Painting living room woodwork makes a fireplace the star.
Q. We are moving into a new house and right now there is dark panelling on the walls that we want to paint. I have very light solid pine futons with denim covers and the carpet will be a natural flecked berber carpet. There is a real fireplace with greyish flagstones surrounding it. There are also built-in shelves that surround the fireplace in the same colour as the walls. What colour should I paint the walls? I want a medium taupe colour, like Benjamin Moore’s Cedar Key (982) and then Stone Hearth (984) on the shelves near the fireplace, but I am afraid of how the light pine furniture will look against it.
— Terri Webb
A. Painting the dark panelling will definitely help brighten up your space. Since your carpet and light pine furniture are fairly neutral, try taking the grey from the fireplace surround as a colour cue. The blue/grey stones will be complemented nicely with a warm taupe, like Martha Stewart’s Muslin (H11). It is a medium-light taupe that should not compete with the lightness of the pine.
For a different feel in the room, Martha Stewart’s Linen White (H29) is a pretty, pale yellow that will brighten up the room and contrast with your furniture at the same time. Whichever colour you choose, think about painting the shelving and the walls the same colour so the items you place on the shelves will bring colour and character into the room, and let the fireplace be the focal point.
Placing a mirror over the mantle will also help brighten up the space. Mirrors or photos in black or silver frames instead of wood frames will contrast nicely with your pine furniture.