November 17, 2009

Color For The Dining Room

While Dan has been busy under the dining room, I've been busy in it. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I am really not too keen on an entire house with ultra-white walls. This is the color most of the interior had been painted, I suppose in order to put it on the market. Painting the dining room before we put down a new hardwood floor made sense to me.

Making the decision to paint was far easier than choosing the colors. Since the dining and living rooms open up to one another, I wanted the colors to coordinate with my furniture. (To see photo swatches of colors, click here and scroll down.)

Finally I went to Lowe's, where I could bring a cushion and compare paint chips under different types of lighting. To show you the ones I chose, I went to the Olympic Paint website (color sampler here) and grabbed a screenshot (which doesn't seem to be totally accurate. The actual paint is a touch more gold.)

It's the trim color I'm not sure ofEven though I chose them because they coordinate with my living room fabrics, I was really undecided about them for the longest time. I was planning to do the lightest one for the dining room walls, the middle one for the living room walls, and the darkest for all trim.

The problem was that they just aren't "my" colors. Color preferences are highly subjective. I am always immediately drawn toward cool colors such as blues, greens, and purples. Occasionally red, never orange, and rarely brown. I like the fabrics in my couch because it contains a lot of burgundy. But I didn't want burgundy walls or trim. These color chips went well with my furniture and I even bought the paint, but I still hesitated.

When Dan got started working on the support for the dining room floor, I knew I couldn't hesitate any longer. I finally decided just to take the plunge and do it. After all, I told myself, it isn't the end of the world if I don't like it and it doesn't have to be permanent forever.

Small crack in the wallI made an interesting discovery while I was doing the prep work before painting. If you read my woodstove alcove series, you may recall that we used 1/2" cement board for the alcove walls. While we were working on that, we discovered that the entire living room wall on the fireplace side was 3/4" cement board. At that time we assumed that the other walls in the living and dining rooms were plaster.

When I pulled the cove molding from the top of the dining room baseboards, I discovered that a crack wasn't simply a crack in the plaster, (photo left), it was a crack in the wall. Looking at the rest of the walls we realized that they were all cement board. In both dining and living rooms. Of course, there used to be a woodburning stove in the dining room as well, but who would have thought that two entire rooms were cement board.

I painted the walls first. Then the trim and built-in corner cabinets.

1st of the two corner built-insThe green outlining is FrogTape. What a life saver, especially for someone like me, who's a naturally messy painter (Head for cover when I've got a paint roller in my hand). We took the doors off the bottom cabinets and I bought new hinges and knobs. The pale green inside the bottom of the cabinet was the room's original color, like the rest of the house.

Even as I'm painting I'm unsure of the colors, especially the trim. We did discuss taking all the trim down, stripping off the paint, and refinishing the wood. To be honest, I'm just not ready for all the work involved in that, there's just too much else to do around here. We do have some ideas for the dining room, something more formal, and DH was willing to go ahead with those. I, on the other hand, am not willing to put all our time, energy, and money into only one room at this point. There's still the kitchen and bathrooms which have to be done, and the sooner the better. For now, I just want the new floor in and the room presentable. I'm thinking of it as "Phase One". Some day we can commence with "Phase Two," but not until other things are accomplished first.

So, even with my uncertainties, I paint on. One of the real tests, was how well it looked with my Blue Willow. (You can click on the photos to enlarge a bit.)

The smaller of the two corner unitsAfter putting a few pieces on the one corner unit, I realized I could work with these colors. The contrast with the blue is pleasing and I plan to pull in the burgundy and green from the couch and rug with draperies and chair cushions.

So I paint on, anxious to get started on the floor. Having a dining room will be a big step toward making our house feel like a home.

Color For The Dining Room photos & text copyright
November 2009 by Leigh at


Theresa said...

It's pretty Leigh and a fresh coat of a new soft color is always nice! You're brave painting the moulding in the dark. I usually do a light molding and put my color on the walls since a white or cream moulding allows me to change wall color at whim and know I won't have to do the trim to match. ;-) How lazy is that!!!
Isn't the frog tape great. I used it when I painted the staircase steps to get a nice clean "rug" line and it worked beautifully.
Can hardly wait to see the dining room all finished with floors and furniture. Of course that means you'll be able to get to your loom doesn't it? :)

Woolly Bits said...

I think it's always a good idea to paint the walls in a lighter colour; I would never go for burgundy or dark green or even dark brown, it would feel like a coffin to me, esp. in smaller rooms. and I suppose that as a craft-art person you'll decorate the walls anyway, not only with curtains etc. but eventually also with pictures, weavings etc. and those usually stand out much better on a lighter background and you have a wider choice of suitable colours than with strong backgrounds. go for it:)) when I read about the decision not to go into too much decorating yet, I had to think about my neighour, who came from the US, bought a cottage here in urgent need of repair - and the first thing he did was paint one outer wall:)) very amusing to us, because as soon as the roofers came, the whole job was rendered useless again.... I think the first lesson he learned was to get his priorities sorted:))

Life Looms Large said...

I think my computer is being goofy right now because the color swatches and then what's in the pictures of your trim seem really different from each other.

My neighbor painted the trim in different rooms of her house different colors, and it looks fantastic. (We have all white - although you know I have color all over my house - we're in an anti-white house!)

