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Moving Through Some Regret – The First Look At The Farmhouse Living Room Plus What I’m LOVING So Far :)

After doing this content creation thing for 14 years I consider myself a professional at documenting my design process in a very public way, yet like a seasoned athlete, the harder you play the more prone to injury you can be. Or so I’m telling myself. Here’s my armchair theory – due to the sheer volume of games you play, and how hard you go at it on the court, you are proportionately more vulnerable to getting hurt despite your experience and “expertise”. I feel like with this house, I (we) had a lot of incredible plays that we really nailed–big ‘running it back for a touchdown’ moments that I love so much. But I messed up on this living room and it feels like watching myself miss a basic free throw to lose the game, over and over and over on the big screen. And after weeks of being very angry at myself for it not turning out like I had thought it would, I’m moving through the regret and creating a solution with a heavy dose of perspective. What I have to remind myself all the time is that A. This isn’t a real problem and B. I’m not a perfect design expert, obviously. The real value I can add to the world is documenting my design process, and often making mistakes so you A. don’t feel alone when you do and B. can avoid the same mistake or learn through my problem-solving. This is why I chose to be a design blogger and NOT an interior designer with clients (where you can rarely admit nor document your mistakes). So here I am, ready to talk through the regrets. And I’ve convinced finally myself that this is not game 7 of the tied world series. This renovation, this room, isn’t my last game. I made a couple of dumb plays, I blew an easy shot and I lost us this game. So after weeks of punishing myself, I’m lacing up and headed out on the court to win game 2.

The Before – 2 years ago

To recap: as you can see the living room when we bought it was super spacious but very dark. One of our main goals (that we admittedly obsessed over, almost pathologically) was to brighten it in every single way.

The room had three west-facing windows, which were blocked with bushes, and the north window didn’t bring in too much light. So we redesigned the house to ensure that this main space was bursting with natural light.

Additionally, as you can see the ceilings were stained very dark (almost burgundy) and the walls were also painted dark. Both easy fixes.

Where We Are Now – One Month In (Not Officially Decorated)

This is how we are living in it right now, one month in. There are so many good things about it and I’m extremely grateful that we live here. The space itself is obviously so much brighter (we really checked that box), the wood floors are stunning, windows and doors are so pretty, and the quality of the paneling and all the millwork from ARCIFORM is perfection. The sconces are classic (and provide excellent dimmable lighting), the original fireplace got a real upgrade, and overall it’s such a lovely flow from entry to the kitchen (where the camera is). So wait, what is so wrong with it? Well, It feels cold and unfinished to me, based on design choices that I MADE near the end. I think because we were chasing the feeling that we had at the mountain house – the sense of calm provided by nature, natural light, and a very warm minimalist vibe, I just under-did it and it’s too stark. And I’m not talking about the furniture – we don’t have our sofa, piano or artwork yet which will obviously add a layer. I’m talking about the paint color and paneling.

I Miss The Warmth Of The Wood

I miss the natural wood of the window casings and wall paneling before we painted them white (as seen above). We did a custom run of both pieces – the 12″ beaded paneling and the window casing (and both are really pretty when you get up close – Thank you ARCIFORM!). They were fabricated in paint grade poplar and were very, very expensive to both fabricate and install (as custom always is). If I could go back in time I would splurge even more on doing them in white oak and leave it natural or just wash in paint (like Anne did in her bay house which I can’t wait to show you), but wouldn’t paint over it completely. I feel like it’s a huge missed opportunity to have spent so much money on the custom run and the install only to not have them be a statement (solutions are coming, it’s not dire). Imagine if the paneling below the windows and the window and door casings were all in the same white oak as the windows?? So warm and cozy. And had I not seen the room with the poplar wood installed (pre-painted) I would maybe not know it was a possibility, but it’s like I can’t unsee it. I miss the wood right now. I might be obsessing about it and the solution might be easy and even better than wood. We’ll see.

I Wish I Had Mixed Up The White Paint Colors

I don’t regret painting the ceiling white, but I wish that I had chosen a warmer tone of white for the walls of this room (it’s SherwinWilliams Extra White). I really love it in some of the rooms (mudroom, hallway, kitchen) but in here, combined with the paneling also in the same color, it looks like we haven’t chosen our color yet. Had I properly obsessed about choosing whites differently in each room based on what else is happening in there we might have realized that this room needed a warmer white that still read as white or hell, what I’m realizing even now is that this room needs a neutral tone or even a color. Brian and I were pretty close to a real fight about this – but I was exhausted, felt exhausted, and just chose the same white for most of the rooms that we wanted ‘white’. To be clear he didn’t choose this white, we did together, but I wish I had obsessed about it more. I feel gutted, so dumb and I’m still mad at myself. It made me really doubt all of my decisions moving forward. And If you are like ‘it’s not a big deal! just paint over it!’, yes we can but unfortunately painting over semi-gloss wood paneling is a real thing. It really has to be sprayed, which means that everything has to be masked off for days, covered, sanded, primed, and painted again. We basically need to leave the house. All doable, but it’s a thing guys and WE JUST SPEND TENS OF THOUSANDS PAINTING THE HOUSE. I.e. redoing so soon makes me feel sick and embarrassed.

So What is The Solve? How Are You Going To Make it Better?

Ok, PROBLEM SOLVING MODE OFFICIALLY ENACTED. This room needs texture, depth, and color to make it feel warmer and more finished. I played it FAR too safe with the white-on-white thing and it’s time to fix it. Here are my ideas:

  1. Wallpaper the drywall, above the paneling, a light tone. I found a fabric wallcovering by Ashely Stark that is so gorgeous that I have been desperate to put it somewhere in the house. It’s an open weave linen that has tones of taupe and grays. Is it farmhouse-y? Nope. but neither is the living room right now so I’m less concerned about sticking to some OG vibes that are long gone, and instead just making it a really, really inviting room. You can see the fabric wallpaper here (and head to stories where I’ll show you the sample that just arrived).
  2. Paint the drywall a light color. This would be the easiest, most immediate solution of course – even I can paint drywall (again, not the paneling or door/window casings – YET). I think by doing this the white casings would look like they should – that they are framing the windows whereas right now it looks super unfinished (you can barely see the casings). If I’m being totally honest I didn’t want window casings at all – I like the deep jam, no casing look but lost that battle a year ago because that is a more contemporary look. But now that we have them we should highlight them, help them architecturally enhance the space, and add depth and detail. Having the drywall be a tone will at least highlight the white of the casings, which will frame the windows better.
  3. Paint all the window casings and paneling. Ok. So when we first walked into the house after being gone for a month, seeing it primed over all the pretty wood Brian and I both were like ‘Woah, Shoot. that is a lot of white’. The painters had finished almost all the other rooms but hadn’t painted the actual white yet in here, just the primer. So we quickly grabbed the Upward paint color that we had leftover from the doors upstairs and painted it on the paneling. We both felt like the room needed it and we really loved the color. Did we feel 100% confident? NO. We felt honestly like 40% confident, but we had no time. So dumb. We should have stalled the work, but we had pushed so incredibly and annoyingly hard to move in the following week that we didn’t want to be those people who were like, ‘Uh, guys? we changed our minds and want to play with paint colors for a couple of days’. We let our impatience and egos stop us from taking the time to make the right decision. So we said, ‘we like this color a lot – it’s a happy light blue, and we have the paint – let’s just do it all this color’. We didn’t want to go darker because we wanted it light, we didn’t want to go bluer because the kitchen tile is really the most stunning focal point that we didn’t want to compete with. Besides, the floors were covered so we couldn’t see the wood, and all the windows were covered so we couldn’t get a sense of the light or see the white oak. The tile in the sunroom and kitchen were covered so we couldn’t get a sense of color. It’s pin the tail on the paint color, blindfolded and our hands landed here:

We walked in, the next day and it was a hard “NO” for both of us. Brian mumbled something about being the easter egg house…what is a super sweet color upstairs was far too periwinkle down here. They had only done one coat and we stopped them immediately. No one wanted to be me less than me at that moment.

It was NOT going to work. So what did we do instead? As you can see we told them just to do the same white. How could it not look good? We love how the mountain house is white walls and wood windows and doors. But I was wrong and this room needed some contrast between the paneling, casing, and drywall and since the paneling and casing are integrated together (i.e. the interior window sill is the top of the paneling) we can’t only paint the window casings but not the paneling – they have to be painted together.

I mean, it looks pretty in this shot I know and after a few weeks of living in here, I do really like being in this room, despite me wanting to add more texture and depth to the walls.

But another option that we are seriously considering is painting the fireplace and/or cladding the mantel in wood (the floor brick still needs to be painted and we need to finalize the chimney to make sure we can use it).

It’s pretty as is! But it’s an option to help ground the room and add some drama and contrast. Brian is not in favor of this.

In this photo, it looks so pretty! I feel like I’m a little bit losing it and I want you all to know that I understand this isn’t a real problem. It all feels so dumb. So to lessen my frustration with myself I’ve started living in denial that I was the one that chose the white walls/white paneling situation. Instead, I am basically pretending that we just bought this beautiful newly renovated house and I’m just the new owner that gets the add my touch/layer to it, because the designer who renovated it chose a safe look. It’s an odd disassociation/denial exercise that has given me a bit of distance from the fact that this was JUST DONE, by me. Emily Bowser said this is such an enneagram ‘7’ way to respond to something – to reframe it in a way that is more fun and less painful, and I don’t disagree.

Just picture the walls above the paneling with a slight neutral tone – something that lets the casing and paneling pop more, frames the windows nicely, and lets the ceiling and fireplaces stand out, too.

Wallpaper The Entry? Yes!

Then in the entry, we want wallpaper and I honestly like 10 of the options, so I’m waiting to decide on the living room solution before I do the entry. The entry is so pretty as-is that I’m not worried about it looking beautiful. The living room is my problem child right now.

Now before you get worked up at my odd layout, we played with it a few ways but we feel pretty great about the loveseat + sofa + swivel chair combination (as of now). Of course, we wouldn’t typically have the sectional chaise cut off the love seat, but this is the sofa that we’ve had forever (from Article, it’s awesome) and have been waiting to design or choose the new sofa until we knew our layout which would dictate the scale, length, style, and color. It’s a domino effect (and I still have to design that dining nook, too). When staring at this shot I want to just paint the paneling and casing a neutral tone and leave the walls white, but that is a harder/riskier first step. I think some photoshopping is in order 🙂

I do love so many things in this room, though and I know the potential for greatness is there! And again if I hadn’t just finished a huge renovation and just made these choices I would be like ‘calm down and just paint it!’. And obviously, I’m so privileged to even call this my room that I don’t want to come off in any way complain-y.

What you can’t see is our kitchen which I am SO HAPPY with. THANK GOODNESS. And with the shared space with the living room, it means that I really have to consider the blue in the tile with whatever paint or fabric wallcovering we choose.

Now that I’ve for the most part forgiven myself for hastily making this room too safe I am excited to dive into the next layer to add more warmth. I’ve got this 🙂

Living room sources:

Rug: Amber Lewis For Loloi
Sofa: Burrard by Article
Leather sofa: Rejuvenation
Swivel chairs: Rejuvenation
Tulip wood side table: Target
Double tiered wood side table: City Home
Wood flooring: Oregon White Oak by Zena Flooring
Windows and Doors: White oak, Aspen Casement by Sierra Pacific Windows
Stairwell Color: Smoky Blue by Sherwin-Williams
Wall Color – Extra White by Sherwin-Williams
Sconces: Rejuvenation

*Photos by Kaitlin Green


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438 thoughts on “Moving Through Some Regret – The First Look At The Farmhouse Living Room Plus What I’m LOVING So Far :)

  1. I’m sorry, don’t take this the wrong way, but why is Brian so involved in every single little decision? This is *your* job. Of course it’s his house too but surely you know more about picking colors than him, as evidenced by his comment that all whites are the same. I don’t know, it seems that the renovating process was not so fun and your husband didn’t really help by not letting you take the wheel. Or you tried to getting him involved more than was sane.

    As for the actual problem: forget about painting the panelling and casings for now and just focus on the drywall. I vote to install the wallpaper you showed. It’s warm, it has texture, it will break up the whites and let the casings shine. It checks all the boxes. Please, just go with *your* designer gut. Your husband can trust your taste, no?

    1. This was 100% my thoughts. Emily is the one who has written books, gets paid to design for clients, has a successful blog, why is she leaning on Brian for paint color decisions? Strange. Also my vote is for the textured wallpaper. Also, I think adding a wood mantel to the fireplace would help break up all the white – maybe a gorgeous piece of recycled wood or something like that.

    2. I wanted to express some support for incorporating the opinion of your spouse who also lives and works in this house. Yes, trust your gut, and also, it’s ok/good/wonderful to be a team. Also, your design is the subject of this blog, and frankly, your marital design dynamic is none of our business. I’m disappointed that so many readers voted up this comment. You’re doing great, Emily. Our own houses are always the hardest. And the family living in the house is what matters ❤️

      1. I also think it’s very realistic to incorporate spouse feedback when neither is an interior designer. It’s helpful to hear how Emily navigates that and helpful to learn from that, in addition to ways that she’s helping us learn from her mistakes/regrets.

        On a related note, I’m in the design profession and can constantly bounce ideas off my colleagues. It’s so engrained in the design process to collaborate and ask for feedback. Almost never a one-person role. And burn-out at the end of a long grueling design process is real. I fully support Emily’s process and leaning into asking for opinions and feedback, spouse or otherwise.

      2. I am also disappointed with so many people voting up a comment that effectively suggests Brian should not have been involved in the design of his own home. He may not be a stylist (much like Emily is not an interior designer) but his input is relevant, how could it not be? To say otherwise diminishes him as a person and as a member of the family, it is his home as much as it is Emily’s.

        The blue panelling decision that took place before the ‘white is white’ decision suggests that both Emily and Brian recognised that white, any white, even all-white-is-the-same-white, is probably not right for this room. For what it’s worth I think the fireplace, painted white, is both lost and has lost its charm. It’s not the wrong colour white, just the wrong colour. As for the rest of the room, I’d sit tight, live with the house a little, feel it and then you’ll understand what it needs.

    3. I’m grateful for this comment because I was wondering the same thing. Is “All whites are the same,” really something someone married to a designer says?

      1. Emily isn’t technically a “designer”. She is human though, and allowed to make mistakes. This is why she has Arciform involved. Just have to throw that out there. So many comments keep mentioning she is. But even designers make mistakes, thank goodness. And even if she were, you should absolutely take your spouses, other half, etc. opinion into consideration. They should have some say in the process. He is living in the home as well. I’m pretty sure Brian probably knows that all whites aren’t the same. He was just probably making a generalized statement.

        I’m in the paint the drywall category. You can do this yourself, to save some money. You have so many windows and doors, and not much drywall, it wouldn’t take you long to do it. Get some real sample paint pots. Not the sticky sample kind. They are never quite right in my opinion. SW currently isn’t doing them, but they directed me to Lowe’s to get it done. Do some sample painting on the walls by your trim, windows, etc. Then of course live with it for a while before making a decision. Next, I would find a new natural wood mantel. I think a natural wood mantel would look stunning.. Something old and reclaimed. Something that has had some life to it, and could tell a story. This would help break up that wall of white. If you cannot find an old mantel you love, but can find a new mantel you like, then you can give it some character yourselves. By brother and SIL have an old house. They hardwoods looked like they were beaten up. Not sure how to explain. they took out a small closet that had the original hardwoods. But they had to do some patching, and the closet floor wasn’t as beaten up. The installers used chains, a hammer and something else to “beat” this “new” flooring to match the rest of the house. It looks amazing. You could do this yourselves to take out some of your frustrations.

        I’m sure you have massive fatigue at his point. So I think you should probably just take a break for a while. Show yourself some grace, and things will come together as they we meant to come together.

        1. Betsy, totally agree with you. Live with it for awhile before doing anything major. I vote for painting the drywall and possibly the fireplace. I’m definitely against wallpaper or fabric on the walls. That’s more expensive and harder to change in the future. A bit of a contrast with paint may be all that’s needed. Plus, the furniture, art and accessories will add warmth. And please, Emily, don’t be so hard on yourself. ❤️ It’s so hard to visualize everything during the construction phase.

    4. I genuinely disagree.
      Brian is Emily’s #1 team member first and foremost. He works for EHD too.
      Also, this “project” is not simply a project. It’s a family home. Brian is part of that family – husband, dad, best friend, etc.
      I’m flabbergasted tgat so many people voted this comment up.
      This is not a ‘business decision’. It’s THEIR home.

      1. If the business is paying for the house, 100% it is a business decision.
        Business decisions need to be made rationally, companies need to be protected from emotional decisions.

        1. I’ve never seen a company “protected” from emotional decisions. Where there are people, there are emotions. Setting that aside tho, it feels like you are saying because it’s a business decision, and Emily is the more prominent professional, Brian opinion shouldn’t matter. But if he isn’t “the business” then he is the customer and isn’t the job of the business to please the customer? I’m with the “baffled” crowd on this one.

      2. Saying “all whites are the same, just pick one” to someone who literally does this for a living is *incredibly* dismissive of their work. That was a shitty thing to say, it was pointed and taking a dig unnecessarily, and it clearly made Emily feel bad. Brian could stand to be a lot more gracious and a lot less condescending to, you know, his best friend/etc.

    5. I’m a designer, and I involve my husband pretty deeply in home decor items. He doesn’t care about pillows or whatever, but he actually has a lot of thoughts about color and how he wants to use space. He defers to me and we agree that I will take the lead, but we share veto power. I will say that I’d probably never let him have opinions on whites, lol.

      In a pinch or under stress (which it sounds like happened a few times with Emily and Brian), he’s not really useful at all, and I’ll just decide. But mostly it seems like Brian and Emily had decision fatigue, which has hit every client I’ve ever had right at the moment when you need them to make a call. I imagine that’s even harder when you’re the “designer” and the “client” and you’d like your spouse to help lend you some brain power.

    6. I am a designer….and always run ideas by my husband. He trusts what my aesthetic and typically loves it all. But also want him to feel included. What am I looking for in a response? A HARD NO. That’s when I know to switch gears.

    7. ┏┓
      ┃┃╱╲ In this
      ┃╱╱╲╲ house
      ╱╱╭╮╲╲ if you say all
      ▔▏┗┛▕▔ whites are the same
      you don’t get to pick
      paint colors anymore
      ╱╱┏┳┓╭╮┏┳┓ ╲╲

      1. Omg HeatherQ I’m laughing so hard!

        I’m married to a designer, too, and he absolutely comes to me for my thoughts all the time, yes. But as the non-designer, there are things I know to always have him take the reins on, and the top of that list is color! Choosing color is a serious skill, seeing color is a skill, color theory is a whole thing, and anyone who hasn’t been trained in it or played with it so much that they have tons of experience should never insist on their opinion over the expert and/or be so dismissive….which, sorry Brian super fans, “white is white” was both dismissive and ignorant of Emily’s expertise, she is a QUEEN of color choice! I think this post following the red door post where he was trying to insist it be some bright red that wouldn’t look like the picture in his head (and we all let out a big sigh of relief when it was the color Emily knew would look great) is exacerbating these feelings. Consulting your non-designer spouse in this scenario is “what color door do you want?” Them: “I really want red and this is the image I have in my head.” Designer spouse: “Great I’ll make that happen,” comes back to them eventually with a few colors to choose from if needed. Emily goes above and beyond to make Brian happy with everything, some of us just wish he would give her more trust in these situations.

    8. I’m wondering, what kind of marriages you guys (Maria at all) have. You go in, tell your spouse “this is what I’m doing because I know better” and they take it like that? I would be out of the door the next moment. I hate the idea of “authority” in marriage. Yes, one is a designer – but if I gave designers free rein to do something they like for themselves, I’d get an experimental editorial that I’m not sure I want to live in. If you are a designer, and you’re such an authority as you’re claiming, you’d better have the arguments to convince me to go along with you. Not even my 5-year old goes with that logic. Emily is swayed by Brian because she is not even claiming that authority for herself (wise, in my view) and is open to debating and discussing. I’m not saying you can’t have one partner give the other carte blanche – but that’s something that you earn, or that is made clear ahead of time. Or, may be it’s in the allocation of tasks, if the other person is happy with it.

    9. Taking your husband’s opinions into consideration when designing your home is insane/strange. Also, here are my opinions on the design of your home, which you should definitely consider. Sincerely, Stranger on the Internet

    10. Hi all (not just Maria :), Brian and I are a team and we make most decisions together for our home. If I really care about something he is like ‘go for it’, and vice versa. Of course. But the things is he’s often right even when I think I’m right because he isn’t as neck deep in it as I am, he’s not looking at trends the same way (thank goodness) and he cares mostly about how we live in this home, thank god. I beg him for his opinion and he gives it but of course i have all veto power because he knows I have more experience in this world and I have to stand by everything more publicly. But this is our home and I have found that its best for both people to be as involved as they want to be in a renovation, which is highly stressful and so you often need support. When i’m totally exhausted and on the fence about something, racked with indecision, I LOVE that he gives his strong opinion. It means that we share the glory and the blame which I think is healthiest for our marriage. We aren’t perfect but designing this house together has been pretty great for us, and this ‘which white to choose’ argument was really one of the the only ones but thats because we had to make the decision so quickly and we were near the end and just so done. He’s pretty much the best person I know and my #1 support, and I his. I’m extremely grateful that I have a partner that is so invested in making this a really comfortable and livable home for our family, and yet of course giving me a lot of space for my creativity. Of course our home is tied to a lot of partnerships, but no, our home is not just for “the business”. And i’ll be more careful, less candid, when writing about our process designing it together to ensure that less people/comments are making innacurate assumptions about our marriage, because frankly that doesn’t feel good. It’s our home. It’s for our family. And we are so lucky to have each other and this blog, and I truly love documenting the real and messy process for you (but some of these comments make me feel like garbage TBH and I would delete them but I’d have to delete whole threads of responses after them which is rude to those that are so supportive). Thanks for reading and supporting. And for those of you can relate to the challenge and beauty of designing your home with a partner thank you for your support 🙂 xx

      1. Emily – it has to be be hard to put yourself out there on a daily basis, and then have strangers inserting their opinions. I don’t know that I could handle it. I think you’re handling this with grace and kindness, and that’s admirable.

        You probably don’t remember me, but I’ve met you a few times and had you sign copies of your books. You were nothing but kind and charming. You’re the reason I became a designer in the first place, and now it’s been almost 5 years. And I truly love it. So please believe that you sharing these processes and decisions does help and inspire people. Even on the days when the keyboard warriors are out in full force. I for one really appreciate you – and understand the push-pull with decisions between spouses. You are wonderful – and we’re all very excited to see the rest of your family home! 😊

      2. Don’t let someone else’s judgemental mind filter yourself in the future. There is many of us here who didn’t even take note of any of that, nor think it was an issue. As a professional doing this I am sure you know this but we are all responsible for how we feel and please do not let somebody else’s bad day ruin yours.

