Gavin adds richness & drama to his “coolonial” living and dining rooms with gray painted walls

Gavin wrote me recently:

I have to share my new color:  Sweatshirt Gray/Ralph Lauren. Home Depot is discontinuing Ralph, and it was $13 a gallon!

.He continues:

BTW Pam…today you talked about painting the insides of bookcases accent colors. Here’ s what I did… I got the idea of painting my shelf background black from the cover of Better Homes and Gardens – November 1944… Instead of spending 40 bucks on a can of paint (only to find that it doesn’t work) I stuffed every piece of black clothing or fabric I could find around the books and items on the shelves and then lived with it for a day. It passed the test, and now I use that method for everything from draperies to upholstery. The bookcase is to the right of the dining room picture. I don’t know if you can pick out the black on the bookcase, but it’s great with the leather chair and slate fireplace.  Now all I need are two cheap  (but fabulous) Duncan Phyfe 40’s dining room chairs under the windows, opposite — painted black. People tell me to cover that scroll work over the bookcase — but I tell them no… I don’t live in a condo.  My house is from 1939, and proud.

Thank you, Gavin. And readers, if you are stressing over paint colors, my first reco right now is to look at California Paints. They recently introduced a new 20th Century palette — with 55 colors straight from mid-century archives. Whenever I am in a pinch, I start by looking at “authentic”. In my mind, California Paint’s extensive new, authentic palette is now the #1 place to to start.

Disclosure: California Paints recently signed on as an advertiser on my site. That said, I write about retailers that interest me, whether they advertise or not. In fact, I hope to have someone start helping with advertising sales soon, so I don’t have to think about or even know what’s up with whom. Me just wanna research and write.

  1. Jeff says:

    Gavin, love the house and the color!

    My folks used a similar gray/white combo in their 1953 storybook colonial in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and the overall effect was not only elegant, but correct for the house, and the period- right down to the Baldwin brass fireplace accessories.

    You’re right about these homes being hybrids as to style- my ranch is certainly Japanese-Atomic, but I am going to do the guest bedroom in traditional colonial decor, since I already have the furnishings, just need a great colonial wallpaper, and I should be set!

    Cheers on a really super place.

  2. jkaye says:

    Would love to see more of this home. Can’t help wondering what is just through that doorway in the dining room — the kitchen I presume. What’s going on in there, I wonder?

  3. jkaye says:

    Thanks for the explanation on the chair rail — perhaps because of the one-color treatment, I didn’t notice how the rail and panels aren’t quite in the right place. Your solution was a good one.

    One more topic — your carpet in front of the fireplace is lovely with the muted colors. Another great choice, going with a lighter carpet rather than something dark — it really lets the wall color, the lovely red chair, and the black accents have their say. What kind of carpet is it, and is it something you had to look for forever, or something you had that just seemed to belong in that spot?

    1. Gavin Hastings says:

      It is a 11×21 Karastan Kerman 708 which I found on E-bay.
      Then I found the same 4×6 one for the entry.
      Then I found the same 2×9 for the hall.
      I am looking for the same 8×10 for the dining area- and a 10×14 for the front bedroom.

      So that is 3 areas of carpet for under 1000. bucks. Match-y, but instead of “defining spaces” I would much rather a flow.

      Also, it provides perimeter. In decor, “the possibilities are endless” but sadly-life is not.

  4. Teresa T. says:

    I love your style and the colors you have choosen. So elegant, warm and inviting. Please keep the detailing on the bookcases. Was there a reason for the suggestion to paint the interior of the bookcases black? What paint did you choose? Satin, or a gloss? Thank you in advance.

    1. Gavin Hastings says:

      When I moved here in 2005, I painted everything a nice minty 1950’s Republican green….walls, trim, bookcase interior and exterior. Matching damask draperies.

      Nice- but really a slumber party
      I painted the interior of the bookcases black after seeing it done on the cover of a magazine from the 1940’s. Benjamin Moore Dulamel Black (oil). It really added depth and “oomph” to the room..

      I really like to use black and am thinking of maybe a black grasscloth or burlap for the entry hall.

  5. Zoocrewmom says:

    I’m trying to tell – is that a pure white or a creamy white on the trim? I’m wondering if a “blue” white would be too much or if you need a “yellow” white?

    1. Gavin Hastings says:

      Benjamin Moore China White Satin Impervo….which is going to “yellow out” anyway. I resisted adding another color here, so everything bit of trim in the entire house is or will be that color.

      I have a basement full of almost full paint cans-and really want to simplify.

      Don’t tell the EPA.

  6. MrsErinD says:

    Awww cute Maggie! I was going to say, I see a kitty or doggie on the chair! :O)

    I don’t think the decor is out of place on this blog, it’s very mid century, the colonial and traditional styles etc. are the ones I see the most in real photos back then.

  7. MrsErinD says:

    Wow that is gorgeous Gavin! Yes, the scrollwork is my favorite part, I noticed that right away, such beautiful built ins! I like the back painted black too, I have always liked how they would paint the back of built ins a color and front white.
    I love the furniture and decorating too, and the Mary and Jesus painting and sconces. It’s very sophisticated but cozy at the same time. Awesome job!

    Haha, ya, I am not good at restraint, our house is quite small and I love knick knacks too, so it’s not nearly as sophisticated, lol.

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