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Building a home, week 15: Weighing the risks of bold paint colors vs. neutrals

Sherwin-Williams Poinsettia adorns the walls in our sons room where the woodwork really pops.
Sherwin-Williams Poinsettia adorns the walls in our sons room where the woodwork really pops.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

How bold can you go with interior paint colors? What are the risks of going bold? Are neutrals the better choice over the long-term? Do you paint angled walls the color of the walls or the ceiling? What are the best window treatments for Craftsman style windows? These are just a few of the questions we pondered in week 15 of this ongoing series, "Building a Home."

Are you timid when choosing paint colors or are you a risk-taker? Choosing paint colors can be intimidating until you realize that it is relatively easy to fix a mistake.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

We chose our paint colors back in week 12 and were confident in our bold, sometimes risky choices. Neutrals were never really an option, although we did choose a white and a couple of latte-inspired hues. We took the attitude, "Go bold or go home" when choosing colors. After all, it is only paint and if a color doesn't work out, it can be changed. Moreover, experts always say, paint dries lighter than it appears in the swatch, so we went for it. That said, when the paint starts rolling on, it is hard to keep fears at bay when a color looks a little "off." As paint went on the walls this week, we were very happy with the results from Mike's Decorating & Painting (Frankfort, Ill.). However, as they started cutting in the primary color, a yellow-green, throughout the house, our confidence was shaken. Read more about this, our other paint questions and the rest of the progress on the house below.

July 7: We spent the weekend covering up our newly laid putting green with tarps to protect it from a mulberry tree we didn’t know even existed. Last week, we were thrilled to find Synthetic Turf of Illinois working diligently over the July 4 holiday installing a putting green in our backyard. Before they left, they told us that there was a mulberry tree alongside it and that the falling berries would ruin the putting green with their purple coloring. With that news, we raced over to the house to cover up the green before another storm rolled through. Now we’re on the hunt for someone to cut down the tree.

Later that night, Jim Arnold or Arnold Tree Service (Beecher, Ill.) called and met us at the house in the evening to discuss our tree situation. He agreed to do the job the next morning.

Meanwhile, inside, the trim is being spray-painted white to match the kitchen cabinets.

July 8: Arnold Tree Service removed the tree promptly in the morning to get it out of the way of the landscapers, who were scheduled to start on the hardscape today. Needless to say, they didn’t arrive at noon as originally thought. Weather delays had postponed the work again. Indoors, spray painting continues.

We visit the house later that night to removed the tarps and discover we missed another tree we need to take down. Time for another call to Arnold.

July 9: We hear that Beary Landscaping will be by at noon to set up their equipment and deliver supplies so that work can begin on the hardscape promptly at 7 a.m. the next day.

July 10: They started painting, which means the plastic wrap came down in the rooms they finished and the most noticeable area was on the front windows The stickers and plastic sheeting that had been on them since we bought the house April 1 came down and we could finally see through the clean windows. More important, the front windows were gorgeous, which really had us rethinking our choice of window treatments that we started finalizing in week 11. The most striking realization is how beautiful the front mahogany windows are and even though we were planning minimalist window treatments with a simple valance and a shade, it would be a travesty to cover up the windows with anything. This raised a new dilemma: What do you use for privacy when you don’t want window coverings?

A quick search of the Internet for Craftsman-style home window treatments didn't yield too many ideas. Most photos we found on Houzz that look like our windows were left naked, which is an idea I like but with headlights coming through the house and a desire for privacy at night, it isn't an option. However, since both of these problems are limited to the nighttime hours, we really could leave the windows plain during the day to let the sunlight in but what could we do at night?

We brainstormed and decided that shutters would be the best option. We're talking solid shutters without louvers that would accordion fold onto themselves and tuck neatly into the cased window when not in use. The side facing out could be stained to match the exterior of the house while the side facing the interior, would be painted to match the trim. Naturally, this means that the beautiful fabrics we chose in an earlier planning session would go unused, which was a disappointment but the best route to take. We are excited about this option, so now our builder, Steve Lecas of Gander Builders, is going to see whether this is something best done by a specialty shutter company or by his trim carpenters. Check back as we follow this project.

Elsewhere, the entire upstairs was painted and you can see how the house is coming together now. The colors make the white woodwork pop. I am pleased with all the house colors chosen so far, but my confidence is shaken a little by the Sherwin-Williams 6416 Sassy Green paint I chose for the majority of the house. Mike's Decorating & Painting team had just cut in around the upstairs hall doorways with the paint when they stopped for the day. When we came by, the result, albeit only one streaky coat, wasn’t exactly what I had in mind from my swatch. It looked like a day-old bowl of pea soup. Nervously, I raced home to check out my swatch, which restored by confidence. However, I admit I was a bit shaken. Did I go too far? I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this won’t be a big mistake since the color goes through the foyer into the great room, up the staircase and throughout the upstairs hall. It also continues down the staircase to the basement. That's a lot of wall if you don't like the color. Yes, painting is a relatively inexpensive mistake; it can be easily corrected. However, when the color goes throughout the house, it can still be a costly error if you make a decision you can't live with. We should know for sure tomorrow.

Outside, Beary Landscaping got started on the paver patio. After many, many weather-related delays, we finally saw progress on the yard. This was a big day.

July 11: More painting and when I opened the door I held my breath. Whew! Relief set in as I saw Sassy Green in all its glory appearing just like my swatch. We were pleased with the results and my fears went away.

July 12: Still more painting, yet more to do on Monday and then, they might be finished. To see how all the colors turned out, check out the slide show.

Next week, we are hoping the hardscape in the backyard will be completed so they can get on with the landscaping. More tweaks inside, too, including starting to sand and finish the wood floors.

To read this story from the beginning, click here. To learn about the best floor finish you can get for your hardwood floors, read what happens in Week 16 here.

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