Don’t Make The Same 3 Color Mistakes I Made.

There is a saying  “you don’t know, what you don’t know”. Many years ago, before I started Design classes, before color blogs, and way before color training classes I simply didn’t know what I didn’t know about color. I always had a good eye for color and I was certainly passionate about color but when it came to choosing color for my home I made the same mistakes that I see my clients making today. So in the hope that you will learn from my mishaps I thought it would be helpful to share my three biggest color mistakes of the past.

#1. Choosing Color Out of Context.

paint swatches

Even way back then I knew enough not to chose color from a chip at the paint store. What I would do is bring home samples, paint patches on the wall and then stand back and look until one of the colors screamed the loudest “PICK ME… I’M THE BEST!”  I would make my choice, paint the room, then uncover all my furniture, re-hang the drapes, unroll the rug then stand back and think “humm…I should have picked _______ instead”.

Lesson: You MUST look at the color next to your drapes, behind your furniture and next to your rug. Colors change based on the colors next to them so you can not choose color out of context.

#2. Choosing a Color because it is the “Hot New Color”.

brown living room

circa 2005 brown living room

Remember back in 2005-2006 when you couldn’t pick up a decorating magazine without seeing dark Brown walls (often times paired with Robin’s Egg Blue)? Well I got the brilliant idea of painting my small (poorly lite) North facing living room dark brown…I’m talking Bittersweet Chocolate Brown. By the time I finished painting it was well after midnight and I remember thinking “I hope this looks different (better) in the morning”. To this very day I remember my shock and awe as I came down the stairs the next morning, looked down the bright hallway and saw what I can only describe as a “black hole”. It was terrible. I had not considered the fact that dark brown related to nothing else in my house nor the fact that the rest of my walls were all very light and bright neutrals. I immediately went down to the basement found an old can of primer and started painting over those dark brown walls while I was still in my pajama’s.

Lesson:No matter what the color trends are you must think about how the color will relate to the rest of the colors and furnishings in your home. Even though Gray has replaced Brown as the “hot new neutral”, if you have absolutely nothing else in your home that will relate to Gray then that may not be the best choice for you.

#3. Choosing a wall color based on a color you saw somewhere else. After finding out the name of a beautiful wall color in a local furniture store I painted a room in my own home the same color. It looked NOTHING like what I had seen in the store. I was sure that either the store owner had told me the wrong color or the paint store had mixed the paint wrong. After much back and forth I discovered the color was correct; it just looked completely different in my house.

The two rooms below are both painted Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter and look how different they look.

rever pewter

walls Revere Pewter: Design by Kate Signer

AM Dolce Vita walls Revere Pewter

walls Revere Pewter: AM Dolce Vita blog

Lesson: (Going back to #1) colors change based on what surrounds them, the lighting in the room, the time of day you look at the color, the direction the room is facing, all sorts of variables. Just because you fall in love with a color you see someplace, don’t assume it will look like that in your home.

How about you? Have you made a mistake with color you can share?

If you would like help finding the perfect color for your home give me a call.

Mini Bathroom Makeover Before and After

When my husband and I bought our (almost) new house in 2005 we loved everything about it except for the kitchen and baths. The previous owner/builder had very different tastes than us and we didn’t care for his choice of tiles or cabinetry. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time because we thought we would refinance in a year or so and redo both the kitchen and the master bathroom. Well then of course the recession hit and our house lost about 18% in value in the first two years. Refinancing was no longer an option so we just had to make do.  The kitchen is still as it was but this past weekend I gave the master bathroom a final cosmetic make over.

When we moved in, this is what I had to work with for tiles.

existing bathroom tile

existing bathroom tile

Pink and white tiles…NOT the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my dream bathroom.

