Hello and welcome to the Vernacular Life Podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that goes on in our 1906 vernacular farmhouse. I’m your host Paige, and today we are going to talk about one of my favorite things and something that I don’t even know if you can be known for something in how big the internet is these days, but in my little corner of the internet, it’s become the thing that I’m known for, which is bold, dramatic, bright, beautiful colors.
Today we’re going to walk through all of the colors in the house, starting with the first room that we renovated all the way through the dining room, because that’s the last room that we’ve renovated and talk about how I came to each color, how I found them, how I mixed them, the thought process between picking where the colors are in the house. And of course there is a big glorious, extensive blog post that has all the colors listed, all of the sheens, all of the finishes, all of the brands, absolutely everything you would want to know about them, and I will continue updating that as we complete the house. So here we go.
So before we really start talking about all of the individual colors in the room, I have to talk for a second about the universal colors in this house, because there are two of them. The first one is white trim. All of the trim in this house is Ultra Pure White by Bare. It is in semi-gloss and it’s their mid-grade paint. I think it’s premium plus or ultra premium plus, something like that. It’s in the blog post, but all of the trim in this house is white. And the reason that we decided to do that is because almost all of the original trim in this house was removed. The only thing we had left was about five doorways’ worth in the downstairs and upstairs halls.
Everything else was torn out and we didn’t even have enough for all of the doors in the hall. We only had enough door casings. This house originally had carved door casings and corner rosettes, and that was just what they used as their trim, but we only had four doorways’ worth of rosettes and door casings. So we had to decide very early on when we did the hall that we were going to just make all of our own trim. We were going to replace all the trim and we weren’t going to spend the money to have it custom milled. We were going to just do flat stock. I did a bunch of research and I came up with a trim style that fits the period of the house. It’s a little bit more craftsman than the original folk Victorian house was, but we made almost all of it out of MDF or pine or plywood.
So knowing that, knowing that that’s what we were going to do, it gave us the freedom to paint the trim white, because most of the trim wasn’t going to be wood, so it wasn’t going to be able to be stained. So we needed to be able to conceal the actual construction materials behind white paint. Personally, I also love white trim. Very early on, when we moved into this house, I found this inspiration picture that had these wooden doors that were wooden color, they weren’t painted and white trim and then bold colored walls. And I fell in love with it. I said, “That is stunning. That is beautiful.” And fortunately, we were in a position to be able to do that because these doors in this house are one of the few things that we were very lucky have not been painted.
I get the question a couple times a month. “Hey, what stain did you use on your doors?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I don’t have a stain for my doors because they were this color when we got them.” And then I was lucky enough to find eight matching doors at an antique fair that we needed for all the rest of the renovations in this house. And those were also unpainted. So our door color is 120 year old, authentic historic shellac. And coupling that with a white trim, I think just gives a really nice backdrop and blank slate for all of the bold colors that I wanted to use in this house. So the first universal color in this house is the white trim. And then by extension the white ceilings, because I like white ceilings.
The second universal color in this house are the floors. These floors are Douglas Fir. It was a very cheap wood, it was usually used as a sub-floor under carpet or in servant’s areas where nobody would go or travel. It wasn’t a fine wood. It wasn’t intended to be a fine wood, but I think it’s beautiful. And so we refinished them with polyurethane and they turned this absolutely wonderful pumpkin orange color, and that’s pretty much universal throughout the entire house. So it means that I have to be very careful with the colors that I put on the wall because essentially that floor is bright orange. So you don’t want to paint the walls bright orange if the floor is going to be bright orange, unless that’s the look that you’re going for. So you will notice that there’s a lot of cool colors. There’s a lot of blues and greens in this house because they pair so nicely with the orange floors and they really make the orange floors pop.