You may remember my huge dilemma with my Tuscan sunroom paint in the spring. I'm sitting here now, loving the wall color - so hopefully you'll love yours too! (Even better if you love it right away!)

Good luck!


bspinner said...

I'm with you. White walls about drive me nuts and reminds me of a hospital. When we moved here all the walls were white and one of the first things we did was paint every room.
I love your choice of colors and how you painted the trim a darker color. Your blue willow looks lovely in your cabinet.

Leigh said...

Thanks Theresa! I studied a lot of magazine photos (particularly This Old House while mulling over colors. The trend seems to be dark walls with light trim. I definitely didn't want dark walls. I originally thought to use only the two lightest shades, one for DR walls the other for trim, and vice versa in the LR, but eventually figured to use the same color trim in both. It will be more economical, and also relieves me from the problems of transition where the two room share some of the same molding such as doorways.

Bettina, it must be an American mindset. We looked at a lot of old homes, all of them what we call "fixer-uppers." In every case folks had focused on the cosmetics and neglected the home's structure.

Sue, digital color representations leave much to be desired. It may be your monitor, it may be my camera, who knows. The computer color chips aren't identical to the ones from the store, and the paint is just a smidge off from that. I figured I'd just have to live with that.

Barb, I'm still uncertain about that trim! I think the Blue Willow, fabrics, and wall decor like Bettina says will draw the focus elsewhere and visually balance out the room. That's what I'm hoping for anyway.

Kat and Amie said...

Looks great!

I love love love painting walls. Well, I love the planning and coordinating the colors, etc., and I only like the painting itself, and I like it even more when DH does it, though that doesn't happen often :)

Have fun!

Nina said...

I envy you not having to strip off miles and miles of wallpaper before you can paint. It would make things so much easier. I did some research for heritage home colours in our area and just over 100 years ago the general format was light coloured walls and coloured trim. Pale walls bounce light around and with a long, dark, gloomy winter, that is important in my mind. I love your colour combo though as it is warm and inviting and doesn't scream modern trendiness :) I'm certain you won't tire of it in a year or two

Benita said...

And just think how fresh it will all look! I'll be joining you with painting this weekend. It seems it never ends.

Marie said...

Leigh, it looks great, thanks for mentioning the frog tape as we are hoping to do some painting this week! I like the blue willow with the tan!

Renee Nefe said...

I think it looks great! I think the colors that you chose will go well with your living room and the drapes too. :D

Flower said...

I like the colors for how they will set off the colors you do like. A couple of our walls are Mocha...not that pretty..but art looks amazing on them. Can't wait to see the finished room!!

Robin said...

I LOVE to paint. Okay so maybe I get sick and tired of doing it by the end. But I just love how a new paint job really makes the room look so fresh and clean feeling. In our house down in Arizona we only had one room that was white, and that was the kitchen. The nice thing about paint, like you said, it's really easy to do over if you don't like it. Granted the second time over is not nearly as fun. We painted one room in our house three times because Lee didn't like the color. LOL. Well the first was an old grandma color of yellow. Just putrid! The second color still wasn't right so on to the third. Lee still wasn't really set on the third but it was close enough. He hates painting and I was really "through" with the whole paint job in that room by then. I can hardly wait until we get walls so I can paint!!!

Anonymous said...

We had to do some emergency painting on our home too - some of the previous decor was just too horrendous for daily living. We ended up with some colours I would never have chosen "from scratch" just because they allowed us to coordinate with the better bits of what was there. And you know what, I discovered I really like having a study with dark green walls! I am amazed at the progress you two are making on your home, and I am sure you will get everything the way you like it as you learn to live in the space.

Leigh said...

Kat, the planning and coordinating is a lot of fun. The painting does get tedious toward the end though, doesn't it.;)

Nina, I love wallpaper! I agree that stripping is a bore, but I love to do the papering itself. I just don't have any walls smooth enough for that. Except the second bathroom. I'll have fun with that.

Benita, it doesn't seem endless after awhile doesn't it *LOL. Now I have to get started on the living room. I need to do the ceiling first so I'm dragging my feet!

Marie, thanks! I'm happy with the blue and tan too. Yes, definitely get the FrogTape. It's a little pricey but well worth it.

Renee, thanks! I really fret over coordinating the whole thing. The worst of it is that I won't know how well it all really works until it's all done!

Flower, it's interesting how color never stands alone, but is always influenced by what surrounds it. I'm keeping this in mind as I look at my paint colors. I have high hopes I'll be very happy with it in the end.

Robin, that's so funny because Dan hates painting too. He's pretty much left the color choices to me however. I agree that there's nothing so nice and clean feeling as a freshly painted room. Especially in an old house!

Anonymous said...

always be sure to paint and decorate your rooms in colors you look good in. if it's a color you won't wear don't use it in the room. you want to look good in your own house after all. i got this advice from a friend who is a very successful designer in NY. i think it is good advice. good luck, love blue willow.

Leigh said...

Anonymous, that is excellent advice. I had to stop and think about the colors after I read your comment. These are the kind of colors I would wear as neutrals but not without lots of blue, green, or burgundy. I have discovered that they are definitely "in" colors. Not that I've ever been concerned about being "in" but it sure makes it easy when looking at fabrics, accessories, curtains, cushions, etc. Almost everything I look at matches my paint swatches. Unusual for me.

Julie said...

Is white a color??? I love color as you know and I think it looks great! I can't wait to see more!!!