Painting & Wallpapering/interior paint


Hi Barbara,

First, what a great website -- and so helpful.

Our home is 25 years old, 7.5 ceilings, little light because trees have matured to second floor level.  Expensive draperies in "aged bronze" silk/wool damask that I can't change -- no trim at this point.  Wall are now SW "Believable Buff" and it does nothing for fabric and nothing for excitement element.  Furniture is all neutral, textured silks or comparable -- French chairs, Lawson sofa, black oriental screen split and in room corners where French doors are, another screen separated with two panels each wall beside window on front of house.  This room is 23 X 13, so these are on end walls.  My question:  I'm looking at yellows to bring this alive, i.e., BM Standish White, Ellen Kennon's Champagne Gold, and doing the entire room in this color, full strength on wall, 50 percent on trim, and a cup of color in ceiling white for ceiling.  Is this a good plan?  Carpet is also neutral, thick, old Karastan Romantique so I can't get rid of it; it's still in great condition.  Also an ebony piano at one end of the room (French door end), fireplace in center of long wall, windows on each side.  Three windows and set of French doors in this room, so lots of draperies on aged gold rods.  Can you please suggest a color for the walls?  This is a lights-on-all-the time room.

Thank you,
Frances Graham

Hello Frances, and thanks for your kind words about

Your description leads me to agree with you in using a much richer color throughout. It will be a solid background to the furnishings. In general your approach is sound. Making a color 50% is often a good solution but please remember than any time you 'dilute the strength' of a color it might change in more ways than just getting lighter. It's hard to recommend an actual color in this way but I always recommend testing actual paint colors.
So, yes please try Ellen Kennon's Champagne Gold - and you might also see, where there are a couple of rich yellows (Viburnum is one, and New Day or Blossom are others).

Other comments:

1. Adding a cup of color in ceiling white might not really do what you want - 'ceiling white' is usually a lower grade paint, and normally has a cooler quality (can't speak for all brands!)
I still recommend using an actual flat wall finish paint in a color.
You might have to add more than a 'cup' of color to a bright white to make a difference, your room is large so adding a cup to a gallon might not be quite enough.

2. If you want a brighter white for ceiling or trim, try Ellen Kennon's "White Opal". For a softer off-white you can try EcoHues "Papyrus" in same finishes, also available through Ellen Kennon.

3. Another nice 'finished' look is to use the same color on trim (semigloss or satin) as you do on the ceiing (flat).

The other approach would be not to use yellow per se but a deeper, different color all together, perhaps something drawn from your carpet or other furnishings.

Either way, test with paint or order painted color cards for the right color.
I hope that helps.

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Barbara Jacobs


I am able to answer questions about paint color and wall covering selection (interior and exterior, but in this category it's interior)and, in many cases, decorative ("faux") finishing for many types of surfaces. I can also answer some paint product and application questions but am primarily consulting about paint colors.I can also answer questions about Full Spectrum paints.


My experience as a color consultant is broad and includes a wide variety of color issues. Since 1984, I've been helping clients their very best environments using color as the foundation. My experience includes over 20 years in the field of creating and installing fine decorative finishes, and specifying paint colors.

IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: member since 1996, accredited since 2000. Historic District Commission: Medfield, Massachusetts

Journal of Architectural Coatings (magazine article, print) Design& - blog for this site (current) 2005 – 2008 2005 Boston Women’s Business Jrnl. Subject of interviews and participation in interviews for other publications. Current: my own blog at

Academia di Belle Arti: Florence, Italy BA: University of Minnesota: focus: painting and printmaking University of California, Berkelely: painting department IACC: International Association of Color Consultants/Designers: Accredited member since 2000

Awards and Honors
IACC: international exhibit included four of my color design projects: 2010

Past/Present Clients
Private clients. I prefer not to include names here, but many testimonials are available for viewing at my web site at the "testimonials" page.

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