So the two colors that I really had to compete with in this house were the white trim and the orange floors. With that in mind, the first rooms that we renovated were the upstairs and the downstairs halls. And we picked them first because they touch every other room in the house. Literally every room is connected to one of those two rooms except the kitchen, but it’s close. So that means that when we have to make a giant mess in that room, every single other room was going to be also a ridiculous mess, which is why we did these first. I knew already that I wanted bold colors. The house was just asking for very dramatic, rich colors. I had tried to put them in our last builder-grade house and that house just didn’t like it at all. It was like, “This is too dark. This is too heavy.” So I knew this house would give me the opportunity to do these rich, bold colors.
So if each of the rooms off of these halls were going to be these rich, bold colors, I wanted the hall to be a palette cleanser. I wanted it to be something that you don’t really notice. It’s a neutral, it fades in the background. It’s not really a thing that you pay attention to, except that it frames the door openings to look into these other rooms with these really bold colors. So the hall is a color called Silver Ash by Bare. It changes depending on the time of day, but it is somewhere between a true gray and a blue-green gray. And I painted both halls that, upstairs and down, and it’s a very light blue pulling, greenish pulling gray color.
And I love that because I love the way blues and greens compliment the bright orange floor. So it’s just the perfect neutral for this house. The house really likes it. It’s a great backdrop for my wall of fancy in the hall. It’s just a wonderful, neutral color. And I painted it that I guess almost three years ago, and I’ve never really considered repainting it, other than something dramatic like black. The halls are also not super bright. Most of this house is pretty bright, but the halls are not very bright. So having it a lighter color does help a little bit to not make the center of the house feel very, very dark. So once we finished the halls, we moved into the master bedroom.
I was just thinking about this the other day, because we’re dragging so much in this bathroom renovation upstairs. We finished the master bedroom in four and a half months. And I have no earthly clue how we managed to do that. But anyway, so we did this room and I had gotten my hands on a Farrow and Ball color swatch card and Farrow and Ball, I’m sure it’s fine paint. I do not have the financial resources to pay what that paint costs a gallon. So I was looking at it for color inspiration, but knowing that I wouldn’t ever actually buy that paint. And the funny thing is this room was actually the first room that I knew I wanted a dark navy and then Brandon picked the specific color. And he’s done that for almost every room that we’ve had. I’ve known what the color is, I get it narrowed down to two or three swatches, and then he picks the final color.
So this room, I was pretty set on Farrow and Ball Hague Blue. I went to the Home Depot counter. I said, “Hey, do you have the color formula for Hague Blue in the system?” And they looked it up and they said, “Yes, we do.” And I had them give me a sample. And it is just… It’s a wonderful color. It’s a very deep, rich navy, but in sunlight it turns a little bit greenish. And it’s a wonderful backdrop not only for the orange floors, because blue and orange being complimentary colors, they just absolutely love each other, but it looks really, really good with gold frames. So in here I have one, two, three, four, five… Five gold frames plus a gold candelabra. And it just sets off the cherry furniture that we have in here really nicely. It sets off the gold frames really, really nicely. And it’s such a dramatic pop when you come in from this neutral hall, you come into this room and it’s just like, “Holy cow, that is a color.”
So we finished the master bedroom, painted this beautiful dark blue. And I did the thing that I always do when I’m painting a room a dark color, in that I’m convinced while I’m painting it that it’s entirely too dark. And then I finish painting it and it’s like, “Oh, nope, that’s a perfect color.” Some people can pull off this really wonderful, dramatic, dark color after dark color, after dark color in sequential rooms in their house. That wasn’t really the look that I was going for in this house. I wanted you to go from a light space into a dramatic space and then back into a light space to give you a little bit of a breather.
So when we did the master bathroom, I knew that the color was some sort of parchmenty, creamy, ivory sort of color, because I wanted you to go from the light hall into this dramatic dark bedroom and then into a light, airy bathroom with all this white tile. But I couldn’t find a color. And what ended up happening is I purchased this… I think it’s part of an oil lamp from roughly 1850 and it was shipped to me from Turkey and I turned it into a light fixture for that bathroom and we hung it up and I looked at the shade and I said, that shade is exactly the color that I want.
