Decorating & Furniture/Wall color(s)


QUESTION: I'm wanting to repaint my entry way, stairwell and maybe even my living room.  Here's what I have.  As you walk into my 2 story entry way it is currently a neutral camel color.  Directly in front of the entry is my dining room set off by arches on two sides (one open to the living room the other to the entry).  It also has a raised floor.  The dining room is painted a rusty red color which I like and think I want to keep.  As you step in a few steps from the entry way I have a long open hall with laminate wood floors.  To the left of the entry is the kitchen which is painted a light (not to light) shade of olive/sage green.  I recently painted this and want to keep this color.  To the right of the entry you enter my living room which is curretly the same color as the entry way (beigy camel color)  This is also the color of my stairwell going up stairs and down to the basment.  I was thinking about painting my entry and stairwell in the same shade of green as the kitchen, but I didn't know if this would be too much green...and then what do I do with the living room?  Remember it is open to the dining room and only seperated by an archway and pillar.  Should I just paint everything a different neutral color or keep it the same?  Also, should I accent the back stairwell wall in a color different than the wall going up the stairs or keep them the same?  If this helps, I like earth toned colors ( reds, greens, browns, golds).  My sofas are a peanut butter color and I have a chocolate brown leather chair and ottoman in the living room also.  My living room has a light neutral carpet, but the long open hallway has laminate oak wood floors about the same color as the sofas.  I live in the midwest and the back of my house faces the South.  I have lots of windows in my living room which face South.  Any color advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance, Heidi

ANSWER: Hi Heidi,

I apologize... I think I may have missed your question!  I tried to back up and answer all questions upon my return... but aparently missed yours, sorry!!

Now, onto your question.  It sounds like you have a wonderful eye for color.  The sage greens, rusty red ruddy tones and peanut butter colors are a great combination.  It is also wonderful that you have a southern exposure for the rear of your house.  From your description, it IS rather complicated... but, my advice would be this.  When is doubt, paint COLOR....adding some more of the sage green can not hurt.  You don't want to have too much of the peanut color as it can 'disappear' into the other colors.  The very worst that can happen is that you don't fall in love with something within a week or so and then you repaint.  

This brings up an important point... when painting... our 'eye' can be very used to seeing the same color all of the time.  When introducing new color, it can confuse the eye, and brain, and 'trick' us into not liking something right away.  This is why I always suggest waiting a week or so to see if something 'feels' good before changing it.  

With the color palette you have, you are creating an open floor plan by using a ribbon of color to tie the rooms together.  If you try something.. give it the time to do its' job, and IF, and only if, it doesn't feel good in a week or two, THEN change it.... but my intstinct is telling me that with you, Heidi, the more color the better... let the nuetral carpet color do it's job.... insert your greens and add your accent walls of the bricky red... and see how it feels.

Thank you for writing.  Best of luck to you.

Julie Henry
Julie's Interior Designs
Hackettstown, NJ

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your advice.  If I paint more sage green should I paint the foyer or the stairwell or both?  I don't think I mentioned before that the stairs are right around the corner to the right of the foyer.  You either go down or up stairs and I have a plant box in the middle.  The stairwell basically sits behind (or to the right) of the living room.  Also, from the foyer you can see the 2 story stairwell(back and side wall) through the stair rail if that makes since.  I hope I haven't confused you more, I just didn't know exactly where to paint the green?

Hi Heidi,

Thanks for the additional information.  If you paint the entire foyer in the green, you make a warm statement as you enter the home.  Good idea.  As for the stairwell... you may want to consider keeping it the peanut color..., stairwells can have a tendency to go dark... NOT a good idea.  The one other thing you may want to consider, would be to bring a little more of the bricky red in the area, perhaps one wall in the living room, or one wall going up the stairs in the stairwell. Again, remember, your three colors are creating your palette.... having some of in an unexpected place can really make it all pop!!

Thank you for writing.  Best of luck to you.

Julie Henry
Julie's Interior Designs
Hackettstown, NJ

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Julie Henry


In the past 22 years, I have assisted countless residential (and some commercial) clients in the design and decorating of their homes. Within reason, I can assist on ANY question for the interior of your home. From design of a new home or addition, to layout, color, truly custom window treatments or just accessorizing... as our brochure says... from ceiling to floor, windows to walls and EVERYTHING in between... if it is for the Interior of your home, call Julie's Interior Designs. Well... you don't have to call, just write and ask!


With twenty two years of experience, 18 of them self employed with a large showroom/retail store and great staff on my team, there is little I/we haven't encountered. For several years I enjoyed being the on air "Home Editor" of the local cable station and have written a column in several local newspapers for years. Taught Interior Design at the college level. My work has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. This is the greatest job on earth, and not nearly as easy at it looks...

William Paterson College, NJ, Ramapo College NJ, Continuing Education with trade periodicals, etc.

Awards and Honors
Multiple for custom window treatments, best local business in our county (located in northwestern NJ,) best home furnishing store in our county, etc.

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