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Sanders Gibbs, Superhero at Large

Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s Sanders! Austinites from all over the city regularly travel down south to meet with Sanders, the super skilled, superhero of paint. Readers of this very blog have even benefited from his knowledge by taking advantage of Sanders’ expertise in our Ask Sanders column. And today this interview I conducted with him near the start of our working relationship is being featured over here by Benjamin Moore.

That’s because Sanders is the man.

Karly and I have worked with Sanders for years, and without his super help, I’m not sure either of us would have ever painted a single wall. But just look how awesome our houses turned out:

Karly’s nursery — a symphony in Harbor Gray (and lots of other colors).

My house — painted with Abalone gray and BM’s gold metallic paint.

You can check out the rest of our houses here and here to see some of Sanders’ other perfect paint choices. That’s right. I said the P word.

Did I mention that Sanders is also a nice guy and fun to hang out with?

Here he is with Ike when Ike was just a little shrimp. Sanders has two kids of his own, including a six month old, so he never gets mad when Ike won’t stop messing with the water dispenser at the store.

If you don’t live in Austin — well you’re missing out on Sanders’ charm, that’s for sure. But you can still write in with your questions, which we will review for inclusion in our ongoing Ask Sanders column. Just drop us a line at hollaback@design-crisis.com and we’ll see what we can do.

See? Sanders transcends space and time. He really is a superhero.

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Ask Sanders: Jason’s Brick Ranch

In remodeling my home I’ve come to realize that you make good friends with the people who help you then, once your project is over, you don’t get to see your redecorating buddies too much anymore.  This is why we invented the ask Sander’s column:  even though most of my house is painted, I still have an excuse to stop on by Benjamin Moore (Hill Country Paint to you South Austinites) any time I want (insert maniacal laugh here).  So, when Jason wrote us with an email lovingly titled “dumb dude needs help” I was more than happy to pay a visit to the King of Paint.

Jason recently purchased this ranch and is experiencing something my husband would never dare to dream of:  his wife has handed him decorating carte blanche.  From what I’ve heard about his plans for the inside, hello Cole & Son wallpaper, he’s doing a bang-up job.  The outside, as you can see, needed serious consultation.  Jason asked Sanders to present him with 2 options:  1. Trim, accent, and door paint leaving the brick as-is, and 2. A palette for painting the whole kitten-kaboodle, brick and all.  We’ll start with the former.

Sander’s first suggestion is to use Benjamin Moore Brandy Cream on for the trim, Dellwood Sand for the accent (the piece of wood that runs below the roof) and a pop of Tarrytown Green for the front door.  I like that this selection updates the home while simultaneously blending with the preexisting brick.  One of the major problems with the house right now is that the trim is just way too dark brown.  Lightening it up and letting the front door provide the contrast will clean up the look lickety-split.  


Another option for Jason that doesn’t involve the laborious task of painting the brick: a nice light trim in Cloud White, an accent in Sag Harbor Gray and a Cromwell Gray Door.  I like that sanders kept the door fairly neutral with this combo, letting the cloud white do the talking.  The white would really pop against the brick, but in a really fantastic way, unlike what the brown is doing now.

If Jason decides to paint the brick, which I 10000% support, here is an option for him:  Body paint in Louisburg Green, trim & accent in Hazy Skies and a door in Duxbury Gray.  Who can go wrong with Gray and Green with a nice, light accent?  I think this palette will modernize the home without conflicting with the ranch style.

I have to admit that I’m a pretty big fan of this option:  Body in Tucson Winds, trim and accent in Ashen Tan and Door in good ole Gray.  I love a light house, I think it would really pop in that gigantic yard.  Like the last option, it’s a nice update without trying too hard.

Finally, we have my favorite option.  Ok, I’m a sucker for gray, with the Granite painted brick you could probably make the trim neon green and hot pink and I’d still love it, but I like what Sanders has chosen even more:  Steam trim and accent with Mysterious for the door.  I think this palette is the most sophisticated and I am BEGGING Jason to please please paint his house this color and send us some pictures.

I tried to find homes online painted similarly but wasn’t able to find the right combination, so instead I did a crappy photoshop mock-up of Jason’s house.  Hopefully my elementary rendering won’t scare him out of the project:

Jason, bear in mind that there will be much more depth in reality, it won’t look like a gray play-doh fortress if given the treatment in real life.  Squint your eyes and look at it (god, I’ve never had to say that about a design project) see, isn’t it grand?

Best of luck, dumb dude!  Be sure to send us pictures when you’re done.

