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Tackling the North Wall

Photo by Barbara Clare. Moving from pale blue to toast walls.

A number of years ago, my husband, Ray, and I renovated the central area of our home where there were two cramped rooms. We removed the walls that divided them to make one large space. We also installed three expansive windows on the north wall. As you can imagine, these changes opened up the area significantly and gave us a gorgeous view of our front garden.

The new open space became our den and an office area for Ray.

The wall directly opposite the north den wall is the south wall of our circa 1959 kitchen. (We'll be tackling that renovation in August. Yey!)

Since the two activity zones are open to each other, I had the north den wall and the south kitchen wall painted in the same color. The ceiling in this part of the house is low, 8 feet, and there are deep eaves jutting out from the exterior side of both walls. Both of these features reduce the ambient light in the space. To allow as much light inside as possible, I chose a pastel, seafoam blue-green for both walls.

Photo by Barbara Clare. Beginning to paint over the icy blue.

I knew that the north wall would read bluer than the south wall. Why? Because northern light has a veiled, blue cast to it. Sure enough, the north wall looked icy blue, whereas on the south wall the yellow in the seafoam tint showed up, making the color in the kitchen look warmer and more inviting.

To my eye, the icy blue north wall lacked character. It made the room disappear. It made the room feel cold. Ray was fine with the icy blue wall. No surprise, as he's an introvert who gravitates to cool, soothing colors.

I lived with that wall for years. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer.

I knew that a mid-tone warm hue would make the space show up and invite one to cozy up on our sectional. But you're thinking, 'Wouldn't a darker hue in a room with a low ceiling and deep exterior eaves make the room too dark?' As with so many design challenges the answer is, 'It depends.'

If you choose a hue with a red or yellow base, the color will advance toward you. A midtone color with a blue cast will recede. In other words, warm, mid-tone hues will embrace you, thus brightening a room, whereas cool, mid-tone hues will feel darker and will recede into the shadows.

I decided that I didn't want taupe. I didn't want camel. I wanted a mix of those two hues. I wanted TOAST.

Ha. After going through my hundreds of color samples, I couldn't find the color I was envisioning. So I created it. Fortunately, my color creation worked.

If you've ever painted a wall, perhaps you've had this pleasurable experience - when you open the can of paint and gaze down on the color, you think, 'Yummy!'. And as soon as you brush some on the wall, your gut says, 'YES!' That's what happened to me when I painted the den wall with my toasty hue.

Photo by Barbara Clare. Notice how the outside landscape pops against the toasty hue.

Suddenly the room showed up. The room embraced me. What's more, our verdant outdoor landscape showed up even stronger.

The take-away from this exercise: dimly lit rooms often look and feel better dressed in rich, warm colors rather than pastel hues.

Stay tuned for my kitchen renovation colors!

1 Comment

Jul 29, 2023

I love that you teach us design details while sharing. I really enjoyed this and love the transformation of your den!


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