The vanity was orangy cherry wood with a green laminate top. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the green laminate because we did change that out to a white quartz top. Since I had pink and green as my fixed elements I decided to just embrace the pink and green color scheme. I painted the walls green to match to laminate counter top  and I found a pink and green large scale botanical print to pull everything together.

bathroom window treatment

bathroom window treatment



I also had a collection of McKenzie Childs plates and knobs that fit my color scheme perfectly so I used my plates as wall art and switched out the stock vanity knobs to my McKenzie Child’s ones. Here is what our master bathroom  looked like until this past weekend.

 master bath before

master bath before

So what continued to bug me about this bathroom? I could live with the pink tiles and the pink and green color scheme but I could not stand looking at that orange vanity that related to nothing and stuck out like a sore thumb. Well this past weekend I decide to paint the vanity. I will admit I was nervous… now I don’t have a moments hesitation when it comes to painting furniture but cabinetry is different. What if I messed up? Also, being basically lazy when it comes to painting I didn’t want the hassle of  cleaning, sanding and priming those cabinets so I decided to use the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. You can read more about my experience with the paint HERE.

I removed the knobs and just started painting. I choose the Pure White as I wanted the vanity to match the white molding, white toilet and white tub and shower (which is to the left of the photo).

As soon as the first brush stroke went on I started to relax. The paint covered beautifully and I knew had made the right decision.

Pure White going on Cherry wood

Pure White going on Cherry wood

I wanted a smooth finish so I painted the first coat, lightly sanded with a 600 grid sand paper, painted a second coat, lightly sanded again and then applied 2 coats of wax. I thought the Pure White might be just a touch too “white” so I decided to tweak the final color just a bit by mixing a tiny amount of the dark wax in with the clear wax. It came out just how I wanted it and I could not be happier.

Here is the before again (minus the top knob):

Vanity before

Vanity before

and here is the after:

vanity after

vanity after


SOOO much better don’t you think?   Oh, and that white chair over to the left..that is going to get a coat of Pink paint ASAP.

bathroom after

bathroom after


Now I just have decide if I am brave enough to take on the huge job of painting the kitchen cabinets which are the exact same orange Cherry wood as what was in the bathroom. I know many people love the look of Cherry…it is just not for me.

I would love to hear what you think of my mini bathroom makeover.


If you would like help choosing color or decorating, give me a call.




My Favorite Room Update That Won’t Break The Bank

As a Boston area decorator one of my specialties (besides Color) is helping my clients make the most out of what they already own. When you are not buying all new, it can be a challenge to decorate a room and get a whole new look and feel. Over the years I have learned what freshens up a room the most that also costs the least amount of money:  moving furniture around, painting walls and furniture, adding art work, bringing in plants and flowers and my personal favorite…..adding new Throw Pillows.

In my own home my husband accuses me of being a pillow hoarder.  You see,  I like to swap out throw pillows on a semi regular basis (Tip: Space Bags hidden under beds and in closets can easily hide 30-40 pillows). I have Summer pillows, Winter pillows, solid color pillows and bold graphic pillows. Each set totally changes the look and feel of the room.

If you plan to use pillows as away to incorporate the latest trend colors and patterns  it is best to invest in a neutral or solid color sofa and chairs.

living room

Samantha Farjo Designs

When the homeowner of the room above is ready for a fresh new look  maybe she could swap out to these pillows below. It would totally change the vibe of the room and add a fun new pop of color. Great update, small investment.

 CasaBella Interiors

Via CasaBella Interiors

I love the fabric patterns and bright colors of the pillows on this blue sofa below from Hi Sugarplum.

Photo via Hi Sugarplum blog

and when it is time for an update how about swapping out the three green and blue pillows to these pink and blue ones below? In fact, the pink pillow on the right looks to have the same pattern as inside her bookcase.



Even if you don’t have a solid color or neutral sofa you can still find pillows that will coordinate. Look for solids, stripes or small prints. For those that love expensive designer fabrics; what would be hundreds (thousands) of dollars if used for window treatments cost only a fraction of that if turned into a pillow.

brunschwig fabrics

brunschwig fabrics

Pillows to me are like mini squares of joy and there are so many affordable choices today. Besides Homegoods, Target, and other similar stores, I have some favorite online sources as well.