    11. I think some of these comments regarding Brian might be more of an overall frustration with how women are often dismissed by men even on subjects they are experts on. I wish it wasn’t framed in the way the comments framed it, but I do think there’s a valid point to it. Brian for sure has a right to have input in his home and Emily of course relies on him for support. So maybe people are projecting their own experiences into this situation which I totally get. How many of us have had to defend our expertise to someone with less experience? Probably a lot of us.

      1. I think you are right, Liz. We all project a lot, it’s just not the case here. I get it. We all want to fight the patriarchy and yes he is a cis white man, but he’s not the one to fight, I promise. He’s the lead parent. gets the kids out of the house every morning. books every doctors/dentist appointments. does most after school kid stuff, all grocery shopping, cleans the house 50/50 with me, is an extremely involved parent, the list goes on and on and on, all while he’s in grad school. I also think i’m still sensitive to when multiple people tore him down during that Airbnb post (the last one he’s ever written) and said such ugly things about him and our marriage, as if we weren’t even there. it was so uncalled for and made me feel gross and sad, honestly. I’m also extra sensitive to people saying negative things about him in any way because i’m the one that opens our family up to this, that makes us vulnerable. I think we all (including me) need to be a bit more careful about our projections and judgements – I absolutely do it too in other ways. Lessons learned every day, right? 🙂 xx

        1. Maybe I’m being to optimistic about people not just coming from a “we want to rip apart a successful blogger and her family.” I’m just hopeful that at least some peoples intentions were coming from a pro Emily (though misguided) view point. I don’t remember the Airbnb post, but I sure remember the comments after Max’s post attacking him for making a joke about speeding. That was nuts! Ugh. I mean off of my previous patriarchy point there are unfortunately a lot of women that take joy in putting successful women down.

        2. Omg this breaks my heart, I am so here for Mr. Henderson. Appears like such a sweet charming person. Gah, so so sorry people are not behaving themselves. Sending love to you both, big fan of the beauty you create together <3

    12. This has zero connection to the Cottagecore, Vintage, Farmhouse vibe that was envisioned.
      Aside from asking the ‘what’ question, it is probably better to ask ‘why’?
      E.g Why did this room end up this way and what is it about my process that led to it?
      Without knowing how you got there, you’ll likely end up repeating the situation.
      To me, this stark style is very 2010s and I love more people embracing cornicing, millwork, complexity, texture and colour.
      This ain’t no farmhouse.
      Perhaps some further mentorship, education, training might help expand your palette?
      I absolutely love Jean Stoffer’s style – perhaps you could collaborate with other designers in the future?
      The whole process has been very different from the Mountain House – as though it’s not being savoured and is just being quickly ploughed through.

      1. This is so mean and unecessarily critical and if I were Emily it would have really hurt my feelings. It feels like you could have said at least one nice thing here instead of implying that she is not competent at her job.

      2. I actually agree about your Jean Stoffer callout – there’s a great balance in her work, and it seems like her influences would work well incorporated into Emily’s house reno.

      3. What an odd and condescending comment. Clearly you follow trends and judge things according to that limited viewpoint. So in 10 years you’ll probably be the person judging “cornicing, millwork, etc” as so 2020s. I really appreciate the timelessness and originality of Emily’s vision (which has more Shaker influence – if I remember correctly – than farmhouse). That’s great you love Jean Stoffer – follow her to your heart’s content. I personally am not a fan of hers — her designs are too traditional and safe for my taste. I personally prefer Emily’s style that is – to me – more interesting, more original, more creative, and definitely more inspiring for me. But I wouldn’t go onto a post of one of Jean’s designs and suggest she consult with Emily. Geez.

  2. Oh my goodness! Don’t beat yourself up about this!!! White is a safe bet to start with whilst you live in the house and get a feel for it. Not everything needs to be perfect the instant you move in. Let the room grow organically and it will start to feel lived in and beautiful – a real home. I suspect the real issue isn’t the white or the light but the fact that you have very few walls to place things. Everything is a window or an entry (apart from the fireplace) making it difficult to make the room feel cozy and inviting rather than a pass through. My suggestion would be to make the fireplace wall the central point and paint it in different colour (not wood cladding as the brick is original and adds character). Please don’t paint the bricks in the fireplace – restore them! They are the only bit of the room that has warmth. I’d paint the window casings in a warm white as well as any other trim (it doesn’t need spraying, just use a paint brush or roller and do it yourself over a couple of weekends). And if you put up curtains that will immediately make the room more inviting. Living in grey old London there is nothing cozier than closing beautiful curtains on a cold, miserable rainy evening.

    1. I also like the idea of restoring the brick. The bit that’s on the floor and unpainted has so much warmth! I’m also a fan of the textured wallpaper.

    2. YES!! From the start, I feel like restoring the brick wasn’t even an option, and I couldn’t figure out why! It would be so gorgeous!

    3. Agree with this! I love the bricks in front of the fireplace – REALLY warms up the space. And I would definitely add curtains or Roman blinds at a minimum. One thing that I’ve learned is different tones work better in different climates. Blue might be gorgeous in sunny LA but a bit dreary in rainy Oregon. I would bring in more warm earthy tones like greens and deep brown/auburn to add warmth to offset the white and cool tones.

    4. Whatever you do with the walls I have to agree that something besides paint should happen to that fireplace! It would absolutely transform the room to have a warm, natural material covering that amazing (potential) fireplace (whether you restore or install completely new material seriously save up and make that the centerpiece)!

      1. I vote for you to consider cladding the top half of the fireplace in white oak. I know the brick is original but it reads as more white in a sea of white, and I think the texture and warmth of wood there would be welcome! Would make it more of a focal point and add in some of the “farmhouse feel” you are wanting.
        Next I would layer in curtains. Fabric will soften the feel as well.
        And after trying both of the above, I would add the textured wallpaper if you think it still needs more. A woven grass cloth could be beautiful and I agree it would make the casings and paneling pop. But this should be the last step as it is also super expensive and you may not need it after you do the fireplace and add curtains!
        And lastly, ignore the people interpreting and judging how your husband has participated in this process. Ridiculous! Love that you have worked together so collaboratively on this incredibly special home!

    5. To add instant warmth, add plants and books. Plus I think a statement chandelier in wood (not black, not brass, not white). It’ll do wonders to make this space more inviting. But live in it for awhile. It’ll come to you. There’s no hurry. It’s looking pretty awesome. It’s going to be okay.

      1. Books will do wonders! I also think adding curtains and painting the drywall will make a huge difference. I agree with some others that you could go really bold in here, but that’s not Emily’s vibe at the moment – so why not layer on the neutrals? Curtains with an organic-y pattern or texture, and paint the drywall cream – lots of different shades of cream and even mushroomy/donkey browns to soften the white?

      2. Yes, lots of plants will add so much texture and warmth! The comforting green of living plants adds so much nice contrast to the wood window casings that you can see. Maybe a trailing/vining plant on the mantel would keep you from having to clad it?
        Because of the negative comments I read here, I wanted to make sure I put in my positive word. When I saw the opening picture, it was lovely but it didn’t feel AS “Emily” as the rooms you publish and love. I think you’re absolutely on the right track of why this didn’t feel finished to you. Your transparency about your thought process here is SO helpful to me, as we’re in the middle of two house projects ourselves and I definitely tend to play it safe. I also have a room that I’m trying to brighten and could see myself making it too stark as a reaction. I really appreciate you and your work. You make a difference for good, Emily 🙂

    6. I agree–the primary challenge that makes this room hard to warm up is not the paint color but the number of entries/windows compared to wall space. I live in a similar layout and it took a while to figure out why we never felt truly comfortable. When you entered our living room you felt compelled to leave it out of one of the doorways. The solution was to create feelings of enclosure in the space. So, while we all hear all the time that floating your furniture is ideal, in truth you need some cozy seating areas against the walls too — like in your little dining nook maybe put a banquet. Then, again in contrast to the common understanding of furniture layout, you need at least two seating areas instead of one large one, to bring the areas more to human scale. For example, by putting a little reading area with built in book cases on the wall that is perpendicular to the sunroom, you make a little “away” space in the larger room. And, pops of warm color within the interior of the space bring your eye in and away from the entries/windows. We moved into the awkward space we live in now from an old farmhouse, which had all of these creature comfort-type nooks and enclosed spaces, so the contrast with an open floor plan with entries / exits everywhere really struck us. It was reading “The Not So Big House” book series that made me understand how we could create comfort. The author uses numerous examples from her own work as an architect as well as the work of others to show how to infuse comfort in a home that lacked an enclosed family space. Also, I observe that the light in Portland is different than in CA — I think warmer tones would help. That beautiful painted cabinet in your living room is the right color, I think, to draw accents from around the room. Plants. Also, some warm reds that match the color of fall leaves. We live in New England where fall views outside the windows require some richness of color. Finally, I’ll note that we have relatives who live in a house with a similar layout as ours and yours, with multiple entry points to their living room, and because they didn’t “solve for” the lack of enclosure, they ended up inhabiting other smaller enclosed spaces in the house to get cozy, and no one ever uses the beautiful featured living room. It’s almost like you are catapulted out of that space. It just isn’t comfortable.

  3. Maybe you are listening to Brian too much? It just seems from a lot of your posts that you are trying to serve too many masters instead of following your vision. And I get that Brian has to live there, too, but it is also your livelihood and you built this huge brand for yourself based on your taste, not his.

    Sometimes it is just better to follow one clear vision even if it means compromising things you want. It’s just more cohesive.

    It is a small price to pay for the lifestyle that your talents have afforded your family to not get to pick the door color or whatever. And there is nothing harder when you are on the fence about something than having someone undermine your confidence in your choices.

    Brian doesn’t seem very open-minded or imaginative when it comes to design, so maybe he stays in his lane and you do your thing. I bet he would end up loving things he never would have picked. Even if he doesn’t, it seems like he could be a little more generous in supporting your work and creativity.

    1. This ^ I’m not even a professional designer, but I’m into this stuff and (I’m told) pretty good at it, so my husband lets me take the wheel and more often than not likes the result. Obviously if he doesn’t like something after living with it (usually his complaints are related to the comfort/practicality of an item or layout) I change it. But I try it first, because he has no clue. He just can’t imagine something that doesn’t exist yet–he has to see it. On the other hand, I’m thankful to Emily for her candor, and everyone is different. But if I were the professional designer my husband wouldn’t even SEE the dang house until it was done.

      1. Ya know… maybe the Mountain House tutned out so great due to Brian’s firm views on some things.
        Remember that process???

    2. “I get that Brian has to live there, too…”
      Um, no. He does not HAVE to live there.
      It’s THEIR home.

      1. Rusty, I tried to like your comment, and it looks like I disliked it, so those minus votes you see may not be accurate. I totally agree–it’s Brian’s home too! In a client / designer dynamic, very few clients just hand over total control to the designer; they get to voice opinions too. Why would a spouse not get a say in what he will see and enjoy every day?

  4. I would make a strong argument that this isn’t a ‘mistake’ in the design sense. It’s well-nigh impossible to know exactly what you’re going to want/need before you live in the house, that’s why so many people choose to live in their new home as-is for a while before they make any major changes. You had to make MANY MANY MANY decisions affecting every aspect of a house you’d never lived in. And compared to layout, natural light, lighting, you know, the big structural stuff, paint is no biggie. White was the safe choice. And at some point you’ll update it. I can appreciate the sheeting off and moving out etc etc and the extra money is absolutely not ideal – but if you view it as an inevitable part of the build process rather than a failure, maybe it would be less upsetting? Also I agree, I would photoshop some options where only the drywall is changed before you commit to changing the panelling.

    1. THIS. Good advice.
      Also — Looking at the in-process photos (where things were draped and taped off and it was kind of dark and hard to see well) really sent a chill through me — such a vivid reminder of trying to make expensive decisions under similar conditions seven years ago, at a house I hadn’t moved into yet. Had chosen what was supposed to be a warm white and when I took a sneak peek, it looked like primer. UGH.
      This will be a truly wonderful room when you get it sorted out with some minor changes. And look, your doggie is already adding warmth and texture 😉

    2. I totally agree, Cece! White is a safe choice and when you are drowning in a sea of decisions including permanent, structural, integral then a “safe choice” of something changeable like paint is like a life raft. Having a partner help make some of these decisions with you can often be helpful and ease some of the emotional burden even when you really do want to do it all, sometimes you just can’t and that’s ok!
      YES! on the wallpaper in the entry. I vote to not paint another inch of any wood on the windows or otherwise, please. YES to paint the paneling a warm/taupey grey like Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter which probably means you need to paint the wall something warmer, Swiss Coffee at 75% strength is so good with the Revere Pewter, I did this combo in my home with wall/trim color in NW WA. Just leave the ceiling as-is. Honestly I think just the furniture, art and styling will make it all come together and we all know Em is gonna do great there!!

    3. Yes, and whites here in Portland “read” differently due to the undertones that bounce in from the outdoors (with all the evergreens here we typically have greenish/gray casts come in and that has to be accounted for).

      A “go to” white say in Los Angeles or Santa Fe isn’t going to look the same here. Whites can read gray or have greenish tones here that seemingly won’t appear in another setting, or a warm white here can sometimes look dirty if it’s not the right shade. Trying to pick the correct color without seeing just how the light comes in through all those windows and then bounces off those particular wood floors would be near impossible.

      1. Oh boy isn’t this the truth? You cannot get a good read of a color when all the other surfaces affecting the temperature of the light are covered. And the white Emily chose has the highest LVR score, so it’s going to read very bright. I feel that she should bring in furnishings, choose a sofa color she loves for the color itself, hang art she loves, throw down a rug, and just live with the room for a few months before making a wall color decision. (I opt for simply painting the wallboards, btw).

        There are 1000s of colors of paint and lots of them will work with the kitchen and the furnishings. Paint color is one of the last decisions Emily needs to make to love this room.

        1. I agree 🙂 I always choose paint color last, so it was hard to do it basically first. 🙂

    4. Hear, hear! I’m a design professional, and I absolutely would not classify this as a mistake or a failure. Would I be freaking out if I were the designer and I wanted my client to think I was a flawless genius? Yes, definitely. but I would be wrong! I would then try to be kind to myself and frame it as it genuinely is: a recipe where the ingredients aren’t quite singing, so now it’s time to add some salt. I vote for the salt to be the linen wallpaper, but Emily’s gut will be wiser than mine. Time to Pivotabitch (thank you, Shavonda)! And though I know many readers appreciate the acknowledgment of privilege, you don’t have to also apologize for caring about this. It’s your home, your job, AND your passion. No apologies for caring about those things. It’s wonderful to keep things in perspective, but you’re not frivolous for feeling pressure.

      1. As also being a design professional, my friends asks me: What is a good gray or white paint color to pick for their house…? My (to some annoying) response is “Color is a reflection of light, and what looks good in one place might look very different in your home”. You have to try out different paints to see what the lighting does to the color chosen. One color can look like it’s three different colors on walls being exposed from various directions. It’s a science. You had a very compromised situation with everything covered up with plastic shields. How could you then know what it really would look like with the light flooding the room in a natural way? I always say when something goes wrong in my own projects “I’m glad it happened to myself” Now I can learn, and not do the same mistake again to my clients. I do vote for the wallpaper, and I do ask for my husband’s opinion.

  5. I love the wallpaper you chose and think it will solve the problem in a really lovely way. If you had painted the walls a warmer white like SW Alabaster, which I have all over my house (with Pure White trim, and wood casement windows), it would be a touch warmer but not enough contrast to emphasize the room’s beautiful paneling. With the strong blues of the stairs and kitchen tile, I can’t wait to see how you layer in warmer colors and dimension in your style choices.

    1. I also think the wallpaper will warm up the space while still capturing the Shaker-Scandinavian-Farmhouse thing you’ve got going on. It will tie the space from the floor up to the ceiling. Once that’s up, it will help you decide what to do with the fire place, if you need to do anything at all, and the foyer wallpaper. My husband is also a minimalist, and I have a constant tug and war of honoring that (because minimalism is calming, ultimately, and it’s not a bad thing for our household) and warming it up with my aesthetic and the nature of our 1842 house.

  6. It does look cold and unfinished, but it is unfinished! I don’t think you should paint the panelling – the white panelling and white ceiling would look beautiful and crisp if the walls had some colour. I would paint or wallpaper the walls, definitely. The fireplace, by being painted all white, just looks to me
    Like you don’t like the design of it so you tried to make it inexpensively disappear. I would radically rethink the fireplace. And also, I think the mountain house looms a little too large in your mind all the time. This house is so different and you should lean into that. I’m not sure how much of the furniture pictured is staying, but it ALL (including the rug) looks much too modern and design-y to me, and that is adding to the coldness I think. I think you need more softness, roundness, more of a family farmhouse vibe than a design retreat.

    But also don’t be annoyed at yourself – it takes a long time for a truly layered home to look finished!

    1. Uffda! .. seems very normal to have this marital dynamic during a renovation. No need for any of us to judge. Compassion, compassion and more compassion right? I bet you all are exhausted.
      And this is life. How fun it will be to watch this room evolve into something else over time. To find it’s way home.
      I think Sophie said it well. I notice that I prefer the tone and vibe of the LR before you renovated, (hard to believe) despite it being so dark with a need for updates, it was just warmer and interesting with the warm wood and antiques. Almost seems like the room really is calling for something else…so maybe slowing down and not doing a repeat of your last process, making decisions too quickly. You pared things down to the point of minimalism?
      I actually think the wallpaper looks like more of the same- so neutral that while it might add some warmth it still looks so modern. Yes too much white, too much modern furniture, not enough uniqueness or farmhouse, too stark. Not enough of your quirk which adds warmth and character.
      But it is coming, gonna happen and it will be a joy to watch….good luck!

    2. I agree with this. I was surprised to hear you mention the fireplace. I got the impression since it was all white you didn’t like it and wanted it to disappear. Maybe repaint the fireplace the warmer white you want, along with the drywall. I guess if you’re putting wallpaper in the entry, wouldn’t you want something quieter on the walls in the room next to it? That way you can play with decor the rest of your years in that living room. And please don’t be hard on yourself. This is Brian’s home too, also using his money to pay for it, so of course he needs to have an opinion. You use that same logic letting the kids design their rooms. Use it for the whole house with the house and Brian. But it looks GREAT so far!

    3. Totally agree with this – maybe consider leaning less into the mountain house and more into what this one has been trying to say to you. The fireplace needs love – paint it black or a color and switch out that mantle for unpainted wood. I agree that the rug and furtniture are too modern for the house – how about a rug and some seating texture and/or patina? Hoping the piano and art will provide some soul but also – more texture and patina, please!

  7. I think it looks amazing and you’re just burnt out from a long reno! From the pictures, I would add warmth with some subtly golden-hued window treatments and call it a day 🙂 (e.g. – I have this fabric in my white dining room next to my Hague blue living room and it brings a lot of joy 🙂 )

    1. I was also thinking that bringing in a pale gold color would add warmth and look good with the greasy blue. It could even be a golden leaning cream or off-white.

  8. I think the wallpaper will solve a lot of your problems. Even though it feels like a more permanent choice, I think I would photoshop that and try it before painting the paneling. Also, stained wood on the mantel for sure!!! And maybe it’s just how the photo appears, but I am wondering if the room would feel cozier if you nixed the swivel chairs and rearranged the sofas to flank both sides of the fireplace – would let more light in and feel closer to the fire in the winter. I appreciate you sharing these struggles as a designer. I am not a “professional designer” but we are just now finishing a renovation that started over a year ago and really should have been done by now. There are parts of it that I love and parts that I regret – for example, installing recessed lights. I hate them and turn them off all the time when they are on because I realized I like mood lighting. I have beaten myself up so much on the choices I made that I didn’t like in the end, but I am realizing more and more that it’s okay to change your mind once you see that something you chose doesn’t work. I also like to think of it as moving into a house where the previous owners made a few questionable design choices and now you get to fix them.

    1. Agreed about the sofa layout, and taking out the swivel chairs. Maybe throw some floor cushions on the floor.

  9. It’s a pretty room, but I agree it’s too much white for this house. It’s a blank slate now though, so that’s great for you as a designer.

    I would clad the beams in wood like you mentioned and strip the paint off the fireplace so you can see the bricks as the above poster mentioned. I would leave the bricks on the floor as is. And I would try a warmer colored rug and other furnishings. It seems like you have a lot of cool tones in this room, maybe that’s part of the problem? The original room was all warm tones so maybe you swung too far from that.

    1. I agree with leaving the floor bricks as is!! Your problem, as you’ve articulated, is lack of contrast – which the floor bricks provide!

    2. I love Kaitlin’s photography, but I wonder if these particular after images are a little blown out and not giving us a real sense of how the space looks.

    3. I agree with the beams and fireplace needing warmth
      When I truly take in all the elements in the photo I’m drawn to the beautiful window trim. It’s warm and textured and cozy without being dark. The ceiling beams in the same wood would be stunning. A beautiful rust/pink/golden rug would ground the space and play off the warmer ceiling. And the fireplace just disappears as it is. If not brick then anything with contrast will be perfect. You’re so close to perfect.

  10. That wallpaper will change everything! Leave the rest as is, including the hearth bricks! Also: take your time – you’ve got this!

  11. The house is awesome. Please don’t make any decisions that require you to hire labor (wallpaper, stripping paint off the brick) and give yourself a minute to really figure out the problem of the room before you try to solve it.

    What you describe as “cold” I would describe as “unfinished” or “tentative” because it IS unfinished. You just moved in and are using furnishings from another house. The rug you have is probably perfect, given the kitchen. Figure out the correct dimensions of your couch, and probably don’t put it on mid-century legs. It needs to feel substantial. Play around with some curtains that you can return if you don’t like them (just because you don’t like curtains at the mountain house doesn’t mean you won’t like them here). Get a big coffee table/ottoman. Your living room is large, and I think the right scale of furniture will help bring the cozy feeling you crave. Cozy and bright can co-exist. Play around in Photoshop with drywall paint colors and a wood mantel to balance the wood from the windows.

    Take the time to figure out why you feel the room falls short, and address those issues. Everyone makes mistakes obviously, but making the same mistake over and over (rushed decision and needles spending) is what feels so defeating. And the process of how you improved the room will be interesting for readers!

      1. oh we are taking time, i promise. well, we have to shoot in spring so not that much time 🙂 and agreed -the sofas we are looking at are all to the ground – slipcovered or just really low. 🙂 the RJ sofa might end up living somewhere else, too. none of this furniture is for sure in here, so we have some flexibility and I purposefully didn’t think about decor yet (not because i wanted to put it off, but brain was full and I wanted to enjoy the decorating process). I’m so glad that we didn’t make every decision before we moved in, thats for sure.

  12. I think I like the idea of the fabric wallpaper the best. I agree with you, in a perfect world, leaving the paneling/casing as wood in the first place would have been the right choice, but alas. But I like that the wall covering adds a tone, as well as texture. I also think some curtains around the sliding doors would add some warmth and interest, but it looks like you don’t have room with the sconces (unless you cover up some of the doors). I love the idea of a wood mantel too. Good luck, I look forward to seeing this room evolve!

