Breaking Up with Beige and Adding Architectural Details

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I am going to a fancy party tomorrow for my husband’s coworker and feeling very nervous about it. I think I’d be a lot less nervous if it was a design project, to be honest but I will be there to support my husband in our Havana Nights themed outfits. 

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This episode, we discuss…

[6:43] Bringing color into a space (Ashley) 

[17:18] Replacing shutters on a bungalow (Mark)

[6:43] Bringing color into a space (Ashley) 


My husband and I bought our forever home a few years ago. It was a new build, but completely planned by the builder. We did not paint when we first moved in because everything was new and freshly painted, but now I’m getting sick of the beige on beige on beige. Our carpet is beige, our walls are beige, and the ceiling is also painted the same beige as the walls. We still have yet to put a deck on our house (hopefully it gets done next summer), but once that is done I am ready to start redecorating and bringing some real color into the space. I am wondering about our living room and kitchen. We have an open design and one flows right into the other, only partially separated by a half wall. The kitchen has a white subway tile backsplash, a black/white/gray speckled granite counter, and cherry tone cabinets. 

The living room is beige with dark gray (almost blue looking at times) furniture (a large couch and oversized chair). I am wondering how to bring color into both spaces and keep them cohesive. We’ve thought about painting but some walls also run down a stairway and downstairs (the house is a bilevel). Painting these walls would be a major job and we still haven’t been in the house all that long, so the paint is not in bad condition. I am also wondering about the area behind our sofa. We have a long living room and our sofa is not up against the back wall because that would be ridiculous for watching TV on the opposite wall. What can I do with this wasted space? We have thought about a credenza or a sofa table, but I just don’t know. Lastly, my style phrase is sophisticated calm contemporary. I don’t know if that’s channeled here at all or if my style word is incorrect. Please let me know your thoughts! And thank you!



Looking at your pictures, I’m going to start with the last questions and work my way forward. From your pictures, the space does look fairly contemporary but I think your choices are actually more transitional. Transitional is a blend of contemporary mixed with traditional now the reason I’m saying this is because the light fixtures are kind of curved. Because you have a rolled arm sofa and also you have chunkier moldings around the windows. Then you do have some elements of industrial or even rustic with this farmhouse style TV stand that has the sliding barn doors to conceal everything inside as well as a wooden top that’s rustic style wood but the actual piece itself is off white. Then the coffee table is also a rustic style wood but it has a broad bronze base. 

I’m feeling like you’re transitional. I don’t feel you’re 100% contemporary but I could see you using the term contemporary and that would work too because I’m not seeing too much ornate detail. Your pictures are quite contemporary in the fact that they’re framed very simply, not too much color, black and white. That stark contrast is making me feel that it’s a little bit more of this day versus yesteryear. 

​​I think it is contemporary, and calm as calm is different for each person. I think that this is calm in the fact that it is so subdued color wise. As you mentioned, it’s beige on beige on beige and that’s feeling very calm. When you’re adding in color, you’re going to want to be thinking about calm colors ​because if you add anything loud, I think it’s going to kind of detract from that calmness.

You may want to think about being somewhat monochromatic and adding different shades of blue. Typically, when we think calm, we think cool colors, or we could go for very muted tones but I would avoid jewel tones or anything too bright or vibrant.

 In terms of the paint, I agree with you that it is a lot of this color. I also agree with you that this is a problem because it’s open concept so all the rooms bleed into each other, and it goes down the stairs and would just be a ton to paint. Because your style could lend itself to transitional, I really don’t want you to do an accent wall. That’s never really my jam, because it looks like you ran out of paint or it looks like it should be done in a really contemporary space like an urban loft. I just don’t think it fits here, I would keep the beige paint. 

The thing that’s disappointing for me is that because the living room is carpeted, and the carpeting appears to be pretty plush, you’re not going to be able to lay an area rug on top of it. That area rug could have served as your inspiration piece for the room, and could have driven a color palette. 

You also have an opportunity to do a big inspiration piece for the room with your windows. You could do drapes that have a pattern and color so that would be very helpful because it’s like colorful art. 

Let me just go back to your question here because when I was reading this, and then when I opened the pictures, I had two different experiences. I imagined that the area behind your sofa would be really vast and that it would look more ridiculous than it does. I imagine that behind the sofa to the wall is between four and four and a half feet. I don’t think it’s all that deep back there so trying to do anything more than a sofa table would be too much and would actually kind of gum up the works in terms of walkways. 

Now, I would measure to make sure that your sofa is a good distance from the TV, you take the place from where your booty sits to the screen of the TV, divide that in 2 in terms of inches. So let’s just say from where your booty was to where the screen is, it’s 140 inches. That’s not what it is. But I’m just saying you divide that by two it’s 70. And that’s the size of your TV. 


