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Decorating with Red: Before & After

By 07/22/2014January 28th, 201760 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 9.35.32 PM Paula from Salad in a Jar hired me in April for an on-line consultation to help with colours and decorating updates on her house. Two hours later, she had a plan and three months later, here is the fabulous result! This is what she said: “Thank-you again for helping me a few months ago. You gave me a lot of confidence which made the whole project a lot more fun! I’m thrilled with the end result.”

Some observations from Paula to help my readers:
“1. If you aren’t sure about a certain room, take a picture of it. It’s amazing how problems and clutter will jump off the page at you.
2. Although it may not be obvious in the pictures, I think I finally get it about “clean and dirty” colors and how they affect each other. I talk so much about it, even my husband has become aware of it. Painting the “dirty” fireplace changed my whole perspective on this house.
3. The suggestion to use Agreeable Gray upstairs was worth the price of the consultation — Can’t imagine picking gray myself but it worked!”

You’ll see a lot more than the red in her living room. If you love red, you might like her red kitchen before but the white is my favourite (of course).

Entry BeforeBefore

I totally encouraged Paula to go for the black and white carpet. So much better than the wear and tear (above) your regular beige carpet will take.

Entry After


Paula’s comment was, “I feel like I’m in a fancy hotel every time I climb the stairs.” Living Room Before


Getting rid of the gold fireplace was the best plan to make the room feel fresh. I suggested a black and white zebra rug, two upholstered chairs and some colour blocking pillows. Paula found this houndstooth carpet that she loved even more.

Too much red can be intense, now this room has just the right amount.

Living Room After


This was how Paula painted the fireplace, which wouldn’t look so great if it was just a solid paint colour:

“I first painted the fireplace with white primer from Sherwin-Williams. Then I used Annie Sloan’s French Linen — diluted some with water, and used a rag to swipe on and wipe off in a random faux-like manner. I did not seal it because nobody touches it or walks on it but I might someday. I don’t want a shiny look like it was previously so I’m hesitating.”

kitchen before


For the kitchen, she wanted to go from red to white! If you want some texture go for a bevelled subway tile backsplash!

Kitchen After


SW Pure White (cabinets) and BM Tranquility (walls)

Guest Bedroom Before

Guest Bedroom Before

Green and White Bedroom

During our call, this was the inspiration picture I found for her guest bedroom (above).

Guest Bedroom After

Guest Bedroom After

I love her room even more!

Master Before


Here I suggested cream drapes to bring fresh to the master bedroom.

Master after


bathroom before


Paula did not want to re-do her entire bathroom, I thought her tile could have stayed because she had found such a great rug to cover most of it but she decided to replace it anyway.

Bathroom After


Which room is your favourite?

Is it time to freshen up your space?

Related posts:

Before & After: An On-line Colour Consultation in Texas

The 80/20 Rule for Getting Colour Right: Before & After

The Zen of One Day Decorating: Before & After

If you would like your house to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • Angela Taylor says:

    I like them all, but if I have to pick, then I will choose the guest bedroom. It’s so crisp and clean looking. I had that same bed at one time and always wanted to paint it, so it is good to see the results:)

  • Judy says:

    I like it all too! Beautiful job but if I had to choose one room I think the living room or maybe the kitchen oh I can’t make up my mind lol

  • Tamara Gonzalez says:

    My favorite is the kitchen! What a transformation. I just bought the paint for mine and am one carpenter away from getting started on a new white kitchen. Thank you, Maria, for the inspiration.

  • beth says:

    Her home was lovely before. Now it is a “Wow!” I love the stairs. I wouldn’t have the courage to use that carpet probably, but it’s amazing.

    • KA says:

      Love the stairwell. Reminds me of a hotel I stayed in in London called Blakes at 33 Roland Gardens. Don’t know if it’s still there. Well done!

  • Mary-Illinios says:

    I have never seen someone accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. And it all looks so beautiful!
    Great job!

  • Robin says:

    Gorgeous! Great changes. My favorite is the living room. The change was dramatic with a lot of the old furniture being used. A great accoulade to your consultation. Make me think……

  • C says:

    They’re all a wonderful updates! But I actually LOVE the stairway carpeting. Having been a hotel manager and director of sales, I still have an affinity for all those pretty carpets you see in hotels. It gives me a great idea for recarpeting some of my own areas …. one of these days 😉

  • Kathy Connelly says:

    Makes me remember why I love black and white so much. It is my favorite combination to live in, and goes with any accent color you want!

