Decorating, DIY, Home Decor, Interior Design, Interiors, Living Room, Painting
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A living room update – Pt 1 #styleitdark

Ok. First off. Massive thanks for the ace feedback from my last post. It seems like I have unleashed some design demons, which makes me smile very much indeed. So pleased to hear some of you guys have been trying out my online tutorial on how to create your own mood boards, had a few PM’s and DM’s since last week letting me know how helpful it’s been, including this message:

“Just thought i’d let you know, i spent the afternoon at work doing your step by step mood board! For work purposes obvs, but found it really useful!! Im defo guna become a bit addicted. Just need to get myself a Mac book for home now. Cheers!! X”

And that’s what I like to hear. People sacking off work to design room sets on a work computer. My work here is done ladies and gentlemen.

(**disclaimer – Making Spaces does not condone idle mood board-ery at a place of work or during work hours. Proceed with caution**)

Ok, onto today’s topic. Our living room. I’m not going to lie. I’ve never been happy with it. Never liked three of the walls (the colour that is, the walls themselves are fine) and I don’t like the carpet, I want oak floorboards. I like most of the stuff that’s in the room and our black wall, but the rest, I felt like it wasn’t finished. Not quite working as a whole room. Not compared to the other room in our home anyway.

Now some of you out there will probably really like, or even prefer the lighter, neutral walls. I get that. But for me, it was just blah.

So i’ve been tweaking and faffing (interiors terminology) and finally got to the point where I just needed to paint more of the walls black. I love how black makes the oak furniture and artwork pop. I don’t think there is ANY other colour that can do that quite as well as black does.

Face the fear. And do it anyway.

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The thing that was stopping me crack on with it was the fact Crown Paints had discontinued the colour i’d already used on the chimney breast wall and alcoves; Night Fever. Taking the time to go and colour match said paint without a sample or colour card, just the colour on the walls was a tricky task. Something I had to do my eye. And quite frankly, it was flipping hard work.

After collating colour chip after colour chip from Valspar, I honed it down to three…. and finally caved on “Arrowhead” as being the best match I was going to get (without spending hundreds on testers).

And it worked out ok. Not quite as chalky a finish as Crown, so the light hits it differently, but the colour is pretty spot on. To the naked eye. So now I had two black walls. And two “meh” walls. But it looked so much better already. To me.

If you’re taking the plunge from light to dark, i’d highly advise doing it in stages. Although, not spacing those stages out quite as much as I did… 2.5 years… perhaps a little excessive.

After painting the window wall black and finally ridding our windows of the vertical blinds we inherited with the house nearly five years ago…

…three walls were now black with one light wall left. The wall behind the sofa. As our sofa is a super dark bitter choc velvet, going black was something I was a little unsure about. So, I played around in my head with what colours to work with. What was already in our room? What vibe did I want?

The room always had a late 60’s, 70’s vibe, with mid-century style furniture and matching palette. Mid-brown curtains, mainly because despite looking for new curtains for five years, I STILL HAVE NOT FOUND ANY! The oversized paisley rug is a keeper and I still love it now as much as I did when I bought it ten or so years ago. So browns, taupes, tans, oranges and mustards were the common hues in the room. Taking into account this, alongside my prediction of flesh tones, blushy pinks, tan and peach (yes peach) coming through strong this year…. the obvious choice for me was to choose a warm tan as the 4th wall colour. A strong neutral. Yes. That be it.

I opted for Rich Praline 3 by Dulux which was a pretty good match for our current carpet and curtain colour and worked behind the oak, the sofa and against the black. I’d also luckily bagged some new blinds from La Redoute in one of their 40% off events which were almost identical in colour. This room was well on its way to Tan Town!

It certainly was not love at first sight. The colour was lovely, but for me, it just wasn’t working at all. Here are some pics I took of the living room update, part 1. See what you think…

Not convinced.

You can just about see how the curtain sits next to the wall colour here. It’s a little off, but when they’re not side by side, it kind of works. One thing that DOES NOT work is the door and architrave. And i’ve spent the last three days trying to convince the hubby that I NEED to paint them the same colour as the wall. Am I right? I don’t like how all those colours meet at this corner at all.

It works here, next to the architrave, but once you add the black in again, it just kills it.

See, even Chooch is trying to get out.

