the first grown-up apartment

This past weekend was a momentous occasion. We were asked to help with the fixing up of the oldest daughter’s first grown-up apartment. The request was simple, “Help me make it look not like a dorm room”.  She asked for advice with picking out paint colors, and then we went one better and went to help her paint. I started by taking some photos of the small apartment and used my Color Capture app to illustrate my ideas.

The entryway was the jumping off point to the color scheme because the most striking feature of the apartment is there – beautiful tall windows that are edged with yellow and green stained glass squares. I thought she should put most saturated color there because the apartment has very low ceilings, and though it is sunny in the living room, the windows are rather small. A saturated color in the entryway would be an interesting highlight and would not be oppressive in the small space. A green for the entryway would bring in the outdoor foliage and the colors of the stained glass in the windows.

A stepfather with an eye for detail is a good thing


I suggested a un-babyish blue for the living room so that the room would feel expansive and sophisticated. The kitchen counter is yellow and the backsplash is grey tile. The existing color for the cabinets was a yellow that made them the focal point of the room when they shouldn’t have been. I thought a light color would make the cabinets recede and make the kitchen look clean and neat. I sent Camelia some samples I made with the Color Capture app and some paint chips look at in the light of the apartment.

the kitchen before. the yellow cabinets dominate and the beige walls were dull

Using my general direction but making her own choices, Camelia picked beautiful colors. She picked Benjamin Moore’s Silver Cloud for the living room/kitchen. It is a luminescent greyish blue color that changes with the light and made the room look soothing and fresh. In the late afternoon sun, a wall might look white one place, a soft grey or blue in another – an interesting chameleon-like color. The white trim of the windows looked crisp against it even though they had not been repainted.

painting the living room in Silver Cloud

the grown-up with very good taste in paint color choices

work-in-progress, benjamin moore’s bavarian cream on the cabinets

For the entryway, she chose a mossy green, Benjamin Moore’s Dark Celery. The kitchen cabinets were painted in a luscious creamy color. It was beautiful to see the paint brushstrokes of the color that is so aptly named Bavarian Cream.

We painted together and laughed and went out to dinner and watched a late movie and then slept over in our daughter’s first grown-up apartment.

color testing with katy

Katy has a very good eye for color. I was determined not to make another color blunder, so I lured her over here with the promise of a relaxing afternoon pouring over a stack of paint chips and a nice lunch. Katy examines each paint chip intently and shuffles them like a deft croupier. She flutters around the rooms holding them up against curtains and in different kinds of light. She is honest and precise. We marvel at the technology we can use to enhance the search. We play around with color apps. Then, we go to the computer and pull up the Benjamin Moore color search tool. We decline going through the rigamaroll of registering on the site so that we can choose favorites. Instead, Katy says “open up a bunch of windows so we can look at the colors side by side”.

She thinks that our first idea for the living room color needs to change now that the entryway is a medium teal blue. We originally had a color in the blue family in mind for the living room. Now she thinks maybe a fresh green would be the ticket. We agree. We take a trip to the paint store for in-person color selection.

The master bedroom walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Venetian Marble. It is a pale color that is almost luminescent and is impossible to name. It changes with the light. Sometimes it is the palest lavender, sometime grey and sometimes it has a pink glow so that it is almost like the inside of a seashell. It is a gorgeous color and someday I will use that color again in my house. But now, I feel the bedroom should be darker and cocoon-like. Katy suggests a dark lavender. We test. I like Benjamin Moore’s Queen’s Wreath.

Painting by Anne Delaney

Katy is still pondering what color I should paint the metal apartment door that will complement the teal blue stucco veneziano in the entryway. What do you think? Can you beat her to the punch?

choosing paint colors with apps

I’ve turned to technology in my quest for the right entryway color. We are going to go bold and if you remember from this post, O wanted a citron color for the wall. I got Keith’s two cents – he votes for a primary red wall in high gloss. Mrs. Limestone, design maven from the Brooklyn Limestone blog, kindly emailed me with the idea of going with a dark color and using the citron as an accent color for the door moldings. I wanted to visualize the different scenarios before committing, so I pulled out my phone.

Top from left: before photo, citron, vermillion. Bottom from left: chartreause, seaweed, tucson teal

I’m using the Benjamin Moore Color Capture app as the jump off. You can take a photo of anything. Say, you are walking down the street and see a poster with a color you love – you snap and capture it. Then you can move your finger over the photo and the colors in it will translate into Benjamin Moore paint colors. When you like a color, you tap it twice and it will save as a “combo” along with the source photo. You can always return to the source photo and save even more colors to the combo. You can also search a color wheel. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just have someone pick up that can of color from the store on the way home. Easy, but not that easy. You are looking at a digital version of paint so that the color chip will not be an exact match. You still have to go to the paint store and look at paper chips to find the right color.

Next, I wanted to see what the colors would look like against the brick wall so I researched apps for that and found Paint Tester. Not only was it simple to use, it was really fun. You take a photo of the room you want to paint. You choose a color from their grid or you can choose a color from another source such as your photo library. In my case I painted with the Benjamin Moore colors that I’d saved in my library from my combos. Once you’ve chosen the paint color, you pick whether you want to paint with a bucket for large swaths or a brush. Pick the brush. You can adjust the size of the brush. Pick a small brush. Then you tap on the screen and cover the wall with little squares of paint color. You can enlarge your photo to help you stay neat as you tap away. You can also clean up paint jobs with an eraser.

What do you think, shall we go with the citron, the red? Something else?

just tap the paint color into your photo