Dream house, dream life, yeah right. Dream on…

Posts tagged ‘colour’

Choosing colours

First order of business when I bought the house was to change the colour scheme. Last painted in the late 80’s the butter cream yellow and autumn toned kitchen had gone well with the 1975 autumn toned carpet but not as well with the newer pink toned cream carpet laid in the mid 90’s.

A few years back when everyone started painting their walls white I thought they were crazy. I thought I’d be the last person on earth to paint my house white. Somehow, by the time I owned some walls I was hankering after a nice light neutral but not white. I’d never use white.  I’d never decorate with greens either. Oh how we change.

I spent months  looking at colour charts. Next door was so neutral coloured it was basically monotone. I didn’t want that. In fact I had feature walls in mind for most of the rooms. But what colours? I don’t like browns. I hate pinks. I’ve seen some nice reds, but they’re not really me, besides I wanted a relaxing home, not an angry colour. No yellows or creams – too close to the 90’s colours.

I looked at HUNDREDS of colour scheme room photos. Not one of them worked with the amount of varnished wood in this house. Mantles, window sills, skirting boards, bookshelves, entire glass walls surrounded with timber, and I was just about to expose a lot of the floors – more Tassie Oak (Eucalypt), all of it in shades of orange.  I pulled out the colour wheel and looked for complimentary colours for orange. Greenish blues. Hmm, well I quite liked the ocean…

A lot of  sites recommended taking a colour scheme from a loved object, like a bowl or artwork. Everything I owned was bought to go with my mother’s colour scheme so that wouldn’t work. Then one day I saw a cushion in Coles that I quite liked. A couple of weeks later it was reduced to half price. I figured it was a $4 sign. I knew what my main colour and my neutral looked like now.

This was about a year before the teal blues  really started appearing in the stores and colour schemes (wow, I’ve never ever been ahead of a trend before!)

Now to actually find them in paints. I spent weeks with colour cards  propped against all surfaces. Dulux Azure blue was one of the cards (there were about  15 all in the same range of greenish blues. It’s scary contemplating painting with such an intense shade though. Plus I have blues in the kitchen laminex and the kitchen floor and I didn’t want them to clash.azure blue dulux

Indecision reigned and the off whites remained completely elusive. Everything was  too brown, or too cold in tone  or it was a cream.

And then there was the bedroom. The master bedroom was a hideous shade of salmon pink. It needed to be changed. It also needed to be different to the rest of the house. It had to be my haven, not just another room. Since I was somewhat reluctant to move into this bedroom it also had to be something I absolutely adored, AND  completely different from my old room (which had been a light sandy peach for decades, and before that a wisteria mauve.)

One single colour scheme photo struck a chord as far as the bedroom went. From the moment I saw it I was hooked. It was in a Wattyl ‘Inspiring Designs’ booklet. (Most of them inspired me to yawn or throw up.)

wattyl bedroom Mantra


Wattyl Mantra looked perfect in the image and I loved the idea of black (Colourbond Nightsky is a fancy name for  black) accents –  although when I finally worked out that the throw rug wasn’t black the only possible black in that photo is a few centimetres of skirting board visible under the bed. When I got a sample pot of Stalactite though I discovered it was as white as it looked on the page. So obviously the ceiling. But was was that wall colour above the blue?  A half dozen sample pots later and long  sessions with the colour atlas and the aisles of sample cards and I was no nearer finding out. Colours that looked perfect during the day in the bedroom looked like cold sandstone or cement at night. Colours that looked great at night didn’t go with the Mantra in the daylight.

Apart from spending a fortune on sample pots I was running out of time.  I wanted to have the majority of the painting done in the lounge, hall and bedroom before I got the floors refinished and I had an annual ‘party’ in early December and I really wanted the painting mostly done by then. Then suddenly I had a confirmed date that the guy would be coming in with the sander.

I hated the idea of paying someone else to choose my paint colours. I’m fairly good with colours, I like playing around with them. So it especially hurt that  I was about to employ someone to essentially pick out two shades of white!

