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A Master Class In Using Color In Your Home Without it Feeling Like A COLORFUL Home (It’s Not The Decor)

I think the design gods are looking out for me (or trying to tell me to stop being so out of my mind). Why? Well, in my pretty ridiculous crisis over potentially having “too much” pink in my new apartment’s living room, this house was pitched to me by, you might have guessed, A 1000 X Better. The pink (as well as all of the colors designer, Elspeth Benoit used) are not only unbelievably happy but SO BEAUTIFUL. It’s an explosion of color but also not. I am in no way overwhelmed and yet happy to be so surrounded by color (ok, I’m technically am not in the space but doing my best to mentally transport or “shift” there. Have any of you heard of this thing the young kids are doing??? A topic for another time). So let’s dive into this absolute master class of designing a home where colors are not simply the decor but all over the walls and floors.

Wall and Bookcase Color | Bookcase Millwork | Rug | Sofa | Chairs | French Doors | Door Color

If you read this blog you likely have a love for charm-drenched homes that don’t need a ton of renovations… but wait, are there people that don’t love those?? Well, when Elspeth and her family moved into this home that’s what they got for the most part. All of that paneling was THERE ALREADY. I know. So to her, this was a blank slate. But to really make it a blank slate she painted the floors white and let it evolve. Here is the before photo:

Is this a beautiful room? Of course. But with the truest power of paint and some upgrades (bifold doors and bookcase built-in), this space looks completely transformed.

I actually think that the white floors and ceiling are what help keep the colors visually less overwhelming… and all the sunlight. Never underestimate natural lighting. That’s why Emily is so obsessed with knowing how the light moves around the farmhouse. She wants to maximize it as much as possible without living in an actual glass house:)

Wall Color | Floor Colors: Dark Green, Light Green | Stained Glass Windows

But then when you head into the dining room, Elspeth totally changes to the color story but still keeps it playful! Again, she uses “lighter” colors on the floor and ceiling but goes moody with the wall color. If you notice, aside from the bathrooms, all of the ceilings are white to help with continuity. That really helps to give the freedom to play with colors while still knowing you are in the same house. Plus it makes the ceilings feel taller. Ideal? Uh… ya.

Now before we move on we NEED to talk about these particular floors and stained glass windows. These modern patterns feel totally fresh and yet classic. I love the understated boldness and life they bring to this room.

Rug | Flushmount

Sunrooms are meant to be light and bright and that is exactly what this one is. And with that view… not sure you need much more.

Here’s one more shot before we head into a pretty unbelievable kitchen. Also, note how those VERY cool sconces not only bring in some curves in a room with a lot of straight lines but they also complement the wood tones of the table and chairs. They also just break up the dark walls. Talk about balance!

Ok, now we are actually headed to the kitchen…

Cabinets | Counters (Quartzite countertops: Alexandrita) | Windows | Trim Color | Wall Color | Skylights | Rug

I mean it’s warm, textured, colorful, yet simple. I can’t decide what I love most but I do know that my eyeballs are very happy.

The cabinets are ridiculously good and custom-made by Dakota Witzenburg of ToDoSomething with Querkas oak (vintage oak veneered panels). The movement/natural “imperfections” make them completely timeless and warm. They perfectly contrast the sleek, polished Quartzite countertops (Alexandrita), Carrera marble floors, and modern hardware.

We also need to talk about that blue window trim. They remind me of the ones from Zosia Manet’s cabin (which was my favorite detail in her home). Painting your window trim a “fun color” is such a cool way to add an unexpected moment, some depth and it just looks awesome. A deep blue like this one, Portola Paints “Ghost Tree”, is both bold but still a color you won’t regret in a few years. It’s basically a neutral… but a really pretty one:)

Range | Sink | Faucet | Dishwasher | Wall Color

Well, seeing the stone in its full glory makes me wonder if I like the stone or the cabinets more… but why do I need to choose? I don’t. They are both awesome. And that roman clay wall texture gives even MORE movement. Side note, I really need taco-shaped sconces now.

Moving onto the bedrooms.


I had this idea of doing a “Timeless Wallpaper Patterns” post and if I do end doing it (is that something y’all you want??) this one would be in it. It’s SO special, bold, and is a nice balance of “feminine” and “masculine”.

And as we’ve said before when you install a bold wallpaper pattern, the rest of the room doesn’t need much else.

