Choosing Colors for your home? Read this first.

Does choosing colors for your walls make you feel like this?

Have you grabbed colour sample after colour sample but none of them work, or don’t look how you imagined?

Every colour of paint has unique undertones.

If you remember back to art class, you’ll likely remember the colour wheel. Here is a modern one like ones you’ve used on your computer.

I think it’s pretty normal to assume that all blue colours are cool colours. But blue can be a warm colour too! All of the blues below have yellow undertones.

I’m not going to dive into the science behind what makes a warm or cool colour. Succinctly a warm or cool colour is created because of layers of colour that is under the main colour you see.

Let’s dive into this with the colour grey.

Grey is still a pretty popular colour to use in our homes and office spaces, but it is one of the hardest colours to choose correctly.

Many greys have purple undertones (which isn’t a bad thing in itself) but when it is paired with counters or floors that have non congruent undertones, this will create a colour scheme that feels “off”. Your eyes and brain will register that something isn’t as compatible as it could be, and as subtle as this reaction can be, your space is far less serene than you intended.

If you are curious what grey colours have purple undertones, you can go here to Sherwin Williams website  to check them out.

I clicked on one of the greys and used the color visualiser tool to see how the color looks on the wall. If you are looking to DIY your colour choices this is a fun tool to use.

Notice that the colours look different on each of the walls. You can especially see the difference in tones in my white studio.

The same will be true for your home or office space. In fact, how each colour looks will be totally different room to room. The colour appears to change because of how much natural light is in each room, along with the type of lamps and other lighting used in your space. It can even look like a different colour when it’s next to furniture, counters, floors and windows because of the light that is reflected back.

The best practice is to test your colours before you paint so that you can see how the colours might appear throughout the day and evening. See how much greyer this room looks when the sun isn’t out. (And isn’t Magnum looking thoughtful?)

The small paint swatches the paint stores give out do not give you enough information to accurately choose a colour that looks how you expect.

Get a sample paint made up and apply it to the wall to see how it will look. If you don’t have white walls, make sure you put some white paper around each test spot on the wall, because the previous colour will throw your eye off and the paint colour will not look how you expected it to!

With my homeowner clients we talk about how they want to feel in their space. When we are choosing colours to test on the wall they are often surprised by the colours that they are drawn to.

With my commercial clients we talk about how they want their clients to feel, in addition to how they envision their clientele to move around and use the space. For example an optometry office may want their clients to feel seen and invited to the displays, where a massage therapist may want their clients to feel relaxed and nourished.

If you are staging your home to sell, you need to figure out what the perceptions of the buyer will be before you choose colors.

I don’t believe in having one or two strategies for all homes for sale. A home in a historical area will attract different buyers than a newly built planned neighbourhood and I wouldn’t recommend using the same strategy for both homes.

The science and art of colour plays a huge part in helping us feel at home in our homes.

I help homeowners choose colours for the inside and outside of their homes, along with developing colour palettes and finish packages for commercial clients, realtors and builders.

I offer e-design services for those of you not local and in-person consultations and design if you are in the RVA (Richmond, Virginia) area.

If you need some help, email me,  I’d love to work with you.

Want To See My Drawers? An inside look at cabinet layout and open shelf styling.

This week I want to talk about the cabinet drawers, making our full sized fridge work in our space as well how we are keeping our open shelving functional!

If you’ve been following along with the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge™, then you are already pretty familiar with our Folk Victorian Kitchen. If you are new here, you can go here to see the first post in the series or go here to see the full reveal.

To recap:

We started with a room that wasn’t ever a kitchen before.

It has three large (but low) bay windows filling one whole wall, a doorway leading to the front entrance, a fireplace, french doors leading into the living room and another doorway leading into the back mudroom/laundry that is beside the built in pantry.

It looked like this:

And ended like this:


First the cabinet layout:

We have three outlets on the island, one on each side (except the range side). I’m very happy with the placement of these. Don’t forget outlets on your island, and place one more than you think you’ll need. I’m going to upgrade the outlets to a colour that blends in more with the grey wood than the stark electrician white!

The island cabinets are different on each side. This cabinet layout  (as shown in above photo) has two shallower drawers and 4 deeper drawers. One of the shallow drawers is my own personal ‘junk drawer’ and the other shallow drawer holds typical things you would find in a shared ‘everything’ drawer along with a few kitchen gadgets.

