UPDATE Since writing this post, we’ve sold ‘our 100 year old house’ and are currently renovating a different home. For it, I’ve made a change in paint brands, I’ve been using Behr Paint from Home Depot, and I LOVE it! To read more about that, check out this post of renovating the basement apartment in our new house.
We renovated our entire 100 year old house in one fell swoop…
therefore when it was time to paint the interior, since every single room needed to be painted, every single room’s paint’s colors needed to be determined. Selecting a whole house of paint could feel a bit overwhelming to some, but I see it as a gift! When you have the opportunity to do it all at once, you can clearly plan out how to coordinate and balance the colors throughout the house and have it all visually connected.
Here’s how and why I chose these interior paint colors for our 100 year old house renovation project:
In the past, in other houses, especially our former house, I chose more ‘exciting’ paint colors for the walls, but for this house I wanted the walls to be neutral. Maybe because I’m more mature and I’m learning that I don’t live well with a lot of intense colors day in and day out, or maybe because neutrals are more popular now, or maybe because this antique house itself, has natural beauty, especially the old original woodwork, more than likely, it’s a combination of all these things.
So, neutral yes, but not tan on every single wall, for sure!
In fact, I felt it necessary to blend both warm tones, (yellow based colors, like tan) and cool tones (blue based colors, like grays) together in each room. Perhaps emphasizing cooler in one room, but then accenting in the warm tones in that room, and visa-versa in other rooms.
I’ll take you through the main floor of the house… But you’ll need to use your imagination a bit, as much as I tried to use good natural light, it is very difficult to take a picture of a paint swatch and have it look accurate on the computer screen… It’s close, but not exact… I took all the paint swatch pictures on a wall that is painted ‘Tequila’ thinking that would help give you a basis to compare tones and shades to.
Also, all the paints and colors are from a local Minneapolis based paint company, ‘Hirshfield’s‘.
I’ve worked with Hirshfield’s paints for many years, using it in my own projects and homes, as well as recommending it for my client’s homes. This isn’t an ad for Hirshfield’s, but I do love their paint and I know and have a lot of experience with the Millennium color swatches pretty well, so that helps when you’re wondering how a color is going to actually look up on the wall. The Millennium colors are now from several years ago, but I still use them a lot.
Throughout the entire house, all 3 floors, (main floor, 2nd floor, and attic) I painted all the woodwork this same shade of white.
(with the exception of the Maid’s room in the attic, which is now my craft room, but that’s a whole other story!) This shade of white is called ‘Picket White’ and is a color of white that is a soft creamy white, without looking too cream, it still reads as white and looks wonderfully fresh.
Starting at the front entry is the lightest tan of the 2 tans I used in the house.
It’s called ‘Tequila’, and is a creamy tan, but not yellowish. Since I have black accents throughout the house, to use this black and white treatment on the entry walls was perfect. Also, the cool accent in this room, since the walls are the warm tan, is the gray Carrara marble tile floor.
The other places in the house I used ‘Tequila’ is the office, and breakfast room on the main level, also the walls going up the front stairs and the whole 2nd-floor hallway, the master bedroom, and bathroom, one of the 2 spare bedrooms and the 2nd bath.
From the front entry, one comes into the living room. It is a north exposure, thus the natural light in this room isn’t that intense southern sun. There isn’t a lot of wall space in this room, there is a lot of white woodwork, 4 windows, an open stairway and a large open doorway to the dining room, plus 2 more doorways… in other words, the wall color is almost an accent to the white woodwork.
It’s for that reason, and the fact it’s a north exposure that I chose this dark brown color, ‘Caribou’.
This room we are in mostly in the evening, so the dark walls feel cozy. This is the only room that I have used ‘Caribou’ paint, however, I do have dark brown repeated in some other places, so it fits right in.