Etsy:  Thousands to pick from including unique ones like personalized family pillows.



Pillows by Dezign:  a great source for designer fabric pillows at a reasonable price. (I want them all!)

Pillows by Dezign

Pillows by Dezign

 Fabricadabra: a great source for decorative pillow covers made only from natural, non-toxic fabrics. Check their website for  ethnic throw pillows including ikats, suzanis, kilims,wool, wax prints, organic cotton, vintage, batiks, indigo cloth and tie-dyes.



Wayfair: over 5000 pillows to choose from so even a pillow lover (hoarder) like me can find something new.


How about you? Do you love throw pillows as much as I do?

What’s your favorite way to freshen up a room without breaking the bank?


If you would like help choosing color or updating your room using what you already own, give me a call.

Painting Tip: Dealing With Angled Walls and Sloped Ceilings

As a color consultant, one question I seem to get asked over and over is “should I paint this wall or ceiling color?” It seems like a lot of the homes I have been in recently have odd angles and sloped ceilings.  I am not talking about a slightly sloped ceiling like in this room below where it is still easy to identify wall from ceiling.

Brian Brady and Franco Biscardi

Hamptons Show House 2011 by Brian Brady and Franco Biscardi

I’m referring to a deep angled ceiling with multiple slanting walls like in this bedroom below. It can often be confusing to figure out if something should be painted wall or ceiling color.

bedroom angled walls

House Beautiful

Even among designers and painters there seems to a difference of opinion of how best to treat angled walls and sloped ceilings. To help you make a decision of how best to treat your angled and sloped walls I thought it would be helpful to show you four options: Three that work and one that doesn’t.

#1  The first way is to paint everything wall color except the flat (horizontal) ceiling like in this room below.

painted angled walls

Denise Wenacur Designs

This is a perfectly good option if you want to keep the ceiling light but prefer a richer color on the walls. Wrapping all the slopes and angles in the same color minimizes the choppy feeling of the room. This treatment works best if the flat part of your ceiling is fairly wide, otherwise it could end up looking like a white landing strip like in the photo below.

painting angled walls

Google Images

#2. paint the entire room the same color. Many designers like this option the best. As top Designer Jamie Drake says:

“If your space has odd angles dormers, or unsettling beams, wrap the entire room in color. Use the same paint or paper on every surface. It will make all the oddities disappear.”

Jamie Drake

Design by Jamie Drake

Painting the entire room; walls, slopes and ceiling the same color not only minimizes all the angles but creates a calmer feeling for the room. I would caution you against using too dark of a color because you don’t want to create a dark cave like room (unless that is the look you are going for). A light color is  expanding and usually you can use all the visual height you can get in these sloping and angled rooms.

white painted room

Look how restful the bedroom above looks even though visually there is a lot going on with that ceiling.

Wrapping the whole room in a soft neutral or white is also a great way to introduce pops of color in the furniture and accessories like in this family room below.

angled walls houzz


#3. Embrace the angles and slopes and make it the focal point of the room. This is a good option, especially if you want to create a statement.

check out the 4 rooms below and see how the homeowner embraced their odd angles and made it the focal point of the room.

bead board bedroom houzz




and lastly, what NOT to do:

#4. Paint ceiling and angled walls white and walls a dark color. This is what I recommend NOT to do. The problem with this is that the more angles and sloped walls the room has, the more choppy the room feels. Since many of these types of angled rooms are bedrooms the choppiness does not make for a very restful space.

angled wall 10 attic-bedroom


Another problem with Option #4 is that it can appear as if  the ceiling is coming down and taking a bite out of the room.

Google Images

Or that your room is wearing a big white hat like in this image below.


As always, I would love to hear from you… What is your favorite way to treat angled walls and sloped ceilings?


If you would like help deciding the best way to paint your room or help choosing the perfect color give me a call.



Subscribe to my blog

Browse by Category