Before and After Master Bathroom Makeover - Living With Color DesignsWe are in the process of updating our home.  Its’s really exciting and way over due.  I’ve been delighted with how the changes are reenergizing our home.  The time had come, after years of raising our family and dolling out the cash to the kids, (now young adults) to spend a little of our hard earned cash on ourselves.  When you get to this stage, or if you are in it, you will understand.  Some of it has been been a ton of fun, like making over the master bathroom and powder room.  Some not so much fun, like replacing the roof.  But, hey, I like to keep dry. Continue reading →

DIY accents, add a starfish to a wooden lamp for beach appeal - Living With Color DesignsWhen my sister and her husband were charged with continuing the care of their family beach cottage they decided to make a few updates to reflect their personal style and prepare it for future generations. All this was done while still honoring it’s past history and the memories of those good times. Continue reading →

As you can see this patio was a mis-match of outdoor furniture collected over time.  The finishes did not match (black railings, green table and chairs, bronze finish on lower level).  None of the fabrics matched in tone or color either.  And the style was out of date.  If you have a a similar situation and are looking to update a little at a time you can follow some of these tips to be sure your finished look will be cohesive. Continue reading →

Lutron Storm fabric Fabric “Lutron Storm”

The colors for most redo’s are drawn from a particular item that you plan to include in the redo.  It may be a picture, a pillow, a bedspread, or a fabric.  In most cases I begin with the fabric.  This is probably because unless you have endless access to a wide variety of fabrics and an unlimited budget you may end up in trouble if you pick the paint first and then try to find a fabric to match.  For example I knew exactly what color I wanted in my bedroom but I had to search high and low to find a spread the same color.

Lutron Storm Fabric

Meet the fabric “Lutron Storm”.  It was love at first sight.  Just the inspiration I needed to change up my kitchen after 10 years.  I already had the vision in my head that I wanted a sort of greyish blue paint color and this fabric had the right blues. I have also fallen in love with the color combination of browns and blues so this was perfect.  I got a swatch and went home to measure my windows and determine yardage.  On my next trip back to my favorite fabric store, 1502 Fabrics, they were completely out of the fabric.  Another designer had bought every yard of it.  I guess you can imagine my panic when love at first site was gone but I was able to order it.  I just had to wait a while to get it.

I bought a beautiful neutral linen for the chair seats and table round and ordered the print fabric for the backs of chairs and the window curtains. Then I went home to tackle the paint.  Now as the confessed “Queen of Color” I do have to admit that I am a little obsessed about colors matching.  Perfectly.  I know, it can be a curse and in this case it was.  After a million paint chips there was just not one the was perfect, with the right amount of grey and blue.  Besides matching the fabric I wanted to complement the grey in the granite counter tops and pull out the delicate blue trim on the hand painted chest in my kitchen.  The fabric came in well before I had chosen a paint color.

Ingenuity to the rescue or maybe I should call it fate, good luck, or chance happening.  I opened the chest in my kitchen one day and a Restoration Hardware shopping bag fell out. (I also have a shopping bag obsession but we won’t go into that.)  I picked it up and put it by my fabric.  It matched perfectly and I thought if I could only find a paint swatch this color I could paint my kitchen. Then it sunk in.  The match was perfect. 

Restoration Hardware shopping bag

The bag I color matched.

I realized this offered a wonderful opportunity for me to try a Valspar Paint custom paint match at Lowes Hardware.  I knew the technology was out there to do a match but I had never recommended it to a client because I was not sure if it would work.  Now my kitchen would be the testing ground.  My kitchen originally was Bavarian Torte by Valspar ,  a wonderful neutral that had just enough hint of pink to flatter the granite we had chosen.  Now it would become a custom match Restoration Hardware bag blue.  The technology really works!  It was identical and I love the color.  Originally I had planned to paint the cabinets but decided not to after the paint went up because they looked so good together.  Below are the results.

Red fabric with bunnies


window treatments


dinette area

Design 001



The color turned out truly perfect.  It really made the cabinets pop.  It draws the blue detailing out on the chest and works with the counter tops.  It really has a calming effect which is what I was going for.