I used expanding bamboo drawer dividers and this allows us to customise each drawer.

This is one of the deeper drawers where we store our large dinner plates, our tiny food prep or sauce bowls plus a few bowls that don’t match the others!

On the other side of the island we have one shallow drawer, two deep drawers and a pullout garbage and recycling drawer. The bins pull out and it’s super easy to empty the recycling.

At the front of the island, on either side of the range there are two slim cabinets. The one to the left is a pull out spice drawer, and came with four shelves. I don’t keep my spices in the typical cylindrical jars, so I removed two shelves plus I really wanted to use this pull out to hide all of our spatulas and wooden spoons!

I use hooks with magnets to store our oven mitts and this great little pan scraper, that also works on the range top. Tools that have more than one function are amazing!

The other side we store cutting boards, baking pans, pizza paddles. I have some metal dividers that still need to be installed to keep them all separated.


On to the elephant in the room…..

The refrigerator.

Placing the fridge in this room was a challenge with all the doors, windows and the built ins.

My logical mind thought that we should get a counter depth fridge (they are shallower) so we could extend the island by 6″. My pragmatic husband weighed in and thought we should get the full sized fridge instead as we love to entertain and could fit more beer and appies! (Canadian for appetizer.)

In my initial design I had the fridge facing the front door because we were going to flip the way the doors opened into the living room. We ultimately decided not to go that route and had enough room that the fridge could face the window.

Looks like it fits really nicely right? It does, until you open the doors! And it didn’t quite make it through the reno unscathed, the bottom now has a couple of dents!

We knew that the door on the left would not fully extend while the fridge is pushed back into place. The photo above shows how far each door opens. The right side is the full extension.

I haven’t found this to be much of a constraint on how we use and clean the fridge, but this could be a no go with some clients. Our tradeoff is we have ample room for entertaining and storing foods.

Keeping the counter and open shelves functional

Here is the styled shot you saw earlier in this post:

Here is how my counters look today. I used items I really do use everyday to style the shots. The copper compost bin was in front of the acacia wood lazy susan that you see here.

I like, erm need, items to feel neat and organised. I can’t stand coming down to the kitchen and seeing a mess. Having all the items we use everyday on the lazy susan, keeps everything accessible to both of us while working on opposite sides of the island.  The huge bonus — the lazy susan keeps everything orderly for me!

After styling the lower shelf, I decided I loved having the two books on the lower shelf. They are the “Flavor Thesaurus” and “Kitchen Hacks”. Beside them are two canisters that hold flour and sugar.

The only thing that I changed on the lower shelf is removing the blue sorbet bowls and giving the black bowls their own place.  We use the plates, glasses and measuring cups nearly every day.

On the counter we have our instant hot water heater, that I would prefer to be over on the dog feeding station. It’s leaking a little so while the new one is on the way, the heater stays on the counter.

Obviously I removed all of our scrubby brushes from the styled shoot, but real life wins the everyday styling. I didn’t want the brushes lying in the sink, or on the counter, so this tub saddle allows us to have them accessible but not in the forefront. If you scroll back up to the image above you’ll see them peeking out.

Our dogs are pretty active. O-Ren below loves to hop up on the window sills and catch flies or watch (aka, bark loudly) at the squirrels.

Active dogs = supplements! As already mentioned I can’t stand clutter, so decanting their food into prettier containers and hiding the rest in the drawer does the trick!

I still need to find a pretty bottle for the fish oil, but for now it sorta blends in to the white wall.

The top and the part of the drawer hold the items we need to make our pups food every day. Ideally the hot water dispenser would be here too,  and will be once the new (non leaking) one arrives.  In the meantime the cutlery which still doesn’t have its final home is sitting in its place!!

I’ve been collecting pretty dishware for some time and love that I get to showcase it on our open shelves. If that’s not you, then closed cabinets are perfect!

The moral of the story is: design and organise based on how you and your family actually use your kitchen (or want to use your kitchen)!

I offer e-design services for those of you not local and in-person consultations and design if you are in the RVA (Richmond, Virginia) area.

If you are stuck in a rut or need some help, email me,  I’d love to work with you.


Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen – Finale

Curating what photos tell the story of the space is one of my favourite parts of project completion.

And so, here is the full reveal of the finished Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen for the One Room Challenge™.

Come on in.




I could sit in this kitchen and stare out the windows for hours.


