The Great Paint Debate

I’ve said before that I’m not much of a decorator. I certainly know what I like, and I think I have a pretty good eye for color and style. I enjoy thumbing through pretty home magazines and gazing at DIY blogs, but I’m not very good at putting all the components together when I’m decorating my own space. And truthfully? I just don’t have the time to give it much thought.

When we moved into this house a few years ago, I hired a decorator-friend to help me pick paint colors because we find that aspect of decorating quite challenging! We probably painted each room in our last house three times each before we found what we liked. It’s much easier to get it right the first time, so we were happy to pay for help.

We’ve been pleased with just about all of our paint choices except the front living room. It’s a bit . . . um . . . minty.

For years we left it be. We didn’t really care too much because that room is the last frontier when it comes to decorating this house. We bought a slip cover and some throw pillows for our old couch, we put my curio cabinet in a corner, stuck an old chair in front of the window and called it done.

Since then we’ve put our electric keyboard/piano in there, and I do have three gorgeous pictures of my kids adorning the walls, but otherwise we really don’t give that room much thought. It doesn’t get used much.

Unfortunately, it IS visible when you enter our home through the front door, so we’ve decided the time has come to get it fixed up the way we want it. Nolan Painting, one of my sponsors this winter, is gifting us with their Painter for a Day service, and we decided to have them paint the living room.

I might even finally get rid of that silly palm tree pillow that drives my friend “d” so crazy. 😉

It could be a really pretty room; it has a gorgeous cathedral ceiling, and if we put the time and effort into getting it painted and decorated, it would be a lot more enjoyable and we’d probably use it more.

So that begs the question . . .


Let me tell you why it’s such a conundrum.

The rest of the house is decorated in greens and burgandy. We used darker tones in the family room, which is on the back of the house and doesn’t really affect our living room paint choice at all. But to give you the full picture . . .

The walls are a deep coffee color (which I ADORE.) I think they are darker than this photo leads you to believe. The curtains are a deep moss green, and there are burgundy accents. It is warm and casual and cozy — just what I wanted.

Although, looking at this picture is making me realize that the furniture arrangement in that room is horrible. And we should probably consider taking the Christmas decorations off the mantle, ahem.

So that’s the back of the house.

Starting at the front, when you walk in the door, the foyer, hallway and kitchen are all painted a light beige. I wouldn’t mind having bolder tones or even more color in there, but that is a HUGE job and we’re not ready to tackle it yet, even though the walls have seen better days.

Yeah, I know. It is very beige. And that bookcase needs something now that my Christmas nutcrackers are put away. (This post is making me realize how much I have neglected my home lately!!!)

Look up. More beige. Sigh . . .

My office is on the left, and it is painted a bold rusty red. LOVE IT.

The living room (the room in question) is immediately on your right.

And the dining room is behind the living room. There is a very wide doorway between the two, so they are pretty much connected. This picture was taken YEARS ago. Because now? That table is covered with all kinds of crap . . . papers, boxes, candles, pencils, you name it. Ugh.

The blues and yellows are from our old house. I actually made that window treatment. I KNOW! I used to do crafty things, believe it or not!

I am not loving the yellow and blue anymore, but we won’t be re-covering those chairs anytime soon. So for now, they stay. And as long as they stay, so does the window treatment.

As you can see, we used a darker shade of green above the chair rail and lighter below. I like that darker green; it’s a soothing sage. But the lighter shade isn’t my favorite.

And the lighter shade of green under the chair rail in the dining room is also the color in our living room.

It doesn’t bother me in the dining room, as I think the darker green takes precedence, plus that room doesn’t get as much natural light as the living room so it seems darker.

In the living room, we’ve never cared for it that much. I think we both prefer deeper paint colors, for one thing. And for another, it’s just a bit too minty for our tastes.

Here you can get an idea what the space is like, looking from the dining room into the living room.

Oh hai, dusty plant. Really, y’all. Maybe I should take a year off from writing and work on my house!

And also? See the edge of the dining room table? TOLD YA.

So in summary.

Since the office is red, the foyer is beige, and the dining room is sage green; we don’t have a plethora of choices when it comes to repainting our living room! It has to go with beige, sage and rust.

We could match the sage green of the dining room. But that’s a lot of green.

Or we could go with the same beige that is in the foyer, or perhaps a shade or three darker, for contrast. But I feel like beige is such a copout.

But other than those two options, what else is there??

Who wants to take a stab at it??

Beyond that, I’d like to replace the pillows and the slip cover on the couch to freshen the room up a bit. And the sheers too. I think I paid all of $7 each on clearance at Bed Bath & Beyond six years ago. I’ve gotten my money’s worth and then some.

I’m wide open to ideas. Just remember. I do not do crafts. This has to be easy, relatively cheap and . . . did I mention easy?

Okay, GO! What color should we paint the living room?

And if you have any other suggestions, I’m open to hearing them.


Join The Conversation

63 Responses

  1. I would stay with green. I would either go with the sage, or a darker variation of that color. Beige can sometimes look pinkish if you use too much of it so you have to be really careful about that color. You could go with a brownish rose too, but again, you would have to be sure that it isn’t mauve or pink. It would be a careful balance to get the right richness of color, a shade or two browner than burgundy, but not as dark. I’m sure that is completely understandable.

    Oh, and you need some awesome hanging in that stairway, something big. I don’t know what is on the opposite wall, but a mirror might work.

  2. Our family room is painted green, but get this: we painted and THEN got rid of our couch, so we had to shop for furniture that would match the green. Big mistake! lol. I actually like your green. I also like beige but think it often darkens a room.

  3. I did my dining room Whitall Brown from Benjamin Moore – it’s a Pottery Barn color and I LOVE IT. Everyone told me not to do it because it was too brown but it’s not. It’s perfect – even in my north facing dining room. That would look wonderful in your living room with the green dining room and rust and beige. You also might consider getting a new slip cover for your counch and maybe the chair too – something a light cream or white. I love the look of brown walls with bright white woodwork and curtains…

    Other Pottery Barn Colors to consider are Bennington Gray or Clarkesville Tan. Neither are beige. They are both much warmer and brown.

      1. While you’re looking at them, look at the Pottery Barn Dark Walnut. It may be too risky but I love it. Consider it for your powder room if it is too bold…

    1. I was just thinking of a brown – not sure what but a brown might be nice – at least on 1 or two walls and then lighten the room up with a tan on the other ones.

    2. Every time I’ve chosen a Pottery Barn Color from Benjamin Moore, I’ve loved it! Go with a brown/tan color that’s darker than your foyer, then get some bright pillows for your sofa! OR, better yet, find pillows that you love and choose a color from them! That’s what Laurie used to do on Trading Spaces. Remember that show??

  4. I love sage green! Not good at picking colors, hate having to do that. What about a deepish peachy color? Not a bright one but vibrant at the same time? (drives my husband nuts when I describe colors like that)

    Funny… kept reading the red as ‘busty red’. Wasn’t making sense … had to read it several times to see ‘bold and rusty’ as two words. Heh.

  5. Grey. Beautiful pearly grey. It is SUCH a great neutral and kind of making a statement on a lot of blogs that I read. It can read silvery, slightly blue, kind of off white. Love love love it.

    1. I love grey. Two wonderful greys to check out are Sherwin Williams’ Knitting Needles and Benjamin Moore’s Nightengale (another Pottery Barn color) – it’s a soft purpley grey.

  6. My husband H.A.T.E.S. beige walls so we have lots of color in our house. A varitable rainbow. I’d go with a warm blue personally.

  7. My quick two cents is to try two shades darker than the foyer area or a yellow that would coordinate with the yellow in the dining room. You had mentioned that you don’t care for the yellow in the dining room anymore, but I am wondering if going a few shades lighter might be different enough that you would like it for the living room. Most shades of yellow would go well with the foyer beige and the office red. The darker beige/brown might be a classic yet trendy option since I think brown is fairly popular right now…it also looks like it would easily go with the furniture and pillows you have in there.
    One more thought, if you think there’s a chance you would be painting the foyer anytime soon (you said you aren’t up for that now), a warm gray might be an option…but I don’t think it would look great with the foyer color.
    Can’t wait to hear what you decide and see the “after” pics!

  8. I’d be so sad to see the palm tree pillow go…just buy a pretty cover for it instead;-)
    I like what gayle said although we’ve had a light yellow (belgian waffle-from lowes) on our walls for the last 5 years and yellow on my walls is getting to me-my first thought is to go a shade or two lighter than your family room or a shade darker than your foyer.
    We’re in the process of repainting the first floor. Our second floor is mainly Sandstone Cove (I think its from Home Depot) and we’re now going to do the first floor that same color. Its a beige with a hint of gray-definitely a neutral but its so easy to add color with pillow covers and other items that are easy to change out when I need a new look.
    If you do get rid of the palm tree pillow you should definitely send the pineapple pillow with it….or buy a pretty cover for both;-)

    1. Oh they are ALL going. In fact, someone suggested I pick new pillows and use them as my muse. I need more color in that room, a focal point, something. So… that’s where I’ll start. Shoulda bought those pillows I saw at Pottery Barn with you!!!

