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Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 | 3 comments

Cynthia and Jason’s Colorful Colonial

Cynthia and Jason’s Colorful Colonial

Imagine house hunting for a new home and finding the perfect stately brick colonial you’ve always wanted. But when you walk through the front door, you find a color explosion inside — practically every hue on the color wheel painted on the walls. Does this scare you away? Or are you unfazed, knowing paint is a relatively easy fix and embrace the challenge? This is what Cynthia and Jason found when they purchased their new Del Ray home six months ago.

Cynthia and Jason decided to live with the colors in their new home and take their time making changes. Katie and I recently stopped by to chat with Cynthia and brainstorm options for keeping and/or replacing some of the many colors they inherited from the previous homeowners. Let’s take a look.

The living room is a perfect place to start since Cynthia and Jason actually want to keep the mandarin orange wall color (we love it too). The room, full of personality, homeyness, and charm, evokes their personality well. It sets the stage perfectly for considering how to treat the other rooms, which have colors they’re hoping to change.


The warm orange wall color is a nice complement to the family’s eclectic furniture and their art collection, like this large mixed media painting on the mantle by Jason’s father…


…and other fine art pieces they’ve inherited from family members.



Cynthia picked up the two side chairs in her living room from the MV Big Flea, where, as the main coordinator, she often gets first dibs on donations. As a counterbalance to the fine art, the stripes and patterns lend a lively and relaxed feeling to the overall atmosphere, suggesting the family’s unpretentiousness and sense of fun.


Likewise, other more spontaneous displays of their children’s art and musical instruments in the living room, here opposite the front door, shows the value they place on artistic expression in their daily lives.


The dining room is a different story. It’s painted an avocado color under the chair rail, which is painted white, as well as the baseboards and trim border.


Above the chair rail, the color is a softer cream and the ceiling and crown molding are white.


Cynthia is thinking a grey may work in the room. We agree that grey would be a nice neutral background for the colors in the braided rug, the orange hues in the mid-century teak dining room table, and her green sewing table. (She also has a green corner cabinet in the far end of the room.)


The window treatments came with the house and Cynthia likes them, so the grey would go well with the black and white pattern.


We’d love to give Cynthia a list of nice grey paints to try. Do you have any suggestions? Also, should she use two tones, one for the bottom half of the wall and the other for above the chair railing? Do you agree that the ceiling should stay white?

We’ve written in the past about some tried and true color recommendations from readers and from our visits in homes in the neighborhood where, for example, we’ve seen grey used really well. Sara made a shared boys’ bedroom seem much bigger by using Benjamin Moore granite, as did Katie in her boys’ shared room.

boys room 5

twin beds in shared bedroom

A lighter color, Benjamin Moore Wickham Grey, works well in Karen and Kirk’s contemporary bungalow and Brian and Sarah’s duplex.

Polder sofa, Indian Charpoy table

piano in living room

The grey Cynthia tries in the dining room may be the color, although perhaps in a different tone, that they use through the kitchen and on up the steps to the second floor. Grey will flow nicely into the orange living room and also into the room in the back of the house that their children Sabine and Will use as their workspaces and art studio. They plan on keeping the key lime shade in that room as well.


Currently, the steps and kitchen spaces are a lemon yellow.


This is Cynthia and Jason’s least favorite color in the house, and unfortunately it seems to have been the previous homeowner’s favorite choice. It gets even more bright when the light hits it during the day.


Here it is in the kitchen…


And here again upstairs in the master bathroom, although the shade they used in this room is a bit more golden. Cynthia would love to take the color in a different direction in this room, maybe going with a striking blue used in Katie’s living room and Liz and Cameron’s kitchen, Benjamin Moore Laguna Blue. It’s a large bathroom, with a dark wood vanity and two white sinks, so Cynthia wants a paint color that will make the room feel cozier.


Do you agree? Are there other colors you’d suggest for this big sunny bathroom?

Finally, Cynthia wants to change her front door from cherry red to something more dynamic. She painted both doors in her last home a fun chartreuse. The slate tile on the front porch has orange and deep brown tones, and the brick has red too, but a blue shade may work. To get ideas, we mentioned our post on door colors in Del Ray, where we showed a variety of both classic and fanciful options.


We’ll check back with Cynthia and Jason to see their color swatches on the walls. If you have any paint colors you think they should try, we’d love to pass on your suggestions!


  1. I agree that the bold Mandarin is awesome in the living room.
    The yellow that the previous owners splashed everywhere? Ack, not so much! It’s not a good combo with those kitchen cabinets so I’m glad they’ll be changing it up!
    I don’t have a good gray recommendation for the dining room but think that’s a great direction to take it in. It’s funny how teak furniture really has a stronger orange undertone that does affect color choices.

    • Nice color! Thanks for sharing.

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