For anyone in Austin who is looking for a walking-talking color encyclopedia be sure to visit Sanders at Hill Country Paint: 5501 South Congress / 78745


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Ask Sanders: Kristin’s Green Bedroom

In Thursday’s installment of Ask Sanders, I promised help for Kristin’s bedroom. She asked our opinion on Kelly Green as a choice for bedroom paint, and Sanders was more than happy to oblige with a paint palette of greens in hues that range from shocking to sophisticated:

sanders green paint palette

And a few darker, more traditional greens:


Personally, I have found that green can be a difficult color to work with, because it requires a sense of confidence that many more soothing shades do not. But when done right, green really sings. And I love the idea of using green and blue (blue in Kristin’s bathroom) as a base for a household palette, since blue and green can mix and match in so many interesting ways.

john paul urizar

John Paul Urizar

green bedroom

You’ll need a pair to go all out kelly green on four walls, floor to ceiling. But this spare little bedroom courtesy of The Sweet Line gets it right with simple furnishings and accents. In a small room with strong color, paint is the star and everything else plays a supporting role.

kelly wearstler

I’m thinking that Kelly Wearstler may have kicked off the kelly green movement in a moment of vanity (hello, kelly – kelly?), but love her or hate her, the lady is not afraid of color. This bathroom shows how slick classic green (looks like Rainforest Foliage to me), black, white and chrome can be.

domino green kitchen

This tiny kelly green kitchen from Domino can cook. A very restricted palette with lots of white keeps the color from overwhelming.

green room

In this room from House to Home, forest green goes a little too country for my taste, but with more streamlined shapes, the color could be fresh. Imagine Danish teak instead of these tradtional furnishings. Throw in lots of white linens and a black pillow or two and you’ve got modern classic.

If all out green seems too heavy for you, you can break the color up in several ways.

green wallpaper

Hidden in France

Patterned kelly green and gold wallpaper keeps the color light. If wallpaper isn’t an option (renters, I’m talking to you), try stretching fabric over a a wooden frame, or wallpaper a large piece of masonite and frame with cheap, painted quarter round. Beep beep, beep beep, yeah.

green living room

House to Home

Homes with lots of molding and windows can handle the color because it covers less surface area. With deep greens, black, white and brown rocks.

per ranung

Per Ranung

If you don’t have glorious architecture and the bones to prove it, consider painting a feature wall in deep green; keep the rest of the room bright and light.

james merrell

James Merrell

Maybe kelly green isn’t for you, but Stokes Forest Green is looking mighty fine. Pair it with lots of neutrals and blood orange for a pop of unexpected color. Lighter colors need less white to balance them out.

chartreuse domino

Brave souls may spring for chartreuse, like this Benjamin Moore Pear Green featured in Domino.


Boring picture, but the color is divine. And Designer’s Brew shows how blue and chartreuse make magic. For a bedroom, maybe just a feature wall or nook would do.

Fear of commitment? No problem — we all get cold feet sometimes. Consider green accents or furnishings instead.

fawn galli

Fawn Galli’s boho-glam apartment uses bright green curtains and upholstery to funk up her space.

gaelle boulicaut

Gaelle le Boulicaut

Use that kelly green paint to spiff up a set of chairs in an otherwise neutral room. The wall paint in the photo looks a lot like my office paint — Silver Fox by BM. It’s a lovely, medium deep neutral.

living etc

Living Etc.

Even a simple emerald throw adds depth to this dark and cozy bedroom.

Or maybe instead of feeling green at the gills by all this color, you’re green with envy. If you’re feeling emboldened by the power of green, don’t hold back.

apartment therapy greens

Apartment Therapy

Try mixing and matching several shades in one room, like this Moroccan guest house. Lots of white space helps forest green, stokes forest green, and a pear green, go together like peas and… peas.

That’s it for this installment of Ask Sanders. Hopefully you and Kristin got some new ideas and inspiration on ways to green up your space. For me, suddenly chartreuse is sounding like a fabulous nursery color…

If you would like to have your home featured on Ask Sanders, need help matching colors you may have spied in magazines, or just want advice on what paint colors could possibly make those peach wall tiles in your bathroom look like you MEANT to do that, email us at hollaback@design-crisis.com to ask Sanders, our resident Paint Guru, for help.


Thanks, Sanders!

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Ask Sanders: Kristin’s Blue Bathroom

Here at Design Crisis, we’re a little obsessed with paint. What else can completely transform a room for just a few bucks and some elbow grease? Sadly, adventures in painting can go horribly awry — the golden yellow you hoped for goes macaroni and cheese, the perfect shade of crimson you envisioned turns into a bloody nightmare, or the warm gray you yearned for reads as icy blue instead. These domestic disasters happen everyday, but our resident Paint Guru, Sander Gibbs, is here to provide all the expert help you need to ditch the heartache and pick the perfect shade the first time around.