And I ended up finding it in a color called Prairie Dust by Bare. It is this linen parchment, grayish beige color that’s just really, really delightful and wonderful. And I love it in that room because we have white tile in that room. We have a vintage white sink. We have a white toilet, we have different white tile on the floor. There’s a lot of different whites in that room and they’re not all the same white. So putting a creamy yellowish, parchment color in there reflects onto all of the whites and unifies them and makes everything look the same. And it makes that bathroom extremely pleasant to be in. And then of course you have the very dramatic doors in both sides of that bathroom. And altogether, I just love that color.
So going through the bathroom, we end up in the mudroom. And the mudroom actually, I wanted it to be tongue and groove, I wanted it to be wood, but I didn’t know what color it would be. I honestly thought it would be the color of the hall. I thought that was just going to be my neutral color in the house that I popped wherever I wanted to. And then that would be it. But the tongue and groove in that room actually is salvage from an old garage. I think it’s from about the ’30s, it’s six inch plank Douglas Fir tongue and groove. And it was originally painted this deep sage green. It looks like that was the original paint color.
And so when we put the tongue and groove all up in that room, I was absolutely blown away by how beautiful it was. I was like, “This color is stunning.” It was on the ceiling, it was on the walls. And it shocked me because it’s a pretty dark color, but I said, “There is no way that I can possibly change this color now, it’s too perfect.” It’s also doubly perfect because it’s next to the study. And I’ll explain that in a minute.
I took a piece of this board. I found a really good clean section of it where no paint was chipping. I got a color match and I painted the entire room, walls and ceiling, this deep grayish mossy green. And then it has white trim. It has the orange doors and then it has a large white cabinet plus the white washer and dryer. And altogether, it’s just like, it’s a mudroom, but it’s the most dramatic, amazing mudroom on the planet. I’m convinced. The mudroom connects to the study and the study. I knew… If you think about a color wheel, if you think about all the different options on a color wheel, you’ve got red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. I already used up blue in the bedroom. Orange took up my floors. So that took away two of the possible colors that I could use in the study.
I did actually consider using purple in the study. It might have worked because the mudroom is greenish, the floors are orange, and then if the study was purple, that would have been a very nice secondary color wheel pallet. Purple didn’t work. What did work is color called Urban Garden? And I think it’s an HGTV Sherwin Williams for Lowe’s color, or something. It’s a weird color, it’s hard to find, but it’s an extremely saturated rich moss green. Very dark, very saturated, lots of yellow undertones, and it’s a wonderful color. But the interesting thing about the mudroom color is, remember how I was talking about how I like things to go from light colors, to dark colors, to light colors? I ran into a bit of an issue with the mudroom because going from the bathroom into the mudroom is a light color, so you would need the mudroom to be a dark color or a neutral, or a bright color or something that has some presence, but going from the study into the mudroom is a bright color, so it should be a neutral.
And the really interesting thing about the mudroom color is that if you look at it from the bathroom, it looks green. And if you look at it from the very green study, it looks gray. So it’s this perfect optical illusion of a color that looks like a neutral from one direction, and looks like a color from another direction. The study, I had quite a bit of trouble picking a color because all of the moss greens I picked ended up looking gray on the wall. And typically you do want to go with less saturated colors on the wall because they’ll look a little bit less clown carish, a little bit less cartoonish, but that room for some reason, just wanted an extremely saturated color. And that was another one that I put the samples up on the wall, Brandon pointed to Urban Garden, and away we went.
Now, the next color that we picked was the kitchen color. And again, I intended to paint the kitchen the same color as the hall. The first kitchen design that I ever came up with was very, very different. There were all sorts of built-ins, the washer and dryer was in a closet in there, and there was no pantry and all of this stuff. And as we started to change the kitchen design to what it is now, I could just feel it in my head that the house was like, “Please don’t paint me neutral, please don’t paint me neutral. I don’t want to be a neutral kitchen.” I’m like, “Well, house, what do you want to be? Are you crazy? Do want to be a yellow kitchen?” And it was totally facetious of like, “Oh, maybe we should pay the kitchen yellow.”