The white walls, natural materials and plants give the room a Scandinavian feel. The pendant lights still need to be moved over. That’s a long story for another post!

An opportunity arose for a plant nook where the bay window juts out.

I chose this slab of ash to make the shelves out of because of the worm eaten edges. We have similar worm marks in our floors and carrying this pattern into something new helps keep it in character.


If you remember the second post in this One Room Challenge™ Series, there are three entryways in this kitchen. Though each room connecting to the kitchen is its own separate entity, to provide a feeling of flow and continuity, the rooms need to relate to one another.

The bright salmon entry is definitely a statement!  As you walk into the kitchen you’ll notice the rugs, plants and books picking up that colour.  This relates the white and black kitchen back to the entry so that they feel as though they belong together even though they are designed to have a different impact.

Here is what the kitchen looks like from the front entry.

There is a clear line of sight into the laundry/mudroom at the back of the home.

The front door is painted a vibrant teal and you’ll find this brilliant blue as an accent in all of the rooms on the first floor helping to create a cohesive colour scheme. The orange colour on the visible laundry room wall complements the salmon of the entry.


I have added copper pulls to this original built in pantry and the copper on the wallpaper really pulls this wall together.


We don’t often use the microwave, so putting it into the pantry was perfect!

The built in pantry also has a passthrough that goes to the walk-in pantry. The colourful cloth is hiding the square hole because I didn’t want you to be distracted by the mess that is hiding back there! Once the walk in is complete, I’ll open the peekaboo hole up and you’ll be able to see right through.

If you look closer at the details you’ll find many mentions of what makes us feel at home; the Canadian teapot in the pantry, the painting of my very first dog Jules who has long since passed, the cookbooks that we’ve collected over the years featuring adventurous cooking and materials that bring us joy.

A huge part of the charm of this house is the original features, like this Charles Eastlake latch that is on our pantry doors. We have similar original hardware on our front door and Eastlake inspired fireplaces in other rooms of the home.

While we have modernised this kitchen with updated wiring, plumbing and appliances, a lot of thought and consideration went into making sure to preserve the history this house offered us. We’ve kept all the porcelain door knobs, as much of the original wood as possible and re-created what was damaged. We love the old (mostly original) windows and will not be replacing them with vinyl or any such tragedy!


My perspective is a home isn’t ALL about the looks. It really needs to consider how each person uses the space and what elements to include to ensure that you enjoy your life being at home in your home.

O-Ren and Mags say they like their new kitchen too!

That’s it for the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge™.   

I’d like to thank Better Homes and Gardens, as they are the official media sponsor as well as Linda Weinstein for starting and continuing the One Room Challenge™.   

Candis & Andy, from Home Love Network are scouting the guest participants and two will be selected by Better Homes and Gardens to participate as featured designer during the next round.

This was my first time participating as a guest and I am hooked! This was a motivating kick in the pants to finish the details and write about the process. I personally find it easier to speak about the work I do for my clients than the work I do for my own home. Thank you to all of my readers and commenters, I’ve really enjoyed the process and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.



Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights


Cabinets, Counters and Lights! – Part 5

Last week in the One Room Challenge™, the trim had just been installed. This week we had the cabinets installed and the counters put in!

I didn’t have time to paint all the trim before the cabinets came in, so I painted the lower corner by the far left window that would be difficult to paint after the cabinet install.

The appliances and lights all got delivered and are all stacked here awaiting installation by the electrician.

One of the cabinets came with an extra hole in the door that did not get caught by the cabinet makers quality control team, so they are making me another door.

I got all the trim painted, woo hoo! Next are the final coats of the white wall paint.

I primed the fireplace (and all the doors) with an oil based primer so that subsequent coats of paint stay without scratching or flaking off.

I haven’t mentioned the lighting in any previous posts, but these images below capture the spirit that I was going for. The lights will look similar, but will not be exactly the same as what is pictured below!



I am saving the full effect for the big reveal next week, but here is a glimpse along with our first meal in this house not made on a campstove or the grill outside!


And yes, we used the oven.

Here is the ash slab that I am making the live edge floating shelves out of for the kitchen sink side of the room. It looks a little rough here, but after lots of sanding they look pretty great!

I’ve mentioned the pantry several times over the last few posts, but I highly doubt it will get done in time. Do look for it in a future post though.

That’s it for this week in the One Room Challenge™.  Next week I’ll show you the whole kitchen.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.


Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – You just read it!

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen