Category Archives: PAINT


PROBLEM: How do you fit a baby grand piano, two accent chairs, a side table, a floor lamp, an area rug, and accessories all in a 12 X 14 room? I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna figure it out.

The client wants the room to be elegant, but simple, with clean lines. There’s not a lot of space to work with, in fact the room really only has two walls. The third wall is mostly windows and the fourth ‘wall’ is actually the archway to enter the room. Making things even more difficult is the fact that there will be a baby grand piano occupying most of the 168 sq feet.

SOLUTION: So what does one do when space is this limited? The answer is scale down. People have a tendency today to buy oversized furniture far too often. Part of the problem is that when we shop for furniture we usually see it in a giant store the size of a warehouse. Only when the pieces are delivered to our 12 X 14 rooms do we realize our eyes were bigger than our floor plans! We end up with giant sofas and enormous coffee tables that make it so we can’t even walk into the room anymore. So the plan with this room will be to make sure the items we place in it are the right size. Take a look at the sketch below which illustrates what sort of furniture and decor we should be aiming for as a guide. Also, as a bonus all the items you see (except for the Steinway piano and Benjamin Moore paint) are available from One stop shopping, you can’t beat that!


Here’s what’s what:

A. Bottoms up! We might as well start with the foundation. There will be hardwood flooring in this room which is a big plus for any room to start with. However, we need to give the room a little softening up, and one of the best ways to do that is with this gold Metropolis area rug. The rug isn’t meant to occupy the whole room, but rather to go under the seating area we are creating. It has a timeless Moroccan pattern and is a steal at $150.

B. The baby grand! Pianos can sometimes be a nightmare to work around, especially if you find yourself having to move it one too many times. On the flip side, they do provide a sense of classicism to a home as well as fill it with wonderful sounds, hopefully. If nothing else pianos can act as big shelves to display your curios!

C. Paint in the Butt. One of the hardest things to figure out in any room is what color to paint the walls. The client said she wanted a white with slate gray scheme. My suggestion is this palette from Benjamin Moore. The lighter gray called silver spring has just enough of that hint of slate blue but still keeps a very neutral tone. Match that with the much lighter steam color and you have a great base to start building your room.

D. Light it up! This Nova Lighting tripod floor lamp will make a great addition to the corner slightly behind the seating area. It should provide enough light for reading or just sitting back and listening to the music. It’s a bit pricier than I would like at $284, but still within reach. You might be able to find a cheaper version that looks very similar, so do your research before you buy.

E and F. Travel in pairs. Here are a couple of somewhat matching black vases that can be added to the room, be it on the side table, or perhaps on a corner shelf. The taller Tung Chi vase is 14″ tall while the shorter Jar is 12″ tall. Both cost $63 each.

G. Have a seat. These accent chairs are a great size for a smaller more crowded space. The Safavieh Noho Lounge Chair is about 30″ high X 30″ wide and 25″ deep and costs only $228 each. Buy two of them to create a nice seating area while saving on space AND money! These chairs have very simple lines. The fact that they are armless will help give the room a sense of having even more space. The white piping and buttons are a great touch that adds some contrast the the gray fabric.

H. Table time. I really like this gold table. Gold is in again so don’t be afraid to use it. This great little side table is also made by Safavieh and sells for only $130. It’s about 20″ high X 17″ wide and 12″ deep. This is a perfect size for a small vase, a cup of coffee, or just a place to rest your book. The top is actually mirrored so it will reflect a lot of light brightening up the room even more. The elegant gold color of the table against the gray side chairs and wall will compliment each other nicely. The lines in this table are as clean and sharp as they come. The straight verticals and horizontals will be a good contrast to the curved line of the side chairs.

I. Soften with Color. While I think the chairs may be great by themselves, you may find that they need a little more cushion. My suggestion is to add a pop of color with this set of two pillows made by Key Lipstick which sell for $70. The rich, deep, red color add a bit of luxury and elegance to the room, while the gold embroidery helps pick up the warmth from the rug and side table.