Wall Color | Scallop Sconce | Rug

This might be my favorite shot in this tour because it so perfectly shows the power of intentional eclecticism. Between the wallpaper (traditional), the rug (boho), the countertop (modern), and the blend of colors, it’s a design lover’s dream. Why I think it works so well is because those three main features (wallpaper, rug, and countertop) are all different pattern scales. Large being the wallpaper, medium being the countertop, and finally the rug as the small. Plus the soft pink walls are 100%.

Custom Vanity | Countertop Stone: Cipollino Ondulato | Pivot Mirror | Faucet

Oh and don’t forget to drool over the custom vanity also by ToDoSomething. So many pretty details.

The thing about designing a colorful yet not too COLORFUL of a home is to know when to pull back. This sweet little twin room still has splashes of color (hello, yellow!) but otherwise, it’s a nice neutral moment full of texture.

Hot Tip: If you have tongue and groove paneling like in this house, you are in visual interest heaven.

Rug (vintage)

What a fun and unexpected rug! I love the contrast with the pink walls.

So yes, bedrooms are a very good place to go more neutral (but cozy). It needs to be your sanctuary. And look, some people are completely unfazed by big bold decor moments in their bedrooms. I equate them to people who can drink coffee moments before bed and still quickly fall asleep. WILD CHILDS! But that’s not what these people were into:)

The deep-toned textiles and accent furniture totally pop off the walls to gentle balance and lead you to THIS BATHROOM!

Wall Color | Vanity | Countertop Stone: Calacatta | Niche Marble: Cipollino Francese | Mirror | Sconce | Windows

Take a deep breath with me and let’s admire this room. Can you handle that marble counter (again by ToDoSomething)??? Or the fact that the drawers are also marble??? This may be the most beautiful saturated color I have seen. Like the kitchen walls, it’s a roman clay finish so it basically feels like you are looking at the ocean with how much movement it’s got going on (in the best way). Also, do you see what’s peeking through the mirror??

Tile | Fixtures | Skylights

Our beloved Zellige tile which Em did a big post about last week. It just looks so good and I think that with the myriad of textures and colors in this home that this tile works beautifully in it. Especially with those skylights! I think it would be impossible to feel like you are on vacation in the bathroom.

Ok, that’s the tour! Hope you feel more empowered to bring color into your home because if these before and afters don’t do it for you I don’t know what will:)

Same bookcase but totally elevated (thicker shelves in a different configuration and new cabinet doors) by ToDoSomething.

Again! The power of literally just paint! Ok and a little stained glass.

A full-on reno that was totally worth it.

A new coat of paint (and some expert styling) is sometimes all a room needs.

I mean there’s no comparison. Pink for the absolute win.

When done right, white walls can really make a room feel A LOT bigger.

A little loft clean up and wallpaper is clearly all that you need:)

So have any of you really “gone for it” in the color department? Do you have any tips of your own? Or are you wanting to try but scared? What is your favorite room in this house? Let’s chat!

Love you, mean it.

Oh and one more thing…It’s for sale! If you are interesting in it here’s the listing🙂

*Design by Elspeth Benoit and Arterberry Cooke
**Photos by Alex Zarour of Virtually Here Studios
***Staging by A 1000 X Better


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67 thoughts on “A Master Class In Using Color In Your Home Without it Feeling Like A COLORFUL Home (It’s Not The Decor)

  1. Not a fan of such busy wallpaper in a bedroom given that it is supposed to be a space for respite and relaxtion, but others mileage may vary.

    1. Yeah I grew up with big retro wallpaper like that … no matter how hip it is, it just looks fusty to me. While we’re in that bedroom I’m also confused as to why they didn’t rip that weirdo awkward poky mini loft out?
      I am living in a house of a similar era, paneling, and lovely views, along with large open plan central lofty spaces and smaller, ” cabin ” feeling bedrooms. I LOVE color but the colored trim , esp in the living room, feels so busy to me. As I look at my home’s large central living room, with large windows, which I painted a warm pinky white, colored trim feels like it would make the room feel smaller… It may feel different in LA where there is more sunlight, but here in the East I like how what reads as white walls and window frames allow the room to frame my views, not compete with them. I like colored trim for much older homes, but for anything built after 1920s’ colored or painted trip doesn’t feel like the vernacular of the house. I’m also BUMMED they painted those gorgeous wood floors! Wood is so much more beautiful, easy to clean maintain and live with and versatile than ( check notes) green checkerboard and white ? Seems cool in pics for 20 mins , less good IRL over time.