 Before                                                                                                        After


I think these before and after pictures really show how color can change a room.  I hope they will convince those of you who have been hesitant to use color to give it a try.  I believe that there are real life benefits to creating spaces in our home that comfort and nurture us.  Color can play a big part in influencing how we feel.  Now you know that if you can’t find the perfect paint chip just find the color that you love in another object and have a custom color paint match. 



Recovering the chairs was what I call a DIY- WHFAF.  Do-It-Yourself-With-Help-From-A-Friend.  Thanks to Ronnie and Stephanie Hurley for their help and expertise in putting the fabric on.  I just hot glued the matching braid around the fabric on the chair backs.

Custom Color Paint

Next I had a fun time adding a few new accessories.  On the kitchen desk I placed  this picture which is hand painted and these old seltzer bottles.  The picture has beautiful colors and was a great find at a great price.  Both were purchased at the Collectors Antique Mall here in downtown Asheboro.  It is a great place to browse and to pick up interesting things. 

Custom Color Paint

Antique seltzer bottles

I like making little displays on this chest or on a corner of my kitchen island.  I change it up depending on the season and my mood.  I had a little fabric left over so I used it for this little display.  Doing this also helps scatter the fabric colors and pattern throughout the room.

bird houses


Not long ago my sweet Mom brought me this piece of slate with this wonderful message of encouragement.  So nice.  I just love it.  Don’t be afraid to try your own custom color paint matches.   – Marianne

All pictures property of Living With Color Designs

Playrooms Spark Imagination and Creativity

Today I thought I would share an anatomy of a redo.  This project grew out of changing family dynamics.  Families face this as children grow up and leave the nest to find their own way.  In my case my youngest daughter who occupied this room was leaving the nest after finishing school and getting married.  My older daughter had also left the nest for work and family and had provided us with a most awesome granddaughter (surely no bias here).  My second grandchild was on the way and you never know about newlyweds so I thought the perfect transformation for this room would be to turn it into a playroom.  This way toys could be housed in one place and the hope was to create a magical space that would remain in the memories of my grandchildren long after they were grown.

 I imagine each of you can remember a space, large or small, that you loved as a kid.  My place would not have been remarkable to anyone but me because it was a small closet on the second floor of my grandmother Violas’ house.  Among some of the things stored in there were blankets and comforters. The closet had a little niche and I would curl up in there with the blankets and comforters and read.  I remember reading a Wizard Of Oz book that must have belonged to my dad or one of my uncles.
OK back to the redo.  I knew I wanted this to be a low cost redo and that I would be using several things that I already had from another room that I had turned into a nursery with the arrival of my first grandchild.  Yes, grandchildren are awesome!!  That room was to be transformed into a guest room.  This room is an odd shaped space with a large open area and a jut out at one end with slanted ceilings.  I knew I wanted the larger floor area to remain mostly open for playing in the floor, dancing, putting on plays, and yes pitching a tent (I do not do snakes and bugs well). 
When beginning a budget redo always start by accessing what you already have that will work and then determine the things you will need to purchase to add to the space.  I had plenty of color inspiration from a comforter, existing curtains I was moving from the other room, and existing toys.  From the tent I got the idea to make the walls green like the outdoors and the ceiling blue like the sky.  These colors would be favorable to any gender.   From the comforter I got the accent color of pink which works for our current stage and can be easily changed in the future if needed.  I have used Valspar paint for years and have never been disappointed.  Below are the links to the colors used.  Valspar 1003-1A Pink Burst,  Valspar W34009A Inch Worm, and 5001-7A Blue Tradition
Be flexible when working on projects.  Sometimes you have make little adjustments along the way.   I wanted to make this cozy, intimate, cocoon like space in the jut out.  My initial plan was to carry the pink all the way to the ceiling.  After getting into the project I realized that just painting the half wall would do the trick. (The blue you see on slanted wall was the existing color of the room.)  I loved how soothing the green was against the blue.
Bold colors are not for the week of heart.  If you like color but are afraid to choose it hire a professional who has experience selecting color to eliminate guess work.