  13. It looks so pretty! I think you’re just having a little bit of normal letdown, which is an unavoidable after investing so much time and energy. I suspect the room will grow on you and will gain more character as you live in it. Even though I was very much on team “don’t paint the paneling!!!” over the summer, now that it is white I see that it is very calming and restful. I think you’ve diagnosed the issue very accurately – you just need to layer in a bit more warmth now. I would love to see the fireplace mantel brought back to wood, and wood cladding on the ceiling beams. Also, where is the antique bench that was originally next to the fireplace? Maybe bringing that piece back would project a bit of warmth, and kind of tie in to the antique kitchen island, which is also a bit reddish.

    1. Exactly, more antique pieces will help bring warmth and solve this problem. I like the white, it’s clean and airy – in such a large room, I think more color/texture would bring too much busy-ness and make it feel cluttered with all that furniture. But then again my apartment (including trim and casings) is painted entirely in bright white (BM Super White, which I love) so I I’m biased. To each their own 🙂

    2. 100% agree with a return to a warm wood on the fireplace mantel and the ceiling beams! It would highlight and bring balance to the wood around the doors and windows!

    3. I absolutely agree with the suggestion for a wood mantle and for cladding the ceiling beams with wood. While I understand painting a lower ceiling white with hopes to make it feel airy and higher, I really think the top half of the room could use some warmth and grounding.

    4. I was also wondering what happened to that original antique bench! It would look perfect back where it was next to the fireplace and add more warmth than the grey sideboard there currently. In seeing the pre-renovation photos it was the first thing to draw my eye and I immediately thought.. ooo I hope she kept that bench because it is perfect.
      Agree with the other commenters saying that a lot of what’s throwing it off is the more modern feel of nearly all of the current placeholder furniture. Layer some small modern moments in, absolutely, but for me, that’s where it’s coming across as cold, not necessarily in the paint color.
      I think with some smaller changes and leaning less into MCM and more into traditional/farmhouse with most of the furnishings and the room will warm up nicely.
      I mean even switching out that abstract painting (which is great and looked fab in the more modern mountain house) for a quirky old oil portrait (which we know you have! ha!) will make an instant difference in additional warmth and character.
      It will be stunning! Lean into your love of quirkiness! You can totally do it in a scandi PNW farmhouse way.

  14. I love the whole scandi vibe as it is. It seems like you would be best to live through a few more seasons in the home before you commit to drastic changes. What about raiding your prop house for different accessories to add warmth and texture? I love the brick on the fireplace, but would consider adding a wood mantle. Finally, every regret I have ever had about decorating, usually boils down to me not trusting my initial instinct and allowing my spouse to weigh in…I have made many costly furniture decisions when I let him have input. Food for thought…

    1. I agree with all these suggestions. The times I have been most angry with myself for making a bad decision are when I was insecure and went with someone else’s (often my husband) preference.

  15. Here’s what I’d do: 100% paint the fireplace. Maybe the same blue-gray on the stairs, maybe something different. Really make it pop. Maybe, I’d paint the walls a warmer white, but maybe that would be more discordant than leaving as is. I would not jam a bunch of wallpaper nor browns (more wood) into this room because it doesn’t get enough light, due to its situation (facing more north), to not veer into dungeon territory. You’ve done a great job so far and deserve a lot of high-fives!

  16. Make the fireplace more of a feature! I would love to see it stripped back to brick. And paint the drywall something soft and warm like taupe. I think that wall covering is too soft and would be a lot of effort for not much impact. Agree with other commenters that the furniture is too modern. Mostly, though, focus on other things until you feel refreshed and energized enough to fine-tune this. It doesn’t all need to be “done” as soon as you move in.

    1. I can also see a soft, mauve-y pink color looking great on the drywall and complimenting the blue rug, stairs, and cabinets.

  17. I second (or 3rd, 4th?) your wallpaper choice! Perfection – just enough color and contrast! And I personally don’t think it’s too glamorous for a farm house. My grandparents lived in a Greek revival farmhouse in the Midwest and my grandmother was very glam! Beautiful rugs, art and wallpaper everywhere.

  18. First of all, the room looks great! I understand that after such a long renovation, you may not always be able to see the beauty you’ve recreated, but you did such a good job! Just take a look at the before photos now and then 🙂 The natural light makes such a difference and the windows and wood floors are so beautiful.

    I understand that you miss the warmth of the wood, but hindsight is always wiser. I’m an architect and my job is to make decisions before a space even exists, so I “should” always know how things are going to turn out, but I don’t, even though I’m good at my job. I know those moments very well. Nobody is perfect and no planning can ever be perfect because a room is complex and so many different components play into it in real life.
    I think the wallpaper you suggest looks great and I would try that first, complemented by floor-to-ceiling curtains on the French doors to add texture. I wouldn’t clad the ceiling with wood though, as the room is very large but the ceilings aren’t that high. A wood ceiling would make the room look lower. If afterwards still necessary, I think you might rather consider painting paneling and trim.

    Please cheer up, it will turn out wonderful. Give yourself time for the process and most importantly, give yourself more credit for everything you’ve already accomplished!

  19. I’m the only one so far, but I do not like that wallpaper. It’s grey for a start, which is cold and won’t fix the problem, and it’s fake fabric, which is naff. I vote for painting the drywall in nude pink or sandy beige. It goes with everything you have in there, it won’t look odd with the blue-grey of your kitchen tiles, and it’s warming and modern.
    I don’t think you need to get hung up on painting the woodwork with a spray thing though, if you decided you had to do it – I’ve painted heaps of woodwork using a brush and it works perfectly well.
    I’m also team fireplace natural brick and making more of it rather than painting it white. You can get this acid stuff you paint on it to take off the paint and any old mortar.
    Finally, the LA house was nicer than the mountain house. Lean back into the energy that had rather than aiming for serenity, and bring back a little more of the weird.

    1. I agree. I like the idea of wallpaper but not that one. If the goal is to warm up the room, that paper isn’t going to do it.

      1. I looked at the Ashley Stark site. They have some great cloth-appearing wallpapers in much nicer, warmer tones. They’d complement the pale blue tile beautiful.

    2. At my hasty, first glance I thought this was the LA living room – perhaps the Annie Selkie rug or furniture arrangement?

  20. I just started a new leadership role, and one thing I’m realizing is how comforting it is when folks I admire make mistakes…because I’m making my own, and it makes me feel better to know it’s normal. I imagine any number of people are going to nitpick something about this post, but I want to say that it was highly relatable, how you feel is how you feel, and I’m excited to see the solution you implement! You’ve got this.

  21. Maybe a dissenting opinion here, BUT, I would replace the paneling. There I said it. Instead of trying to make something work with paint or wallpaper, I would rip the band-aid off and have it redone in white oak, which is what you really want. Pros: this is the fix YOU are looking for. It is the most prominent room in your home. Ultimately I’m not sure any of the other ideas will satisfy. Cons: it’s a ton of money when you already just spent a ton of money. I TOTALLY GET THIS. We built a home a year ago. We are just now getting around to fixing some of the mistakes I lived with for a year, because it just seemed too wasteful/too much money to fix at the time. I wish I had just fixed the problems right away. Get it over with and get what you want! Give yourself some grace. And give yourself some white oak!! After the year you’ve had, you totally deserve this splurge!

    1. I totally agree here. I think what you are craving is NATURAL raw elements, and what drew you to archiform in the first place. I know you are saving up for a renovation, but think you can do this in phases to ease the sting. Phase 1. painting the living room drywall a nice warm tone (cheaper than wallpaper) + wood clad mantle (come on brian, we need wood here). Phase 2: Reclad in white oak when you have the means.

      Thank you for being vulnerable!

    2. I agree even if it’s the more expensive route. The white is too cold, and I think the wallpaper too grey. I think no matter what you do, you will need to repaint to a warmer white- even if it’s just the drywall. I also like the idea of adding warmth through wood to the fireplace. It’s too stark now.

    3. GAH. i know that it would look so pretty. but its so wasteful and i’m trying to be a better example of not just changing my mind and wasting materials (and yes time and money). i can make it work!

      1. Thank you Emily for responding and being completely reasonable in saying it would be a terrible waste to redo the beautiful but painted paneling. You will totally make it work and it will be great.

        I’m wondering if you’re considering painting the paneling and windows moulding a darker blue, something in the grey-blue range like the stairs but darker, maybe also the fireplace or the lower section with wood above. It would ground the room but not make it dark or too busy but bring out some of the architecture.

      2. Totally understand that Emily! Thank you for sharing and you can definitely make it work.

    4. Kind of agree that the regret over the window frames is likely to linger, but I think that cladding the mantel would also be a way to bring in this element & balance out the austere white without demo-ing expensive and just installed materials.

  22. Because picking out paint color is so hard for me that I try to look for inspiration from artists, who should be color experts! Since I’m drawn to cozy rooms, I prefer softer whites. Even when they look a little dark on a paint chip or sample, they seem to look brighter on a big wall, especially where there’s lots of natural light. For me, it’s easier to choose a color from a company that doesn’t offer too many choices, like Claire or F & B. You have such a beautiful LR but I agree that a little contrast between the walls and woodwork will make a big difference. I also wonder if you used a satin finish paint. Maybe with all the light bouncing off the walls you need a flat finish? Although most of us want a spacious LR, they seem to present their own challenges! I wouldn’t change the paneling. You have great taste, go with your gut and don’t overthink it.

  23. Denial – excellent strategy! Seriously, just install your wallpaper choice and add some softening drapery and you’re set. Hope you picked an eye-popping wallpaper for the entry. Something fun and bold maybe!

  24. Perhaps a dark color on the fireplace (like the charcoal/black you were pondering for a different fireplace) could be cool? Or stripping to the original brick. When you said the hearth brick still needed to be painted I was surprised because I like the warmth the natural brick is bringing in there. I do think accessories, art, and some vintage/antique pieces would make a big difference here too, which is all part of your process so I know this will turn out amazingly well. Give yourself some grace and some time to play. And agree with the other posters about painting or papering the walls rather than the trim. The linen paper you found is really pretty but it is reading a bit “modern hotel” for me so I’m not sure whether that is the right one – that could just be the way it looks on my monitor though. Final thought – your quote of “pretty looks good with pretty” is why everything looks pretty right now. You are just wanting it to look gorgeous. That is fine – and you will get there. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to have publishing deadlines driving some of this also. Take a breath – you got this, girl.

  25. This is a wonderful post…bc it’s what happens. Better to be safe than sorry, right (even if you are sorry!)!! When we moved into our current house I did the same thing….painted our living room all white, and then once we moved in knew I missed a potential “moment” in that room by choosing a safe color. Grrrrr, so dumb! It’s still white bc like you we’d have to move out for them to respray all the paneling and built ins and $$$$. BUT layering all the F U N stuff (the art! the TEXTILES! the little quirky stuff that makes it ours!), warms it up. You’ll get there no doubt!!! And my guess is you’ll come up with something better than you would have bc you’re living there now so you’ll naturally make decisions that work how you actually live and want to feel.

    You don’t need a pep talk, bc you’re amazing and inspire so many! Thanks for all your honesty and sharing your process and talent with all of us!

    PS My vote is leave that brick alone until the end, it deserves a chance to prove itself!

  26. I really like this article ! It’s very interesting and refreshing to see the thought process and the regrets. I agree with your analysis, the white is too white and some of the great elements of this farmhouse (the fireplace, the wooden beans, the wood paneling that you installed are missing). It goes to show that it’s probably better to leave some decisions to the future to layer it all afterwards, but it’s not always easy when it’s your job and you want to showcase a “finished room” ! Obviously the room is beautiful anyway, and I am grateful that you shared your feelings about it !

  27. I really love the wall paper you chose.
    Yes, paint the dry wall.
    Yes, clad the fire place mantle in wood for that warmth you’re looking for.
    It’s a lovely room that, with a few cosmetic changes, will be stunning.
    P.S. What’s with all the pile-on-Brian comments here? Sheesh.

  28. i agree it looks unfinished, but one quick simple way to make it look more intentional would be to repeat the white around the room more. your table is white, there is white in the artwork above fireplace, white lampshade – but the other ‘whites’ are more pale neutrals and not white enough for your wall colour. add a few large white vessels, bowls, more artwork, include it in the pillows etc and your white walls will make more sense in this room. it’s like you have all the ‘stuff’ for a pale neutral room but you haven’t done the walls in the pale neutral yet. so painting the drywall a pale pale neutral would also work and be fairly simple. its going to be amazing, rome wasn’t built in a day etc etc

  29. I know it must be so frustrating to have just had it done and it not be quite right but like you say this is so completely fixable. Have you ever looked at alicegraceinteriors on Instagram? When she moved in her living room was a white box and she gave it so much soul just by contrasting F&B lime white with (fake) beams in wimborne white. Or if you do go down the wallpaper route maybe look at F&B Feuille in parma gray? I think that could look so beautiful. I don’t work for F&B by the way – I’ve just been staring at their paint colours for my own house for so long that it feels like I know them off by heart!

    1. amberinteriordesign also beautiful, soft, and warm interiors for inspiration. I am pretty sure I learned about this designer from links on EH site.

  30. I just wanted to say – thank you for sharing this! I love love love the living room series from your LA house (seriously, I reread it all the time) and it’s such a treat to see the behind-the-scenes of a new space. It helps, of course, that I’ve thought all your living rooms were lovely at every stage, including this one. I hope the relative post (?) renovation calm will give you the space to play with this room and make a space that you love!

  31. It’s looking beautiful! Thank you for sharing your process. i think plants, art, and maybe a ceiling fixture will add a lot! Also, I like the warmth that the unpainted brick hearth gives. I also love the dining nook in the corner!

  32. I feel that wallpaper will fix %90 of your woes. And it’s called ‘Acre.’ How much more farmhouse can you get?

  33. Oh man, this is hard! I just got done building a new home, and the decision fatigue is miiiiing-boggling!
    You can trust yourself, Emily, and making a place home takes time. I have full confidence in you :)!! That said, I think you should leave the brick on the floor of the fireplace! It’s a nice change-up (at least in photos. maybe it’s too disjointed in-person? quirky?)! Also, I love the textured wallpaper option! Those are the two bits I’ll chime in on 😉 I look forward to every new iteration, agony AND victory!

  34. I am a fan of doing the least invasive thing first, and that is to install wallpaper, but I dont love the Ashley Stark paper. What if you did the Sandberg paper from the entry in the gray (which isnt really gray, but kind of taupey greige) or white colorway? Both are subtle and warm, invoke nature, but have whimsy. Then pull a tone from the paper, paint the fireplace in that tone, and clad the mantle in wood. It will be gorgeous!

  35. I just finished building a new house and I felt all your feelings, but in the end I am sure you will find your way and come to a solution everyone is happy with. All the advice I would give you is that I think there shoud be a difference between the cladding and the drywall . I think maybe something subtle like a light gray would look really nice. I would even consider painting the cladding between the beams on the ceiling. Just to add more depth to the space. I will enjoy watching this beautiful space evolve. You are very brave leaving this post open for comments. In the end I hope you do what ever feels right to you. You have done a great job so far!!!!!! Enjoy your new home!!!!

  36. what a stunning room: the light! the painted horizontal paneling! the floors! the wood windows and doors! i vote you paint the dry wall a warm color, lean into some beautiful, warm, non-scandi curtains, and add a warm, wood mantle. it just looks unfinished (which it is)–blue loves a warm-toned glow up. your eye will find it, maybe your eyes need a little rest from all the choices you’ve been making. best of luck. it will be beautiful!

  37. I think you’ll get there! It needs a glow up that you know how to do so well! What about a lime wash on the walls, warm up the fireplace and make it more of a focal point. Definitely add curtains, a warm chandelier, finish the nook and then decide if you also need wood clad beams. As far as furniture and art instead of having such a starting point in mind (farmhouse, boho, mcm) why not pull from your eclectic heart! You always do that so well!

  38. All the comments about Brian. Just stop, not appropriate.

    The room doesn’t photograph well. For what I’m sure is a really beautiful space. In photos, the walls blend into the casing and paneling. Are you designing for your viewers or your own enjoyment? Painting the drywall would help with the contrast. Please no to that wallpaper. It Is grey and drab and safe. Start with a warm but light paint color and eventually find the perfect light colored and patterned wallpaper.

    Fireplace: that white is going to be smoke stained the first time you use it. You notice this in photographs. But are you designing for your viewers or your own enjoyment? In person, smoke staining doesn’t look that bad. But painting the fireplace or stripping back to brick would add more contrast. YES to the wood mantle. No to paining the hearth. It kinda blends into the floor now in a good way.

    The Rug: it’s a cold color kind of modern and covering up too much of the warm beautiful floor. I’m not sure from the post if it’s just a placeholder. Consider something smaller, warmer, more traditional.

    I think part of the overall feeling of discontent comes from a mismatch of furniture, decor to the room. It’s screaming for traditional, warmth, chunky, heavy, lots of pattern.

  39. You have to give yourself time to actually live in the house. It’s a beautiful canvas you have created, now you just have to listen to the house itself – it will tell you what it needs/wants.

  40. The stairs are incredible! I say use that to give you confidence to paint the paneling/window casings! If you don’t change it now, you’ll hate everything else you do (art/sofas etc ) going forward. I say use that same color from the stairs for the paneling/window casings. And I vote for a wood mantel too.

    1. I was actually wondering if the stairs are boxing out finding the right solution here? I was wondering if the room would look more finished and prettier if the wood flooring had been carried up the stairs?

  41. The room does seem stark but when would that extra super white not seem that way? Your “error” is a great lesson for all of us about over correcting but isn’t learning from the pros like you why we come here? I have every confidence you will fix the situation to your satisfaction and ours and we will learn along the way. How boring it would be for us if you didn’t need to make a course correction every now and then, like leaving LA for example. By the way, that wallpaper is gorgeous!! Please use it somewhere somehow.

  42. I agree that an infusion of warmth and whimsy could really bring this room to life. Please don’t paint the fireplace hearth – I love the bricks! My vote would be for a warmer colour on the walls (something with a little more presence than the wallpaper sample you’re considering), some ceiling-to-floor drapes with colour or pattern, an actual colour on the fireplace, and some more whimsical/unique/antique furniture pieces. Right now it looks like a modern art gallery, but a room this large and bright can absorb a LOT of layers of colour and pattern, which is the most inviting thing in the world on all those grey fall days!

    1. Agree with the fireplace hearth bricks!! They’re adding the exact contract and warmth that you’re trying to achieve in this room

  43. I think adding some contrast to the walls/trim/fireplace – in any sort of way – will make the room feel warmer. I’d be inclined to put up a tone on tone neutral, patterned wallpaper (Rejuvenation carries some of the William Morris ones if you want to keep that relationship going) and paint the trim the darker color from whatever paper you choose (e.g., taupe, beige), but any of the things will help.

    Another thing that stands out to me is that everything in here right now feels very “new.” Obviously the room was gut renovated, but the other rooms have more elements that add character – classic tile, vintage furniture, etc. I think you need to lean a bit more into the architecture of the house to create the same balance. Make the paneling and/or fireplace a feature, so that the modern furnishings contrast.

    1. That’s where my mind went as well – low contrast Morris wallpaper – would fit the style of the house and add a lot of character. Don’t love the wallpaper linked in the post – reminds me of staying at a middle of nowhere Marriott…

      1. Yes, a beautiful antique pattern would lend so much warmth and interest. More grey or blue is the last thing this room needs.

    2. I’d be interested to see some of the subtle modern versions of William Morris wallpaper considered because there’s actually not a lot of wall space in the room and it would bring a sense of balance and highlight the architecture — possibly without painting it or in combination with a different color on the paneling and casings. The Morris & Co Pure line, has some beautiful less-busy-low-contrast designs like the Pure Willow Bough in several beautiful color ways: and Pure Acorn: and Pure Fruit:

  44. I’m desperate for the ceiling to be a different color. I think that’s your focal point. Not as dark as the original, but not stark white.

    1. YES I think if you painted/stained the beams in the ceiling it would echo the warmth of the floor so well!!!

  45. Call me crazy but I like the pared back simplicity of the all-white. To me, it adds a modern, fresh balance that contrasts well with the more traditional elements of the house. It feels bolder and less expected than leaning in too hard to a more woody/homey vibe. But that’s me, I love for the slightly edgy, unexpected contrast.

    1. *live for
      Also, want to add one more adjective! The contrast of the white background feels much more sophisticated to me than going all one-note with everything. And it’s just subtle enough to feel intentional, imho.

  46. It’s such a beautiful room as-is. The natural light is enviable. You’ve done such a wonderful job renovating the house!

    It sounds like your goal is to bring in some warmth and coziness. Trying to accomplish that with paint and wallpaper might create unintended design problems.  

    Since the beams intersect the header that runs all the way around the room, painting or wallpapering the drywall might have the effect of visually lowering the ceiling. In the pictures of the original room, you can see how the contrast between the wall and header appears to make the ceiling seem lower. With the now white beams and ceiling, you won’t have the heaviness of the original ceiling, but you will have a strong horizontal line creating an optical illusion of a lower ceiling.

    I endorse all the suggestions to take some time and let the room evolve organically. As you bring in the new sofa, soft goods, plants, and baskets, the room will take on a life of its own. I can’t wait to see the evolution!

  47. Look, you know WAY more than I do about design, so I’ll leave you to figure out a solution that works best for your family. But I just had to chime in and say that this sentence is why I come back to your blog time after time. The honesty and candor you put into your posts help us real folk out here stumbling through our own renovations: The real value I can add to the world is documenting my design process, and often making mistakes so you A. don’t feel alone when you do and B. can avoid the same mistake or learn through my problem-solving.” 

  48. Thanks, Emily! It’s actually kind of reassuring to know you even feel like you make mistakes. My family just bought a home in Colorado about 18 months ago, and i wonder if it’ll ever all come together! I love that you also use local sources (we moved to CO from Portland) like Rejuvenation, Schoolhouse, etc..! Can I ask you how you like those Rejuvenation swivels and chairs more broadly?

  49. Live in it. You have to go thru the seasons One thing is Oregon light is sooo diff from so cal light. Your wood furniture pieces could be natural wood. Personally The fireplace is where I’d do something. Yes wallpaper! On the ceiling? Prob not. And I know a great artist for a large painting.

    1. Also too. Hah. I hate choosing white and I just trusted my designer. Simply White BM. It’s perfection ! Before I used her choice I tried Designer white and I hated it. Anyhoo you are so vintage-y. Where is the real Emily?? Where is that vibe ? The room seems like it has no grounding. It’s floating and not ideally! SINK INTO your vintage vibe w all your textile choices and use more antiques. But who am I to tell you! Lots of luck. Focus on the other rooms. It. Will. Work. Out.

  50. I thought you loved SW Pure White in the Mountain House? I wonder how that would look here instead of the SW Extra White. I think you have to clad the ceilings. I would say “strip it” but after all the work on the Mountain House ceiling and ending up just cladding it to get the right wood tone, you could just skip the middle step. And the furniture layout is wrong. Is there enough room to have an open axis between the fireplace and the outdoor doors (creating double seating areas on either side of the axis)?