Calling Fiona , the local Dulux colour consultant was probably the best decorating decision I ever made.  The hour and a half that she fitted in at extremely short notice was invaluable.  Not only did she find  three ‘neutrals’ that I just love but she helped me decide upon the azure blue for the living room, made a heap of decorating suggestions as we chatted, redid the entire exterior colour scheme and was so enthusiastic about all my plans and ideas that I could have happily chatted all day. It was nice to have someone validate my choices without suggesting I use “Hog bristle” (I could NOT use that colour, I’d think of the name every time I saw it), or stating that I’d never be able to sell the place with a dark colour on the walls (hello, I just BOUGHT the place, please leave defeatist attitudes at the door.)

Fiona Dawson has, unfortunately for those of us in Tassie, moved to Queensland, and can be found at Dawsons Designs or on Facebook

After the consult I went straight out and bought the paint, no more mucking around with sample pots, these colours were going to have to do. I put the first coat of Dulux White Duck (Half strength) on the lounge wall and thought I’d made a HUGE mistake. It was green. Like duck egg green. Too bad, I had the paint, so on went the second coat.

It’s not green, not even slightly, in any light. It is the most wonderful colour, almost white, but not. Not cream, but warm. Not grey, but neutral. I love it so much that the bedrooms and sunroom which originally weren’t going to change colour from the “Swiss Muesli” they had been for years, have now  (or soon will)  become White Duck half.


Check out the final schemes (Posts with accent colours and pics coming soon).



Wattyl Mantra double strength. (feature wall)
Dulux Domino (windows, skirting) Wattyl Stalactite (Ceiling – all the ceilings are this which is much brighter than the sample above shows on my screen)
Dulux Beige Royal half (Cupboards and neutral walls)

Living areas


Dulux Azure Blue
Dulux Lexicon Half (Trim)
Dulux White Duck Half


What’s your favourite colour scheme and how did you settle upon it?






Tour Time: The Living Room

The official description of this house is 4 bedrooms, 3 living areas. When we moved in, from a much smaller house the number of ‘lounge rooms’ was confusing. No one knew where to  find anything 🙂 So they became the ‘sunroom’ (off the 3 children’s bedrooms, the lounge room (previously featured in the new study/salon/craft room) and the living room where we essentially did live.  Open  plan from the kitchen this room takes up one side of the house. I often say “I’ve bought a house with  no walls,” and this room is a perfect example. L-shaped it has the kitchen bench at one end, double doors and a door to  the hall on one wall, a small piece of wall on the opposite side and an L with 3 sides of windows.

I’ve just spent a couple of weeks with  it covered with  drop cloths and plaster dust.  It’s strange, but it was hard to  find pics to  show what it used to  look like because  I moved stuff around after Mum died, and I have  strong memories of  previous arrangements, but not necessarily  photos of them. One constant – the TV has always been in the corner, so it was visible from the kitchen as well as all of the room.

(Click the image for a larger view)

My father liked television, it was always on in the evenings. After he died I don’t know if it was habit or company or what but Mum always turned the tv on before the news. So it’s interesting that I haven’t actually watched tv in this house in nearly 18 months, and in fact none of the TVs are currently even plugged in, let alone tuned in. (But don’t get between me and my computer or I’ll hurt you ;))

The kitchen end of the living room has changed from  seating to  dining and back again over the years.

I bought the stools from a market just after Mum went, they were a horrid 80’s ‘teak’ orange so I stained them walnut.

The organ only moved into the room when the carpets came up in the lounge.

The L – full of sun all year round.

Those shelves were really annoying me.

That was the before. Several weeks of filling cracks, painting the ceiling,  prying shelves out of walls,  filling holes,  filling more holes, sanding filler, filling along the edges of the windows and cupboards and door frames later, I could finally start painting. I’m still  working on artwork, but…  ta da!

It feels so good to  get rid of that cream (well  okay, it’s still on the windows and the kitchen, but progress has been made!) The walls are  white duck half and the trim is Lexicon.