      1. I love the French doors they out in… but as I take the virtual walk through in the listing it feels like they did a LOT! to show they are HIP! and know DESIGN! in almost every ROOM! and spent serious MONEY! on KAPOWING! what want to be simple cottagey BATHROOMS ! Maybe this approach would work in a place from the 1910’s, or one with stronger architectural spaces, but IMHOP given the wall paneling, ceiling height, room proportions, and highly improvisational country cottage style floorplan, the house simply cant stand up to that level of BIG STATEMENT everywhere! So sorry this decor style in this space just feels like the Hodge Podge Lodge to me .

        1. Yeah, I found myself most drawn to the sunroom and the twin bedroom: the simplest, whitest spaces that didn’t seem to be trying to so hard and seemed most likely to endure the test of time. Pity about those painted floors.

        2. Agreed, they did beautiful things but the house looks like it has an identity crisis now.

        3. Same! So, so, so much KAPOWING! It’s really a lot for what was probably a sweet cottagey space.

      2. I personally love the wallpaper but I am with you on the loft question. Is there no longer a ladder to get up there, or is it hiding? It couldn’t be safe without the old railing, right? Super strange without more explanation.

  2. What a beautiful and unique house! The stone is so good throughout the house (that jack and jill bathroom backsplash is amazing!)

  3. I love colour but am very sensitive to it – I can be easily overwhelmed by a lot of a single colour, say on a wall, but I love it in a smaller, concentrated dose like a sofa (I’m on my third red sofa). So a lot of these are too much for me.
    But in the before-and-after shots, most of which I like (except the wallpapered bedroom and the crazy-marbled bathroom), I notice that the common denominator is something that EHD has traditionally cautioned against – contrast. I love contrast, I think the crispness of it is actually calming, and in kitchens and bathrooms especially I think it looks clean (which let’s face it, is what you want in kitchens and bathrooms).
    Black-and-white-and-wood is my favourite combination for a kitchen as I think it’s crisp and clean yet warm and the kitchen shown here is a pretty good example of that. I notice most American kitchens seem to go for worktops in a similar tone to the cabinet colour, whereas in my part of the world we go more for a contrast, which I personally prefer.

    1. I’m a rare American who likes contrast in the kitchen cabinets and counters. I’ll be doing ivory cabinets with soapstone counters and wood floors. Feels timeless and classic to me, and look forward to finally getting started.

      1. Ours are different as well. We have cinnamon colored quartersawn oak cabinets and crema limestone Caesarstone countertops (dull yellow).

  4. This house is so incredible. Everything I’ve ever seen of a 1000 x better’s work is always bonkers good. all the cabinetry and woodwork is gorgeous. the colors are great, sigh. too many things to talk about, that i just have to leave it with LOVE LOVE LOVE for today. sigh.

    1. I completely agree! A house with a genuinely unique personality! Bold and soft at the same time. I am in LOVE LOVE LOVE too!

  5. Just closed on our first house!! I like color, but my husband is like ALL ABOUT color. Does he know he’s a middle aged lawyer with strong boho taste? Unclear. But I definitely love him for it. We are going for deep colors in our dining room (navy) and bedroom (forest green), with a boutique mountain hotel vibe for the bedroom. The living room will be a lighter cream, grey, and camel scheme with blue accents. The part I’m nervous about is the entryway! Again, partner hates white, it drives him mad. And he is kinda bummed if we play it safe with agreeable grey everywhere. So I’m thinking about a clay/terracotta entryway, which we may extend into the kitchen for now too. (Bigger kitchen reno is definitely a few years down the road.) Any thoughts or advice on a clay/terracotta (darker than blush or shell) entryway in a beautiful blank slate of a 1920 colonial?

    1. I’m no designer but we put that color in our entry after years of it being white. We love it. Warm and friendly to walk into and not overwhelming because it opens to neutral livingroom

    2. The colors sound gorgeous – I’m in love with the navy, hunter green, and clay sounds awesome! I think you can bring in metal accents and white accents to help it not feel too dark. So exciting!

