Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Perspectacles: living with ugly beige

The entire inside of our house is painted beige.  Flat paint, with swine-y pink undertones.

I admit defeat in the face of this unrelenting beige.

I like and own mostly clear, jewel-toned decor.  Clear, strong, vibrant colors that look good against white.  All these strong jewel tones next to a peachy, muddy-undertone beige.

Everything I do in this house just looks wrong. The furniture, the art, everything--it doesn't look good against the walls.  It is driving me nuts.

You might think this has an obvious and easy solution--paint the walls!  Sadly, under the terms of our lease, and our nitpicky property management company, we are not allowed to paint the walls a different color.  Even if we were allowed to paint the walls, I don't have a ladder that could reach the upper walls in the vaulted living space, which is nearly half the downstairs.  So, swine beige is here to stay.

The other obvious solution--get some muddy-toned decor!  Uh, no. I am not replacing an entire house worth of jewel-tone decor with muddy-undertone decor I don't want.

The real solution here is putting on my perspectacles, and be thankful we got this house.  It fits all our stuff. It has new laminate floors and easy to use brand new widows.  It has three toilets and a kitchen that works.  the air conditioning is cold.  When I turn on the tap I get running water--two kinds! Hot and cold!  When things break I am not responsible for fixing them. There are two parking spots in the driveway, and a bedroom for friends and family to visit.

In lieu of showing you something pretty in my house, here are two pretty living rooms full of beige and brown.  You'll notice that all of the complementary colors in the rooms are muted, muddy tones.

via BHG

via Katie Rosenfeld

What difficult-to-fix thing do you dislike about your house?


  1. Our family room's on a slab, with ceramic tile. We think the contractor didn't do the job correctly because when it's humid we get little puddles of condensation. It's caused mold, and it's gross. We need to rip out the whole floor and re-do it properly, but it's either going to be expensive (if we hire someone) or messy and hard (if we diy). I grew up in a house that was also on a slab, and we never had this problem. So annoying.

    But I love all the photos I've seen of your house. I think you've done a great job with what you have.

    1. Ack, that does sound messy and expensive! (and thanks for the compliments!)

  2. Our kitchen cabinets. I remind myself all the time that they function well. They hold enough stuff, the hinges are high-quality, they do what cabinets are supposed to do. But they are covered in an icky (to me) white laminate that is beginning to peel. I just hate the peeling part. Lesser peeve is that the white laminate doesn't match the aesthetic vibe we've got going in the rest of the house. So, I totally get how the beige is driving you nuts. It's not that beige can't get its own groove on (really like that BHG pic), but it's not *your* groove. And we all want to groove in our own way in our homes. I think we can hold both things--our perspectacles and our discontent. Both are real and true.

    1. We aren't going to stay in this house forever (or even more than a year or two), so I comfort myself with that thought. This house was always known as a stopgap measure because we couldn't find a place we liked on short notice. Also, we looked at over 30 rentals and 29 of them were painted some ugly shades of beige. (One was painted off white but had no closets and parking was a few blocks away.) Its not like the most beautiful rental in town was out there if I had just kept looking. I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to build character.

      I hear you on the kitchen cabinets. Positive wishes for you on winning the lottery for kitchen redo purposes.

  3. I too, think you've done a beautiful job despite the beige. I LOVE that piece you linked to and I think "perspectacles" is probably the best word ever! That being said, I know how hard it can be sometimes to keep those perspectacles firmly in place. While I know (for a fact, absolutely) that every word in that post is 100% true, I also know what it's like to have a brain that notices stuff that's "off" --- like a swine-y pink tint to a beige --- and that that sort of thing just niggles and niggles, despite every effort to don those perspectacles!

    Our house has had some very bizarre problems we've had to deal with (problems of the first world, middle class variety) ... A door that was never a door in our family room, a heated storage room for something or other in the garage, wonky floors, more dead trees than seems fair ... and we have taken care of all those, but the one that still stumps me is the approximately 4 foot X 8 foot "balcony" that sits directly above our front door, in our otherwise 2 storey high foyer. The space is only accessible through our 16 year-old son's bedroom (via a pocket door) and I have no clue what to do with the space. It has been (over the past 4 and 1/2 years) a storage spot for yet-to-be unpacked moving boxes, and a twin mattress (on its side) (a cluttered mess, in other words); a LEGO play area (which was a bad idea because my older son then was the gatekeeper for deciding if my younger son could play with the LEGO). I've toyed with the idea of making it into a reading nook, but we already have enough places to sit and read, and the gatekeeper would get annoyed if people were coming through his room all the time. It currently sits empty, although I'm toying with the idea of making it into a sewing nook. (I usually only sew during the day, when my son would be at school). I'd have to buy or build a desk though, and by the time I got it all set up, my husband would likely come home and tell me we're moving again!

    1. thanks, Marian. Momastery is one of my favorite daily reads. She really makes me think about being a better person. For now I'll just look at the ugly walls as an opportunity to practice being a person less consumed with perfection. I can try, anyways.

      That balcony space sounds hard. What was the original function? My inlaws have something sort of similar in their home, and they just put up a picture on the wall and a bunch of plants and decorative items on the floor part.

    2. I think Momastery is going to have to become one of my daily reads as well; I'm so glad you wrote this post and linked to her site.

      The original function of our balcony was (according to our neighbour, who knew the original owner and was in our house way-back-when) a reading nook. The area gets wonderful sunlight --- maybe I should simply take a page out of your parents' book and put some plants there. Hmmm...I could even ask our 16 year-old son to make me a bench to set under the window, so the plants are raised up a bit. (He had, a couple of years ago, made a couple of benches - one for his sister as a gift, and one for his own room; they're such beautiful benches, and I certainly wouldn't mind having one myself!)

    3. I vote for Momastery, too. She makes me cry in a good way, all the time.

  4. Hey there, Just came across your blog via Russet Street Reno. May I make a suggestion about the bleh beige you hate? Embrace it! Change up the white curtains for some textury material in a darker warm beige - maybe burlap? Switch the rich red carpet for a more muted one - think jute. Swap out the pillows for more pale versions. My two cents!


Yay! You're commenting! I love comments!