  51. It’s a work in progress. Don’t panic. Check out Steve Cordony’s instagram. They have an all white living room, but added warmth with the rug, mirrors and accessory, drapes (white!) and plants. Good luck!

  52. Your comment about designers not being able to admit their mistakes to clients: what is that about? Wouldn’t it be better/more honest to own up to the inevitable mistakes that come along with creative endeavors, thereby gaining real client trust? As someone who has worked with designers recently for the first time, I find it maddening/off-putting/offensive when they try to pretend mistakes were intentional or worse, deny that something isn’t working. Is this something they teach in design school? I find it VERY unprofessional. I think a they’d be better swallowing whatever cost was associated with a given mistake, and reap the payoff in reputation and repeat business. Like Grover says, everyone makes mistakes!

    1. So in my experience actual “mistakes” are absolutely owned. If a professional mis-measures, mis-orders or mis-estimates the cost of something they own up and rectify it. But Emily is using the word “mistake” here when what she really means is “regret.” Design is subjective and any creative can ‘regret’ artistic choices that other people don’t even see. Emily is simply acknowledging that it’s awkward to be a professional interior designer and later admit you ‘regret’ a choice someone paid you for – especially if that person happens to like it. It doesn’t build credibility and even if some people forgive you for it they are likely to think twice about hiring you. My read on this is that Emily, who chose the challenge of being both the professional AND the customer, simply prefers being able to confess when she hasn’t made herself happy and if she wants to call that a mistake, its not a professional liability.

  53. I agree that the white is too much. It’s very harsh and unfinished. The room is desperately crying for some type of pattern. A large pattern wallpaper in a neutral color would absolutely help. Play with this in Photoshop before going down a rabbit hole and not being happy. Also, the mantle (just the horizontal board) should absolutely be clad in a medium or darker wood tone. Right now, the wood tones are all too light and have little variation. Add some darker tones also. Fully lean in on this home being historic, not just a farmhouse. It’s also, not the mountain house. Don’t square peg a round hole. Look to some elements from when this house was built, whatever those may be.

    1. Right now, there is too much that is the same. It’s all the same style, similar colors, and little variation in wood tone. The house, being a farmhouse, needs to feel more collected and less new. Mix it up a bit. You’ve got this!

    2. I totally agree. It looks like Emily and Brian are just trying to make another mountain house. Modern, minimalist, etc., which doesn’t work for this space. I’ve looked at Arciform’s other projects online and they are stunning. Full of character, warmth, and history. I don’t see that in the farmhouse. Maybe it’s too late at this point but let Arciform do their job!

  54. I think everyone here wants you to stop beating yourself up over mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes and the most respected people are those that own them. That said, when you, Emily, make mistakes you go overboard with the groveling that you’re so privileged and this isn’t a real problem….. It’s no secret to anyone who reads your blog that you have money, but your livelihood is to spend money on your home. You are constantly apologetic about this and I don’t think most people care. But I’ll tell you this. Since you so clearly want to be relatable, when you make mistakes like this that are not structural, architectural, etc, my suggestion to you is to do your best to find an inexpensive way to correct this mistake. That is what the average person reading your blog would have to do in your situation. You have a myriad of suggestions here of ways you can fix this. Were you to choose one of the expensive options, refinishing the beams, redoing the paneling, that is where you go out of relatable territory. Sure it’s your house, and you want it to be as amazing as the hard work that has gone in to it, but you can find ways to make it beautiful if you take some time to process and think through your decisions before you go spending gobs more money on it. To be clear I don’t care how you spend your money. But nothing screams privilege more than fixing mistakes with money rather than thoughtful choices. CLJ is renowned for this, they’re always like, oh it’s just paint, or removable wallpaper. Except their readers know it’s also thousands of dollars spent on labor and wasted resources. Do what you want, but understand the perception of your readers, it’s not offensive that you’re privileged, it’s offensive when one bemoans it than makes privileged decisions like deconstructing a beautiful, brand new room. Exercise your gifts here and show us what you’ve can do, you’ve got this!

    1. Tough love? Privilege or not, Emily has worked hard to become who she is. The business didn’t grow itself and I haven’t followed her blog, social media, and others since Design Star to watch some privileged person. She is truly relatable and faces dilemmas like many of us. I’m glad she’s successful. We all spend our money in ways we regret, it’s part of life.

      My biggest thought on this home is to let it develop organically. A farmhouse is collected and a mix of traditional, modern, and antique. Traditional and antique are missing. This cannot be forced. The home should be allowed to decide in itself what it wants to become. The LA Tudor had similar issues like this as well, but turned out great in the end. Let the home develop. I can see that Emily still loves her modern design, blue, and some elements from the first house that was very MCM. It’s fine to let yourself come through, as it should, but don’t force it. Consider the house also.

  55. I’m not sure if I understood correctly, are you certain the fireplace works as is? In the before photos it looks like they had some sort of insert inside. Maybe I’ve been reading here too long but it seems to me you’ve always made sort of so-so fireplaces work really well, even made them shining features in your homes. My thought is you try to do the same here, a different warm wood mantle would do wonders for the existing fireplace, maybe old reamed wood? But I’d also love to see a beautiful colored woodstove tucked in there. If you use it as is, the smoke is going to stain your white brick, but a stovepipe going up the chimney would keep that from happening, and woodstoves are much more efficient heating wise than fireplaces. You’d still have the big mantle to play with and style seasonally, this is important! There are so many beautiful colored looking stoves out there, maybe a warmer color, deep cranberry, or a rich brown? Sort of play homage to the old living room, which had a very rich color palate that felt very welcoming.

  56. I think you will regret painting the brick on the floor… just like you regret painting the wood along the window trim.

    1. I kinda wonder about this too. Doesn’t it add texture as it? It doesn’t seem offensive in the pics and I am not sure we need it to be contrasty. But I wonder if up close it looks shabby or something. I’m sure there are reasons for the punch list that we aren’t privy too.

  57. I’d paint the fireplace. You’re just needing a focal point in all that white, and it’s begging to be it. Even just a slight gray. Wallpapering the entry would be fab too!

  58. I appreciate posts like this – helps you pay attention to little details that you wouldn’t necessarily notice as a “non professional” and there are always a lot of great suggestions in the comments. That being said, I am not sure I like the “mistake” label, especially when we are not talking about major structural/ architectural decisions… Most of us typically don’t have a budget to get a room “perfect” from the get go – it takes time and money to find the right furniture and decor, most window treatments are incredibly expensive, adjacent spaces may evolve and that also has the impact…and at the end of the day that creates layered, lived in look.

  59. Lots of good suggestions here. My thoughts are:

    1) don’t wallpaper both the entry and the living room unless it’s the same print. I do think you want calm energy and two patterns right next to each other is more maximalist.

    2) can you sand blast the beams and bring the wood back into the room through that?

    3) you hold up the mountain house as this perfect project but you also iterated there and it took you multiple tries to get the wood right. Give yourself the same grace here.

    4) I think a giant sectional and the swivel chairs feels more minimal than two sofas, personally.

    1. yes to bringing the wood ceiling back. prob not popular but that was the coziest aspect of the room no way I would have painted it. adding curtains would also help a lot.

  60. I would have loved to see the casing around the doors the same wood stain as the doors themselves. painted white the doors feel less substantial and thinner. I know that is an expensive fix but it would be so pretty.
    Other than that i think your playing it too safe with the linen wall covering I do the wall covering but go for a more patterned one. still light in color and neutral but with more actual pattern.
    Just my 2 cents.
    Either way your being too hard on yourself. We don’t ever get everything right the first time and making that many decisions for a house everyone gets design fatigue. And coming from another architect/ designer person here doing it for your own home is much harder than doing it for a client, especially when you have an opinionated husband. Have to say the comments that Brian shouldn’t have a say are just a little unfair. I think when you do this for a living its better to treat your spouse like your client and guide them in your direction but you can force them. you want them to love the home too and really paint colors are not worth marriage fights. My husband is also very opinionated on random things…. and even though design is my job and restaurants and commercial companies pay me a lot of money to design their spaces his opinion still counts in our relationship.

  61. So, tough love, I agree. Living room looks cold and ungrounded as is. Light upholstery and light wood furniture don’t help. I agree you are trying to recreate the mountain house LR and I agree it doesn’t work. Adding to the issue is that as this LR is in some ways an “alcove” on the way to the kitchen and dining nook, it feels unanchored and would make me incredibly anxious.
    That said, of course you can and will fix it, and that process will be more valuable to all of us than if you’d gotten it right immediately:)
    I vote for more natural textures on the walls/fireplace (grasscloth wallpaper maybe, and somehow redo the mantelpiece to be wood the way it was before, only not quite so dark.) Then, REALLY think about your furniture! Not pale! No little stick legs! No flattish seat cushions! You need more cozy, more relationship between one piece and the other. And the rug, more organic, less geometry! I even wish the sconces weren’t black. Brass? Or wood? I am sure you will find a way to make the seating area cohesive and inviting. Thank you for sharing all your work. No matter what you do it’s interesting and useful to me.

    1. And also, I remember you never got quite happy with the Los Feliz living room, which was also kind of big. Maybe if you clear out all the furniture and put big cushions on the floor and see where the space wants you to sit and how close together? Séancing and house;)

  62. Don’t rush into solving this! It’s an amazing stunning room to live with while you take your time.

    I think it looks modern scandi rather than farmhouse – it’s very like the mountain house.

    Try and bring back the farmhouse cosy – antiques, colour that isn’t blue, less polished, more wood.

    Leave the fireplace hearth bricks – so much character!

    The wallpaper seems boutique hotel to me – not cosy family home.

    I’d paint drywall, leave the brick hearth, add wood mantel and fix things with rug, coffee table and furniture to bring back some of that original character when you bought it.

  63. Painting the drywall is an easy solution that will make a huge difference (and isn’t permanent like wallpaper). Something warm and light would be great. And you still have styling to do! Artwork and plants and curtains and all that fun stuff will give the room the soul I think it’s missing right now. No one moves into a completely designed, “done” house … you have to figure some of that stuff out after you’ve lived there for a while. You’re doing great.

  64. All that custom millwork is so pretty! I came here to vote for wood mantel and that pretty linen wall covering. Such a happy room!

  65. I recently painted my living room white (White Dove by BM)- and used the same color on all of the trim (which actually is the same trim your farmhouse originally had) and built in bookcases, etc. When I finished painting it, I was so disappointed- it seemed like too much white and the trim didn’t show up as much as I wanted. I had tons of family coming to town, so I just left it as it was and put my artwork back up, my curtains back up, etc. Guess what? Now that the space is fully furnished, I love it!! Your decor and furniture is currently mostly cooler tones- I’m wondering if just swapping some of that out might be the solution. No matter what you decide, I’m sure it’ll be gorgeous!

  66. I think the fabric wall covering you’re considering would bring in the warmth and texture you’re wanting, and it would also bring more definition to the white paneling and trim.

  67. This is why I chose to be a design blogger and NOT an interior designer with clients (where you can rarely admit nor document your mistakes).”
    Thank you for being vulnerable and for making this choice. Instead of helping a handful of clients per year, you are helping thousands (!!!) of us learn, explore, and make our homes into happy places.

  68. Emily, I’m so happy you wrote this post-thank you. We bought our first house a year and a half ago and spent weeks painting all our bedroom trim, ceiling, floor (it was already a painted wood floor so we choose a new color), and walls ourselves. It was the first big thing we did and I was so excited to have it the way I dreamed. At the end I realized the wall color is a light olive green rather than a warm taupe. I have been beating myself about it because it was so much work—so it is so refreshing to read this happens to other people and professionals no less! Thanks for always being real ❤️

  69. I’d live in it for awhile before you make another rushed decision. Personally I wouldn’t spend the money for that fabric wallpaper. Look at Benjamin Moore Pale Oak paint color. You can always get SW to color match it. Just paint one wall or one section first. And sorry, but I could have told you that baby blue was a mistake…..

  70. Emily,
    Here is an option you did not mention – will require covering all furniture and masking off, but I think would look super cool. Just paint the beams and ceiling and crown up at the beams the gray/blue. It is very traditional historically; even Architectural Digest did an article on it:

    1. Dang – this is bold! And yet, not bold! I really like the blue ceiling idea. It’s more traditional than I might have guessed.

    2. This is gorgeous and would play so well with the kitchen while also making the white look way less stark.

    3. I have two room ceilings in my house painted blue, and I’m considering it in my kitchen remodel. I often think about doing more. It’s so soothing and inviting. I’m not sure how it would look on Emily’s beamed ceiling, but it is an interesting suggestion.

  71. I would paint the drywall a sage green and paint the fireplace a darker version of the sage.

  72. I agree with others about not needing to spray the paneling. We have a lot of woodwork and paneling, and a high-quality painting crew painted over a high gloss finish with brushes with no problem.
    As I’m sure you’ve experienced, sometimes contractors tell you something is impossible if they don’t want to do it. (Another example– updating electrical with plaster walls is totally possible and done all the time in old houses on the East coast.) If you can’t bear to do a redo with the previous crew, just hire someone else.

  73. I would agree, it is very white, BUT as many blog designers say, PAINT is a great way to change a space. And living with a space is so much different than designing it and moving in. YOU HAVE TIME. I have faith it’s going to look so beautiful finished.

  74. The last picture says it all for me. The room feels uneven. There is a lot happening on the back wall with the large door set and the dining nook and the floor lamp, but the fireplace wall has nothing to balance it. If you add curtains to the doors, I think this will upset the balance even more. I would consider adding fabric roman shades, in a color, to the windows and either putting a wood mantle on the fireplace or stripping the paint on the bricks. Again referencing the last picture, I assume that you view this room from your kitchen a good bit, the floor lamp, side table, swivel chair, side table, swivel chair, seems like too many small pieces in a row. It needs less. Also, I absolutely agree with the other comments that you should live in the space for a long while before you change anything.

  75. Just a thought, I once bought a house with white paint over a red brick fireplace. I lived with that over a year and hated it. Then I heat stripped it in winter and left a bit of paint. It turned out gorgeous and warmed the room so I didn’t make other changes. I left the mantle white and the builtin bookcases were white. It does look like you hated the fireplace and tried to disappear it.
    A different house had bright orange brick outside with green bits. Using latex paint, I added more subtle splotches a dark cream, softening both orange and green. I liked it afterwards. I did it by hand though, because it was like art.
    No art?
    You are way too hard on yourself!

  76. I love it. As is. Some more texture will look great for sure. I am a minimalist at heart and I honestly just find the pics soothing and calming and beautiful. Once you reveal the kitchen – which I bet has more colour and movement – I think the living room will be a nice balance. I would not paint or wallpaper anything. It’s lovely!

  77. It’s a beautiful space. You need to pat yourself on the back on how it turned out. As others mentioned, live in it for a while before making any decisions. Wait until the new furniture all other decor items are there. I agree with your diagnosis though – it needs more warmth. However, your solution to put gray wallpaper is a bit confounding. Gray will not warm the space. The same reason that painting the panels blue-gray did not work. Cold gray does not provide warmth – it adds to the coldness. And as much as the rug is beautiful, I think you need a warmer-colored rug.

  78. I agree with a lot of the comments so far that there needs to be more definition when it comes to the fireplace. I’d strip it back to the brick and install a wood mantel to bring back the cozy. For me, a living room should feel as if you are walking into a huge “hug”, so I think the best way to go about that would be to bring the ceiling back to wood. Yes, it may make it seem that the ceiling feels lower, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in a living room where you want to hang out and relax. Just some thoughts!

  79. I really like the white casing with the wood sills. I think it’s more interesting if it had been all wood… but you’re right they’re falling flat and need to be defined. All your options are good ones (naturally). I would say start with painting the drywall a light neutral. That will let you know if that solves the problem with a small investment and if you like that but need texture you can more confidently choose wallpaper. The ceiling beams clad in wood would be too much, I think. You need the white to give your head space. I would definitely add a wood mantel though to carry that over to that side of the room. I am a September 1st girl too and the need for perfection is STRONG. But give yourself some grace, Emily. It’s a beautiful room.

  80. Haven’t read the comments yet…
    Yes. It’s stark. I’m surprised.
    I immediately thought of something ypu wrote not long ago, about wanting to use seagrass paper on walls again….and I thought that might bd a solution…. Then, you wrote about fabric wallcovering to add texture!
    I LOVE this!!! Natural, earthy, farm-y!!💗

    Through everything I’ve gone (and continue to go) through in relation to surviving (like, literally, I’m alive and I wasn’t sure I would be at times) with domestic abuse … the advice that helped me not be so judge-y on myself, was to:
    It. Helps. SO. Much!!!

    Okay, Emily, your future self will look back at this confabulated time and laugh.
    It. Is. Okay.
    You DO have this. You can do hard things (ask Arlyn!😉)
    We’re all here for this. For you. 🥰

  81. I’m also having a big case of the “too much white” at my house. Two small things that could make a big difference are:

    1. Add a tree or two! You have enough space and light, and it will add so much life and character to the space.
    2. Put new shades on the sconces. There is a huge opportunity for adding character there without taking over, and right now all the gorgeous sconces all but disappear during the day.

    Good luck!!

  82. Me, I feel ya on this one! We have a similar ceiling situation in our dining/kitchen area that we just painted (Swiss Coffee, IMO a perfect white for the PNW, just warm enough) and now have to design around. The visual temperature of colors is such a huge factor with the light in Oregon! I’d actually encourage you to consider mulling this color choice over on cloudy/rainy days over the next month or so. That’s really the predominant light you’re going to have here, I think you’ll be happier with something that looks good even when it’s greeeeeeey outside!

    Also? You don’t have to apologize for making mistakes! NOT making mistakes is not desirable even if it was an option – if you learn something from this now (and we all learn something) that later turns into some of your best blog posts, an important book chapter, etc, isn’t that ultimately a success?

    You are a human. You will have problems. At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to have no problems or make no mistakes. It’s to have problems you want to solve and be making interesting mistakes you learn from. ❤️❤️❤️ Emily, go forth and make some interesting effing mistakes! Miss Frizzle this ish up!

  83. Give yourself a break and a pat on the back. You did it! You made decisions that allowed the house to be finished so that you could move in and get on with the next phase of the house!! This is that next phase – tweaking, decorating, living. I think it’s impossible to make decisions about every single tiny detail and like them all. You didn’t make mistakes per se, you got results that were different than imagined. That’s totally normal and ok!!! Creating the feeling you want in a space is best done while living in the space, as you are now. I think you have lots of good ideas about what to change, but give yourself permission to take your time. It’s a beautiful house! You will make it more YOU over time.
    The one thing that bothers my eye (and may not bother yours) is the proportion of the fireplace. Since your panelling is on the low side, as is the furniture in there at the moment, the height of the mantel seems overly high and makes that side of the room feel imposing. I would move the mantel down and I like the idea of making it wood, both of which I think would make things feel more cozy. Congratulations on all the work you have done to arrive at this point – enjoy it!!

  84. Ok I have so many thoughts but namely, don’t be so hard on yourself! Re: Brian’s involvement, yes of course he should be involved because you are life partners and this is his home 100% as much as yours, HOWEVER, just based on what we see on this side of the screen, it *does* seem like some of the smaller decisions could be left to you knowing that you will do what’s right based on your SHARED vision for the space. i.e. he should definitely be involved in everything big picture, but that maybe the nitty gritty stuff can be left to you, the stylist!
    Also just want to say that you can maybe disassociate from the Mountain House a little by thinking about how that house was so right for you in that season of your life. It was pandemic craziness and the world was upside down and you craved the simplicity of that design up there. But now that we are (partially) back to normal and real life, you can consider adding a little more quirkiness/warmth/antiques.
    AND second what others are saying about definitely try a drywall treatment before you mess with the paneling and casings. I do think that bright white will pop beautifully if you have something going on with the drywall. Isn’t it you that has said before that you should go a litttttle bit safer on expensive, permanent fixtures so it doesn’t date and you don’t want to redo it in a couple years? I feel like you did just that with this paneling decision, lovely but a bit safe, and you can funk it up on the drywall a bit because it’s less of a serious decision!
    AND LASTLY thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I don’t want to say we are getting joy from your pain, but it’s so interesting to read the process and fun to see the lovely progress shots. Thanks for opening up your world for all of us to comment on your home, your decisions, your marriage (!) – it really is so engaging and I love coming to the blog to read all of this! GOOD JOB EVERYTHING IS SO PRETTY ALREADY

  85. I think it is smart to treat it as if you just moved in and are starting from this point. I would paint the drywall, clad the mantel in wood (which will balance the wood doors on the other side) and hang curtains. It’s such a beautiful foundation to start with, it’s gonna look great! Besides, rooms are never really ‘done’, they evolve as we live in them. And thank you for sharing because it truly is helpful to see the process!!

  86. Emily, thank you for being so candid and transparent. You had to make a dizzying number of decisions under suboptimal conditions (covered floors and windows, etc.) Even with your expertise, there was absolutely no way everything would come together perfectly. This is a chance for all of us, your readers, to see how the room will evolve and to read the comments, full of interesting suggestions.
    I don’t understand, however, why some people would blame you for consulting Brian. It’s his house too, and since he lives with a designer and gets more and more involved, he’s surely learned a lot over the years.
    Even though I have been intensely interested in design for years and studied art, I always consult my 14 year old daughter and her father when I am hesitating between two options. I have sometimes regretted taking their advice, but they have also saved me from making a lot of mistakes.
    Two heads are better than one, in my opinion.
    Coming back to your living room, the light is fantastic, the floors and doors are beautiful. 
    Here’s what I think could make the room feel warmer:
    1. As others have pointed out, there are too many small pieces of furniture in this huge space, which makes it feel cluttered. Having fewer, more substantial pieces would unify the whole.
    2. By the same logic, changing only the window and door frames to wood would give them more presence and substance. And it would cost less than changing all the woodwork.
    3. I would avoid wallpaper, too neutral and modern, and too limiting since the entrance will also be covered with wallpaper.
    4. Instead, I would paint the woodwork that covers the bottom of the walls. Painting them the same beautiful color (Smoky Blue) as the staircase would be interesting and punchy, but the contrast might be too great in such a large room. 
    5. Two couches facing each other, perpendicular to the fireplace, with a large coffee table in the middle, would make the room much warmer and more intimate. The same effect would be achieved by placing a single couch facing two armchairs, provided they were larger and less modern than the current swivel chairs.
    6. As others have suggested, adding a potted tree and touches of gold or yellow would also make the room more inviting.
    That said, your work is fantastic! I’ve been reading your blog every day for years. It inspires me and has helped me learn so much. This is my first time commenting because I speak French and not English (so please forgive my shaky sentence construction). I wanted to thank you and encourage you not to be so hard on yourself. 

    Translated with (free version)

  87. Hi! Thank you for the beautiful photos. I agree with the commenters who suggest living with things awhile before any big changes. It looks unfinished because it is! You need patina – plants, antiques, your OWN stuff. And, also agree that the MCM sofa legs aren’t working well with the house. Stick with your modern farmhouse vibe. You got this!