For our first installment of the Ask Sanders column, DC reader Kristin writes with an urgent dilemma — what shade of blue to paint the bathroom in her rental apartment? Since Kristin is planning to cover her existing flooring with peel and stick white tiles (I’ve seen these in action, and they’re not a bad option for renters), she could choose from a multitude of colors. She says:

“I’m looking for a super-saturated shade of blue. I had originally hoped for a Vermeer/Dutch blue… Anywho, my perfect shade would be not too deep, and very refreshing. Let me know what you think! I’d also move over towards something more tropical and punchy.”

The particular shade on the walls of this room in the Gramercy Park Hotel is what inspired her to ask for a color match in the first place, so I sent the image over to Sanders for inspiration:

gramercy hotel

Judging by the image and his own experience with blues that woo the eye, Sanders put together this saturated blue palette for Kristin:

sanders color palette

While the top colors are Benjamin Moore shades, the bottom pics are from Pratt and Lambert. Sanders informed me that P&L is actually a Sherwin Williams brand, but SW doesn’t carry it in their stores. In Austin, Benjamin Moore is the only store that carries P&L, so if Kristin (or you) would like to try one of the P&L shades, check out the nearest Benjamin Moore for their selection.

Sanders picks look pretty close to the top picture to me, especially Clearest Ocean Blue and Paradise Lost, but as Sanders always says, “Buy a sample and make sure you paint on two coats! Two coats!” Paint shades can look totally different depending on lighting conditions, so even though you might think you’re wasting your money on a sample, you could be wasting a lot more on unwanted gallons of paint. Always sample first!

I also asked Sanders to put together a palette of blues he likes, just in case his color matches don’t quite hit the spot. Many of his picks are more muted, but still punchy yet versatile:

sanders color palette

Top choices are Benjamin Moore colors, bottom row is from Pratt and Lambert’s palette (and Sanders’ cute lil’ face).

And now I think we need some eye candy to see how fresh the ever popular blue really can be when paired with the right environment. For Kristin’s sake, many of my picks feature shades of blue in bathrooms, but blue is a flexible shade for many rooms (except kitchens, in my opinion).

living etc blue

Living Etc

Blue gets paired with glossy chocolate leather and a sleek mirrored cube in this minimalist treatment.

blue annie schlecter

Annie Schlecter

In the olden days, blue was a highly prized, very expensive pigment due to its relative instability and difficulty to manufacture, so it was only seen in special circumstances, like the Virgin Mary’s robes. These cool blue walls and door highlight the red and green robes of a saint who must have been a little low on the totem pole.

domino blue bathroom


Multiple shades of blue work together in this eclectic bathroom. I’m really thinking someone should make colorful toilets…

blue tile

Per Ranung

Sky blue tile mixes with chartreuse, indigo and royal purple, in this otherwise spare bathroom. A healthy dose of white keeps things from going utterly schizophrenic.

blue tiles

Living Etc

Monochromatic tile makes this bathroom feel spacious. Sexy skylights and minimal fixtures don’t hurt, either.

paul costello

Paul Costello

A sun filled living room mixes aqua with oregano and mimosa yellow for a fun, but sophisticated palette. Chocolate, white and gold, keep the color from getting out of control.

marie claire maison

Marie Claire Maison

I have no freaking clue how this bathroom is constructed, but I’d love to have a cerulean aquatic labyrinth of my very own. The green window frames add subtle contrast to an otherwise all over color scheme where form and texture rule.

living etc

Living Etc

If that much color scares the Scandi pants off you, paint can always freshen up an old treasure and add a jolt of unexpected color. I myself wouldn’t be unhappy with this bathroom in the least.



A soft, green based blue highlights the architecture of this traditional bathroom, bringing a little piece of the sky indoors.

moody blue

Annie Schlecter

Moody blue covers wall and woodwork in this spare but funky bedroom. I love the little punches of yellow and pink.

blue bathroom

Blues of varying intensity and sheen create depth in this tiny bathroom. Blue toilet set: yes or no?

Kristin, we’d love to feature before and after pictures of your bathroom here on DC, so I really hope that Sanders’ suggestions inspired you to take the plunge and get to painting! I myself am feeling so serene and relaxed from this azure haze that I think I’ll present Part II of this (very special, of course) inaugural Ask Sanders column next Monday. Tune in Monday and see Sanders’ expert advice for Kristin’s bedroom: To kelly green, or not to kelly green? That is the question.

In the meantime, feel free to send your own paint queries for Sanders to our email address: hollback@design-crisis.com. Depending on demand, we’d like to feature picks from Sanders on a monthly basis, so don’t go sending us any problems that need to be solved yesterday! Sanders is good, but he can’t turn back time. Not even Cher can do that.

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