    1. Yes I think I need inspiration in the form of new pillows! I’m going shopping today. It’s been SO long since I’ve gone shopping for my home. I’m so out of the habit, but I’m looking forward to it.

  9. I am about to paint my LR, too but it’s taking me forever to decide. It is currently a ragged 2 tone red, the darker shade not too far from the color of your office. I have a whole bunch of green paint sample cards tacked up to see if green will work. So I feel your pain in trying to decide!
    I like the upper green in your DR, what if you go a few shades darker for the LR? OR if you love the darker coffee shade in the back go with that? You could also go a little darker and do almost a caramel or kind of taupe shade, since it gets lots of light then a darker color would work.
    Good luck deciding!! Cannot wait to see what you end up with.

  10. I’m the last person to ask!!! But since you did … I agree that another room of green would be too much green on that side of the house. And you have lots of beige and brown variations. Have you thought about blue? Robin’s egg blue? Smoky blue? I’ve heard that blue is the most soothing color of all, that it relaxes people. It may sound odd, but it would blend nicely with your blue/yellow/sage dining room, and it would look nice against your beige foyer. Then again, I could be so wrong, and it might look horrible 🙂

    1. Someone else suggested using blue and then getting some accessories to bring the blue and green together. I think it could work. But I did a lot of blue in my old house, and I was staying away from it here . It would have to be JUST the right blue. I also liked the navy suggestion someone had b/c I love bold colors. But I am thinking I want a warmer feel. I’m going to go to Home Goods today and see if I can find some pillows or a window treatment for inspiration.

  11. I relate everything with color so I always try to go with colors that represent a feeling for me. What feeling do you want the room to have? For example, my husband and I like our bedroom to have a cozy, cabin-y feel and we used to have dark green walls. When we repainted, we decided to go less “hunting cabin” and more “cozy ski lodge” and painted it a dark grey/blue. Our furniture in turn has a gold hue now and it is super cozy and comfy!
    I would sit in the room and visualize what you want to feel from it when you walk in the door.

  12. The bulk of my house is painted a light chocolatey brown and I love it because it is semi neutral but not boring. I have it paired with golds, blues and greens in various rooms. When people walk in they always comment on the color. I will try and figure put what it is 🙂

  13. Ok… the first color I thought was eggplant… 🙂 but that might be a tad too dark and I think anything lighter would be just too purple-eee

    I like the brown suggestion above though, or a khaki type color or even a darker green.

    Or you could do like my parents and paint one wall a dark “statement” color and the rest of them a lighter coordinating color – to “keep the room from being too dark”

    and please, let’s not talk about dust… I’ve got too much of it around here!

  14. My living room is painted a battleship or steel blue and I use sage green accents. I have a navy leather sofa and love seat and a sage green recliner. I have an area rug that has both blues and greens in it to tie it all together. The blue would work with beige, rust, and sage. You could even bring those colors into your living room as accents around the room or as an area rug.

  15. My favorites (all by Behr)…

    Gold/Yellow – Champagne Gold or Pismo Dunes
    Blue – Nature Retreat
    Green – Green Tea
    Neutrals – Cup of Cocoa, Comforting, or Pumpkin Butter

    Happy Decorating! 🙂

  16. Different Gayle…I just heard minty green is one of the fashion and home decor colors for spring. I think the yellow family would work…maybe a sandy safari color. yuck to green or grey. there is nothing in your home to blend with grey.

  17. just re poking at the pics…the beige is the culprit…would they paint the halls. the green looks pretty in your l.rm.

  18. My vote is for a dark, rich chocolate-y brown. It would mix well with the other colors you have going, and really pops with white trim. We painted our kitchen/family room that color last spring (we have darker sage-y green in our living rm/dining rm, and lighter beige for hall and stairway, as well as the white trim) and have gotten a lot of compliments on the striking color and how it flows w/ other rooms. Have fun deciding –

        1. I love the red I have in the kitchen and have yellow in the majority of my house. I am not a brown fan…….but after looking at your house more and more, I am thinking I would seriously check out the Pottery Barn brown……would go great with red, beige, and the green. Please let us know what you decide to do.

