oak house colours


i discovered sherwin-williams’s colorsnap app several years ago. it can turn any photo in your phone into a ten-colour paint palette, highly addicting technology for someone who loves both colours and painting and whose main aesthetic goal in a home is that it is cohesive inside and out. picture two rooms in the same house with baseboards painted different shades of white — it’s got nothing on shrinking sea ice, but, given the way my brain is wired, that’s the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night. this odd wiring is also what drives my minimalist approach to design, and to life in general; fewer elements (whether that’s furniture or appointments in our calendar) means it’s so much easier to create a cohesive home and life, where nothing sticks out as “the thing that is not like the other.” i like everything in my home and life to be on-brand, essentially. and, like a brand, i think each house needs its own style guide, which, for the uninitiated, usually includes a colour palette.

i’ll repeat that i think each house needs its own colour palette and that should be driven by the house itself, or at least the elements that you’re planning on keeping. in the case of oak house, that’s the stained glass windows, the pale oak hardwood floors and the red brick fireplace and chimney. while i love the colours that ended up being the “final” colours in little bungalow (i did repaint the living and dining rooms and bathroom about six months before we put the house up for sale), those colours play off entirely different elements: the oak hardwood floors in our toronto house were stained a much darker reddish brown, the kitchen and bathroom contained white subway tile, etc. so i’m looking to start fresh in oak house while keeping in mind that the new colours should complement the old ones since a lot of our furniture, art and rugs are coming with us to the new house and those were all chosen based on what worked in our previous home.


a few months ago, after i’d painted the living and dining rooms in little bungalow romaine, i found this afghan at value village for $5 and i bought it without hesitation because i loved the colours, including the sage-y, minty green that matched my new walls almost perfectly. the blanket also contains a mustardy colour that matches one of our sofas, two shades of orange that pick up in our bedroom textiles, a neutral white/off-white combo, three different shades of green (i love green), a bright yellow similar to my sewing table-desk and the giant map hanging in our current kitchen and a bubblegum pink, which i’ve wanted to work into frankie rose’s bedroom. the blanket is so colourful, basically, that it goes with everything, including the stained glass windows and hardwood floors at oak house plus most of our existing furniture and textiles. i decided to base the colours for the new house off this blanket.

Asquith Colours

i plugged this photo of the blanket into the coloursnap app and the app punched out a palette with some real winners (obstinate orange and auric are exact matches for the yarn used in the blanket) and a few misses (i found julep was a way better match than what the app suggested). the palette the app produced was also heavy on the whites, creams and browns because it uses the entire image, which, in this case, is actually a photo of frankie rose’s nursery that happens to include the blanket. the folks at my local sherwin-williams gifted me a 2016 paint chip book when i went in looking for a swatch that they didn’t have on the wall (joy!). it contains thousands of colours and i spent a happy hour matching chips to the blanket. i came up with the 13 colours above, most of which will not make an appearance in the house as an actual paint colour, but may appear in a piece of art, on a rug or pillow or as a piece of furniture. (pierre keeps asking about outrageous green — “what are you planning to paint that colour?” — and i’m like, “nothing. chill.”

as you can see, the main, actual paint-on-the-walls colours are pretty inoffensive — navajo white for both bedrooms, the piano room, hallway and kitchen with extra white for all the trim, ceilings, doors, etc. navajo white is very very similar to sugar cookie, the benjamin moore colour that is used throughout my toronto house, but where sugar cookie looks white because everything is painted sugar cookie (trim, doors, etc.), navajo white is going to read as more of a cream in oak house because of its pairing with extra white, which is a super bright white.

two of the shades of green are also going to cover a lot of square footage inside. reclining green, a very nice complement to the stained glass windows in the front rooms, is going to cover the living and dining room walls (a fairly large open space right when you walk through the front door), though the ceilings and all the trim will be extra white and the red brick fireplace takes up a good bit of the living room so i don’t think the green walls will be too overwhelming. then, restful will (eventually) cover the lower cabinets in the kitchen (which wrap around the kitchen counter to the dining room) and the bathroom walls. so over 1177 square feet we will have mostly neutral cream/white walls with two different, calming shades of green punching up the bathroom, living and dining rooms, which is the formula that i followed at little bungalow as well, except that bathroom is taupe.


outside, i’ll make use of many of these same colours — reclining green for the wood siding and shakes (bottom 2/3 of the house) and restful for the attic siding (top 1/3 of the house) with extra white taking care of all the door and window trim, porch railings, etc. the exterior doors (a front door and two large basement-access doors at the front of the house and two doors at the rear of the house) will be painted tangerine. (i found the photo of this portland home above via frankie magazine — yep, they’re the inspiration behind frankie rose’s name — so i know it’s going to look good.) we’ve mapped out a rough, five-year plan for fixing up oak house and a good scrape and paint of the exterior is on the list for next summer.

which brings me to why i’m even talking about paint colours at all — you know, when there’s a whole cross-country move to plan, childcare and a new job to find and a damp basement and wonky roof and broken appliances with which to contend. i think when you have a pretty big project like oak house on the horizon, it’s important to have a vision and a roadmap for the end result. and by important i mean that i will save myself time and money if i can make my design decisions knowing how each room and all its parts fit into the house as a whole, especially as we’re only able to tackle a little bit of the house at a time. when we take possession and move into oak house next month, one of the things we want to do while we wait for our furniture to arrive is paint both bedrooms. i think it’s important for the bedrooms to be clean and ready for our clothing and mattresses so that the places where we sleep and get ready for the day feel “done” even if the rest of the house is a bit chaotic. i could paint them both any colour, but, three years down the road, when we can actually get around to removing the beaver panelling from the hallway and drywalling and i go to paint — well, establishing a colour palette at the outset means i already know what colour i’m painting the hallway and i won’t have to repaint the bedrooms in three years because i didn’t really think everything through beforehand. (to this, you might say, “wow, there’d really be nothing compelling you to repaint the bedrooms just because you decided on a different colour for the hallway,” but to this i say, “please see the opening paragraph of this post.” i just can’t help myself.

so this is the plan for the new house, at least as far as colours are concerned! the bedrooms are actually in really good shape other than just superficial fixes like paint, light fixtures and window coverings, all doable in our first few weeks in the house, so i’m really excited to get in there with some polyfil and a couple of gallons of navajo white!

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