Reader Reno


We’re back with another reader renovation! This time around, we’re talking with Erika about her and her husband’s recent family room painting adventures…

Hi! I’m Erika, and my husband (Dan) and I seem to be renovating our house in the same pattern of projects as Greg and Ashley! (Of course, when it comes to houses, I assume people hit the kitchen and bathrooms first no matter what, so maybe it’s not such an extreme coincidence!). We recently said “Hasta Luego!” to our extremely neutral family room when we painted it a deep blueberry color. We also painted our brick mantle from white to a deep brown color, and we couldn’t be happier with the results! It’s pretty scary to paint such dark colors, because no one likes to have to repaint if it doesn’t go well. We were very relieved when our friends and family started asking for paint swatches so often that we had to grab a stash to hand out! At this rate, we’re thinking we might have to send swatches with our Christmas cards this year!

My husband and I bought our now-22 year-old house in 2009. Since the day we moved in, we have been doing projects throughout the house to update and make it reflect our own style and personality. The house was well-maintained by the original owners, but it had not been updated since it was purchased in 1989. That means there was a pirate ship’s worth of gold accents, shell sinks and circus wallpaper to boot! The family room was one of our first attempts to assert our sense of style into the home.

As you can see from our before photos (sorry, these were taken on move-in day!), the previous owners painted everything a very neutral beige color.

During a casual Lowe’s trip (aren’t they all!), we stopped by the paint department, and I started rummaging through the various colors. I stopped when I saw the gorgeous blue color that we ended up using. Belle Grove Victory Blue is a National Trust for Historic Preservation color. I don’t know about you, but we have a thing for colors that have stood the test of time.

We painted a beam in the blue color to give our family room a loft-like feel.

After we painted, we decided it was also time to redo the fan (check out the old light fixture in the photo at the top and you’ll understand our motive). We opted for a really big fan with wooden accents and carved-looking blades. Definitely adds to the comfort cred.

After we painted the walls in the blue color, it was time to guess and check on the mantle. At first, Dan recommended that I use some leftover chocolate brown color that we used in our kitchen renovation. We decided to start first by painting the fireplace moulding in this brown color (Behr “Bear Rug”). This is what it looked like:

Yeah, we weren’t impressed either. (Which was really disappointing since I painted the vase on top to match!). We headed back to the drawing board…

What we decided in the end was to use amore pure brown color – a dark chocolate versus the milk chocolate that we had used before. We also decided that painting the bricks in the deep brown color would bring a greater sense of warmth to the room…so we tried it out.

Much better? We think so. So that’s how our family room came together to give the boot to our Neutral Nightmare and bring a sense of “Dan and Erika” into our home. Here’s the budget breakdown…

Total cost for the end of Neutral Nightmare:
Paint – $30/gallon times 2 gallons
Paint supplies – Already Owned (but would cost you about $30-$40 in painter’s tape, brushes, rollers, roller pan, and floor coverings).
Fan – $230, on sale.
Total: ~$400

If you are interested in reading more of our home adventures, including our kitchen and master bathroom renovations, tutorials and tips on DIY for your home, and some general design ideas (plus some pretty hilarious cat videos)…check us out at
Thanks Erika (and Dan!) for sharing the beginning stages of your family room renovation! It goes to show how just a few coats of paint and a new ceiling fan can warm and personalize a space. We specifically like what they did with the fireplace. I don’t think I would have thought to paint the bricks such a deep, rich color – yet it looks amazing and gives us inspiration for our fireplace down the road. PS Ashley here… Don’t you love their blog name? I think it’s perfect!

Do you have a home project that you would like to see featured on 7HL? How about stories and tips about entertaining, interior design and cool DYI projects? If so, shoot us an email! Be sure to include up to eight photos along with a brief description and important details (your name(s), paint colors, materials, budget, etc.). Please email your submissions to [email protected]. By sending us your submission, you are giving us permission to post it on the blog unless otherwise stated in your email. Don’t worry, we won’t post your email address or any personal information unless you specifically ask us to do so.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    June 17, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Nice work! Would never have thought of choosing brown for the bricks. Looks great!

  • Reply
    Emily Clark
    June 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I really like the combo of the brown and blueberry. I would have never put those colors together in my head but it looks great!

  • Reply
    June 19, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Great job Erika and Dan!

  • Reply
    June 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    This may sound silly but I NEVER thought about looking at paint swatches online. I know monitors are different colors and whatnot, but it could at least help me narrow down some colors so I won’t have to spend hours in Home Depot! Now if only they had a drive thru. LOL Thanks for posting their submission!

  • Reply
    Lisa M
    June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Really like the fireplace color. I have to ask… what is the pharo looking ornament on the mantle?

  • Leave a Reply