  88. Hi,
    I’m unclear as to why you can’t strip the panelling back down to it’s natural wood then seal it? Is it because it’s not oak and the window casings are oak? I read this part twice and am still a bit confused.

    1. Its paint grade wood, not stain grade, and its a different wood than the window casings. They would have to replace it all with stain grade oak for it to look the way she wants.

  89. I think wallpaper will give you the warmth and texture you want, but its never going to be the wood paneling and wood ceiling that you actually want. However, no matter what you do, this room just isn’t going to be the mountain house even if you were to reclad all the paneling with stain grade paneling and trim, and that’s okay. That’s not what this house wants to be. That ship has sailed.
    You probably need to mock up a wood mantel for Brian to be able to visualize it to get him on board. That will go a long way to warming up that side of the room. Window treatments also can do a lot to give you warmth and texture. Same with your piano.

  90. My immediate thought when I started the post was – hmm, I think the paneling would look amazing in a light blue. After seeing the pictures, I agree it looked a little aggressive there, but I think that it actually would have been amazing once the floors were uncovered to give some warmth and once furniture was in. I think it would have worked so well with your furniture, and would actually have been a kindof historically accurate colour for the time period of the house and the farmhouse feeling – I think it would have given nods to both your love of english grandma design and swedish design (a modern reference to this old house I think about all the time: )
    I do agree the white should be warmer! Especially with blue panelling.

    1. Oh! That paneling is so similar. I love the teal color, too. Emily’s paneling would be so beautiful in a grey-teal color that would still complete more blue tile in the sunroom and the chambray blue tile in the kitchen.

  91. It feels very NYC warehouse/loft space in the photos, with all the stark white paint. I think that for a farmhouse look you need LOTS more wood, texture, and warmth. Real brick and a wood mantle is a no brainer. Can you add curtains? I honestly think the blue paneling with a tonal grass paper wallpaper (maybe with a trellis print?) would have been killer. It’s just so cold and you want cozy in this space

    1. Definitely, a wood mantle. I’d try that with the white brick before stripping or repainting the fireplace. I also love the idea of a more golden or wheat tone wallpaper to complement all the blue/grey going on. I keep thinking of using a painting of a wheat field with vast blue skies as inspiration. A grass paper would definitely add that element.

  92. OMG, Emily. you’ve confirmed my own doubts. I have a similar large living room that is pretty dark. When we moved in it was painted a dirty mauve. I didn’t even question white washing the whole thing. But after living with it…it’s felt off? And I feel so dumb for not exploring any colors. I just couldn’t handle that old color I jumped the gun! But then I’ve been doubting myself (you can’t go wrong with white walls! I’d be crazy to paint them a color!) But this is giving me the push I need to explore colors. I’m leaning towards F&B Oval Room blue!

  93. You’re amazing and we are lucky to get to be invited into your home and your process. Thanks for always leading with vulnerability and honesty. I think you are in serious overwhelm and burnout from making SO many design decisions as of late. The low hanging fruit is the drywall – you can easily paint it a tone which will help most of your concerns (and if it doesn’t, you’ll know that wasn’t entirely the problem). Adding art, vintage, and textiles will help so much… and that’s really the fun part. The wallpaper is awesome but even that may be too big and permanent a decision to make right now. Give yourself grace, space, and time and it will come. Lots of love 🙂

  94. First off, I think it looks BEAUTIFUL. You’ve done amazing work and deserve to pat yourself on the back for getting over the hump of the BIG work. I do think you can make incremental changes (curtains, more wood tones, perhaps a plant or two, painting top half of walls) and see how it feels before making BIG changes. I do think that the fireplace could do with some more texture. Maybe a chunkier mantle in a wood tone? I say keep the brick flooring, though. It’s an added layer of texture and this room needs it. I have no doubt you’ll have an amazing after. But I understand the exhaustion right now. Give yourself some grace. It will come together eventually :-).

  95. Could you clad the beams in raw wood? Or paint the ceiling between the beams a warm neutral?

  96. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts along this process! Your concerns about this room are so relevant to my current dilemma. I just had our favorite room in the house painted a very “safe” white—the same white that is used on the trim. We have this combination elsewhere in the house and like it, but it makes this light-filled room feel cold and gray (and “dead” and “ruined” and if I can be dramatic for a moment). My husband is frustrated with me and I’m embarrassed to ask the painter to do it all over again, so I’m going to live with it for a few weeks to see if it grows on me. Putting a plant in the corner of the room helped add some life to the space.

    It sounds like you are craving more character and warmth and layers in this space. To that end, what color is the original brick fireplace? We have muted red brick around our fireplace in our 100-year-old home and I love it. It looks lovely with our greige walls (London Fog by Benjamin Moore) and white trim.

    I love the idea of cladding the mantel in wood. I think that a strong horizontal line there would really energize the space and tie in with the middle point of the windows.

    Could you refinish the bench that used to live by the fireplace and put it back? It fit perfectly there and now that it’s gone, I miss it.

    I would love to see the dry wall painted in a warm, light neutral. Could you paint the ceiling in between the beams in that color? Hope you’ll share some photoshopped renders of the possibilities in this room, even if they are rough. It’s a blank slate and you have so many options. It’s really rather exciting. 🙂

  97. 100% replace and do the oak.
    There is a cost to doing business, naive to think there won’t be replacements and efficiencies along the way.
    With the energy you get from doing how you want it, what you want as a designer an owner, use that energy to replenish yourself in the process of building your company/assets.
    If you want to know the cons not to that, could end up escalating the mistake by putting wood on your ceilings instead and making the room look darker and the ceilings lower which is what you don’t want. Or covering up that lovely textured relaxed textured fireplace unnecessarily with wood, etc.

  98. As a reminder, you’ve always told us to live in our houses for a while before making big design decisions (or something to that effect). You just need to live in the house for a while and the design will come! My two cents….definitely wallpaper above the wainscoting! Maybe the wallpaper could have pattern and bring in more farmhouse vibes? Fireplace either needs wood shelf or to be painted black. Once you have final couch selection will you add floor outlets on either end? House is looking great! Can’t wait to see the kitchen!!! Oh, & love the red door!

  99. What a beautiful room!
    I can relate so much to your angst, and moreso because I bought a house last year with similar issues. And we made the same mistake – we went all white at first, and used too much mid-century, which didn’t work. My house is the first traditional style house I have ever lived in (it is a Colonial located in the South), and so many things that worked on the West coast and desert just didn’t look good at all in our current house.
    I think you are struggling with something similar…your Farmouse is quite traditional in feel, with incredible trad details like diamond windows, patterned floor tile, and detailed millwork. I think if you have large minimalistic or contemporary elements in your rooms they will tend to overpower and draw all the attention, which will overpower and clash with the beautiful trad elements, which are “quieter”. Smaller contemporary elements can happily update the trad in the LR, but they need to be used with care to get the balance right.
    Thus I think you should leave the fireplace as is (do not clad in wood). I also suggest you paint the windows so they are completely white to match the rest of the trim. The windows are currently drawing too much attention away from the millwork and fireplace and they also bring forward too much contemporary style for this space. I suggest painting the drywall a light warm gray like SW collonade gray which will work better with the blue in your kitchen than beige/tan; the contrasting wall paint will finally bring out the beauty in your fireplace and millwork details. Wallpaper on the LR walls would be too busy I think even if it is just a textured wallpaper – it would detract attention away from that cool millwork and fireplace. Finally I agree with the other poster who said that your current furnishings are likely too “minimalistic Scandi California” to nail the cozy feeling you want. I would mix in more traditional furniture shapes, such as 2 wingback style armchairs in a cute modern pattern fabric instead of the 2 swivels. And I’d do a carpet that while still light and modern has much more blue/black/gray, maybe in a traditional pattern such as medallion persian. Add a couple “old brown” furniture/antiques but more on the reddish/mahogany side to keep the warmth. You also need more color I think, some small pops of peach, green. And probably black. Your furnishings overall should ideally reference the trad style a bit more overtly than currently.
    Just my $0.02! I’m so confident you will end up with a gorgeous room no matter what you do! I have enjoyed and learned so much from your unerring style through reading this blog and your books. I’m looking forward to how you solve your current “design problem”! Best wishes!

  100. I would decide on a wallpaper for the entry first and make sure it has the same blue/grey colors of the kitchen tile, then pull a complementary color from that same wallpaper to bridge the two rooms in the living room. Use that to paint the drywall only, and maybe the slats between the beams on the ceiling to add some visual warmth in the ceiling. Leave fireplace white, add new reclaimed wood mantel, leave bricks in floor natural. Then decide on your final furniture choices in warmer fabric shades (not gray), placement, and proper scale. Lastly, add in all your amazing accessories, art, and real live plants and it will be just fine!!! PS I thought the family dining area in the corner was going to be a L- shaped banquette. Did i imagine that? Having another surface that is upholstered can add warmth in that direction too!

  101. Yes to painting, no to that wallpaper which is very greige and will be a lot of expense for minimal impact. What about some nice drapes/window treatments around the back doors? That would add some nice texture. I also love the idea of stripping the fireplace down to the original brick color.

  102. Emily – thank you thank you for your CANDOR! Documenting your design thought process and trial and error is MUCH more interesting and helpful than a perfect finished room 🙂

  103. Em, for all the reasons you mention this space is both BEAUTIFUL and an ‘opportunity’…
    Random thought to help maintain your perspective shift: designing with PDX light vs. Cali or TMH is like having a new salsa partner in dance class -the steps might all be the same but you still have to get-to-know each other’s nuances & body language etc. before you find your groove together.

    I found you during Design Star and I ‘knew’ you would win the moment you began your White Box walk-thru. In real time -and on camera!- you diagnosed and re-designed the space with insight and authority and humility and creativity. This ability (super power?) is as worthy a skill as being a designer : )

  104. Perhaps you will address it in the kitchen design post, but I’m curious about what’s happening with the small round table in the dining nook. I recall you had designed it so that would be a built-in banquette. Did that plan change and why?

  105. I think the quirk and whimsy that come with a farm house develop over time (sometimes decades). You’ve given the space great bones. The rest will come. One day you’ll be antiquing and the perfect wall clock (or anything) will jump out at you and it will be the insperation for those extra details that you’re looking for. You’re being so hard on yourself. A home happens over time, you’ve made a beautiful framework for that to happen.

  106. Oof. Designer here, and I feel this! It happens! (But, for what it’s worth, if a client signs off on all the aesthetic decisions and hate it when they get in, that’s actually their responsibility to fix, financially speaking. That doesn’t help you here, as you’re both!)

    A bit of unsolicited advice: don’t do *that* wallpaper in *this* room. Yes, that texture is SO beautiful, but it’s going to read as a warm gray paint from across the room. Speaking from experience – not with that wallpaper, but with other lightly textured wallcoverings that looked so beautiful in my hands and like we might as well have just painted once they were up. Those light textures work best in small spaces where you’re never very far from them so it actually reads as a texture!

    I don’t blame you AT ALL for not wanting to paint the paneling so soon. I’d probably start with photoshopping paint on the wall above to see how it feels. But man… that paneling in a darker color could really ground the entire room in a great way. I see the dilemma!

  107. Don’t beat yourself up so much! It is so easy to obsess yet perfection is impossible, particulalry at the beginning of such a big process. I’m all for the wallpaper but have to say that Ashley Stark just doesn’t do it for me. Texture is good but not such a plain field of another white, even texture. I would think a grasspaper with very subtle color or white variations would be much more interesting and would not pull focus once the room is decorated. Cladding the mantel seems like it would also make a big difference. Undoubetedly your decisions are made but what fun to consider what I would do if I had that room. (Bullseye glass in the diamonds on the window in the entryway! Not exactly farmhouse but I love the look. Come to think of it perhaps the same with grasspaper.)

  108. For me the fix would be to strip back the ceiling beams and the fireplace mantel so they are a warm wood tone that complements your window casings.

  109. Clad beams and mantle, brings warmth and texture, can’t go wrong. Leave everything else untouched, fireplace, paneling, everything until you have built in table area complete. Let your brain move on from living room for awhile. Think of it this way, clean canvas for holiday decorations this year.

  110. Dear Emily, Thank you for your candor. We will all learn a lot from your family’s experiences.
    Sometimes, when I am facing a mountain of (self-caused) work, I will ask out loud, “Who came up with this plan?” I, of course, am that culprit. For some reason it makes me feel better and helps me move on to the fixing phase.
    Buried somewhere in the comments are observations from an architect I thought were helpful.
    Also, I spent my first winter back in the PNW last year, after many years of living in the midwest and the south. I have to say, if someone has not lived through a dark and rainy January/February in Portland, you may not fully understand how much we crave light, bright, and airy surroundings then. I guess that’s a vote for taking your time with solutions.
    Like so many I would vote for starting with the textured fabric wall covering. My thought is that the texture itself will really be a valuable change.
    But no matter what, I’m sure we all want you to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.

  111. For now, paint the drywall and then live with it for awhile. I think that will add the warmth you want in the most cost effective way, and best to avoid once again rushing an expensive decision. I like the idea of the fabric wall covering also, but that tone is so gray, I think you would still feel frustrated that you had taken on an expensive “fix” but haven’t added the warmth you wanted to the room.

    1. I just looked at stories and am amending my opinion – the fabric sample looks so much warmer there v. on the product site. I think that could be a great option to add warmth and texture.

  112. “White is white!” Sounds like my husband. There are SO many freaking shades of white!

    My first thought was wallpaper on that back wall for contrast. I get the Extra White too – our dining room is that color. It’s super white!

    SW Pediment looks great as a nice mushroom-y contrast with the Extra White. I like the idea of adding a contrast with the fireplace too. Maybe painted paneling from the mantel and going up?

    Overall, the room is very awesome! I’m all about the swivel chairs right now. I think a couple of changes and you’ll be loving the room! 😉

  113. This is a case of decision overload. You are renovating a huge property. You have made thousands of decisions. Time to step back and settle in. You have tons of content for this blog to satisfy us and inspire us. Let yourself, and your family, live in this space for a year. The all white room doesn’t read the same as the mountain house because the quality of the light is different, the space is different, you are using the space in a different way. Let all 4 seasons pass. See the room through the leaf-filtered light of summer, the grey of winter…you’ll know what the room needs to get you closer to happy and I would bet it isn’t quite what you think it needs right now.

  114. Emily, you’ve done a brilliant job and it is impossible to get everything right when you have so many decisions to make. I vote for that gorgeous wallpaper and wood on the mantle. Then reassess.

  115. Other than the red wall color and the ceiling space between the beams, the OG had so much cozy, farmhouse appeal to it. Thick dark window moldings, beams and mantel all brought out the diamond panes on the windows. The wall of doors is a huge lifestyle improvement and wonder if just that would have been enough to balance out the dark elements. But… not my house and if I hadn’t seen the before I would call it bright and clean.

  116. I’m sure you follow Hendricks Churchill, they do a lot of farmhouses and frequently use contrasting and bold trim. Since this is a big statement room, maybe you need a big statement color on all that custom trim and panelling? Something surprising – red or yellow? I also love trim painted in a taupe or gray, but not sure how it will work against the natural wood of the doors. I could see lots of other things working too, but changing the trim is my first instinct.

  117. Take advice from the shortest Henderson…what makes you swoon and feel bursting with joy. You brain gets to take a vacay. Find a couple elements that make you want to do cartwheels and let your mind design the room after that to fill things out.

  118. My takeaway, though I don’t think you were this direct, is that in your design decisions, you took away the heart of the home (the farmhouse history) and made it into something basic, modern, and unspecial. I think you could make design decisions to bring back some of that farmhouse style the room now entirely lacks, but sometimes coming to terms with what you took away is the first step to deciding on how to remedy that loss. You are making a farmhouse into a modern, well-designed but more “suburban” home. If you want a farmhouse, you need to bring back some original elements and not make it what it isn’t.

    1. Agreed..I was thinking she lost her soul and she wants it back (she=house). Emily you have a lot of soul. You got this. Think joy not portfolio. If you LOVE it people will have fewer opinions.

  119. Dear Emily, I feel your pain. I am overthinking every decision as well. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You made the right choices, those are not mistakes. Now you need to live in the space a little to make some additional decisions. Take a few moments to enjoy the process and think. One thing I strongly believe in is that almost any toned down color works in the space when there is a lot of art, curtains, plants, etc. Perhaps if you first fill up the space how you intend, you will begin to see the missing pieces and you’ll know exactly what you are missing. I’m not a fan of wooden paneling (these appear very conservative and traditional to me) or mid tone window frames because they get in the way of enjoying other things in the space. I find windows have to complement the space or be in the background, as opposed to standing out or getting on the way of enjoying paintings, furniture etc. But everyone is different so you have to make the choice about what you are convinced about the most and keep decisions consistent with your design preferences.
    I’d probably do the wallpaper+ sheer curtain panels, Then I’d think about painting the fireplace a more contrasting color.
    Of course Brian needs to be part of the process, but I think I’d ask him more about what his must haves are, and I’d work on the mood board and design elements myself. It’s okay for him to veto something, but I find that some people don’t have an eye for design/esthetics and their requests create a random collection of things that is far from sophisticated.

  120. I recently moved to the Pacific NW from central California. I was so surprised to find out that THE LIGHT IS DIFFERENT HERE ! Moisture in the air? My tried and true colors that worked in Napa Valley don’t work here. My new local painter recommended “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore. It is The Winner. All my other sample whites I used to paint the inside of the closets.
    Good luck EM !

    1. Also an excellent exterior color in the PNW! People have knocked on my door to ask what paint color we used, it’s that good!

    2. Yes to BM White Dove! I live in Portland and painted my living room White Dove and I love it. Bright yet not too bright, looks great in all lights.

      1. i have an older bungalow with dark trim and window moldings. I tried the whiter whites and everything just came over so lifeless. I settled on BM navajo white. It has a done of warm undertones, but it was the only white that gave me any life (north west facing room)

  121. As I am going through my own kitchen/dining area remodeling I was looking forward to this reveal to get some ideas. I must admit my heart sank when I saw the pained paneling, stark white walls and what was once a unique wood ceiling, and perhaps the saddest of all the flat white fireplace. Even a slightly, warmer off-white neutral color, used in a couple of shades to add depth would have created a more interesting and cozier feeling. I also hope the mid-century wooden hand seat not making a return in the country home living room.

  122. I would’ve left the mantel wood as well as the beams- it is very white, very stark and now you’re trying to undo all the white. The one thing that really is pronounced is why is there a chord hanging in the banquet area? Seems as though you could’ve put in electrical over the table to avoid a chord. I also think the table is forced there, and makes getting into the family room ackward.

  123. Yes to the neutral trim on panelling and trim. My husband did a white lime plaster on our bedroom walls and accented with a neutral color on the trim/doors. At first I was against the trim color (WHY>??) , but now can’t imagine it any other way.
    Yes to Clad the mantelpiece with wood.
    Yes to keeping your husband in on the design process. Some spouses don’t care, but if your spouse does, it is the best. Even though the process is painful at times and opinions fly, when you are done, everywhere your eye goes you see the decisions you made together, you can actually see the love, appreciation and consideration you have for each other and your home. I found the compromise solutions we came up with far, far better than my original ideas. And as we sit having our coffee, admiring something we did together months and even years after the fact, it was all worth it.

  124. I really appreciated the honesty and I’m sure difficulty it took to write this post. It makes me feel so much better about my own design agonies and to know that even designers make mistakes, wow. We are all human! Whatever you do to make that room feel better for you will be amazing. Can’t wait to see it.

  125. You’re amazing! And this story is REAL working on an entire house is exhausting and sometimes you don’t make the perfect decision. If you would like to come over and weigh in on my kitchen backsplash (I just can’t decide on the tile!) … nobody is perfect.
    I definitely think the brick fireplace should be painted, it requires depth that we aren’t getting from it here. Wallpaper the foyer – YES!!! Then go the easiest route and paint your drywall something that counterbalances the blue/gray stairs and kitchen tile. I’d look at a beige/white with a blush undertone. Or try a canvas white.
    Another thought I have looking at these pics is that Leanne Ford gets away with painting everything white because she furnishes with a few large, sculptural pieces. Your living room has a few too many things all the same size, so as you say, you need to carve out segments, and figure out where you can install a huge thing, or maybe find the perfect painting to go over the mantel that can create a fireplace/art monolith.

  126. I would either 1. paint the paneling a darker color and do the wallpaper or 2. I would try stripping the paneling and sealing it. I understand it’s “paint grade poplar” but I read up on poplar and “paint grade” is kind of a myth. You can stain and/ or seal it as is and it will still look warm and nice. And I’d def try to talk Brian into the woody mantle. And plants!

  127. Hi Emily,
    First I want to commend your authenticity which is what I find most helpful and why I read your blog every day. I have just gut renovated a home myself and I feel you on so many levels!!! It’s beyond difficult to work with a total blank slate vs a renovation. Now you are in the latter camp and it will be easier to tweak now that you can physically see what you are working with!!

    In terms of white paint I spent hours researching and listening to designers talk about the varied choices. What finally got me was when one high end designer was asked “if you were stuck on a deserted island with just your house and you could only have one paint color what would it be?” Her answer, Benjamin Moore Simply White!! Also I had repeatedly heard in my research that this was a go to warm neutral white. So I chose it and wow did it work incredibly well. I ended up painting the outside of the house ( with light gray trim) the same color!!! I’m sharing this because you could just repaint your drywall in Simply White. I think would make a big difference at least worth trying before more permanent fixes like wallpaper.

    In terms of your furniture and rugs I would look for more of a mix of modern and traditional and perhaps some larger scale pieces. I think the swivel chairs are too small for the space. And I know this takes time and in reality is what makes decorating fun!!! You really don’t want it to be done done cause then you are well done lol and if decorating is a passion as Im sure it is fir you then its the process and the hunt which makes it fun!!!

    Thanks again Emily for your honesty and integrity!! I cant wait to see what comes next!!

    1. Hi, I had every inch of a previous home painted in Simply White. That was the year Benjamin Moore declared it “the color of the year.” Alas, though it looked warm-ish near windows on the south and west, on the north side of the house (where all our largest windows were) it looked like primer. Lifeless and cold. Exposure made all the difference. 🙁

  128. Before you repaint or wallpaper anything, could you do a post about how to add funk/charm/depth to an all white room? Many of us live in rentals where we can’t change the super white wall color. I would love to see a post where you show us how different rugs and furnishings change the feel of an all white space.

  129. Thanks for being brave enough to share this journey! I echo the comment about plants. Imagine a fiddle fig or something large in that back corner!? Some greenery draping off the mantle. The light in that room seems amazing. I also think you should play around with the furniture and accessories to add warmth before doing anything “permanent”. The lamp, side table, etc. all have that blonde wood that matches the window casing. Unfortunately, while gorgeous, the pale floors and the casings are lacking in warmth against the stark white. Darker wood might help. Then, if you’re still not happy, I think painting the wall(s) a richer tone would be the answer. I have a bright white kitchen with white cabs, white counters, and white 3-inch trim and lots of windows. Our walls are a dark navy (Bold Blue BM) and after 5 years I still adore the color. And it acts as a neutral that I’ve been able to use with so many accent colors over the years (everything from green to burnt orange, hot pink, pale pink, etc.).

