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Painting The Town...Inspired!

Painting The Town...Inspired!

My design friends! I wanted to share some painting points with you, and hope you will join along for the journey of making our rental apartment feel like our home.

Paint can be the most cost effective way to re-invent your space, especially when in our case, we're restricted to a rental space that could not be renovated. It's a fabulous idea if you don't have a big budget but want a big impact! 

Below is a video with some tips and tricks to get you started! 

Picking paint colours for our little rental space was all inspired by the architectural details we were working with and wanted to accentuate. I really wanted to keep it a fresh, clean and bright retreat for us, and in my mind I wanted our space to be a contemporary cottage, away from the cottage. 

The process is always a little tedious when trying picking the right colours, and I am definitely one to rush to a decision. But I have learned if you take your time, think of the layers, textures and overall feel, and really go through the process you will be over the moon with your choices, and never look back.

Our colour palette and colour selections, corresponding to photos below of our space

I recommend that when you do your research, take your time and go through the process, take a moment to look at what is out there, get inspired, and get dreaming.

I’ve included a little cheat sheet here for what we did to our space to help inspire you re-invent your space with a simple fresh coat of paint! 

1.    Lighten Up

To create the illusion of a bigger space, pick a lighter colour and a lighter colour palette.

Consider a few things:

-       How much natural light does this space get?

-       How much artificial light will you be putting into this space? (Pot lights? Standing lamps? Table lamps? Pendants? Sconces?)

-       What is the functionality of the space? (Is it for sleeping? Watching TV? Eating dinner? Reading books?)

-       Consider the level of warmth you want? (Do you want a cool feel? Do you want warmer, moodier tones?)

-       What about the details? (Are you planning to paint the trim out? The ceiling? Accent architectural details?)

-       Have you taken a step back? (What is the overall vibe and scheme of the space? What rooms is this space next to? Is it open concept? Do the colours work together?)

I went with whites, greys for wall colour that will help create the illusion of a bigger space but reflecting the light and making the rooms appear larger.

Choosing a white paint colour can be a little overwhelming, even as a designer. When you’re choosing a white, its important to consider:

-       The area of application – is it the walls, trim, ceiling, floor, etc.

-       The amount that will be used – Is it a quick fix? Next to existing painted wall? Will you be painting out the rest of the space?

-       The tones that you want? This, for me, is always the trickiest, because when you pick a colour from a paint chip vs. committing to it, purchasing the quantities needed and then applying to the wall can appear to be really different.

-       The sheen is also important to consider. With your paint chips there is usually a gradation of paint sheens to choose from, and I find it really helpful to hold these up next to the paint samples on the wall to help decide on your sheen. Also, you can change to range ever so slightly to make sure that the sheen is just right. I usually stick to these rules:


This is the most long lasting, durable and easy to maintain of the sheens. I also think it can be a very sophisticated touch to a room and help differentiate between paint applications, so use wisely! It is a hard finish, ultra-glossy and very light reflective.

This is an excellent choice for areas that get a lot of traffic, sticky fingers – cabinets, trims and doors. It is too intense for interior walls.

Think practical: kitchens, doors and window trims

Durability: very high


This is a happy medium if you don’t want to go too glossy but want to be practical with areas that get a lot of action, like trim. Also perfect for spaces that are home to moisture, drips and cooking challenges.

Think practical: kitchens, kathrooms, trim and chair rails

Durability: high


This sheen has a gorgeous luster, and is surprisingly easy to keep clean. However, application of this can be revealing with brush strokes or rollers, so make sure you prep and apply with care.

Think practical: great for walls in family rooms, foyers, hallways, kids bedrooms

Durability: high


Between Satin and Flat, this sheen is happily named to reflect exactly the effect it creates, flatness. It’s a yummy luster, fabulous for covering wall imperfections and a very elegant choice for spaces that are more on the formal side, lower traffic areas.

Think practical: walls in your dining room, living room

Durability: medium

Flat or Matte

This sheen is more of a light soaker than it is a light reflector. It has the highest amount of pigment and will provide the most forgiving coverage, which can save some cost in purchasing, but is a lot tougher to clean.    

Think practical: walls that don’t have…kids!

Durability: medium-low

In our house, I went eggshell on the walls of the dining room (we don’t have any babies running around), with a satin for all the trims as well as the picture mouldings. For the built-ins in the family room I went with a satin-semi-gloss to make it pop in the space.  

2.    Accentuate

Choosing a darker paint colour for the shelves in your kitchen or living room will help emphasize the fresh new walls, whether they are tiles or painted drywall.

In this case I chose a pale grey colour to accentuate the architectural details of the picture moulding and the book shelves in my living space. Adding this slight accent to the back of the built-in shelves allowed the space to really pop and feel brand new.

I also wanted to connect in the dining room grey with the living room, as we had matched the trim and ceiling colours to each other. Carrying through colours to these spaces and keeping the trim/accent colours uniform can really make two spaces feel like they are a part of one home. 

3.    Crisp and Clean

Give your living room a fresh coat of bright white paint, will help give it a spacious feel. Consider paint out the trim, ceiling and baseboards, these details will take your space to the next level of feeling fresh.

As a designer, I often either get asked or receive a surprised reaction when I suggest painting out the original gum wood of an older home.

Gum wood was originally “prized” as it is a craftsman style to pop this into some of the older homes we have here in the city of Toronto.  It’s a fine-grained wood, and usually stained in a walnut family stain with a heavy waxy stain and shellacked texture for trims. In our home it was used as window trim, baseboards and in the entry way.

However, our architectural details, picture moulding, coffered ceilings, built-ins and entry way custom closets were all created from a craftsman using an entirely different wood.  The choice to paint it out is always an easy one for me, but the mix of woods made this decision a lot easier. 

We wanted:

-       A uniform look of the two spaces we have side by side

-       We wanted the space to feel larger than it actually is

-       We wanted a fresh coat of paint as a backdrop for the new furnishings, and painting before moving in can really make your new space feel new just for you

Painting out the gumwood can be a little bit of a labour of love to repaint, as I had to sand everything down and give it two coats extra of the white to make sure it was a crisp, solid and clean white.

If you have architectural details, use them to your advantage by painting them out in a bright white or a soft grey. You’ll still get the look of the profile, but then we will feel more contemporary and updated.

I hope you enjoyed a little peek into our painting party over here. I loved following along with others who have been through this process in hopes that I could find some inspiration, and I can’t wait to share more of inspired our design journey!

Now we’re onto the details of the fireplace, lighting, and of course the fun stuff…décor! 

Bringing Cozy Back

Bringing Cozy Back

Something's Gotta Live

Something's Gotta Live