And the house was like, “Yep, that’s what I want.” I was like, “You have to be kidding me. You want to be school bus yellow? Are you kidding? Your floors are orange. You’re going to look ridiculous.” And the house just kind of glared at me and was like, “Well, I don’t care. That’s what I want.” So I went and found four different colors of yellow. Some were very acidic, some were kind of like buttercup and more neutral. And I had two, I had narrowed it down to two. And one was called Butterscotch Ripple, and the other was called Amaretto Sour. And I was like, “Okay, Paige, it’s probably the lighter one of these two. Just go with that.” And again, the house is in my head like, “I really, really feel like you should mix those two.” Like, “Do you have to be this difficult all the time? Can’t you just accept that that’s a nice color? Do you need a custom color?”
So I ended up mixing Butterscotch Ripple and Amaretto Sour one-to-one. I’m putting it up on the wall next to all the other samples. And I said, “Brandon, what do you think?” He was like, “Yep, that’s the color.” So, that was how I ended up with a yellow kitchen. And for the record, the internet did not have faith about the yellow kitchen, which is fine. And the yellow kitchen actually is very hard to film in. I have to do quite a lot of messing with my white balance to make sure everything doesn’t come out orange, but I love my yellow kitchen.
And in addition to the yellow kitchen, I wanted a two-toned pantry because this house loves the white trim. We put white trim everywhere, but I just wanted one room that didn’t have white trim. And I decided that that was going to be the pantry. So I was going to have the built-ins and the trim one color and the walls a lighter color. And initially I chose a very, very, very saturated pair of yellow-greens, extremely saturated. And they were almost acidic and frog-like. They were so acid green. And I didn’t dislike them, I was a little bit scared by them, which usually means it’s a good color. And so I said, “Okay, it’s fine. Those are going to be the pantry colors.”
The house has other plans. So when we had the built-ins in the pantry and I was going about priming them, I wanted a tinted primer, because the greens were so dark I knew if I primed it with white, I was going to end up doing three coats and then it was going to be all sticky and it was going to be terrible. So I didn’t have a tinted primer. I even asked at Home Depot at the paint counter if they could make me up tinted primer. And they’re like, “Yeah, we don’t really do that.” And I was extremely confused, but let them go. So what I did instead was mix a wall paint, a green wall paint, with primer. Flat primer. And I was like, “Well, that’ll work well enough.”
The color that I chose to mix was leftover paint from the study because each of these rooms takes about a gallon and a half, but the study was significantly smaller, so it took just over a gallon. I had almost a full of the study color left. So I mixed it about one-to-one with some white primer. And I put that new, throwaway primer color up in the pantry. And my heart stopped because the color was beyond perfection. It was still a green, but it was a very muted blue-green. And I realized that the yellow-greens that I was picking to go with the yellow kitchen, they didn’t look bad, everything was just an analogous color scheme. There was nothing different. It was all very saturated, very yellowish colors. Whereas this green was very blue. And so it pulled a little bit of a cool color in with this warm yellow kitchen. And it set off just the most perfect color combination between those two. And I remember I stood back and I looked at it and I said, “Oh, crap, I’ve picked the wrong color.” I have the wrong colors in the pantry. That’s the right color.
So I ended up doing a little bit more mixing and a little bit more mad scientisting. And I came up with the perfect dark bluey green for the cabinet color in the pantry. And then, because I’d already bought two gallons of the other paint colors for the pantry, and now I wasn’t going to use them, so I just bought one gallon of the darker color for the pantry. And then I mixed that color, one-to-one with white paint to create a lighter version of it. And I used that on the walls and ceiling. And to this day I go into that room and I love it. I love that pantry. I love the way that it looks against the kitchen yellow. And we ended up not putting the door on the pantry so I can see the pretty color all the time. And it’s just, it’s immaculate. I love it.