  130. I think the obvious thing here is that your design has tried to ‘hide’ the architectural elements that make the farmhouse a farmhouse. Farmhouses are warm and inviting, with layers and layers of ‘wear’ – natural patina. By painting everything white you’ve removed all that. I understand why you wanted to do it, you’re designs are always beautiful. I just think this house is a little different because it needs that sense of character. I would wallpaper the hallway, bring some more textile/pattern there and build from it. Curtains, plants, hang the artwork. I think you start from that inexpensive point, and then make bigger decisions later on. I’m sure the updated photos are going to show it looking beautiful!

  131. This room needs contrast and texture – I really wish the fireplace were brought back to the brick, but if that’s not possible, at least a color (NOT white) with a wood mantle. Still breaks my heart that the ceiling beams were painted, but c’est la vie. Craftsman homes can be open and airy, even with all the woodwork, but this room falls flat because everything was painted the same color. I look forward to seeing what changes can be made to make the space more dynamic.

  132. Just wanted to voice support for the white millwork. The before shots with the poplar read “cabin”-y to me and not farmhouse. So I think you were right about white for the paneling. I think some contrast on the drywall will get you there. Maybe maybe also wood cladding *between the white beams”.

  133. I say don’t make any major changes until you’ve lived with it for awhile.

    That said, I don’t think the color of the white is the problem, but there is too much of it. The room seems off balance with the wood windows on one side and all white on the other. A simple wood fireplace mantel would add balance. I suspect eventually covering the beams with wood cladding to the beams will help, too.

    I also recommend more art and more color in the furnishings to break up the white. Also, a hard No on that wallpaper.

    I’m another advocate of drapery. Not only will it add texture, it will provide privacy. I grew up in a house that was almost all windows in the back. No curtains. As a teenager, when I was alone in the house, I felt very exposed and that made me nervous. I knew, logically, that I was probably safe, but logic didn’t change my feelings. Learning to be alone is part of growing up and learning independence. A little privacy would help that process.

  134. Jumping back to the front door color I loved the choice of red. But I kept thinking how will she tie this in to the front hall and living room. Everything doesn’t have to be matchy matchy but I assume there has to be something that brings them together.

  135. Plants are everything! I actually love it so far, it just looks unfinished, which it is and a little dead, plants add amazing shadows and warmth, throw some plants in there Emily!

  136. I wonder if the room feels a little off because it’s lacking a proper focal point. In the LA house, you had that wall of bookshelves that was an obvious focal point. In the mountain house, you have that awesome stone fireplace. Here, the fireplace kind of recedes due to the paint. I don’t know how easy this would be, but what about recladding a part of it in delft-inspired tile!? That would be soo soo gorgeous and give the room more personality. Like this post:

  137. Hi Emily, karen again,
    Just looking at your room and have to say as the many comments show fun to think about how we would design so here are are a few quick fix ideas that I think would help in the short term!!!!
    One- a variety of large plants/trees each one with varied leaf patterns. You could do this very easily with one trip to Home Depot. The green against the white is always a win and brings life to your space!!
    Two- Take a look around your house and find one or two pieces of furniture with height that would help the room feel more dynamic and interesting.. Your pieces are too similar in height.
    Three- change the mantel decor. Exchange the blue painting for something with warmth and variety of texture. Some colored glass objects would be fun!! ( I think you need some glass or shiny objects to add something reflective. ) One designer I listen to thinks most houses are too “dry” and lack a feeling of liquid. I agree!!
    Four- Try layering a smaller rug with some pattern and warmth in front of the fireplace.
    Five- Find something black to put in the space. Always helps with grounding a light colored room

    LOL okay I’ve had some fun now!!! I am passionate about design and nothing is more fun that decorating challenges!!!!

    1. I was just thinking she needs some black in the space to ground it. Perhaps swap out the lamps.

  138. I would paint the panelling and window trim a deep blue or earthy/muddy green AND the ceiling and beams the same colour as the panelling to match. This will bring the ceiling down visually so it is cozier. The blue that Valeria used at Rebecca and Genevieve used on the fold out bed would look lovely. I would use a vintage style wallpaper on the drywall. Raw brick would look amazing but removing paint from brick is basically impossible (I’ve tried) so I’d paint it a darker colour. I ended up painting my fireplace a blue/black and love it). Plus a wood mantle and curtains. I agree with others that different furniture (less modern) would be more cozy. I don’t think you need to spray the trim…slight imperfections from using a roller and brush would look more authentic to the time period of the home.

  139. Just tossing out ideas to consider….what about keeping walls and paneling white as-is, but painting the ceiling, ceiling joists and ledger a light ochre color similar to the color of the windows you see when you squint, but maybe a bit lighter. And painting the mantle a similar wood-toned color. Everything else stays white. This is the only room with exposed ceiling joists, right? So they could be highlighted here, if it wouldn’t make the ceiling height feel too low while in the space.

  140. You need window treatments. Maybe they’re coming. I don’t know. And I don’t mean white linen. Something with some pattern. Maybe a beautiful plaid.
    But nothing makes a room feel warmer & more finished than a beautiful set of drapes. Where did I learn that? Oh yes, on your blog. 😉

  141. It may not be exactly where you want it, but it’s well on the way! One small suggestion…what if you didn’t paint the floor brick in front of the fireplace? I think it’s a pretty contrast and adds warmth! 🙂

  142. I would paint the panelling and window trim a deep blue or earthy/muddy green AND the ceiling and beams the same colour to match. And use a

  143. Thank you for highlighting your design “mistakes”, Emily. Regret is not our friend. So glad to see you moving through that and toward ideas to solve the perceived problems, which by the way, is a huge help to all of us as well. You are right, you’ve got this! Can’t wait to see your solutions.

  144. I never get in the comments but just wanted to say that I think warming up the fireplace will really anchor the room, whether the shelf part is wood or you create some other color or contrast for the whole thing. I love how light the rest of the room is. With wall paper in the entryway, the colors from the kitchen, a more statement fireplace, and some pictures on the wall, that room will be perfect! And thank you so much for your honesty and willingness to learn from your mistakes – it’s so brave and beautiful!

  145. Oof I feel for you but also think that the room looks like such a great place to spend time. I can’t believe the before and after. I think just adding wallpaper and a wood mantel and the other decor layers you mentioned will be all it needs. I love all the white and the light (this will be so important in the winter). I would even go with a white background wallpaper.

  146. Emily, babe, chill. That is a gorgeous room. You have so much furniture coming in. You have so much art to hang. Maybe finish those parts first before re-painting? Re-painting is not a big job – I learned that from you! – but don’t change it before you have a chance to really live there. It’s unfinished right now because you JUST MOVED IN. Wait for the sofa. Design the nook. Finish the fireplace. Wallpaper the entry. All these things might change your mind about whether it’s really ‘too much white.’ Also we love you and thank you for sharing your agony.

  147. I like how the dogs don’t sleep on their mats in front of the fire but on the couches. Like our two dogs!

  148. Oh man, I needed this post so much today. I’ve been doing some home projects and I am currently in the throws of guilt and regret for my own choices. It’s so comforting to know that super-talented professional designers also sometimes regret their choices and don’t like how things turn out. This post is giving me much needed perspective (e.g., “It’s not a real problem” – YES). My current “problem” is I stained something myself and now I hate how the stain turned out and I’m currently procrastinating dealing with it. I’m going to try your mental trick of pretending someone else did it 😉

  149. I’m sorry, second comment, I forgot:
    Acoustics! I can hardly wait to see your piano in this space. The walls, windows, any bare surface will react to piano playing. Another reason to go slow, wait and see how lively the acoustics are when you either have a crowd in the room or are playing the piano.
    I had three sets of aunts and uncles who were real farmers living in real farmhouses (white frame, for sure.) They all eventually migrated to color on the interior walls and some to wallpaper. You do you! It’s authentic!

  150. I would strip the brick back to natural, clad the ceiling in wood, and add a wood mantle. This farmhouse is screaming for natural, unpainted materials. It will bring the warmth you need and look good any way you furnish it. Timeless

  151. I think #2 is the way to go. Just gotta figure out the right color! The room will feel more grounded.
    Don’t make the fireplace an accent, it will compete with the adjacent steps.
    Overall, it looks so great!

  152. Slow design allows for good design. There seems to be so much pressure to get it right the first time. Trust that you will create the feeling that you and your family want. Over time. As you live in the space and take the time to reflect on what you and your family want, being able to see the other elements in the room. You have some great ideas to warm up the space with a wood mantle and paint/ wall covering on the drywall. You got this!

  153. Add a warmer rug, window treatments and maybe maybe paint the fireplace black (or the same as the bedroom blue)and/OR add a wooden mantel. And then rest and wait a year before making major decisions…
    My two cents after a 5 year exhausting home reno project

  154. Thank you Emily for being open and for putting yourself out there with your true feelings. It is a beautiful home and with some color and wallpaper in the entry it will, no doubt, be even more so!!!
    This is your and Brian’s family home and thank you for sharing it all with us 💜

  155. That wall covering is perfect. Will add warmth and contrast without darkening the room. I think a wood mantle would help as well.

  156. As a professional interior designer (not to be pretentious, just an experienced opinion) 1. the textured/coloured idea on the drywall will make a massive difference and will make the panelling and casings look correct. 2. The fireplace mantle being timber will make a big difference. Give it a bit of time, and then like you said, look at it with new eyes as if this is your starting point. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. This is your strenth – upstyling and giving a space character.
    The house needed a blank palette, you gave it that, now you can add the layers. You can do it!

  157. 1 vote for wallpaper! and an old mantel. that will add so much soul to this room. I think the panels left unpainted would have given a ski chalet look (personally), which is not the vibe you are going for either, right? better you have a blank slate here and get to play with lots of design ideas, as the stylist you are. maybe you can use temporary wallpaper on the walls so that you can change as needed? or fabric on walls (that adds warmth/English cottage feel)?
    still think an antique mantel is your answer 🙂

  158. The white is a little stark overall…. BUT of all the photos the only angle where it feels TOO stark is the fireplace wall. The same white across the brick wall and woods l paneling there loses ask texture. The other angles have warmth from the fabrics, woods, windows ETc. I think a wood mantel would look lovely.

    I do love that linen wallpaper too tho!

  159. I’ve been looking forward to this post! Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and candor and humility. First off, congratulations! It’s been a huge process, and there’s so much to be proud of in the outcome – for one, bringing in more light makes a huge difference. I also love a lot of the pieces you have here, like the warm leather love seat and some very cool side tables and accent pieces. The painted stairs look fantastic, and wallpapering the entrance sounds fab. And it’s amazing how quickly after moving in you’ve gotten to this level of polish, too. In terms of going forward, really interested in your questions to yourself. I think there are lots of great and helpful comments above, so echoing a lot of that here…I guess one of my questions is what (ultimately) is the overall look you are going for here, and how does that sit both with your own preferences as well as the style and particular charms of this house? I agree that it might be useful to think of this as its own separate thing than the Mountain House (different style of home, different light etc), so that it doesn’t feel like a pale imitation, and then proceed from that distinct concept. I agree with those who suggest more warmth, more of a collected feel, more history, more grounding, more ‘weird’. So I liked the ideas to go back to wood beams, the wooden mantle, pale-but-warmer colour on the wall (paint or wallpaper – but while I like the texture on the wallcovering you mention, I wonder if that grey colour will continue to be chilly), a warmer/different rug (maybe Persian or Moroccan or another option that isn’t in cool tones), adding curtains, adding in more colour in decor (e.g. more yellow and more rose), warmer/darker woods and more vintage, and I thought the suggestion to paint the ceiling instead that shade of blue was pretty clever. Re walls – one thought is a pale warm pink or a pale yellow, maybe accenting with a really warm white similar to F&B Pointing? And in terms of wallpapers, none of these might be your thing, but a couple of thoughts: Calico Wallpaper’s Flora; something tonal from Morris & Co.; F&B’s St Antoine or Toile Trellis; Timorous Beasties’ Roller Blotch or Disappearing Damask; Hamilton Weston’s Green Park; Donegal from C.F.A. Voysey. I know a lot of these suggestions lean towards adding in traditional elements, and I think I remember that when commenters suggested similar for the L.A. house in the past that that wasn’t your thing, so YMMV 🙂 On my part, I think tension between styles is great, but right now I wonder if the unique historical elements of the farmhouse are a bit too muted in this particular room. Excited to see where you end up!

    1. These are really great suggestions. Yes, this space (and the whole house) is begging for more character, more history, more colour. Because all the specialness is gone.

  160. This is just part of the design process and you should never feel bad about it. You are not the first nor the last person, professional or not, who has not loved how a room came out. This is such a lovely home and room and a few changes may make all the difference: the wallpaper you chose is lovely and will bring warmth and color. Adding drapes or fabrics to the room will do the same. The fireplace would be lovely w a reclaimed/live edge mantel. Maybe an antique piece of furniture in the room will also give it some warmth and “character”. And maybe a different rug could pull all of those changes/patterns/colors together. Here’s an off-the-wall consideration (one that I might be inclined to do ha ha): paint the ceiling beams black! At the end of the day this is a very gorgeous home:)

  161. Totally agree with the comments Brian is too involved-of course he should have some say but it’s waaay too much and more importantly it’s in a non negotiable tone- there are a lot of “hard no” “ no ways” etc- and of course he should let Emily explore options-it’s like he doesn’t understand what she does or is resentful of her position?? Agree with the comment about “all white is white” who says that if they understand what she does? No wonder she’s a wreck. Let her be, let her do her thing she’s good at without having to negotiate for every paint tone.

  162. The space is gorgeous. I love a white, bright space. But perhaps it’s too light for a farmhouse in Oregon.
    Just a few thoughts:
    —I would replace the white fireplace mantle with a light white oak (possibly live edge).
    — paint walls BM “cloud white.” It is a soft creamy white that will still read light & bright but also provide contrast w/ the white millwork.
    — The room reads more LA, not PNW.
    The swivel chairs are cute but too modern for a farmhouse….find a cool vintage set.
    And swap out the couches for one large/chunky sectional (to help balance the weight of the fireplace).

  163. Love hearing that you are human too! What about trying an off white on the drywall before something harder to un-do, like wallpaper? I love the look of that against brighter white trim. Benjamin Moore “Classic Grey” would be lovely.

  164. As the fireplace is so close to the stairs I feel that if you paint it some darker color, or even the same color as the stairs, they will cancel themsleves out somehow and you will dilute the effect of those stairs. I don’t know if I understood right, that you want to paint the brick on the floor in front of the fireplace. I would leave it as is, it’s that extra texture and even some farmhouse feel that you target. I like the idea of that textile wallpaper. I would wallpaper more than just that drywall. Dunno if that’s possible. But eitherway. Everything is beautiful already.

  165. Okay. I love this room and so much of it is great- but it’s reading ‘LA Emily Henderson’ and with a PNW farmhouse it’s having an identity crisis moment. I’m also renovating an old farmhouse in the PNW and these places NEED warmth and depth and some nod to the moody vibes we love and live in up here. I think the wall coverings will warm it up- BUT I agree that it’s not technically farmhouse and you might regret it and feel like it’s going to have a different identity crisis. I feel like even painting it a warm white (I painted my interior SW aesthetic white which is warm and ever so pink in the evening), would lend so much more lived in than the stark white. Adding a wood mantle will also help the fireplace, but I still think the white is too white. What any farm will tell you is that white will no longer be white in a very short time. Especially once you add in a muddy winter with dogs. Adding in your farm animals and it’s even worse. I’m excited to see where you go from here!

  166. It looks like a fabulous space to play with! I’m sure it would have been great with natural wood paneling, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be equally great another way. Also, not having natur wood will force you to go in a different style direction from the main house and make it feel more farmhouse Victorian. I think you will be glad of it in the end. Now my two cents: clad the mantle in wood and leave the rest of the brick as is. Paint the casings and moldings a medium gray and leave the walls white. The gray should be one of those ones that had more of a brown undertone, rather than blue. Try a Farrow and Ball shade or a Benjamin Moore Historic Color. Otherwise it will end up looking blue most of the time and compete with the kitchen. Also, hand paint that paneling. I’m sure Arciform knows people who can handle this well. It should mean you don’t have to move out and any imperfections will add to the historic charm of the house. It might cost more, but I honestly think it’s a better look and it should mean you don’t have to move out.
    Best of luck and thanks for your honesty!

    1. Edit: I meant mountain house, not main house. Please excuse all the typos!

      P.S. I think this room is calling out for more grandma vibes. I think it would look great with florals and velvets and old paintings.

  167. I really like the way it looks, bright and fresh and the majority of decisions were on point. I think drapes would add warmth, texture and a cozy feeling plus privacy.

  168. Emily – There’s a big part of me that wants to have a “snap out of it” Moonstruck moment with you ala Cher to Nicholas Cage! You have made a gorgeous room. You have design fatigue and are filling yourself with guilt and disappointment. Every house I’ve moved into has taken time to feel like mine. And I designed and BUILT two of my homes. If I could pull my Old Lady Designer card and also my I’m Old Enough To Be Your Mother card I would say. “REST!” This house will tell you who she is in time. I lived in the PNW for 15 years. The light changes so drastically across seasons it’s all really hard to predict. You’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself because you’re a blogger, but you’re also a mom, a wife, a sister, a friend, so many other important things! Take a big break. Look how the light changes over the year. Live in the wonderful house for a while. Let her whisper her truth to you. You are a born designer and you may have a giant revelation one day on how to make it all come together, but more likely it will be slow and gentle if you let it. Peace to you and trust yourself. You DIDNT screw up. You just aren’t done yet.

  169. Just wanted to suggest something to help warm the space that wasn’t articulated in the post, or at least, seemed not to be the favourite option: instead of having the trim white, having wood trim to match the window casements, and a mantle stained to match the floors, would warm things up and still allow for real experimentation and changes while not clashing with any of the modern furniture choices. If wallpaper is brought in on only half the fireplace wall, for example, since the fireplace is not centered on the wall, it could make the wall feel a more asymmetrical: some like this, but it’s divisive.

  170. Afterthought: It’s almost 6 pm here EDT and instead of making dinner I was thinking again about this living room, lol. Went back and looked at the first photo. It seems to me that a warmer rug would eliminate about 70% of the starkness. If that’s actually a word. That gray rug is big and is sucking warmth out of the room.
    Seems like I recall seeing a beautiful reddish, patterned vintage rug in a picture of your LA living room, the Tudor revival house. A rug like that, or maybe a kilim from Rejuvenation, would be gorgeous in this Oregon farmhouse.

    1. Correction, it was the 3rd photo I was reacting to and I guess the rug is blue-ish and not gray? But still — cold. I would avoid adding any blue paint to the space either…

  171. How about applying a warm subtle glaze over the offending areas that are painted white?

  172. I would would go with painting the sheetrock either the color Clay or Broadland, like the wallpaper
    tones that are warmer. You could also order one roll of the wallpaper and get a sample pot of a warm color and compare the two? I would cover just the beams and fireplace mantel the same color as the wood tone on the shelves of the table from City Home. I would also consider solid color drapes to the floor in the living room. It looks like you like blue. Consider a navy or blueish teal velvet for drapes. After that I would see if you are happy with the paint tone or feel happier with the textured wallpaper. Also I recently read an article about slow decorating. It takes time to get your home just right. Maybe a couple of years trying different colors for rugs, pillows and accessories, etc. In the Portland-Vancouver climate with all of the atmospheric river storms we have I would want a warm vibe in the living room . There are just too many days of gray and darkness. Last but not least your husband’s opinion does matter.

  173. How about a modern take on ticking stripe wallpaper or fabric, in your great blue and white? I’m thinking the gray weave is boring and office-y. And yeah, that white is way too stark for that space, unfortunately.

  174. I say defer to Heidi Caillier’s work for inspiration on making the space a bit moodier. I like the idea of wallpaper, but I like the idea of painting the paneling a dark color too. Natural grass cloth on the walls and a charcoal black (SW Iron Ore perhaps) on the woodwork and fireplace would be amazing! The room can handle it since it gets so much light.

  175. This room is so lovely but I agree that the warmth and brightness is missing. For me, a very light, warm, creamy neutral (read: not gray! but a subtle and muted tonal off-white that works with your wood) would make the all this fabulous millwork just sing. The contrast between the bright white walls and beautiful wood tones somehow feels unfinished and unintentional – but I also agree that the blue was not the right approach. Something transitional and grounding would make everything else pop more, without being too much of a moment itself. To leave all the trim and woodworking bright white and just treat the walls would create a more jarring contrast with things feeling outlined and emphasized, rather than sympathetic and easy. With the right color I don’t think it would feel trendy – but more classic and layered.

  176. Winter’s are long, wet, and dark in Portland. Will Emily feel differently about the all white by March?

  177. I think you could still get close to the Mountain House vibe by just painting the fireplace (deep blue like the stairs?) or else exposing all the natural reddish brick like the hearth. I think the linen-look wallpaper will look too beachy and I think cladding the beams will make it compete too much with the window and door sashes — there are a lot of beams! I don’t think exposing the trim of the windows and doors in the natural poplar will make much difference — you said you preferred a cleaner look so go with your gut there. So maybe it wasn’t a mistake after all?

    1. Actually I see the blue stairs are right next to the fireplace so I wouldn’t paint it the same color — maybe a black-blue instead like Hague Blue or a charcoal. But first preference is to exposre the red brick!

  178. IMO, the paneling should stay white and the drywall painted or wallpapered. I like the wallpaper that you have chosen if you decide to go that route. In addition, the fireplace needs to stand out more, possibly a different color coordinating with the color you use on the drywall. Or clad it in stone – I know that is an expensive option but it would add so much warmth to the room. Regardless, I agree with another poster who said a wood tone mantel would be a nice addition and break up some of the white if you decide to keep it white. Photoshopping all the ideas suggested in the comments or those floating around in your remarkable design brain should help you arrive at the right choice.

  179. Hello. I live in New Mexico, where there is a lot of wood ceiling paneling. Is it possible to put unpainted wood between the painted joists in the living room. You might get the warmth you’re looking for after all.

  180. I think it’s lovely, though I understand that the paneling was a miss (not necessarily that it’s white, but the custom cost was not worth it, as it could have been mdf). I think wallpaper will be very hard to design around for this big room at the center of the house. What I would do is paint the fireplace brick black, or at least get a gorgeous walnut for the mantel, or maybe even both. You need something dark to ground the room, so just a little black or dark brown would do it in my opinion. Then layer with the design. I would not spend much more money at this point – it’s truly a lovely almost blank slate you can make pop with a few small changes.