Truthfully my family was more than a little nervous as the bold pink went up.  Seems like they would trust me by now.  Why did it work?  Because I balanced it with a lot of white.  I knew that most of the pink would be covered up by the bed and bookcases, creating a beautiful backdrop.

Sleeping alcove in playroom

At night, with the lamp on, the pink gives off this wonderful glow.  I matched the pink to the darkest pink in the comforter for maximum impact.  Bed, bookcases, dresser and lamp were existing. Personalization was added to the space by hanging a paintings I had created in a local art class.  If your area offers artistic opportunities I highly recommend you giving them a try.  These were done under the guidance of Nikki Needham of The Preppy Possum.

Playroom bookcases

Shelving makes toys easily accessible to children and makes for easy clean up.

Playroom bookcase with toys















I am a big believer in exposing children to books and they fit naturally into the decor of children’s rooms.

The shelf below is personalized with stuffed frogs, a frog book and a favorite photo.  Children love seeing photos of themselves. To display children’s original artwork choose frames all in one color.  This will help to tie all artwork together.

Frogs decorate childrens book shelvesStorage is always an issue in playrooms.  My low cost alternative came from Lowes.  I continued the theme of white shelving and then added color with the storage bins.  I am always amazed at the cost of  storage items.  I was lucky to find these at the Dollar Store and keep the cost down.  I had to go to two stores to get enough because I pondered them for a day. When I went back most were gone.  Suggestion, if it cost one dollar you do not need to ponder it.

Original art in playrooms


This painting above is an original and is absolutely fabulous. The colors are bright and the expression is playful. I purchased it originally to go in the nursery and now have moved it to the playroom. The artist is Madison Latimer.  This picture does not show it off properly.  It really makes a statement.

books and toys decorate playroom shelvesThe larger area of the room houses various things around the perimeter  and keeps the center of the floor open.  On the short wall there is an area for the doll house and bins for dress up clothes.

The longer wall has a glider chair moved from the nursery, simple low cost shelving for books, a set of mirrors to preform in front of, and a cozy reading area.

activity areas in a playroom

cozy reading nook with oriental lantern lighting
Create a cozy reading nook with oversized leavesThis area of the room received ooh’s and aah’s from my granddaughter when she saw it. The wonderful pink puff was found at TJ Max Home Goods and the leaves and flower light were bought at IKEA.  We did not find the leaves until after we had finished most of the room.  The curtains and pillows I  made for the nursery originally. Below is what it looked like before the leaves and another painting I did for the wall.


Frogs and butterflies were added here and there for fun.

simple shelving to make a childrens book wall

Every playroom needs a chair for cuddling, reading books, and rocking babies.  I used inexpensive picture rails from Ikea to display books.

The last little area is a small closet to the left of the book shelf with cubbies.  The doorway into it  is so small that an adult has to turn sideways and bend over to get through it.  We thought this would be a perfect area to put all the kitchen stuff that often can get messy and chaotic.  If that happens we just shut the door.  The closet was already this pale pink and I just left it as it was. It too is a Valspar color.

playroom kitchen nookThe end result is amazing.  Even while inspiring creativity it is a calming and enjoyable space to be in.  When I need a little stress relief I go up and lay on the bed and look up to where the green walls meet the blue ceiling sky and just relax.  It is never long after my granddaughter gets to our house that we hear, “can we go to the playroom?”.  On occasion we do fold up the T.P. and put up the larger tent for our pretend camping out in a critter free environment.  I just wish my husband could have found one in pink.  I guess that would be an unusual tent request but you know how I love color.  I hope this inspires you to add a little color to your next project.

The last pictures are of the room in action!

cushions for a reading area

Another reading area at the foot of the bed.  The pink pillow puff finds many uses.  Here it makes a great restaurant table for her furry friends.  Most of the time it is being rolled on, sat on, or stood on.


Dress up time is usually the favorite time!
Playing dress up
Did I tell you that grandchildren are awesome?