So if we think about our color wheel again, and I’m not really going to count the pantry color, because that was a fluke, we have orange floors, we have a blue bedroom, we have a green study and we have a yellow kitchen. That doesn’t really leave us a whole lot for the dining room. And quite a few people wanted a red dining room or a purple dining room. And I understand why, because it would have been very, very pretty. Something in my brain just doesn’t want to see a red or a purple room with the orange floors. I don’t know why. So when it came to the dining room, I had a picture… I don’t save a lot from Pinterest, but I had one picture that I saved from Pinterest for years.
And it was this beautiful rich teal wall with a reddish-orange wooden table in front of it. And I… Oh my Gosh, I have had that picture saved for three or four years because I loved it so much. And so I knew that the dining room was going to be this teal color. But the problem is that a good teal is very hard to find because it needed to be saturated, but it also needed to be dark and people don’t typically… I’m guessing a lot of people just paint things neutral because there’s a lot more options that are lighter and neutral and there’s not quite as many options deep and rich and dark. So I ended up finding two colors. Again, one was called Bucolic Green and one was called Empress Teal. And Bucolic Green was darker and less saturated and Empress Teal was lighter and more saturated.
And I painted samples of both of them. And honestly, they were both fine. Either one would have worked, but I can’t just leave well enough alone. So I mixed both of those colors one-to-one together and painted it as a sample and then asked Brandon to pick between Bucolic Green, Empress Teal, or the mix of the two. And he picked the mix of the two. And that might be my favorite color in the house because it is so rich and then the walls are flat, but the wall trim and the wall molding is satin, so it’s a little bit shiny. And it just makes for the most rich, delicious, amazing room to sit in. And on top of that, the other reason that I wanted to paint that room teal is because I really liked the way teal and magenta pink look together. It’s kind of a red and green complimentary color-looking thing, and I think it’s really pretty. And I had happened to find a wool rug that was a very pinkish-red and I knew it was going to go in that room. And I knew that rug would love a rich tealy-green wall color.
And then we were almost done, but we had a closet and most of the closets in this house, the original closets are unpainted inside. They’re just unpainted beat board. But when we rebuilt the wall between the kitchen and the dining room that had been taken out, we also rebuild the closet there. And when we rebuild that closet, we used four by eight sheets of ply bead. And obviously I wasn’t going to leave that raw. So the master bedroom originally was pink. It was like Pepto-Bismol bubblegum pink. And it had a big mantle fireplace. We could see the outline of it when we did the demo and it had green tile around the fireplace.
And I love the idea of the lady of the house sitting and having tea in her pink parlor with her green tile. It just, it thrills me. And I always wanted to preserve that pink somewhere, but I didn’t think I was brave enough to do it in an entire room. And I didn’t think Brandon would be too happy with me if I had it in an entire room. I managed to find a pink that perfectly matched a little sample of the plaster that I had saved. Exact same pink color. And I painted the inside of that closet bright pink. And it looks so pretty next to the teal when the door is open. And it’s just a little bitty ode to what the house was originally with the fabulous pink parlor. And that pretty much concludes the first floor tour anyway, of the colors in this house.
Now, the second floor is going to be a little bit of an adventure because I’m doing wallpapers up there and probably wallpapers in every room, which is going to be very exciting. So we’ll have to stay tuned and see what I come up with for that. But if you want to see any of the specific colors or any of the specific textures or sheens that we have for everything, you can check out the blog post, you’ll also see a link to it in the show notes. I love bold colors. I think they’re really fun. And I think they make a house so much more interesting. So if you are tempted to use bold colors for anything, you really should do that. So thank you so much for listening. I’m so happy you are here and I will see you next time. Bye.