  181. Yeah, it is too white for a room with that much light. But easy fix to paint the drywall something warmer, whether a neutral or a colour. I was also disappointed that you painted over the mantlepiece; this needs to be more of a focus in the room, which I think wood would do. Do not paint the brick hearth for the same reason. I’d pass on wallpaper in the main room, let the entry wallpaper and the kitchen tiles have their moment, just add enough contrast to make the panelling and casings visible. Its a lovely room, just needs some more traditional elements to suit this house.

  182. My first thought before I read your entire post was that the fireplace needed to be warmer — a wood mantle and maybe more of a thin, washy paint on the brick. It just seems so plain all in white and the texture and contrast is lost. I do agree that a warm, light wood tone would look great on the ceiling beams or the lower half of the walls. Honestly, I wouldn’t wallpaper yet — maybe tape some paper or fabric up on the walls first and see how you like it.

  183. Cheer up, Emily! Your new living room is beautiful in many ways…it’s just way too white. I have a purple living room, a green kitchen, and a teal master bedroom, and I love it. Just paint some of the walls, add some wallpaper, and your living will be a lot more fun and lively.

  184. My word, woman. Slow down! It is a beautiful room. It does look unfinished. And yes, it looks overwhelmingly light. But there are no paintings and tapestries and wonderful works of art. There is not an ongoing lego construction on the floor. Where are the scrapbooking remnants? The kids’ artwork? A quirky memento that makes you smile? And, as you well know, the exterior light will be dimming and grey for the next six months 🙂 Your brand new room looks…brand new. You are missing the heart more than a paint color, imho. The heart of home, not the decor. In the meantime, I agree with most, a wood mantel sounds like a wonderful thing. And, unless you need them for privacy, scratch the curtains – you will rue the day when the rainy season starts and wet/damp/muddy dogs brush by them. We took ours down the months later…aaargh.

  185. darken that ceiling (wood paneling). wood mantle. loose only blue as a color choice (pink, salmon?)… done!

  186. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells here and I truly hope that I don’t unintentionally offend, I just want to point out a couple of things I’ve noticed about the evolution of your style over the past 2 years or so. I first started reading and getting so excited over your vision and aesthetic in your Tudor home because you were different from most other designers out there (you had color! pattern! whimsy!). Then you moved to the mountain house and most of it wasn’t to my taste (I am NOT a fan of whitewashed Scandi minimalism), but I kept reading because occasionally you’d try to inject some of the “old Emily” back into the design and those small moments were fun (I LOVED the hall bathroom!).

    I was ecstatic when you bought the farmhouse in Oregon, especially the falling down Victorian outbuilding, hoping that we’d get a return to your unique and quirky eye. Instead, throughout the entire process, you’ve referenced back to the mountain house and perhaps deferred to Brian a bit too much (which I get, of course he has a say in his own home…my husband’s only requirement is no wallpaper, which breaks my heart, but we all have to make sacrifices!). It seems like you’re just trying to recreate a modern mountain house in a soulful farmhouse, right down to the furnishings…and it doesn’t feel right. I haven’t seen a single room during the remodel that feels like the Emily that I started following along for.

    So I can’t lie, the living room is a bit of a letdown for me…there’s no soul right now, but I’m also aware that it isn’t finished. Maybe it’s just me, but when I see that bright white base moulding I immediately think of how dirty it will look fairly quickly, what with dogs and kids running around. Or maybe it’s just my kids that like to drag their hands along the wall for some strange reason? Anyways, I would suck it up, cry at the expense and hassle of having the mouldings painted a color (maybe green? or even a dark taupe if you want neutral?), and strip the paint off of the fireplace. And change out some of the furniture, throw in more antiques, etc. There needs to be some warmth and color in that room (listen to Birdy!) that harken back to its roots as a cozy, Victorian farmhouse.

    I don’t know, it just looks like you’ve done almost a 180 since I started following along. And it’s entirely possible that this IS who you actually are now and you truly do prefer clean white lines, in which case I applaud you for finding your voice! I just miss your unique ideas…I guess they spoke to my inner child that values whimsy and not giving a damn what others think 🙂 I’m excited that you’re going to wallpaper the entry and you’ve still got that outbuilding to work on, so I hope you can take a breather over these next few weeks to settle in and recuperate from all the stress of these past several months, and then tap back into that fun personality I know and love!

  187. I am wishing that you would carry the wood to the fireplace somehow. I feel that wall is clean but it is coming across as a bit cold and a bit of wood or color contrast would add the icing on the cake.

  188. Thank you for sharing your process!! We are SO LUCKY to get the candid BTS and I’m sorry people are being crappy about Brian and your marriage, that’s so out of line. I am even more a fan for you acknowledging that you don’t love the finished result—a super relatable problem and we are going to learn so much more this way as has already been said on previous posts.

  189. I wanted to throw out the idea that painting everything white is actually a very smart decision – if this is your forever home, having to repaint moldings and panels every dozen years is crazy, your blue obsession might not last forever! You can update the vibe with other items for sure. I would start with taking out the blue carpet and trying the big vintage red/blue carpet from your LA home with that furniture and throw in a big plant for life. I’d suggest cladding the mantel in wood and then photoshop in the beams. Wallpaper or paint for sure, but do not stress about that lower paneling – It looks beautiful in white! It’s fresh and bright! Natural wood panels would take your shaker theme into cabin territory – please take it easy on yourself, it’s next to impossible to design a room that you haven’t seen in natural light. This is not a mistake AT ALL! It’s a process!

    1. I’m not sure about that particular rug but I absolutely agree a warmer rug will help. I also vote for leaving the paneling and trim white, cuz it’s done and it can absolutely work with a different wall color. Someone else commented about how doing something contrasting on the drywall will make the ceiling look lower due to the header all the way around. I agree and vote for subtle contrast, something like Benjamin Moore Winter White (which will look awesome w blue tile). Fireplace could be painted same, to look less like primer. I would love some curtains to bring in more coziness and warmth (please no gray—are the gray shades elsewhere in the house temporary?).

      As an aside, I don’t understand how that SW white became the go-to “modern” white for any house, even a century-old farmhouse. In our 1920s Portland bungalow we went a bit modern in the kitchen and we wanted white for brightness due to north-facing kitchen. But we went with BM Oxford White (walls and trim) and it is fresh without being cold. We have white oak cabinets and it is really nice with them.

      If you want something calmer/more modern than a vintage rug, check out SMG Collective in the Pearl. I have a love for antique rugs but I finally realized that in our small dark living room we needed something lighter and simpler on the floor to work with all our art and original built-in cabinets on the walls. Sasha at SMG has excellent options and was super helpful.

  190. Bless you! Everything will be ok- everything will be beautiful-no doubt. You have extremely high standards. You’ll get it to where you want it, eventually.

  191. WOW = White like an emergency room. I think you need to clad the ceiling in light wood. That’s farmhouse. Also – a wood mantel on the fireplace. And leave the brick as is =- why would you ADD more paint to this room. Last – with blue tile in kitchen and large blue rug on the floor – the walls need an opposite on the color wheel. Something to counterbalance the blue. I would wallpaper the walls. You got this Emily – just have to keep spending money, oh my!

  192. I actually love all the white! I think once you start deciding on more permanent furniture and bringing in older antiques, deciding if you want curtains/blinds, and even maybe choosing an antique rug, etc, it will look amazing! If once you do that you think it still needs some interest, then I’d think about the fireplace. But honestly it looks beautiful!

  193. I know you are contracted for the magazine shoot but if possible, I would postpone that. You are rushing and you are not going to be happy with the results. See if you can get an extension so you have time to be in LOVE with the space! And it gives you more time to shop for some amazing antiques. Don’t rule out the cheap thrift stores too! It will end up being a better shoot for the magazine too. It already looks really good, but I know it can look even better with more time.

  194. It is looking pretty good! I agree re: not painting the paneling but now that that is done, I would let that sit. Maybe wallpaper on the drywall but perhaps hang some more things on the walls and see how that is. And wood on the fireplace would be great. But I would not touch the ceiling! Also remember how gloomy the PNW gets in the wintertime. You might be happy you kept some of the white on the walls.

  195. Don’t give yourself a hard time 😉 if someone can solve this is YOU! …. in my opinion you only have to go back to wood casings for the door and the 3 windows, bring your piano, your art, and you have your perfect warm and bright room !

  196. As an architect I can totally relate to your feelings of regret and design agony when it comes to your own home! Love the cloth wallpaper idea. Would you consider a warmer tone closer to grasscloth wallpaper, or even a subtle contrast with an off-white/creamy linen to tie in with the warmness of the wood windows and floor? I’m afraid the windows might look a little lost floating in a sea of white or cool tones. Also there are a lot of cool grays and blues in the furniture, rug and other paint colors that might contribute to a “coldness” without sufficient warm tones to balance it out. Overall you have created a beautiful space that will be fun to tweak and evolve with over time!

  197. Ok wow! As a person with zero design experience who is currently fixing up and designing their own (much crappier) house in Portland I am very refreshed to see EH having regrets and being wishy washy about her choices! I am constantly looking at this blog for ideas and I’m always like- how does she do it? I can’t make a decision for the life of me- there’s too many decisions! Thank you for sharing this!!! I feel much better! And in my opinion just keeping the mantle a lovely wood would have made the room warmer but godamn it’s still gorgeous and I know whatever you choose in the end will be chefs kiss.

    1. That living room has a lot of the same elements as Emily’s. The ceiling beams, the fireplace, the wood windows and doors. This is so pretty!

  198. This is so comforting. I went through this spiral after my wedding because of things I wished I had done differently or more etc and then we bought a fixer upper that same year and did a complete gut renovation and i felt BAD for a WHILE afterwards. just in mourning sort of? i’ve had a hard life with lots of bad bounces and heartbreaking deaths and tragedies, and this still felt hard. I think it’s okay that banal things are stressful, humans be inventing stressors for ourselves everywhere. we can’t escape ourselves.

    truly comforting to know you go through this too and I know with time it will pass. you house is beautiful, good job xo

  199. Throwing another idea out there…… What if you clad the mantle and top portion of the fireplace in white oak? Or even the whole thing? I’m sure some would say that’s a big no no to hide the brick, but it’s already been painted over anyway (love painted brick, so not a critique). That would bring the warmth of the white oak around the windows to that side of the room. Honestly if you did this, I think the white walls and woodwork wouldn’t look so stark. More balanced perhaps?

  200. My vote is paneling in green (SW Thunderous ish), wood-clad ceiling, accessible beige fireplace (and stairs?) And maybe alabaster walls if that doesn’t mess up connecting spaces/rooms. I just made my husband read this post in an attempt to normalize the time I came home after work and switched paint color plans three nights in a row before the painters just said “Why don’t we give you some time and we’ll come back next week?” 😇

  201. Sorry I didn’t read through all the comments, but is it now impossible to strip the beams and stain them? I think that would solve all your “flat white” issues! I love wood beams. 🙂

  202. I hear you on all of this. I’d say yes, definitely clad the fireplace mantle with natural wood. That will help warm things up. I would skip the wallpaper, but at some point, when you’re ready, paint the wainscot and window casing a nice muted earthy tone. I’m not worried about going to dark because this room will never feel dark again. And lastly, the main thing that’s missing is that custom Clad Home sofa that we talked about! 😉 Ready when you are! xo Rosa

  203. I remember you posting about your vision for the house being Shaker. I took a deep dive into studying that style when you blogged about it, and fell in love with the simplicity. In my mind, a contrasting painted trim and paneling with soft white walls would best fit that initial inspiration. Maybe an inky blue or mushroom trim, depending of course on what fits with the rest of your house. Thanks for sharing your journey! Decisions like this can be so hard!

  204. The sneak peak of the kitchen has me thinking: integrate the wood of the antique island into this room! Maybe clad the mantle and the ceiling beams in a wood that tone? I actually liked how the color of the built-in bench in the before photos provided some anchoring and contrast. Perhaps an infusion of that “older-seeming” wood would add a bit of soul into this room WHICH IS ALREADY BEAUTIFUL AND WILL BE STILL MORE BEAUTIFUL IN TIME. 🙂 Also, books: get’em out, lay’em around, see how the color they inherently provide inspires you in this room. My most priceless “decorating” pieces are honestly my books. It feels like I’m tangibly celebrating my personal history every time I reorganize/reconfigure books in my space. Thank you for inviting us into your new home, joys, regrets and all!

  205. I honestly don’t think this is as big a deal as this post sounds. Yes, it’s not at all what I expected for the “farmhouse” look that I thought you were going for, yes it’s pretty stark to look at these pictures, but it’s still extremely beautiful. And you guys blow out your pictures so much that I’m sure in real life it’s not this blinding white. Also this is just a great starting point. An easy fix. I don’t love the wallpaper, but if you do, just get it done while the kids are at school. Done! Like someone else said, add curtains. Add a wood mantle. Done!
    On to the rest. I loooooove that dining nook! And I’m OBSESSED with the raw wood side table. I couldn’t stop staring at it. I love the peek of the kitchen and entryway and can’t wait to see them. And I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the blue stairs and that chair there!

  206. Coming in to this late, but I don’t think painting it all white was a mistake. Given the context of the windows being covered and the house being under construction, it was good to get a blank slate. Now that you’re moved in, I agree that the all white may not be as cozy as you want in Portland. This is an opportunity for you to focus on this room without the pressure of the thousands of other decisions you had to make for the rest of the house. All the room needs is a little time. As you live in the space, you’ll figure it out and it’ll be awesome.

  207. Sorry some of the comments here have made you feel like garbage, Emily, and hope the responses to the garbage comments have buoyed you. Assuming that many people here have been reading for a while, they will know that both Brian and Emily have been very forthcoming about how Brian felt during their previous three big house projects, and how they’ve very consciously become more of a team in the decision-making, for the sake of their marriage and everyone’s mental health. I personally find Emily’s ability to put her creative process and regrets out there incredibly impressive, as is her openness to our constant pile-on of feedback and suggestions and criticism. So while I think (respectful) design critique is fair game from our Greek Chorus, I agree with so many others here that family stuff is out of line. And also just plain dumb.

    I did have one design/content thought: Emily, I would love to see one of your great, long reflective blog posts on why you think your style has changed so much over the years you’ve been blogging. I know you always say you’ve loved so many different styles, but as you’ve moved from house to house you’ve gone from lots of color and pattern and collections of things, to ever whiter, paler and more empty spaces, and now it seems you’ve reached your limit! You’ve talked a bit about how you like to live in calmer spaces now, but you’ve really had a complete 180 in how you design your own homes and I’d love to read your thoughts on it. Part of it is surely just not being in your 20s anymore, but the way your palette has gone from the whole rainbow down only to white, pale wood and pale blue/gray is really intriguing! (I know there’s some more colourful tile in some less-dominant spaces in this house.) Also, and I hope this doesn’t count among the garbage comments, but you had such a distinctive point of view, and now you are into neutral modern farmhouse like so many others, and it seems like you feel torn about it! Would love to read more. Thank you for the 14 years of excellent content.

  208. Emily, congratulations to you and your family on your big move! What a truly exciting moment for you all. Wishing you years of happy memory making in your new home—it’s absolutely beautiful. You and Brian make a great team. As always, thanks for sharing with us. ❤️

  209. The problem is the white. It looks like primer. Whatever you add to the drywall will not matter because the white will still look like primer. And textured wall coverings in grey will not warm it up.
    But… You generally do not design warm spaces. Most of your portfolio leans into cools and neutrals, not truly warm hues and color. So, why not celebrate that? So what that this is not warm. It is unfinished and not cozy, but you have a house full of props. Bring in items to finish it and up the ante on soft, cozy materials. And tone down the cool blues. Go all white.

  210. Wow, this post generated a lot of discussion! Emily, the thing I LOVE about you is that you’re REAL. I love that you tell us what you love, what you’re disappointed by, what you feel bad about, and what you feel proud of. I sometimes beat myself up that I have a hard time designing just on paper without seeing a space first, and you make me realize, it’s OK! Sometimes you just need to see the space! Even professionals sometimes want to change things once they’re in a space! Thank you for that!

  211. I’m coming late to this game and not sure my comment will even be read because there are 334 comments ahead of mine, but I wanted to share that I felt something similar when trying to settle in to our home I had painted all white. The solution for me was the addition of plants. They immediately brought life into the room which allowed me to slow down and enjoy the space while I slowly chose items I loved to bring additional texture and warmth. I didn’t end up painting the walls and now I love it. Good luck, Emily, with whatever you decide!

  212. I know you said that you don’t want this room to be busy but honestly looking at your room, if it were me, I would totally add wallpaper on top (+ likely paint the trim siding again). I know you are thinking of grass cloth or fabric which could be pretty but honestly I think even a smaller scale pattern will be fabulous and warm this room right up. This look is obviously having a moment right now (think Heidi caillier/ Jessica helgerson/etc/etc) and it may not swing your style traditionally but I think it will be gorgeous. The room is not done but it feels like it is lacking pattern and depth right now. That said, I think it is going to be beautiful as a finished product.

  213. Emily, You are doing a GREAT job. All of life is trial and error. Thank you so much for your wonderful content, and keep up the good work.

  214. Emily – You’re doing great and we are all learning! Thanks for sharing this. Can’t wait to see how it evolves!

  215. Looks really good, nice and characterful for a cottage.
    You maybe just need to paint the fireplace a complimentary colour and add either curtains or Roman blinds to soften the windows. Here’s what we did in our weekend cottage as the colours and textures are similar. The curtains and Roman blinds are Harris tweed (handmade in the islands of Harris and Lewis) and the curtain and throw on the chair are made by Anta ( The rug is leftover carpet from the bedroom made into a rug.

  216. Oh Emily, I want to give you a big hug right now! I know what it’s like to put pressure on myself and hate to see you doing it so much right now.
    Are you familiar with the idea of a fixed mindset vs. growth mindset? Basically a fixed mindset is when you expect yourself to get it all right the first time and beat yourself up when you don’t. A growth mindset is when you are willing to just try and you aren’t pinning all your self-worth on perfect results. I think you place a lot of pressure on yourself and the use of words like “regret” show that you are thinking that not getting the paint color and trim details right somehow reflects on you as a person. It doesn’t!!!! I want to give you an alternative way you could have approached this, just to show you that there are other thought options out there. Imagine if this had been your blog title and opening lines…:

    Now The Real Fun Begins!
    Before moving into the Farmhouse we decided to paint everything white because we knew that it would take time to figure out what we really wanted. It was the best decision since now after only a few weeks I find that white canvas is giving me so many ideas! For example, I can already see it needs to be warmed up in here and I have a few ideas on how to do it…

    This is all 100% a mindset thing and that is the best news because mindsets can change! If you change it to one that better serves you, you get to have so much more fun making a ton of mistakes as this house comes together!!! Yay for figuring stuff out as we go!!!!

    1. I’m all for the part about not expecting to get it right the first time, but the part about pretending this was meant to be redone isn’t honest and isn’t Emily.

  217. We just finished a significant remodel and I think Emily was in design fatigue when they made the all white decision. The good news is that it is fixable if it’s something they really don’t want to live with long term. Give yourself some grace and enjoy the decisions that you feel good about.

  218. I would definitely add the biggest houseplant I could afford! IMHO, there are very few rooms that aren’t improved by leaves of one sort or another.

  219. I am so exhausted over this project, I can only imagine how it must feel to be living it.

  220. The picture with the unpainted paneling + casings does look so nice and warm, but I think if you’d done it that way the room might still have looked too “samesies” because the flooring, the kitchen cabinets, and the paneling would all be similar tones.

    You’ve only really got two colors going on in this space — everything is a similar light wood tone and or it’s white. What I really miss from the in-progress photo is the richer/darker wood beams on the ceiling. What about having the ceiling beams cladded in a similar shade to the island that is peeking out in your soon-to-be-revealed kitchen? It would draw the eye upward and add a third warm contrasting color to this space. I know the furniture isn’t final, but I do think this wood tone would tie in nicely with the leather sofa and ottoman.

    Also, I am team restore-the-brick-in-front-of-the fireplace. 🙂

    1. Oh, also, I’m sure other people have probably pointed this out, but textured wall coverings seem like a magnet for dog hair and dust? I think that’ll be a pain to keep clean. Fabric wall coverings seem better suited for smaller spaces where you want a cozy vibe. This is a big space where the goal is an airy feeling, isn’t it?

  221. A real wood mantle would instantly change things and paint the dry wall but leave that amazing paneling as it is in that glorious white–maybe pick a color that isn’t in the blue/green/gray… like a nice pale but warm straw, something to break up all the blue. But not that textured wall cloth!

  222. I know how you feel with my house. My unasked for opinion is to start with painting the drywall – it will make the white wood more architectural and statementy, and might help the beautiful sconces and natural wood doors/windows pop more! Plus it is an easier swap back to white or to paper over if you then decide to go one of the other routes!

  223. I’m going to ignore all the marital comments (LOL) and instead just say that the room is beautiful. I’m a big fan of the idea of the textured, neutral wallpaper up top. I think that will be gorgeous and would totally warm it up! If you want wallpaper with some slight farmhouse vibes, do they have that beige grasscloth with a soft, super subtle ticking stripe? That would be so pretty as well. Regardless, I can’t wait to watch it evolve! Thanks for taking us along.

  224. I dunno, the room is fine in a white box that needs some character built up over time kind of way, but when you put the pictures side by side before and after I can’t tell they’re the same house unless you say so. This is not meant to sound super judgy, but genuinely puzzled. I swear I think this with every single designer working right now. You all buy these quirky properties and then spend tons of money and time stripping out all the original house features and turning it into something completely different. Fair enough if that’s the end product you want, but honestly why not just buy something closer to what you wanted to end up with? Seems like so much work and effort and agony and money that could have been saved by just buying a different house to start with. Is it shortage of those kind of properties or land to build on? Just the way these projects develop over time?

    1. I think for this particular property the biggest appeal was the land and location. I believe it’s 3 acres in the middle of an amazing city near family and friends. The house had many remuddlings, because it was not use as a single family home for awhile. While I agree a lot of the original character was stripped out downstairs, the floor plan downstairs was also challenging without a good natural flow. Frequently, it is also easier to start with an existing property due the infrastructure that already exists, but it’s also the location piece.

      1. That makes sense! And I wasn’t trying to say that changing up the character is bad – some historic houses should arguably be preserved, but otherwise it’s all a matter of taste. It just seems so much harder to shift the feel of a house a lot – so many more opportunities to feel frustrated/regretful when you’re trying to move a space in a big new direction than just having to make tweaks. But little tweaks probably make for boring design blog content in the long run anyway lol.

        1. Edie, The process is so hard to understand, especially since so few people are in the position to go through it. Most people are lucky to just buy a house they can afford, hopefully in a neighborhood they like. I have a better idea of the process, because I did buy a small house on a large lot in an area I wanted to live, and thought we could just add on. Once we started talking to architects, we moved toward a complete rebuild. In the end we sold the property before any renovation, because the cost of building what we wanted was so much. We ended finding a home more like what we were hoping for – a 1912 Craftsman (not an easy or inexpensive home to recreate). There are still updates, but the overall layout and feel are what we wanted.

