Painting Historic Homes

Q. We just moved from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 5 bedroom, 3 storey home built in 1910. The house still has its original charm. We have lots of exposed wood, beamed ceilings, pocket doors, French doors, back staircase that are unspoiled. First, we have very little furniture ? how can we make it look less empty (on a budget). Second, what kinds of paint colours/treatments would make the spaces look more updated and still work with the dark Victorian woodwork.

? Ann Walker

A. Place your existing furniture on angles or closer to the middle of the room instead of “hugging” the walls. This will automatically make the room seem more full. Rugs also “ground” desired areas and visually give the illusion of content.

Benjamin Moore has some great historical colours that would work in your space and also update the look of your rooms at the same time. Considering your dark woodwork, try going with a pale yellow like Hawthorne Yellow (HC-4). The contrast with the wood would be beautiful, and yet you would be updating your space with an historical tone that is also very “now.” A pale green like Castleton Mist (HC-1) will provide a complementary elegance paired with the dark wood, and its hue is similar to that of the yellow. Like hues used throughout will let the colours flow smoothly throughout the house. Cream is another possibility, like Greenmount Silk (HC-3), if you are looking to stay neutral. These colours let you stay true to the historical elements of your home, but still introduce a more updated feel.