This TV is probably 55 just eyeing these pictures so that means you want 110 inches from the front of the screen to where your booty sits on the couch so make sure that your couch is truly in the right spot. If you have less than three feet behind this couch, I don’t want you to do a sofa table. 

I do think a sofa table would be great because the one thing that you have a lot of in here are plants and these plants are not distributed nicely around the room. They are tucked in corners right next to the windows. The plants need light. I totally get that rven though I don’t really have a green thumb, but I think they would be better placed if they were dispersed on different surfaces. Some plant stands, some on the sofa table, maybe even a couple on these floating shelves where you’ve got the artwork. 

Speaking of artwork, that’s another great place where you can bring in some soft color. As I mentioned earlier, these are all black and white, and it feels stark and severe, which I don’t mind but you’re telling me that’s the problem, that this room is kind of blah, it doesn’t have a lot of vibrancy or color, and it’s a problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re really wanting to solve it, I would switch out some of this art for some colorful art that’s in subdued tones. 

I also think your pillows are a really random mishmash. We’re a little all over the place with this color palette, considering I do not see an inspiration piece in this room because there’s really nothing with multiple colors. 

Opening it up into the eat in kitchen, you may want to consider a rug under the dining table or a rug in that kitchen area because right now it is so neutral over there. I think a rug would really help to add some color in a nice way because the backsplash is so neutral as well as that creamy subway tile. I think you’re on the right track. I just want you to check those things that I mentioned. 

Also, in these photos, your sofas don’t really read gray, they seem to be more of a steely blue. I love incorporating those blues because it is calming but we want to kind of make that random color makes sense in the space and right now it’s the only color in the space. 

[17:18] Replacing shutters on a bungalow (Mark)


In a search for replacement shutters for the exterior of my bungalow, I discovered a website called They have really interesting interior design materials like crown molding, medallions, 3D wall panels, faux beams, fretwork, slat wall kits, columns, and really just all kinds of interesting decorative things I have never heard of and mostly can’t spell. I’m particular drawn to the woodwork applied to walls. I don’t hear you talk about any of these types of changes. Is that because they are not particularly affordable, you don’t like them, or this just doesn’t really fall into interior design. Curious on your opinions. I’m just a curious dude trying to learn a bit. Love your podcast.



First of all, a lot of people were applying shiplap or two by fours to their walls, in either an accent wall treatment or all over because that was all the rage back with Chip and Joanna Gaines and even at the tail end or maybe the beginning of that modern farmhouse movement with Studio McGee, etc. I worry that that’s super trendy. I worry that it’s here today and gone tomorrow.

I do like it in a seaside cottage. I do like it in certain applications. I think it’s contrived, oppositional to the architecture and trendy so that’s why I was never a fan of shiplap. I knew it would have its moment and its moment is already done. 

A lot of people right now, find themselves with big walls that go up like three stories or different things like that and they want to do architectural moldings as features rather than artwork so they are putting trim in rectangular formations and squares. They are using the two by fours to create grids. That’s very popular right now and it’s called board and batten. There’s a lot of this and it is the new shiplap. I’m just telling you right now. It’s going to look somewhat dated soon. 

People are trying to give these blank contemporary spaces some personality.  I see the issue , especially as a lover of historic homes because they intrinsically have a ton of ornate woodwork and architectural interest. That’s why I sought out a house like this versus artificially imposing it onto a blank canvas. That being said, sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don’t. 

It’s just because I don’t personally love them so I don’t just bring them up on my own. Then people just aren’t asking me about them. I really hate it when people add random medallions or fretwork. Sometimes I hate it when they add beams if it feels like it’s not congruent with the architecture. Adding columns, especially to an interior of a room that doesn’t need support, just changes the flow in terms of a floorplan and doesn’t add much visually. It just limits us in terms of furniture placement. 

I do think that there are spaces that really benefit from crown molding. I do think crown molding is one of those things that you can put in a more transitional type space, or even traditional type of space. It can just bring the room to life and make it sing.  ​​That being said, a lot of people try and slap this stuff up on a very contemporary home with straight lines and doesn’t look organic to the architecture, even though it better aligns with their particular style. When people buy a house, this is another person “living in your home” and the architecture gets a say in the style that you should bring to the spaces and it should not dominate the room. 

If I let the architecture dominate the room in my home, I would only be working with antiques but I’m going to honor it by folding in some antiques, things I’ve never had an appreciation for in the past, nor have I ever purchased for my home, while folding it in with something I’m quite familiar with and have a deep love for which is mid century modern. 

By layering those two pieces throughout, I’m placating my desire to have mid century modern and I’m honoring the house’s personality by leaning into those more ornate old world items. It’s complicated Mark so it’s not an across the board no but those are my real feelings on everything you mentioned. 




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