By Caitlin Kelly
One of our many mirrors…
We’ve just endured the least-sunny, most-gloomy winter in my 25+ years living in downstate New York — day after day after day after day of gray clouds, rain, mist and/or fog.
If I wanted that climate, I’d move to the Pacific Northwest.
So, after a few years of loving the soft dove gray walls in our small sitting room, I’d had enough.
I couldn’t take one more glimpse of gray.
Back to my favorite paint store, Farrow & Ball, an English company whose paint has, to my formally-trained design eye, the loveliest colors on offer, now 132.
You can test their colors out with $8 sample pots, (a must, painted on a large white card, carefully considered in all kinds of light, from daylight to candlelight, with every adjacent fabric on it.)
Here’s our new sitting room choice — number 286, name Peignoir. Love it!
It’s the palest warm lavender, like clouds at sunset, its tones ever-changing with the light. That exact tone is in our curtain fabric and also had to relate comfortably to two adjacent wall colors, difficult in an open-plan 1960s-era apartment. (It didn’t hurt that all three colors are Farrow & Ball. Their colors can work beautifully with one another.)
We already had a color scheme, thanks to a rug and curtains.
I’ll later add some of my own floral images, framed.
A few quick ways to refresh a room; (you can find low-cost options in thrift stores, flea markets, Ebay and Craigslist):
Usually by far the cheapest answer, especially, (if as we do), you do the prep/sanding/spackling/painting yourself. A gallon of paint can cover a lot of wall, (especially over a light color), and a fresh creamy white can punch up dinged/dingy baseboards, (skirting boards to Britons.)
Adding color(s) terrifies many people, and getting it wrong can mean visual misery. No matter what you think you like, when choosing a color, consider:
1) the color of your floor;
2) the color of your current furniture and fabrics;
3) which way the room faces, (e.g. north light is cooler);
4) the mood you want to create.
Read a few smart websites on color and color schemes — then buy a big piece of foam-core and paint a 3 foot square sample, maybe of several colors, or different hues/intensities of the same color.
The floral is our sitting room curtains
The world is full of amazing fabric, from spendy designer stuff to Ikea to Spoonflower, where you can design and print your own. I love vintage textiles and search them out at antique shows, flea markets and auctions, making them into throw pillows and tablecloths.
Even the simplest sofa can benefit happily from a few fresh pillows in complementary colors; Pier One, in the U.S., is a great/affordable resource as are pricier Horchow, Serena & Lily and Anthropologie.
Flowers and plants
Our home is never without multiple arrangements of fresh flowers, whether a single lily — brilliant orange, pure white, soft pink — or a bunch of purple or white or red tulips.
I keep Oasis on hand, (the green foam used by florists you can cut and shape to any size), allowing you to make anything non-leaky into a floral container. Floral frogs, of metal and glass, with holes and spikes to hold stems in place, (easiest to find at flea markets) are also helpful.
They don’t have to be dark nor boldly patterned nor made of wool!
Too many people just throw down a big pile of red or blue or dark green and get stuck with an ugly color scheme as a result.
I prefer lighter colors and cotton and wool flat-weaves, like kilims. A favorite site of mine is Dash & Albert, with a wide range of colors and sizes.
A must, especially when they reflect sunlight into and around a room.
Don’t hang them too high.
Our bedroom mirror, from Anthropologie, is this one, $128.00.
Total cost of our sitting room refresh:
1 gallon Farrow & Ball paint $99
1 quart white semi-gloss paint for baseboards $12
two vintage (bought in 2010, originally) chairs $450
new tray $56
3 pots Farrow & Ball (color: Churlish Green) to repaint bamboo boxes we owned $24