        2. I understand….I hate to admit I have a cleaning lady too……I tell my husband and family it is one of my two favorite days of the month! When I was negotiating going back to work, I think I had the cleaning people lined up before I even accepted the job…..lol!

          1. It was the FIRST thing I asked for when I started doing blog design 4 or 5 years ago!!! SO worth it. I’d go to work at McDonalds before I let her go! LOL.

  19. You don’t have to go with red, green, or beige. Go with a dark blue that is almost navy. That’s what I did in my L shaped living room and dining room. When I told people my plan they were aghast. My mom especially. And the first time she saw it she said Oh my gosh It is so pretty and I was expecting it to be ugly. I have the almost navy walls, Brazillian cherry floors, white trim, and then my dining furniture is similar to the floors and my living room furniture is sage green. It is my favorite room decorating wise. I’m sure I have a picture after it was first done I could send you if you want.

  20. I’m probably the last person I would ask about decorating, though I love the way MY house is decorated. I’m not really up on trends, color palates, or coordinating colors. Our basement walls are a khaki color and the furniture is cream with thin sage/burgandy stripes. I love the way it looks down there, but you said “beige” is a copout (and the “khaki color” I am referring to is close to a beige), so sadly, it seems like I took you all the way across the world just to drop you back off in PA. Sorry. =)

    1. LOL. You crack me up. I love beige, but I feel like I have it in so many areas of our house already. Perhaps I should have worded it that way…. lol. Didn’t mean to slam beige. I just was hoping to go with something bolder in this room. 🙂

  21. I love the suggestion of blue, either a dark blue or a steely blue.

    We have a bold, dark yellow in our living room, with dark brown (espresso) furniture, red accents (lamps) and the white of the fireplace mantle, the curtains and shutters. I’m a fan of these bold colors. You can kinda see the color here:


    The yellow would be a stunning contrast to your read office but would flow nicely with the beige hallway, and if you get the right yellow, can work with the green living room.

  22. My comment might get to be too long so I might just send you a separate e-mail 🙂 First of all, your home is beautiful, high ceilings, nice architectural detail, beautiful! Do you happen to know what color that is in your foyer? I’d really be interested in knowing that first before going any further. But at a quick glance, I think I would suggest also using that color into the living room for continuity and then punching it up with new draperies, pillows, maybe a throw rug, and some accessories. You’ve got a beautiful, hip, young family so I’d love to see some fun patterns used on the pillows and draperies and that’s where you can get the bold color you want. Are the green pillows a toile? Those are pretty. And I think trying to bring in some red in the pillows and accessories will also add some flow considering how much you like the color in your office (it’s awesome!).

    1. Thank you. I do love my home to pieces. But it REALLY needs a face lift. Looking at my own pictures, I suddenly see how very plain it is and how it needs some decorating accents. I have really neglected it as I’ve become so busy working and blogging. I’m going to Home Goods today for some inspiration!

  23. We painted our bedroom a light creamy yellow and it’s the happiest room in the house. It just makes the whole room. I think yellow would also compliment the other colors well without being overbearing. Just a thought. Good luck!

    1. We had a lot of yellow in our old house. I had a yellow bedroom too! Loved it, but I’m wanting a warmer feel in this house. But you are right, yellow is such a happy color. 🙂

  24. Here’s another vote for a dark or deep brown. Like chocolate or hazelnut. Can’t wait to see the finished project! Have fun and good luck!

  25. I usually think a little bit outside the box so I apologize in advance if I’m heading off the path you were on but here goes: I think the light sage living room is actually quite elegant. I would leave it that color but dress up the room with deep burgundy/reds accents….like a new couch-cover, reframe all the photos in burgundy (like the one on the far right), add a large plant with burgundy leaves….it could be a beautiful room, it just needs some vibrant accessories in the right color. The light sage is a great neutral backdrop! When matched with burgundy it might not look so “minty”, and you might even be able to get away with keeping the palm tree pillow 😉 That said, I would have them paint the dining room. Those chairs are beautiful! I would not have them redone anytime soon either. I know you said you had lots of yellow in your old house, so maybe you won’t like my idea…. but if they painted that room a beautiful light or deep golden color to go with the chairs and bring out the beauty of the dark furniture…that room would warm right up and be amazing!

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