair against the new blue wall. Those tones seem to really work together. I’ve found that crown molding on the top of the walls (where the wall meets the ceiling) does a lot to pull together a room. I know it’s not yet on your list, but I wonder if that would help pull it all together. I hope you’ll keep us posted – i love reading about home updates!

  2. You guys sound like me and my hubs. Let’s totally redo everything in time for out next get-together….that’s tomorrow!! We are so bad about that!

    I love the new wall color but I am not the person ask about colors. 🙂

  3. It looks like your kitchen might have lighter oak cabinets? So I would suggest either Benjamin Moore “Revere Pewter” or “Edgecomb Grey” to go in the kitchen. I think they would go nice with the color in your family room. I think the drapes in your family room could be a type of “burlap” material or something the color of burlap in a linen-something with some texture, they would go with your couch. If you put some pictures of the kids/family back into the room, pick out a selection of some inexpensive frames that are all the same in black with bigger mattes (ikea maybe?). A mirror with some type of interesting bold frame would be nice above the fireplace. Like this one from lowes but bigger. http://www.lowes.com/pd_383491-20531-49750_0__?productId=4087712&Ntt=mirrors+framed&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1%26Ntt%3Dmirrors%2Bframed%26page%3D1&facetInfo= . Good luck! Love the paint color, You were way more ambitious than I was over the weekend!!!

    1. I was thinking about something like that for the curtains. And I do like that mirror – but, yeah, I need something large. I was thinking a vertical shape, but I like the round too!

  4. When we did some sprucing up two years ago, we worked with a decorator and she liked using Sherwin Williams paint because of something that she had learned in a class. Hopefully this is still true. When you are at the SW store, look at their giant paint deck with all of the colors. You will notice that it is divided into sections. Find the section where your new family room paint color is to select a color for your kitchen. The colors will coordinate better than if you choose a paint color from a different section of the paint deck. Since working with the decorator we have picked out three additional paint colors on our own and have been very pleased with the results. Good luck! Can’t wait to hear an update.

  5. Jo-Lynne,
    I love the way your living room turned out! That gray/blue/teal/green color looks great with your furniture! Do you mind sharing the name of the S.W. paint color with me?

    Thank you!

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