  • Kathryn says:

    I have to agree that the house was lovely in the before photos. Except for the stairway, it could have gone “as is” for many more years.

    One question, what was the surface of the fireplace wall?

  • Sherri says:

    I love the stairway…what a transformation! And the fireplace. Question: What is on the kitchen floor?

      • Paula says:

        Let me add.. To protect the wood in the splash zone of the kitchen, I use an indoor/outdoor rug so I can take it outside and hose it down occasionally. That’s what you see in the “after” picture.

        • Cynthia says:

          gorgeous!!! I have to ask, in the guest room, same side tables, bed frames painted black?????
          I love ASCP, I have even painted a boring blah brown fabric chair a cream color with Annie Sloan. It is not perfect BUT SOOO much better than the old dingy color.
          Enjoy that beautiful home!

  • Annie says:

    All the transformations are awesome even though the before pictures were cute too. Am going to bookmark this post as one I can continue to refer back to, so much to learn in this one post and pictures. Thank you.

  • Amy says:

    Wonderful…I am so jealous. I have to remember the stairs when I get new carpet! I have a question…it looks like many of the window frames have been painted or am I seeing things? I would love to see a picture of the home’s exterior too…beautiful home.

  • Kathi says:

    Fantastic job, it was really nice before, but what an infusion of making it fresher and more up to date-she gave me a great idea for painting my red brick to the top of our 14 foot ceilings with Annie Sloan paint- (and the primer) It still looks like stone on her fireplace, only a better color! I love all of the rooms, but especially the kitchen update!

  • Karen says:

    I am surprised at the transformation of the stone fireplace – it is beautiful! I always thought you could not paint stone – only brick. I would love to have the guts to attempt it on my own fireplace which after 25 years has gone from focal point to eyesore.

  • Michelle says:

    That houndstooth rug in the living room instantly took the room from traditional to transitional. And I must say it took courage to paint the fireplace. Lots of people would have viewed that as a desirable feature for resale. But the transformed fp is so much nicer.

  • My favourite room: the master bedroom. What a huge difference changing dark, heavy curtains for lighter ones! When I look at the master bedroom, I get the feeling of, ‘ahh’.

  • Chere says:

    Just a fabulous job all the way around ! WOW!
    See what happens when good advice is taken and added on to, by someone else with great ideas and the energy to get it ALL done ?! I have deep affection for the living room .,. I live red and it just zings,I liked the red kitchen , but the new white is gorgeous as are all rooms . Fabulous collaboration !

  • Mary says:

    May I ask what is the paint color in the master bedroom?

  • Roberta says:

    The biggest and most dramatic change is the fireplace! Great paint treatment!!

  • Diane G. says:

    In the guest room, painting the bed posts black made such a difference! (The devil in the details!!) The kitchen looks terrific….such an enormous improvement. The small changes to the bath… a lot of bang for the buck! Great outcome.

  • Connie says:

    Master—I didn’t even realize the bedding was the same in both before and after, the room looked so different! In my last home I did the subway in straight lines and liked it then. Was wondering if I will do it in this new kitchen and seeing her photo answered my question—I still love the subway that way. THANKs for photos!

  • Victoria says:

    Love it all, Maria! I love dramatic stairs and foyers and the change to black and white is stunning to me. And the fireplace is amazing now. We just looked at a house with a fireplace like the before and I balked. But if I could see painting it like this one, I might look again. As much as I adore the color red (and turquoise!) and have even thought of painting my kitchen cabinets red, I love, love, love the light and bright white kitchen now. So fresh! Will always love a white kitchen. Beautiful choices! I’m sure your client is extremely happy she called and consulted with you! Your advice is always the best!

  • Chris says:

    Wonderful. I would love to know what tile was used in the bathroom…

    • KA says:

      Looks like Daltile octagon dot matte white with white matte dot 12 x 12 sheets of ceramic tile and a grayish grout.

