Respect the Architecture

December 4, 2012



I think for just about every designer, there is that queasy wait after a new paint color goes up– for the panicked phone call from the client. It happens often, with lots of reassurance and hand-holding needed until furniture is moved back into place, art work hung, and heart rates returned to normal.


via Tackorama


But there are also those calls from clients instantly ecstatic over the transformation– ” The house looks great… you have to come over to see. We love it!”


via Tackorama


I got one of those calls yesterday (the nice kind) and just returned from the project… no tweaking needed, every single color (10 rooms) pretty much spot on.  #happydance.

Now on to the more serious “respect the architecture” bit.




I loved this house– a cozy, traditional Cape Cod with great bones. It had been remodeled by the previous owners with care.They had preserved the cozy scale and original pine flooring but had updated the space with clean lines, good lighting, a streamlined white galley kitchen and ordered, contemporary maple built-ins. The owners had lived with the existing colors for several years but were ready to make a change. The challenge was to transform the space to reflect the clients’ tastes without compromising the strong architectural elements already in place.


There was a slice of  free-standing wall off the main hallway (visible from the dining room) that was the very first thing that caught my eye (potential color plane). There was a central hallway running through the middle with the stair case just inside the front entry (above).


Dining Room BEFORE:







Two rooms, the living room and dining room, flanked the entry. The living room had little natural light and both rooms had been painted an anemic pale green and grayed white. I settled on one of my favorite Benjamin Moore warm neutrals for both rooms- ‘Honeymoon’ from the Affinity Collection. It is the perfect mid-tone camel/gold and washes a room with warmth– a cozy and happy color, perfect for this active, young family. The slice of  wall, visible from the dining room, was painted a saturated  blue, ‘Cambridge’ from C2 Paint and is a great backdrop for a bold black and white print.




The bright white contemporary kitchen informed the color choice (Benjamin Moore Super White ) for the center hall walls and all trim throughout the house.  It was visually important to balance the “weight” of that kitchen’s white throughout the rest of the first floor.




Along with the clean contemporary lines of the interior, the white kitchen and warm wood floors,  I was working with other fixed design elements.  The owner had lovely chocolate brown linen window treatments in both living and dining rooms and rugs, pottery and textiles with accents of brown, blue, lime green and orange.







Living Room AFTER:





Accents of brown, burnt orange and blue.





This is the view from the entrance.  The stair risers were painted out in white to create graphic interest and movement.  Glimpses of strong color planes of white, gold and blue draw the eye through the white hallway.



Above, the owner’s favorite “color vignette”.




Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan, a cool mid-tone complex gray (with a blue undertone) was the perfect choice for the family room (flooded with natural light) to balance the warm tones of the maple built-ins and floors.




A lively large-scale brown and white print and lime green accents enliven the white kitchen.





The finishing touch:  a powder room in a deep saturated burnt orange– C2 Roasted Tomato.






Let me know what you think!









11 Responses

  1. Donna Frasca says:

    Beautiful colors and I LOVE gold but find when clients have that yellow/oak flooring, sometimes it’s just too much yellow. I have a lot of gold in my home but have darker floorings – nice contrast. Beautifully done Jean and I love that red!

  2. jeankee says:

    Thanks, Donna… sort of a compromise. Cozy was important and the floors are really more orange (pine) than yellow. Love that ‘Honeymoon’–use it alot!

  3. Very lovely and lively, Jean! I’m sure your clients were thrilled – looks like a totally new place 🙂

  4. jeankee says:

    Thanks so much Kristie!! Loved this project!

  5. Megan says:

    I liked that you took the walls of the living room from a gray to and orangey color. Do you think that this color has affected the mood of the people in the room? Do you think that certain wall colors can be associated with the mood of the people in the room?

  6. Isabel says:

    What a change, Jane! The Before and After photos talk by themselves. Great job, I love it!

  7. Kara says:

    Possibly off topic… But, where can I find the roman shade fabric with the birds in the above picture? I’m in Alexandria and would LOVE to recreate those window treatments in our new home! Beautiful job all around. Lovely!

  8. Kara says:

    Thank you so much Jean! I appreciate it! 🙂

  9. Love the way that Honeymoon integrates the maple bookcase into the scheme, and love the effect on the homeowners’ artwork. Smart utilization of white, too, to anchor a bold plan. The juxtaposition of orange and blue is divine–

    • jeankee says:

      Debra, Thanks so much for your words of approval! Honeymoon is such a winner- just the right touch of red so that it never turns bronzy. Yes, our work is always somewhat of a compromise with existing elements in place.

Leave a Reply