After letting it all sit with me for a day or two, I decided my issue was not the colours per se, it was how they were distributed. I didn’t want a “feature wall”, but I also didn’t want an entire black room (well I do actually, but I think my hubby would protest somewhat, he’s a tricky customer sometimes). So my plan was to un-feature the tan wall and break it up a little.

And that’s as much as you’re getting today. Because i’ve already written over 1400 words, and the next bit will make more sense when i’ve added a few of the extra goodies that are due to arrive this week. Let’s just say, i’m excited.

What are your thoughts so far peeps? Don’t be shy. I’m still not 100% about it… some people have mentioned a dark green, instead of tan, others have said blush pink, which I do love in other rooms, but not in this one, not with oak furniture. Talk to me.


  1. I’d paint that door! Maybe I’d paint it black, not tan. Another can of worms I fear!
    No seriously, I love your ‘edge positioned’ photo on the tan wall and to paint the door and architrave black would maybe throw the balance, do you think? Whereas painting the door and architrave tan would make them disappear, which will be lovely! That Newgate clock looks great against both colours, of course. Clever you!

    • Karen Knox says

      Defo want to paint the door and architrave in with the tan wall. It will make more sense when you see what i’ve done in Part 2. I wasn’t intending to write quite as much as I did, hence the two part-er! I’m also awaiting some exciting deliveries for this room, that might just pull everything together. We shall see…!!

  2. Gilly says

    Hi Karen,
    I’. m sure you know what I’m gonna say…..paint out the tan wall and just do it black, you know you want to. Do it whilst the hubster is out ( like I did) and I bet you he’ ll love it! And with all your new ‘ exciting deliveries’ too it’ll look gorgeous. Ah go on!!

    • Karen Knox says

      I know I know. There’s a bit (a lot) of me that really wants to!! Damn it!

  3. It looks great but I think you probably want the whole room black including the door and architrave ! I think black is a stunning interior trend, wish I could bring myself to be so bold !

  4. Christine Herlicq says

    Absolutely must paint the door and architrave in the tan colour. Love your breaking up the feature wall – adds interest. You have some great ideas and information – your blog is inspiring to read! I will be interested to see the end result – part 2?

    • Karen Knox says

      Thanks Christine. I’ve changed course about 5 times on this room since last Thursday. I’m sure hoping Part 2 will be the end result. Goodies have just arrived!!

  5. could we consider wallpaper?
    sack off the paint thing and go for a totally bold paper and paint the door and architrave?
    a large bold fern / plant type print a la house of hackney or something similiar if you don’t want to take out a second mortgage?
    or may i suggest a la identity papers how cool Linda’s woodsman would look……….
    if you cant have your wooden floorboards on your floors then go for it on the walls….

    • Karen Knox says

      My dream wall paper was Cole & Son’s Acquario in black…. I wrote about that about a year ago. I’ve been painting again today. More black. But that bloody pine door is KILLING MY ROOM DEAR HUSBAND!!!

  6. I quite like the tan actually, it’s a lovely mole brown and goes well with the black, but then I love my neutrals! But I think either way, the door needs to be painted? x

  7. I agree that by the door there’s too many colours. I wonder if the wood work (including the door) were all the same, as either the black or the praline, it would look more cohesive ? I’m loving the midcentury sideboard by the way 🙂

  8. I like the tan too, but the door definitely needs a lick of paint – too warm a wood for your palette.

  9. Beautiful makeovers. I’m going to get my whole house repainted this Summer. Still deciding on what to do.

  10. This is interesting. I’ve got two grey walls in the living room and two white. The white annoys me but I can’t paint them grey as a I have a grey sofa. I’ve also been toying with the idea of adding grey to some of the walls. How I’m not sure yet. You may be setting a new trend. x

  11. Why is it so hard when it comes to your own home? I love it but you are the one living with it. Maybe for now, stop – wait for a bit and then change in a few months if you are not happy.

    • Karen Knox says

      I have no idea, but you’re so right. I think i’ve just looked at this room too much now….

  12. It’s interesting reading about your thought processes and the stages involved in getting the right colour. It’s also reassuring that even an interior designer doesn’t get the perfect colour first time around!

  13. It’s so amazing what a lick of paint can do! I love the darker shades, brings the room to life. I wish I was as daring in my own home but I also opt for light neutrals. However I love it here especially the tan! Gorgeous!

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