It’s really hard to get this colour to  photograph properly with  so many windows around it. It’s Dulux Azure Blue, the same as in the study/salon. To me it’s a bit deeper  than it shows on-screen. I love it more every day. I have plans for the cupboards over the bench – hence why they haven’t been painted yet.

From the kitchen – the curve is from the wide-angle lens. (I know nothing is straight in this house but seriously it’s not that obvious.)

Tour Time: The ‘um’ room

My first memory of living in this house was the night we moved in, walking in on a cold wet winter’s night after a long car trip from our old house and Dad (who had come earlier with the furniture) was sitting in an easy chair in front of a roaring fire. We’d never had an open fire before and I loved it.

Unfortunately, the chimney design sucked (or more to the point, didn’t suck) and so regularly smoked us out if the wind changed), so over the years we gradually stopped using the fireplace.

A few months ago, trying to work out how to keep the house I decided I had to let out some bedrooms. Since I was using them all this meant some major reorganisation.

My first thought was to stay put in my little bedroom and tiny study and move the salon into the spare room and let out the lounge and master bedroom.

Then I decided I could get more money letting 3 small rooms than 1 or 2 larger rooms. So, the contents of my tightly organised and packed study would need to move into the large, open, loungeroom, a room with no morning sun, a hearth and a fireplace and essentially no walls.  This meant finding room for walls of books and folders, boxes of beads and assorted craft stuff, a desk and shelves full of scrapbooking supplies, a table (that my father built) from the sunroom, and the myriad of office supplies that any self respecting stationery junkie always has on hand.

Later, I decided that the salon really didn’t earn itself a bedroom of its own and had to move into the lounge too.

So, if youy’re looking for something, it’s probably in the um lounge, I mean the new study um, ah, that is the salon, or  the um craft room.Actually, right at the moment I probably have no idea where it is!

The um, study, from the library/hall


The wall colours are Dulux Azure Blue, and White Duck half.

The book nook. Can't wait to get the fireplace working again this winter.


The craft corner. Not sure what I have planned to deal with this mess.

The salon corner

Tour Time: The Formal Lounge


When we (Mum, Dad, my younger sister and I moved into No.28 Gumtrees (from No.28 Queen St, anyone see a pattern?) on the 4th of July 1975 it was the wettest winter in decades. Not that us kids cared. We had free range of a house at least twice the size of the one we had left, and much better laid out. We left the long hall down the middle, the 2 bedrooms off one side, the lounge room on the other with the bay window (which features in my earliest ever memory at 18 months), the large old kitchen and a tiny sunroom/laundry. We exchanged it for 4 bedrooms, 3 living areas and a terrace on half an acre of gardens.

One of those living areas was dubbed ‘the lounge room’ to distinguish it from the living room and the sunroom. Visible from the hall through a wood and glass internal wall it opens into the living room with double sliding doors.

It started out as the formal lounge –  the  brocade couch and chairs flanking the fireplace. We used to wheel the tv into the double doorway on Sunday nights in Winter and sit around the fire watching The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie and eating soup and  smoked toast.

Once the fire stopped being used it got very little use,  closed up  in Winter to keep  the rest of the house warmer it was generally only used when  we had  meetings or gatherings here. It was an excellent room to put the dining table in the middle to  serve buffet dinners or suppers. Finally after  fishing  my  nephew out from under the table one too many times when he started to  crawl we jsut moved the table permanently into  the lounge and called it the dining room. As such it got used about  twice a year. Mum and I usually ate on our laps or in the study.

I moved the table back into the living room after Mum went into hospital.  But the lounge room still  only got used when entertaining. It was a great room for that – we had 50 people here for dinner one night,  no  problem.

So, this is what the loungeroom looked like before this Spring…

From the hall:

The fireplace:

Looking back to the hall:

And, the last corner, behind the door:

Stay tuned to see how it looks today.


A day in the life…

Every time I paint I swear up, down and sideways that I’m NOT going to do any painting after dark, which would explain why I’ve just finished putting the first coat on the new study and the hall at 11:30 pm, but only if I lived in Norway. I hate to think what this will look like in the morning light, but at least one coat is on, it’s only taken me all day.