  • Diane says:

    Love it all but I must say the black and white entry is wonderful and fun. I love how it is all updated without having to replace everything. Amazing how a good coat of paint and something simple like updated window treatments can alter the look and feel. And so glad she opted for the houndstooth over the zebra..much better fit for her look and zebra is a bit overdone these days, IMHO.

  • Maria Pereira says:

    Wow! Her house was nice before, now it’s fabulous!
    I would have replaced the hardware on the bathroom cabinets with something more contemporary. To me it has the “new floor”, “old cabinets” look.

  • sandyc says:

    Love that carpet on the stairs – so dramatic and I love the way the color is repeated in the rug in that beautiful white kitchen. The master bedroom and bath turned so airy and fresh with the blue-green paint and accessories. I might have changed the hardware in the bath as well and the floor bugs me a bit. The original tile looked pink compared to the countertop but, as you said, a good area rug hid most of it. I love hex tile but this seems a tad too white compared to the countertop to suit me (although the sort of creamy grout does help, so I’d probably get used to it). I think I might add a rug similar in size and pattern to the original one but in the new colors.

    Best of all, you did what you do so well, Maria; you’ve helped Paula fill her home with HER happiness. Lots to learn from this post.

    • Susie says:

      I also think that the original bathroom floor tile looked much better with the counter than does the white hex tile – too “clean” and busy.
      Liked the original fireplace, but the painted finish is great inspiration for our hideous stairwell wall of dark red-brown brick.

  • Joy Schumann says:

    Wow! I love the whole house; a great definition of “Hiring a professional for help!” Great Job, Maria!
    I have a red couch and sometimes I don’t know when to stop when accessorizing with red. Taking a picture is a great idea to “really” see what is wrong.
    Just finished my guest room; learned much from your ideas! Thank you…I will refer back to this post often!

  • Fran says:

    Every room looks so fresh and pretty, but I’d have to choose the kitchen as my favorite. Love the crisp white cabinets and the new backsplash!

  • Kathy says:

    All the changes are wonderful, too hard to choose a favorite!

  • teresa says:

    My fave is the guest bdrm followed by the master. SUCH a change, but essentially the same room.

  • madeline says:

    I love the entry. I love it because of the black painted rail. The rail is a very common style but the way it is presented makes it look very grand.

  • Ange says:

    All the before room pictures were great, but the after were fantastic. Amazing how just a few changes makes the space look like new. Loved the black and white entry and carpet on the stairs.

  • Joanne says:

    I love red!
    The best part of your post is the fireplace idea. I’m going to put it to great use.

  • Debbie says:

    Did she really cover the beautiful wood floors in the kitchen or is it a rug? Love the red …looks fresh …just what she wanted. Great job!!!

  • franki says:

    That stairway carpet and striped walls…winners!! franki

  • Betsy OShea says:

    The owner is so right about photographing ones space and the defects somehow jump right out. Amazing transformation! The most improved room is the LR… Too dark and beige before. That annie Sloan paint can also be applied to fabric believe it or not. The kitchen is also beautiful. Just goes to show that no matter how much one loves color a healthy dose of white/cream is needed for balance and contrast and freshness!

  • Jackie Clucas says:

    love the stair case area… question as I noticed in your photos and I am thinking about updating my back splash area is what is considered “proper” when choosing the standard 4″inch back splash that matches the counter top OR taking tile straight down the the counter top edge? is there a reason we don’t do the 4″ AND a tile on top ? THANKS

  • Lorri says:

    All of it is a huge improvement. Love that carpet on the stairs.

    My favorite is the master bedroom and bathroom. I love the freshness!

  • Debbie says:

    Beautiful …what is the livingroom wall color? Looks so nice with the red. I love your home.

  • Deborah McKenzie says:

    Beautiful transformations. Loved that guest room! It went from ho hum to fresh and classic. What color did you use on the walls of the guest room? I could not see what you did with the window in that room. Curious as to how you treated that.
    By the way I will be trying my hand at some homemade Greek style yogurt a la Paula.

    • Paula says:

      The paint in the guest room is Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, just as Maria suggested. The windows have 2-inch blinds–nothing special … yet. 🙂

  • Fran says:

    Amazing transformation. I love red, so I liked the kitchen ‘before’ — but, it looks even better in white! Also love the new living room, with the toned down fireplace, creamy mantle, new run and accessories. I read Paula’s blog, too. Congrats!

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