No Longer Blue

By Kate Riley December 2, 2013

It happens every few years, I grow tired of a paint color and I crave something new. After staring at three samples on the wall for a week, and after much study and discussion, two weeks ago we agreed to repaint our living room. Before, it was a lovely shade of blue gray which remained in the space for years (see it here) but we were ready for a change, something deeper, slightly more masculine but not too dramatic, just different.

One of my favorite tricks for when I’m tired of how a room looks (or what I recommend when friends complain of the same) is to empty it and look at it with fresh eyes. Often it’s just a new color on the walls or introducing a wall treatment that will give the space a whole new look and make you fall in love with it again.

empty living room

Years ago we added picture frame wainscoting to this space and I still love the way it looks, it fits the classic style of our home and adds an interesting architectural layer. We inherited the baby grand piano from Matt’s grandfather so the heirloom will be with us always. (The black on the piano inspired me to paint the French doors the same ebony shade, I’ll share those soon!)

This is my oh so scientific way of sampling paint around a room, it’s just a process of painting large swatches with the initials above that represent the color, and then staring at it for days and days at different times of the day.

gray paints on wall

In the bright morning light I loved Seagull Gray (right) by Glidden but by the afternoon it was way too tan. Wood Smoke by Glidden (left) was beautiful in the evening but felt washed out in the middle of the day. Rockport Gray by Benjamin Moore (center) won and that’s what we ended up painting in the living room.

I contemplated Rockport Gray in my powder bathroom after installing beadboard wallpaper in early 2012 and ended up choosing it for our living room instead, it’s a warm and elegant gray that adds just enough contrast. Our living room is a space you see just off the entry so the color needs to flow with the adjacent foyer and family room.

piano in living room


Looking at the room empty made me look up, and I decided it was time to upgrade the two light fixtures, one hangs over the piano, the other over the sitting room space in front of the mantel. 

rockport gray walls and mantel


These are the current contenders . . .

living room fixtures


maarid ceiling light / fifth ave pendant / gold chandy (minus crystals) / hanging lantern

My favorite is the Maarid (top left) because its semi flush design works well with our 9 foot ceilings and it’s a combination of modern and traditional (so me!), but I’m still shopping around.

We will soon decide what works best in the space, but I did manage to move the furniture back in after the walls were painted in time to decorate for the holidays.

I’ll be back soon with a few snapshots of the scene . . .



  1. Love the new color Kate! I have two of the fifth avenue gold flush mounts in my long hallway. Not sure if they come in two sizes but the size I have is just right for a long hallway but may be too small for anything larger space. Good luck!

  2. After many false starts, I found that Glidden Woodsmoke was the PERFECT color for my bathroom. It didn’t go purple like so many grays and had a hint of brown in it. It matched the white/cloud color (strange, but true) stone tiles on the wall. I think you are right, though, that it probably wouldn’t work in a large room. Can’t wait to see the final pics!

  3. Good pick on the paint color! It’s amazing how different each shade can look during times of the day! We finally just painted about 800 square feet of our house that was previously dusty rose and tan (NOT our painting choices!) :P

  4. Just when I FINALLY get my husband to paint my living room “Tranquility Tweaked” you go and change it!!! He is literally painting it TONIGHT! How funny! If I had to pick a light, it would be the one on the bottom right.

    • I still LOVE that color Kelly, I’m sure I’ll use it again in the future, enjoy it!

  5. Love the Rockport Gray. It really warms and grounds the room and looks fab with your piano. I can see how your existing fixtures mightn’t look a little “dainty” with your new look. Can’t wait to see which one you choose.

  6. I’m showing this post to my husband ASAP! He thinks I’m crazy for getting the urge to repaint rooms in our house even though we’ve only lived in it for about 3 years! Ha! I am not alone… :)

  7. Love the new color!! Now I’m not sure if it’s just me but every time I click on any of the links in this post it brings me to haha I don’t know if it’s the post or my computer telling me I need new sneakers!!

  8. I love the new color, change is ALWAYS good, renews the spirit of the room. Speaking of a new look, I think you should go bigger with your new light fixture. Make it a statement in the room. Like a Candice Olsen statement :) But what ever you choose I know will be beautiful.

  9. Love the new color! I’m like you, every few years, I get an urge to change paint colors. I recently repainted our kitchen, and it is amazing what a difference a new color can make, even when it’s similar to the original color. It just feels fresher. Of course, my husband made a comment that every time I paint, I’m making the house smaller. (rolling my eyes) LOL!

  10. I love your favorite, but I would suggest a semi flush in the one area, and a matching, or coordinating fixture hanging over the piano rather than 2 identical items. I sell lighting :-) Love your site! Very inspiring.

  11. Speaking of WALLS – You have probably already heard of this company but I first learned of Advanced Technology Inc. when looking for alternative back splashes for my kitchen. They have sent me samples of their product and I know I’ll be using more than one of them in my new home. This product could be used in so many different applications, it’s a DIYer’s dream.

  12. I like the first and last light fixtures. My preference is the last one (I’m a bit partial to the silver/nickel colour) but, it looks like it might be a bit small for the space. The flushmount one is a good choice (maybe you can paint it in a brushed nickel!)

  13. Your home looks beautiful! So original you are. Have a great party. Much to celebrate at Christmas.
    Have you seen Gump’s Nativity scene in all white origami. Just remarkable. “The Reason for the Season.” How lovely this would be in your home.

  14. The color is beautiful! I think Benjamin Moore has the most beautiful greys! I used Revere Pewter, Balboa Mist, Harbor Grey and Stonington Grey in various rooms in my home and I get so many compliments. I just think BM paint covers so much better and the colors are so much more saturated (in a good way) than any other paint out there. I’ll have to add Rockport Grey to my list of faves. Thanks for sharing!!

  15. I love Rockport Gray also! Used it in my dining room which looks very similar to your room with the picture frame wainscoting. Having issue with what to paint the entry area and adjoining living room – what color did you use that allows flow with the Rockport Gray??? Thanks!!!

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