I started at 8am, recoating the edging to the kitchen benches – and scraping back the laundry edge that I had forgotten about. Talk about false economy – why am I doing a part of the kitchen when I need to get the rest done first? Because I don’t clean brushes requiring turps – and before I tossed the varnish brush after finishing the windowsill and mantle piece I wondered if there was any more varnish that needed to be done. The kitchen had gone sticky. And yucky. I scraped it off, sanded and revarnished late last night (anyone see a pattern here?). So first job today, recoat and position strange piece of furniture around to remind me not to touch the benches.

Then I started painting – Double strength Mantra on the bedroom feature wall. I love it. Just hope I like the other colours. I had a colour consultant here yesterday for ninety minutes. $$$ and at the end of it she has basically helped me select what looks like 4 very expensive whites. Such a huge change from the buttery cream I’ve lived with since the eighties. Of course change is what I wanted, but I just hope these colours aren’t going to feel cold. So far the first coat of White Duck half looks very greenish grey. After all this effort I can tell you I’m going to have to learn to love it.

Washed out the roller etc, and then started taping up the rest of the rooms. One and a half rolls of tape later and they are done. I got half way through painting edges when a client arrived to have a broken nail fixed. Since she brought me a lovely panelled bi-fold door that I think will actually fit my non standard doorframes she is forgiven *grin*

Back to the White Duck Half – I’ve used about 3 litres today – edges, edges, edges, then fill in the rest. For a house without walls they sure turned up today – each of them fiddlier than the last. Finally gave up about 4ish when I emptied the roller tray and set out to find some food, and to try and buy the trim paint for the bedroom. Bunnings will receive a complaint call on Monday – I’ve tried 2 stores and they don’t have any ultra bright tint in 1 litre cans. They have it in 2 litre, but I refuse on principal to pay $25 more for paint I don’t need (I need about half a litre).

Back to the painting after 6 when I climbed up on the Mantra wall and masked off the ceiling line (nothing is straight here) and touched up the ceiling paint then back to the white Duck half, and didn’t stop until it was done.

Meanwhile elsewhere in town 50 or so of my high school classmates gathered for a 30 year reunion. I decided watching paint dry was more entertaining. Why then do I feel like I’ve got nothing done? I only have tomorrow to finish painting the new study and I really wanted to have the bedroom pretty much done too. I have no hope of getting the windows taped, sanded, filled and primed before tomorrow is over, which will be a pain, I wanted to put the computer desk in front of the window. First step is to actually get some sleep tonight instead of lying there mentally painting stuff!



Message from outer space

You know in Sci fi movies where the character must don a spacesuit and take heavy equipment out into space to fix the outside of a space craft? They usually play some haunting piece of music interspersed with the sound of heavy breathing amidst overbearing silence. Want to recreate the scene? First take noise cancelling earplugs and attach to ears. Suddenly all you can hear is the sound of your breathing and the rustle of your clothes or skin against the plastic rod joining your ears. Now add a disposable dust mask. They are termed disposable because after doing nothing more effective than convincing you you can’t breathe, you tear them off (the staples always give way at this point anyway) and toss them away in disgust after finding your mouth and chin caked with plaster dust or sawdust.

So, today I visited outer space and sanded back all the plaster holes I filled yesterday. Just to keep it authentic every few minutes my faceplate would go blank so I couldn’t see any advancing danger (or the sander!). Why they haven’t invented safety goggles that don’t fog up when you wear them with a dust mask I don’t know?

Sanding done, I then broke out the roller and decoloured the ceilings of the new study, the hall and the bedroom. Strange how I didn’t notice until I started putting white on that they were all painted quarter mix of the colour of the walls. Suddenly the orangey pink of the bedroom and the yellow cream of the rest are much less 90’s. I also discovered that Teflon rollers are better than cheap ones and that I’m never ever going to paint the ceiling of more than one room per day! I had to pin the monitor to the ceiling to type this because I can’t move my neck any more 😉 Not to mention my arms feel like they have been torn out of my shoulders. I’m almost looking forward to pulling staples out of the floor tomorrow because it means I don’t have to look up!

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