Dear Debbie: I've just moved into a tiny gem of an old house. My first priority is to freshen it up a bit with paint, and I'm hoping you will give me some direction with colors. I have a very hectic job and want to be able to leave the stresses of the day at the front door. Thank you. - Monique
Dear Monique: You are looking for a serene color palette that will soothe the senses. I suggest you begin with a base of browns, taupes, creams or whites, as these colors are naturally peaceful and associated with the senses. Think of tactile wood tones, smooth melted chocolate, mossy taupes and creamy sand. One or two of these will resonate with you. To complement and heighten the calm mood, add the irresistible charm of blue. Blue is synonymous with sea and sky, and the medium tones, those with a touch of red in them, such as lilac and lavender, evoke tranquility. For the bathroom, watery blues paired with white create a spa-like freshness and purity.
Strive for an uncluttered space; allow the eye to rest on surface textures and sheens. Taupe satin walls, a chocolate velvet cushion, and a lightweight blue and white wool throw with a gently swirling pattern produce a restful living-room vignette. The gently reflective surface of the shiny metal lamp base sitting on a pale-blue side table, and the asymmetric brown and blue vases on the mantel are elements that balance the setting.
Natural fibers should be used as often as possible to allow the body to breathe. We are especially conscious of what is touching our skin in the bathroom and bedroom, where we are most vulnerable. With today’s accent on environmental responsibility, look for organic products that soothe and nourish your skin. Apply a coat of duck-egg blue or frothy white to your bathroom or bedroom walls. Floors can be wood or stone; both have perfect natural textures and feel great underfoot. On your bathroom counter, display a fluffy pile of brown, blue and white towels and you’ve got an unbeatable combination that is guaranteed to clear your mind and rejuvenate you for your next busy day.
Dear Debbie: We have ceramic tile in a standard bathroom layout. Unfortunately, the decorator row of tiles is not to our liking.
The 3-inch-by-6-inch insert tiles, decorated with a pink/green/blue vine pattern, runs around the shower and counter. Without having to rip out all the tiles, is there any paint I could use to cover these tiles to go with our cream and taupe color scheme? – Kim
Dear Kim: You can paint over the tiles that you don’t like; they will not have the same texture or touch as the real ceramic tiles, but that doesn’t matter. Tape off around the border tiles to protect the areas that are remaining.
Sand the tiles you are going to paint and apply a high-adhesion primer so that the new paint will stick. If the vine pattern is raised, you will still see it, but this should look good, adding some dimension to the effect. Melamine or laminate paints are tough and hard-wearing. You can also use acrylic paint, but finish with two or three coats of varnish for sheen and protection.
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.