    2. This is the comment I’ve been wanting to leave as well. I don’t understand the point of purchasing a historic farmhouse and then gutting it completely. Some changes and updates make sense, but at this point you should just build a new home. Not to sound harsh, as I normally enjoy this blog, but this room feels uninspired and blah to me. I am really confused by this whole project.

  225. I think you are on the right track seeing it as a blank canvas and living with it for a bit! Your ideas are great. I would leave the casing and paneling completely alone for now. See how they look with some color and/or texture above. Since you can easily paint a section of the drywall, I would play around with color there. And you can pin up wallpaper too, but I’d start with rolling on a bunch of paint and just seeing what’s working, through seasons and different light. Then you can commit to paint or wallpaper and feel more ok with it. One thing I’m struck by is how much more… blank canvas? Dare I say bland? This house looks vs. a lot of Arciform. I think it desperately needs color, coziness, and more visual weight and permanence. And I actually don’t think light wood casing would do that. I would absolutely do a gorgeous vintage or live edge or something natural wood mantel. After that goes up, if it’s still not working, I’d play with painting the brick darker AND I’d try blasting/stripping back to natural brick and see what you think. Either could look great. For the beams – I would hold off until you warm up the walls and the mantel, maybe the fireplace, then turn to those. Maybe clad or partially clad one temporarily and see how low vs. warm it feels. Also, you know what’s super farmhouse-y? Stencils, pattern, quirky old world statement ceilings. I’d look to old farms back East (Pennsylvania Dutch?) and ponder how to update. And there’s TONS of painted scrollwork and things from Scandi too, gorgeous gorgeous designs. Cheaper than cladding and more impactful TBH and if you keep the colors neutral lighter as well. And finally, your furniture is way too light and too cool. Bring in some warmer and richer tones and gradually warm up the permanent elements until you hit the right blend. But leave those custom casings and millwork alone unless and until it if clear you absolutely have to mess with them. White is a GOOD base for you because you like swapping things all the time. You need neutral. Warm it up elsewhere.

  226. It is too bad the ceiling beams couldn’t have been sanded down to a natural wood tone and then, instead of painting the wood mantel, have the wood mantel be a similar natural wood tone–I love the idea of the same natural wood as wainscoting. As it is, I’d paint the ceiling a pale color to add some interest. I wouldn’t put up wallpaper just yet–maybe paint the wall the color of the wallpaper some weekend and live with it for awhile. I know you don’t want to but I’d really get rid of the giant island in the kitchen and put a wooden table in there instead. The dining nook looks too small and forced as it is.

  227. Emily,
    I love white walls. They are the perfect backdrop for art, plants, indoor trees, and furniture with interesting lines. A modern white wall makes antique and vintage furniture really pop. If the ceilings are high enough,
    a very light pale blue like they use on the ceilings of porches in the South would eliminate 50% of the white in the room, and you would still have a clean canvas to decorate and style, and highlight your special talent in creating beautiful, interesting vignettes. All that natural light would complement an indoor/outdoor ambience.

  228. So many thoughts, but I’ll keep it short. You’ve created a beautiful canvas, and you will absolutely make it look amazing. It’s hard to make decisions when windows and floors are covered. My suggestion for adding warmth is to look at Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World. The color palette works so well with elements you already have. The sky is similar to the kitchen tiles, parts of the dry grass is similar to the white oak. There’s grey, green, and blush in there, too. I’d love to see you bring more of the wheat color of the dry grass into the room, but I’d also love blush, or deep green/teal. Anyway, check out the painting at MOMA’s website for the best color rendering.

  229. Wow – interesting how this devolved into commentary on Em’s marriage! Don’t think that’s what she needs.
    Anyway the room does feel very WHITE. The casings are definitely getting lost and need some kind of contrast (as well as the panelling since they go together). Not in love with the wallpaper but that’s just my humble opinion. I find it too “oatmeal” looking and a bit too modern. Also agree that the completely white fireplace is not helping. A wood mantel would warm things up. A light color might help it as well although I ‘m not skilled enough to know what the color should be. As others have advised, I would live with it for a bit, keep thinking about the change possibilities (not crazy making but just let things percolate a bit), try some of the easiest changes (mantel?) and let yourself decompress about the regrets. Moving, especially after a MAJOR renovation, is stressful enough. Enjoy the rest of the many successes in this home and let yourself breath for now.

  230. I love this room! It is fresh and bright and cheerful. I do agree it is too stark. The following ideas are my gut reactions after seeing the space: The fireplace should have some color. Like a matte black or very dark grey with a grey stone mantle or maybe wood. You could photoshop it in and I would love to see it. I think light grey textured wall paper would be the perfect thing to warm up everything. Also, you don’t have much art or texture yet which will really add some needed color and depth. The room is really big too so that adds to the problem in my opinion. I would try adding area rugs to define spaces and make it feel cozier and pendant lights to add interest. I can’t wait to see your solutions!

  231. Oooh yes, restore the brick in the fireplace and leave the new brick hearth. That seems like a good way to have something genuine to the room stand up a little more.

    Thanks for sharing this “I didn’t go far enough”. I live in a 130yr old home with amazing bones but the entire darned thing was painted top to bottom in a buttery beige when we bought it. It’s been three years of slowly painting, stripping paint from certain elements and trying to get to something that feels layered and not so flat. So interested in watching what you change.

  232. I’ve had a really good look at the room. I don’t think the problem is the styling or colour scheme but the proportions of the room. It’s really hard to make a space as big as a barn cosy and comfortable and inviting. Humans need to live in spaces that are proportionate to themselves. Bigger is not always better.

  233. I so appreciate a process post – and I think this is just a mid-process post! My living room is all white with all white trim. It would look super cold with just furnishings – but when it’s all styled our with lots of vintage pieces and wood and twinkle lights and plants and drapery it’s super warm and yummy, but still modern. I love someone else’s suggestion to consider painted trim – I have garbage mill work in my 90s builder grade house, but if I had your gorgeous mill work, I’d love to show it off!

    I can imagine how frustrating it would be to just have spent a lot of money and have it not be perfect. And I can imagine that having these kind of regrets is really normal after a huge project. Thank you for sharing these vulnerabilities. I’m sorry that everyone is offering their very unsolicited opinions about your relationship. I think design opinions on here are fair game, if you want an engaged comment section. But when it comes to your marriage, you should just block/delete 100% of those comments! Come on people, it’s her husband, family is off limits!

  234. Also, regarding white paint…I was recently in a 1930s Spanish house in Northern California. It was all white on the inside, but with some sort of magic paint. I swear it GLOWED. I was like, is this some sort of weirdo high end paint that is somehow a clean white but also warm and literally iridescent but somehow a flat finish!!?! What is this sorcery? So anyway, if you know of said white paint, maybe that’s a good white for this space??

  235. I think part of the problem is that the sconces make it hard to hang much on the walls so the room feels unfinished. A few interesting textiles on the walls would work wonders. Can you remove some sconces? Also I am definitely in favor of a natural wood mantel to add interest there.

  236. Your friend Scott Horn’s living room has just as much white and looks fantastic. I am so confident that once you have your furniture and style it , it will be amazing.

  237. Woah. Is it too late to chime in? Firstly, you’re so brave. So ignore all of our thoughts if you want! I’d rather see a pale colored (not gray) oriental or Turkish oushak rug, for the warmth factor. I do hope you leave the hearth, paint the fireplace a warmer color or blast it (if that’s a thing), and add a reclaimed wood mantle. Then bring in the weird : ) I miss the bench too but I get why you moved it. Ok, now can I give you a virtual hug? Lol

  238. As a designer who has recently finished my own home build, gosh I know what it’s like to feel that a space hasn’t reached its full potential. Normally I would never comment on another designer’s work but I’ve been thinking about your living room for two days! I just wanted to say, because I’m not sure anyone has, that I think the white is fine and fabulous and the lack of ‘wow’ is maybe down to the furniture placement. While all the pieces are lovely in themselves, I’m not sure they gel in this particular space. They lack cohesion and the room doesn’t have a natural hero because all the pieces are down low and similar in scale, so the eye is bouncing off the walls and ceiling looking for somewhere to land. My immediate thought was to introduce some balance and symmetry with two big matching sofas facing each other (with your two armchairs at the other end of the fireplaces) and a large rectangular timber coffee table or upholstered ottoman – this would settle the scattergun feel that I think the current furniture has and create a more inclusive, cosy feel (I’d probably bring it all in with a smaller rug too!). Then I feel like the space needs some height with a taller lamp, larger artwork and a super-tall faux tree – and a pendant over the coffee table would be even better – so that the seating area is where you want to look and the white becomes a non-invasive canvas. Anyway, back in my box! Looking forward to seeing where it all goes. It’s so lovely of you to share the process so honestly.

  239. Emily,
    My favorite parts of the room are the striped pillow on the leather sofa, the painted blue stairway and cool chair on the landing. And, the painting on the mantel. Its got your old funk. I know you are evolving and you still have so much to add. I just love your vintage elements. And, your pup adds a lot of good feels, too.

    1. – I also just thought, I’d you add a saucer pendant or something soft and luxe as a pendant in the middle of the room, the beams won’t look as stark.
      – In our mcm house we have hollow beams, so at a pinch you could clad the beams in a lighter timber. Illusion!
      – Then I’d add a darker loloi rug, something more vintage with a small patter to centre in the space. I wouldn’t add more blue! Neutral all the way so you can play with the blues later!

  240. Balancing all the lightness and brightness, how about a few moody, lovely Oregon landscape/ farmscape vintage paintings, including one of substantial size, though wall space is at a premium. A few glowy/golden wooden antiques, maybe a cool shaped vintage wall clock, books. The space is lovely, needs some grounding. That will come with living in it, the space will evolve. It’s beautiful!

  241. I’ve been thinking about this on and off this weekend, so sorry for the late post (and I hope this still gets seen)! I think darkening the colors and emphasizing the casings / fireplace more would help (a warm cream / beige / tan for the trim and baseboards might actually look fantastic here), but I also wonder if the furniture and artwork are the issues here. They’re all SO modern and high-end looking, and they seem a bit small for such a huge room. I love the style of the furniture to the right of the fireplace, but even it seems sort of tiny and lost in the room– I miss the enormous bench that used to be there! Things like the swivel chairs, the side tables, even the hand chair all seem SO artsy and fancy rather than relaxed and “farm”– as someone who lives on a sort of farm, I KNOW we couldn’t handle white furniture. 🙂 The rug is also very modern! The legs and lines of the sofas are also very modern and “light,” when I think you might want something heavy, rustic, or old-feeling here. Even leaning some pictures on the picture rail might help visually settle it, which I’m sure is something you do plan to do. Maybe a quilt hanging over the fireplace (f it’s not a hazard) would make the room feel more warm and “farm” than the very cool but very modern painting there right now. We live in a huge old house with a huge living room (though probably not as big as yours), and I was shocked by how small a sofa that looked IMMENSE in the store looked in our living room. Good luck figuring this out!!

  242. I actually love it.

    I would say, at a glance, it’s a lot of straight lines and new surfaces . I think all it really needs is some patina and some softer edges. I think linen curtains would hugely help even if they were always open. Bringing in more curves through art/decor/furniture would also help. And then if you wanted to throw some money at it later, stripping back the brick on the fireplace would definitely add more texture and feel a bit more organic.

    Leave yourself some creative space to tweak things further down the road. For now just soften the edges and add a few more layers.

  243. Sorry, but I really don’t understand this post. To me, the room just doesn’t appear to be “styled” yet. Nothing on the walls, no plants, nothing on the surface next to the fireplace – like a plant or basket. Why not simply try to do these things before you spend money and time on wallpaper? To me, this room is yelling for a large coffee table that can be reached by both couches and the two chairs. This would allow you to remove the two end tables, which are just making the area feel cluttered. Also, getting rid of the end table would allow for the lamp to be moved out of the walkway and be more functional for whomever is sit-in on that couch. Please don’t jsut waste more money. Try adding curtain, art and a large coffee table first!!

  244. I totally agree with you – too stark, too white! I like the idea of keeping it neutral since it’s such a large room and connected to so many other rooms with their own color schemes, but neutral doesn’t need to mean devoid of color. This house is old, the room really needs some depth and warmth. Dare I say I miss the old wood ceiling and the dirty white fireplace? I do have a color suggestion – Farrow and Ball “Old White” for the fireplace and/or paneling and trim. Something like F&B “Shaded white” would be nice for the walls. F&B has so many wonderful rich neutrals. Can’t wait to see what you do with it. Cheers!

  245. I came back by here to look at this post again since I find the term “shacket” almost as annoying as when every paint color darker than 50% gray is called “moody” – I’m a grouch! 🙂
    THIS ROOM LOOKS GREAT! When I first saw this post, I was agreeing with your concerns that you wrote about, but looking at it again, it’s just not true – you have pretty much nailed it. Only a bit unfinished, probably due to decision fatigue. It just need a coffee table to ground the seating area. Wallpaper the entry definitely would be fun. Tall plants and variety of paintings/wall art for some scale. Then maybe look at whether drywall areas could be an interesting off-white or punch of color. One thing that is awesome about the room is it really looks like a family LIVES there comfortably. Your dream house is coming together!

  246. I am comment # 400 . So… I’ll keep it brief 😉
    1) Go back to your original photos of the home. Have you, Brian and kids write what they like, are drawn to, what adjectives they would use to describe it: if it’s the dark wood beams, or that fuchsia/ pink color, etc. Notice what the emotional value is of the things you are dawn to.
    2) once you have an idea of how all 4 of you originally responded to that room, and maybe the things in it you liked about it… maybe you can find your roadmap for how to take your current LR to some version of those emotions.
    3) I firmly believe that “emotional temperature” is an element of picking paint colors— and any of us figuring out paint colors in less than ideal circumstances (that would be every one of us!!!), struggles to balance pigments, lighting conditions, how muddy/vs clear the colors are, etc. (and for you, a national audience!)
    (As an example— I have been living with slightly peach wall color for the last 15 years in my mid century modern contemporary LR which is surrounded by trees on three sides and is a northern exposure. White in that room would literally make it feel 5-10 degrees colder, and be especially drab in winter time.)
    🌻The color(s) only has to work for you guys🌻, in that room🌻, for that location 🌻

  247. I would absolutely start by photoshopping some color onto the drywall — maybe a warm (but still pale) grey, or peachy pink. I think you are absolutely right that you need to show off the gorgeous millwork around the windows! It just gets blown out with white on white. I’d be with you about actually wanting the trim to be a different color but I think playing around with photoshop on an easier solution might actually be fruitful. Or go just a tad bit more farmhouse with a pale and sweet wallpaper above. Something like this one would be just beautiful.–Summer-Harvest-32.97-L-x-20.47-W-Wallpaper-Roll-DEBB21649-L6161-K~SXXA1006.html?refid=GX438613483129-SXXA1006_50888819&device=c&ptid=944963887342&targetid=pla-944963887342&ireid=118706004&PiID%5B%5D=50888819&gclid=CjwKCAjwv4SaBhBPEiwA9YzZvDeT4V-S1iKAK5Qqou6cccHzTXWdfvAUzbOFtHBr-gj0S-kmdssSBxoC5BsQAvD_BwE&piid=50888818

  248. It looks lovely, but for sure needs a bit of warmth. I’d use the wallpaper in a warm tone, and wouldn’t paint the bricks Infront the fireplace, because they add some warmth to your space. Having a wooden mantle isn’t a bad idea either. I would definitely focus on adding back the warmth and coziness it has lost, and it’ll be absolutely beautiful.

  249. This has zero connection to the Cottagecore, Vintage, Farmhouse vibe that was envisioned.
    Aside from asking the ‘what’ question, it is probably better to ask ‘why’?
    E.g Why did this room end up this way and what is it about my process that led to it?
    Without knowing how you got there, you’ll likely end up repeating the situation.
    To me, this stark style is very 2010s and I love more people embracing cornicing, millwork, complexity, texture and colour.
    This ain’t no farmhouse.
    Perhaps some further mentorship, education, training might help expand your palette?
    I absolutely love Jean Stoffer’s style – perhaps you could collaborate with other designers in the future?
    The whole process has been very different from the Mountain House – as though it’s not being savoured and is just being quickly ploughed through.

    1. Did you mean this to sound so condescending/insulting — the need for “further mentorship, education, training”

  250. I may be out in left field here, but I think the current furniture is a part of the problem. I know that’s not going to change since you said you like it.

  251. I did not get past the comments on Brian and your marriage – yikes! Whatever works for you and Brian is fine with me.

    Don’t beat yourself up on the design Emily. It’s a beautiful room and it will be even more beautiful when you have more of your things in place.

    My honest thoughts – the white is very bright, so bright that it’s almost hard to look at for me, the one who gets migraines from bright and not so bright light. But I think your idea of white was good – it makes the room seem taller, which is good in any room, but especially such a large room with heavy ceiling beams. So I would go with the woven wallpaper that you want, because it keep the room white, but soften it. I think going with color will cut the room in half, making the ceiling feel lower than it feels now.

    Also, the blue stairs just shine to me – so I think the room needs more of that color, a lot more of that color in order to feel like you and to soften the bright white.

    Take care and be well.

  252. I commented before but keep checking this post. In relooking at the pictures, I don’t understand all the sconces and their placement- specifically on the larger wall to the right of the fireplace and the wall between the window and sunroom entrance. The sconces prevent any art work etc. and break up the wall space. Is there no overhead lighting in this room? I also think the furniture reads very modern for the space- especially the two chairs. I would not do anything to the walls until I figured out the furniture & lighting. It’s a beautiful room, and I’m confident you can get it where you want it design wise.

  253. Oh Emily, Emily, Emily, you just made my month!! Obsessed over white paint and made mistakes and yeah, can’t afford to redo. So mad at myself. How did I not take the time to do this right?? Feel better knowing you feel you have made that “white paint” mistake. I tried 9 different whites-ha. Always love your blogs and been keeping up with you since you won design whatever-it-was.

  254. All of the white looks really dated. It’s cold, and stark, and feels like a mid 2010s YouTuber house. Considering how cool and unique the room started, this feels like a lot of the character was stripped away, and it was replaced by something way too harsh and cold. I would strip the paint off of the fireplace, and move away from the light and white. I think bringing back natural wood colors will do a lot to warm up the space, but I also think embracing color can do a lot for the space.

  255. I think the horizontal shiplap on the bottom half of the living room wall is overemphasizing the multitude of beams on the ceiling, and is ultimately making the ceiling appear even lower despite it being painted white. I would imagine that this issue is less noticeable in person and more noticeable in photos. IMHO the walls did not want or need the additional shiplap treatment. The shiplap is also creating even more straight lines in the room in addition to the ceiling beams, wood floor, and brick fireplace, plus the square window panes. The room looked a bit softer in the process photos before the shiplap was installed. The unusual diagonal window panes in the original farmhouse photos caught your eye so much so that it distracted away from the beams. I think a large scale floral patterned wallpaper would serve the same purpose to distract the eye and keep the eye moving around the room. But, that’s probably not the look Emily is looking for. The kitchen and dining room on the opposite ends will be the shining stars of the living room, since you will see both while you’re in the pass through living room. And That diamond dining room tile floor is one of the prettiest floors I have ever seen! I can’t wait to see it with furniture!!!

    1. Good point about the shiplap. I agree it does not add anything to the room. There is a lot going on anyway with multiple entrances/ windows/ ceiling beams – not restful even when painted all white.

  256. Thank you for being vulnerable and letting us in! Is it possible to restore the entire fireplace back to its original brick? The brick on the base of the fireplace is stunning, adds warmth, and gives that historic farmhouse feel!

  257. I agree that something needs to be done…all the Extra White is just too stark and cold. My suggestions:
    -Paint the drywall a color. I’m not entirely sure what color, but given everything else in your house, I’m guessing some sort of smoky blue would make the most sense.
    -Paint the fireplace a darker version of that same color.
    -Replace the rug with an antique oriental style. Like the first (?) rug you had in your LA living room.
    -Add in some warm antique furniture.
    Then pick a very saturated wallpaper for the entry.

  258. Miss the old windows most of all. Otherwise the room is ok but boring. For all that makeover and work it should be something original and stunning. Looks typical modern west coast.

  259. I did this in my last house, which was a mid century house, in a family room with a lot of light, but the only paint that seemed to work was white and yet it always felt so cold. The solution I found was vintage pieces…tables, pottery, art and PLANTS. You need plants! PS please don’t paint the fireplace brick. It is warm and natural and looks good to me.

  260. Nice article about mistakes & options. I find I also make mistakes towards the end of large projects when I am worn down by making too many decisions without time to think through them thoroughly. Maybe you just need to relax & sit with it for awhile. I do like that you listed quite a few choices for a new direction and that you described the reasons things felt off. To me, the walls above the wainscoting need a touch of color. Painting the lower half will not offset the ceiling and it is a feature but painting the upper walls will offset the paneling, the ceiling and teh fireplace while maintaining a bright serene feel. I also think that sometimes you do need to remove color from a room and live in a space to really see it clearly. So you just haven’t reached the end of the road yet and should not feel this is a mistake. You have many many years to perfect this room. There really is no deadline in your own home.

  261. I thought right from the start that the heart of the farmhouse would be tricky to do – and you did really well so far.Not to mention different light in the PNW, this is not CA. Every day the light conditions can be different. You will be glad you went lightinside when it rains for four months soon.
    I think you did an awesome job making a bejillion decisions and bringing this property back to life.
    Great things take TIME. Your main room will go through lots of iterations (with Brian’s level headed input!)
    until you get it right. Give yourself grace, space and the details will all slowly emerge. Enjoy the slower process with this room while it is being born, while the other ones are already singing ❤️

  262. My suggestions:

    1) Add rustic, natural stone facade on the fireplace from mantle to ceiling to add texture, warmth and to enhance it as a focal point

    2) To me the ceiling beams are screaming “too white, too stark, please let me be more natural and woodsy”. Could they be wrapped/stripped/painted in a real or realistic faux wood that offers some medium level hues and depth to break up the singular white palette? It could offer a breath of soft and gentle contrast that would also float your gaze upward.

    Hope this resonates or at least is received as a thoughtful offering to your beautiful innate talent. Fondly, Michelle Timek

  263. Just came here to say – while this may not be hitting the mark for you yet (and I totally get that), it looks amazing to me already and is giving me all kinds of inspiration for my own home. So thank you for sharing these in-process photos! And for being vulnerable and sharing the messy process – definitely validates those of us who aren’t pros and constantly question our choices (me!). Also, I’ve only read a smattering of comments but — people are weird and I’m sorry you (and Brian) have to deal with that. Lots of love to you! Thanks for sharing your creativity and process with us, always!

    1. Take a look at your friend, Scott Horne’s living room. You only need a big tree and plants. Your room looks great!

  264. If the white does not look so good it could be because there is less natural light than in the mountain house. if you are actually using the fireplce I think the white will get darker in just one winter.
    I think once you add more things (accents) in warmer whites/beige/greige the white walls will not look so white.
    But of course you are the design maverick. You know much better than me, as I am just an amateur.

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