Moving from the living room to the dining room, all visible from the front entry is the dining room. The walls in the dining room are split with a white chair rail dividing top and bottom sections. I was, and still am contemplating wallpaper or a mural on the top section of the dining room. I actually have a sepia tone mural in my mind’s eye, but I haven’t found it in a wallpaper yet… not with a subject matter that seems to fit… If you know of any, please share!! Or I might just paint it myself. But for now, I’ve painted the top section of the walls ‘Tavern Taupe’. It’s one shade darker than ‘Tequila’, in the same family though.
On the bottom section of the walls in the dining room is ‘Stonewall’.
It is a shade of gray, contrasting the warm tan tops.
Other places in the house I used this same ‘Stonewall’ color is in the living room, the beadboard on the backs of the built-ins that are flanking the fireplace, as well as the built-in bench by the stairway. Also, in the back entry, off the kitchen, I used ‘Stonewall’ on the stair risers.
Still in the dining room, on the large built-in, which is very visible from the front entry, I used ‘Iron Horse’ paint color.
It is in the same family of ‘Stonewall’, just 2 shades darker. (in fact, all the gray paints I used are all in the same family, and both tans are in the same family)
Currently, the only thing I’ve painted ‘Iron Horse’ color is the built-in, but… I’m not liking the gold I painted on the interior of the front door, and have decided I’m going to paint it this same color.
In the living room, I don’t have anything painted that color, but I have a large chair and ottoman that are upholstered in velvet that is close to the exact same dark gray color. Pottery Barn calls it: ‘ebony’.
To make the rooms in a house, especially the main level, feel connected, it’s important that the colors relate to each other, repeating them in different ways, like using the same color for the chair in the living room, as the built-in sideboard in the dining room for example.
Now, moving from the dining room, into the kitchen, which doesn’t have a ton of natural light, I have super light gray walls.
Same color family as the other grays, just moving way up on the sample strip to ‘Sterling Coin’. It’s a nice cool neutral on the small spaces where there is wall… not too much wall space in this room though.
‘Sterling Coin’ color is also on the powder room walls, the back entry walls, the back stairway, the attic walls, as well as one of the spare bedrooms.
In the kitchen on the backsplash, I was originally going to tile it, but time, energy and budget got a bit worn out by the end of our total renovation project, and we just really wanted to get moved into the house, so I chose to simply do a wood beadboard backsplash. There are some advantages to using wood instead of tile, like you can easily drill or nail through it for hanging shelves, etc. and you can fairly easily change the color. I have this creamy yellow color on the beadboard right now, but that is one thing I’d be open to change… (in fact, I’m considering moving towards more of a pale chartreuse color, rather than the yellow… possibly a toned down shade of the chartreuse in the dining room chairs…)
Update! I changed it to white beadboard before we sold, and loved it! You can see that finished result in this post.
I repeated this same yellow color is in the back entry, just off the kitchen, the original wainscotting on the lower sections of the walls is now this same yellow, and the fresh, light color really is a welcome change from the horrid dark, dark burgundy it was when we first bought the house! (If I change the beadboard color in the kitchen, I’ll repeat that again on the wainscotting in the back entry)
I also had painted parts of the kitchen stairs with this yellow, it was pretty cute, but since then we had to do something different as they were just a bit too slippery… (that, too, is another post)
So all, in all, the walls in our 100 year old house are very neutral. You can see how the warm and cool tones are balanced throughout each room. Except for a couple small paint jobs, I plan to maintain the walls with these neutral tones for a long, long time. I can add as much or as little color with the furnishings and accessories, and like a true beauty, the neutral walls don’t visually wear me down… they just quietly look good.
But in all the neutral-ness… it isn’t boring!
By adding a tiny splash of color here and there, and loads of textural elements, there is still a lot going on visually.
I’m so pleased with my restraint choosing wall colors, and how that restraint actually opens up the freedom to accent the spaces with whatever color whim I happen to feel.
So what do you have on your walls? Do you have neutrals too, or do you have bolder tones? Or do you have white on white, like the gorgeous house I recently visited… all the trim and walls were flat white… that was stunning too!
Here are more ideas for wall treatments:
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