    3. Congratulations Rue! That’s a life milestone and so so so exciting. All the best – have fun decorating. 😊

  6. I like that they didn’t rip it all out. The changes they made were thoughtful. Could not live with a black bathroom but the other color choices are beautiful

    1. Ha, the bathroom was my favourite room. It’s funny how the colours change in the photos with the light, but that lovely textured dark blue with the shine of the zellige is basically the dream bathroom I didn’t know I wanted…

  7. This home is EVERYTHING! the TEXTURE, the LIGHT, the play on DARK & LIGHT – contrast BABY!
    I LOVE IT ALL! I have really been looking at my home with a motivation to play up the dark and light lately

  8. This is beautiful, but: was it all done just for staging?! Has no one lived in this house as it is shown here?
    I just feel like there’s a big chance the next owners will want to put their own spin on things and re-destroy everything—any intel on what usually happens in these cases?

    1. I didn’t realize this was staged and for sale until I saw your comment. I know a lot of people in higher cost places here in California prefer to buy a house done, but this does speak to very specific tastes. I wonder if a buyer has the option of purchasing furniture and accessories. I’m guessing at this price point, yes. Even Emily sold some of her pieces with her LA house, I believe.

  9. Love it. There are a couple of matters of taste where I’d have made a slightly different choice – maybe I’d make a different statement wallpaper choice, and the vent hood is a little bulky/nondescript for me – but the colors, materials, use of space are pretty dreamy. (Huge yikes to home values in L.A., but that’s nothing new…)

  10. So this house is stunning and I agree that paint and colour can make a big difference in styling a home. I think the thing I am struggling with is there is a huge difference between adding colour to a home with this much architectural interest, and a featureless home. This house oozes money, especially with the changes they did. For some people reading this they may live in similar situations. I think though for the majority of people accomplishing something similar would be impossible. I think this tour is lovely. It’s inspiring and total eye candy, but I think indicating you could achieve something similar in our own home without have a huge budget or a house full of charming architectural details is much less likely. Speaking as someone who barely has any money for decor and renovations and loves to make my home beautiful, this feels as far out of reach as the moon.

  11. I really love the pale pink walls with the mustard trim around the doors. I wouldn’t have painted the wood floors, but the white does really ground the whole color scheme in the room. I’ve always been a fan of color on my walls with more neutral accessories (usually a lot of white or ivory).

  12. Looking for that shade of blue for my new couch! Please share exact couch color if possible

  13. I think the painted wood floors look great in these photos, but I would love to hear from someone who has this in their house to see how it actually holds up. I feel like painting wood floors white is a really popular thing I’m seeing these days on blogs and tv (leanne ford anyone?), but it just seems like a hassle to have to repaint if things get chipped. Kind of like the issue of chipping with painted kitchen cabinets, but on another level. Would love this as an option if it’s more durable though!

    1. It was once a very popular thing on Apt. Therapy, so you could find some of the old posts on there. The only thing I’ve ever heard is to get commercial grade marine paint to make it really last. Even porch paint won’t make it more than 2 years and that’s if you have no pets, no kids, absolutely no shoes in the house, never move furniture, never drop anything hard (like a platter even).

    2. I love the white floors – so soothing and grounding. I often find wood floors too orange and overwhelming.

  14. Wow this house is gorgeous. While I get what some of the other commenters are saying about elements of it being too try hard, I guess I don’t really care because the end result is so show stopping with so many beautiful moments. There’s a lot going on but to my eyes still feels super livable. I LOVE color used in unexpected ways and lots of quirky old and new juxtaposition so this really hits all the spots for me. Thank you for sharing! I pinned this post so hard.

    1. I don’t like when people call something try hard when there’s no real evidence of that other than the person has done more than what the commenter would do. Sure this could be try hard, but other than it being on Instagram (which is a weak argument) it could just as easily be something they actually like and they aren’t afraid to be themselves. So many think everything is try hard because they live looking over their shoulder for a judgy face, when they are actually seeing something earnest.

      1. Im not judging it as try hard out of of fear, rest assured I let my freak flag fly exuberantly high in my clothing, home and life and I support others to do the same. Im saying that to me, the design choices overwhelm the space.

  15. Maybe I am more simplisic and minimal person, I dont feel much improvements with all those investments to be honest, they should leave is as and let next buyer do it

  16. Does anyone know what this type of paneling on the walls is called? The light pink painted paneling and white in the twin beds room. It different than shiplap, almost like board and batten and beadboard had a baby… Would love the name for it!

