As I explained recently, we’re converting our old bedroom into a granny flat and are moving into a front bedroom… which we will be sharing with our newborn in about six weeks.   This room is the same size as our old one but with a smaller closet, a much bigger (new! cal king! memory foam!) bed, and of course adding in Baby’s mini crib.   Yikes.  Anyone up for a decorating/organizing challenge?

Let’s get going!  First challenge: the perimeter.   In this room the walls had been painted a semi-gloss yellowy brown, and the carpet… well, you could spill a full glass of wine on it and no one could tell.  Up till now it’s been called the PBJ Room, as in Peanut Butter & Jelly.

pbj room

In our old bedroom I painted three times in the space of a week before I was happy with the color.  Between then and now, I’ve learned so much about identifying undertones in complex neutrals and was stoked to get the chance to try out my color skills on this new bedroom with the difficult carpet color.  How’d I do?  Read on!

Issues to Live With:

  • That carpet is a very bossy color and not one I love, but it’s staying because it’s in great shape, cushy and stain resistant, plus we only plan to be in this room for about a year.  I can’t cover it with a large rug because the door has absolutely zero clearance and I can’t justify the expense anyway.
  • The orangey stained wood trim at the windowsill and closet will stay despite my fervent wishes to paint it white, because the Chief won’t let me.  It’s that guy thing about not painting wood, especially trim he put in himself.  Gentlemen, hear us: not all wood is good.  Sigh.  He didn’t hear me. Maybe I can photoshop it and convince him.  Maybe I can stain it walnut?

But I did get to repaint the walls.  I already gave you the end of my story by posting about how I was looking to gold-and-burgundy rooms for inspiration, but it took some time to arrive there.  After at least five trips to the hardware store over the last month to try out chips and paint samples, I settled on a green-gray that didn”t fight with the carpeting, looked nice yet not chilly in the cool northern light, and would be a good neutral background for the bedding and decor I have in mind.   Whites and off-whites were too pale in this room – there is not enough light for them to look anything but dirty and sad.  Did you know that’s what happens to light colored paint in dim lighting conditions?

Behr Basic Khaki was the first paint color I used to repaint, this time in an eggshell sheen. On the chip without anything to compare it appears tan-khaki like a pair of pants, but in this room, with this light, next to this carpet, it definitely looked olive gray.

I bet you would like to see the tranformative value of $30 worth of paint right about now.

paint change


pbj room


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So much better, huh?  Yeah, the carpet is burgundy, but it looks fine with the gray walls.

I used Behr Ultra (Paint & Primer In One) to avoid having to do a coat of primer.  That paint is sticky and kinda hard to work with, but my one coat plan worked.  It looked great.  I was happy.

Then disaster struck. 

My hubby, who had been noticeably quiet as I worked, finally confessed that he hated the color and that it reminded him of the face of someone who was about to throw up.  WHAT.

I have strong opinions about design, but I can’t live with decor choices that I know he hates.  A few tears and few hours of thinking later, I decided yellow-beige was the next best paint option.  (FYI there are three undertones to beige or tan paints – yellow-, pink-, and green-beige.)   To keep the room from looking like a library or hunting lodge, hopefully I could find a shade that wasn’t too deep or yellowy, and could I could do the bed in white, brown, and straw and it would all be harmonious and subtle.  I held up a vanilla candle and a shooting target printed on manila paper next to the bedroom walls and asked the Chief if something like that would be a better color, and he gave a decided “yes!”

I brought the candle and paper to the Depot and grabbed all the color chips that were similar.  After several comparisons in the room with different light during the day, I narrowed it down to three and got samples to paint on the wall.  As I came in throughout the weekend to check them again in different light, I’d go, Ahhh, what a nice color on the wall, why are we changing it?  Oh yes, he hates it.

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You get the best idea of a paint color when you surround it by pure white and put it next to what is in context, in this case the carpet – leaving it bleeding into the old wall color really does throw your impression of the color.  The clear winner to me was on the far left, though I suspected the Chief would prefer the golden tones of the middle sample which was indeed the case.  He was okay with my choice, which is more tan and goes a bit gold when the sun hits it, so that’s what we finally went with – Martha Stewart Toasted Marshmallow, color matched in Behr’s paint & primer in one.

Here is the same color on the other side of the room.  Whenever I buy a sample of paint nowadays, I make myself a large color sample on a piece of posterboard.  It is SO much more accurate than a tiny, printed paint chip.  I can pull out my growing stash of large samples and see if anything I’ve previously tried would work in a new space, without having to re-buy a sample or actually put paint on the wall.

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We repainted this weekend, and here is the After!


I decided to do stripes in the closet for the heck of it and left the gray paint in there, then taped off stripes to paint the new Toasted Marshmallow color.  It will just be a sneak glimpse when we get into the closet for clothes – a fun surprise.  We BOTH love this new toasty shade of tan and feel warmly welcome in our new bedroom. 

Do you know, this is the darkest I’ve ever painted a room before?  I gotta get out more.  I’ve never used beige or tan or teal or whatnot.  Off-white, pale vanilla custard, and pale gray-brown are the colors I’ve chosen so far in other rooms of the house.  I’m thinking our north-facing living room needs a shot of that gold that is the middle paint sample on the wall in the earlier picture.  Its current vanilla-custard is too wimpy.  Hey, our bathroom is deep red with gray tile and looks awesome but it was done by the Chief before we met. 


Whew!  That was way too hard.  But we got it done, so now let’s get some furniture in here!!

What do you think of the changes?   And is the gray trend replacing the beiges of yore in your home?