Sometimes Moore means Less . . .


Benjamin Moore that is! So let’s talk about paint brands.

The big ones are Behr (Home Depot), Valspar (Lowe’s), Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Glidden, and Olympic. There are more brands out there like Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, but in truth each brand is made by another, they’re all related . . . so to speak.

Let’s get the boring statistics out of the way first. Here’s the JD Power rankings of best consumer paint brands:


Now I’ve done my fair share of painting and every time I do, about half way through the project, I remember why I hate painting so much! No matter what size the room, small or large, it’s the same amount of work to me. The actual act of painting the physical color on the wall takes just a few minutes really, depending on how much cutting in and edging you have to do. The BIGGER pain is all the mess and clean up that comes along with it. Set up the drop cloth, shake the paint, open the paint, stir the paint, pour the paint into the tray, open the ladder, get your brush ready, dip it NOT TOO MUCH, scrape some off, paint, dip it NOT TOO MUCH . . . well you get the idea. If that’s where it ended it wouldn’t be so bad. But then once you’re done painting for the day, or even after one coat, you have to clean everything up! Pour the leftover paint back into the can (I know you’re not supposed to do that because it contaminates the paint – I’m not made of money though so back goes the paint), hammer the can shut, pick up the tarp BE CAREFUL NOT TO KNOCK OVER THE WET BRUSHES, pack up all the trays and rollers and head down to the wash basin, rinse everything out DON’T USE HOT WATER YOU’LL RUIN THE BRUSH (but of course cold water does nothing), dry the brush . . . you get the idea again. In any case, it may not be the most difficult thing to do around your home, but it sure is one of the most time consuming. Wait, weren’t we talking about pain brands? Back to that.

Needless to say I’ve painted my fair share of rooms (that’s where we were). I’ve used the cheapest paint money could buy and some of the most expensive. There really should be some sort of scale in all the paint stores and home improvement centers that has a dollar amount from low to high and then a paint brand below it that corresponds to the cost above. There could even be a third line that goes from watery to pudding or thin to thick paint! Basically the cheaper the paint the more watery it usually is, the more expensive the paint, the thicker it is. And quality paint is all about thickness, or to be technical viscosity.

In my not so expert painting opinion the thickest paint I have ever used, as backed up by the JD Power study, is Benjamin Moore. Now you may be saying that’s great, but Benjamin Moore is a bit pricey, I think their cheapest level paint is still about $50 a gallon. Now this is where the title Moore means Less comes in. Yes, while $50 a gallon is a lot of money, it will cover your walls a heck of a lot better and last a lot longer than the cheaper $25-30 a gallon brands will. Plus, if you’re really good, you only need one coat of Benjamin Moore paint where you may need 2 or 3 coats of the cheaper brands, and that right there is worth big savings in both time and money! I’ve said it on this blog before, but when it comes to paint, you really do get what you pay for. There’s nothing worse than edging a room and having that long watery drip go down your wall because you saved $5 a gallon on the cheaper paint (oh yes, and to get the $5 back you have to mail in the proof of purchase and your receipt, and I’m sure we ALL do that right!?!). Even worse is not noticing until after it has dried that your paint is running in globs down the edge, nothing to really fix it at that point.

Now if you can’t bring yourself to spend $50+ on a gallon of paint that’s quite understandable. There’s no need to spend that much on primer or ceiling paint, as long as your careful about the globing effect in corners. It’s fine to buy the cheaper stuff to lay down as a base coat. You could also try buying a better quality of the cheaper brands and see how that works for you. Meaning, usually paint companies like Behr have 3 different qualities or levels of paint, basic, mid-level, and high end. Maybe try the middle one if price is an issue and see how that goes on. Spending even just a few extra bucks could make all the difference in your room!

I have other great painting tips, like buy the most expensive brushes you can afford so the bristles don’t fall out, and what type of finish to pick for which room, or how to edge around molding and corners, or how putting your brushes in the freezer between coats can save on cleaning time . . . but we’ll cover that some other day!