    1. Molly, I think they call it tongue and groove, which is what beadboard is, but it is obviously much wider than what you typically see.

  17. Jess, this is totally works…lovely, fascinating and a delight. Thanks so much for this gem.

  18. I always viewed shades as neutral colors. That was before I learned the correct meaning. But I still stand by its application. If you muddy colors a little, they will work out more often than not. And big rooms allow for more colors. Just having air around allows to step back and appreciate it more. Also large windows actually decrease the percentage of color. Have you ever notice how the same furniture and colors look different in a highrise vs a small suburban home?

  19. I’d totally move here. I’m very attracted to contrast, and the combo of light and dark throughout makes me oooh and aaah. The checkerboard floor! The kitchen! Marble! Shower tile! Are you kidding? I’m not a pink lady, but that wall color works.

  20. Hey, I painted my entire apartment (save the bathroom) a shade of pink similar to that! I filled my apartment with tons of aqua, white, gold, and wood, though (and a traffic cone orange rug, too)… Looks much happier to me than this home. This home is way too devoid of color for me, it looks a bit dreary. 🙁

  21. Whoa. I really love the design of this home. While I might choose a different paint color or wallpaper here and there, I really love what is happening and how it works. The atmosphere and vibe it has is exactly what I want in my home. I rarely fall in love with house tours, here or elsewhere, instead finding one or two details that I like. But this one I liked very nearly everything!

  22. Ohhhh this home is so lively, character full, charming, and fun. I’m saving the pictures for inspiration. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Just noticed in the larger pics on the real estate site that the poster in that wall of bookshelves is a Guillaume Azoulay. I have one of his posters (Buster Keaton) and love it. Haven’t seen too many, so it’s nice to see another one.

  24. I actually like the checkered floor and I usually am not a fan of checkerboard anything. It looks like tatami to me (which I love). I bought a house recently and some of the wood floors look great, but the floor in the hallway does not. There are even deep gouges in some spots. So I’m now considering what this might look like…maybe one color for the floor itself and alternate greens on the steps, and paint the walls dark like in the dining room…It’s an idea.

  25. Would love to know where to purchase the dining room and kitchen sconces.

  26. I have to admit that I prefer some of the before pictures to the afters. Especially the bookcases with the teal paint and the floors before they were painted. I love wallpaper but not this one. The dining room and the bathrooms are wonderful though. The twin bedroom is really adorable.

  27. One of my favorite houses you’ve ever featured, it’s just absolutely stunning

  28. What fun – so much to look at! Maybe too much for me to live with but I very much enjoyed the tour.

  29. Jess, very well-written and educational review of the use of color — and other elements — in this design. You broke down the components very well, provided enough photos to give the reader a real understanding of the before and after, and gave a good analysis in terms we amateurs can understand. Loved this! I am inspired to finish some of my home “to-do” items now! Oh, and my favorite room is the kitchen because of the super successful pairing of the sleek, contemporary surfaces and colors with warm and rustic ones. It is educational on how to mix contrasting elements to “have it all” with perfect balance. Good job here!

  30. I really like the unique and impressive kitchen decor. A perfect contrast between the oak color and the Quartzite countertop.
    I appreciate the color as well as the interior layout.

  31. LOVE everything 1000 x Better does! And I love the Silverlake neighborhood – the natural character of the homes in that neighborhood really makes everything special. I want color and wallpaper! thx for the inspo.

  32. Can you please share the paint color that is in the twin bedroom? It’s gorgeous!!

  33. I love some of the moments- kitchen! Stained glass and bookshelf redo. Some dark light filled rooms. However, the dark bathrooms and intense wallpaper not so appealing. I really like the simple before cottage like white bath.

  34. Great post! I have to admit though I am definitely NOT color adverse. I am pretty immature though and love shocking people with my choices. So while I love the restrained style and deft use of color, I don’t feel the personality coming through. This house gets a lot of help from its wall treatments and light. I’m not sure this would come off in a tract home.

    That bathroom though. EGADS. You had me at floor to ceiling black zellige with sky lights.

  35. I really like the way the black wall bathroom is decorated. With all the bathroom hardware set: towels hooks, shower bar, just quite low-key but gorgeous!

  36. I found this house on SM late last week and cannot stop thinking about it. I LOVE IT. So, naturally was pleased to find this posting today in my mailbox. I am trying to find out the three paint colors used on the outside. Can anyone answer this question?

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