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A Few More (Shoddy) Pictures of the House, Plus a HUGE Thank You to Sanders

I really, truly appreciated all your thoughtful comments and feedback on my last post. Leopard rug is scheduled to arrive Monday, so more updates on that soon. In the meantime, so many of you asked for the paint color I used in the front room that I thought I should repost it with the name of the color.

It’s Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor, mixed 25% darker.

Let me just take a minute to say that I am a picky mofo. I can tear perfection into a million imperfect pieces. That’s why Sanders is such a gem. In case you just started reading or don’t remember, Sanders is the paint genius who manages my local Benjamin Moore — he’s also the brains behind the Ask Sanders column. Without him I would I have hideous turquoise walls that make me cry angry tears of anger.

If you live in Austin or thereabouts (one reader drove up from San Antonio just to meet with Sanders!), go see him before he starts his own paint consulting empire and starts charging for his advice. He’s that good.

Plus look at his sweet little face! I love me some Sanders.

benjamin moore dark harbor Moving on: more Dark Harbor pictures. Wish I’d thought to shoot this with a color card so it would be truly accurate, but I think this is close. It goes from navy to almost billiard green, and everything in between.

benjamin moore dark harbor

Can’t believe I am posting this horrible picture, but it’s been raining forever so I haven’t had a chance to reshoot without all the toys. I think I took one picture of this side of the room and gave up because it is a pita to shoot without off camera lighting. Anyway, you can see that DH does go a lot lighter when faced with direct sun.

While we’re all staring at this dumb picture, let’s talk about built in shelving. The front room is teeny tiny, so to save space I really wanted to build a nook around the sofa, kind of like this:

But with far less beige… Anyway, there are two problems. First, the chair rail. Yes, we can remove it, but blending in the texture is going to be a job x infinity. Second, I don’t know if we have enough depth on that side of the doorway — it’s about 12.” Any advice on how to handle this? Ideas?

Once again I am depending on you to solve all of my problems.

Why not get busy with world peace while you’re at it?

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Ask Sanders: Rossana’s Pear Green Nursery

It’s time for another installment in our Ask Sanders series, wherein some lucky reader has their decorating dilemma solved by our resident paint guru, Sanders Gibbs. It’s a dream come true, because in case you don’t already know, Sanders is a badass. But don’t take our word for it — if you live in Austin, go visit Benjamin Moore Hill Country Paints, where Sanders puts his talents to the test as store manager. Not in Austin? Catch up by reading this interview with Sanders here.

Without further ado, here’s reader Rossana’s question:

“My husband and I are in the process of painting the nursery. We have differing ideas about what this should look like, but we have at least found a nice compromise with the Ben Moore pear green. The gender is a surprise! The room is about a 10 x 12 room with lots and lots of windows and the one wall that is solid will be the one that we put the crib on, and this is the wall that we will paint Pear Green. Question is: what other color would be nice with PG?”

First of all, great choice! Pear Green is a bright and versatile shade that pairs (ahem) well with many colors. Sanders gave us a broad selection of gender neutral choices to pick from, and many can be mixed and matched to different effect.

pear green

Amp up the drama by mixing pear green with bold brights.

Or tone it down with neutrals. It works well either way.

For a baby’s room, you could play it sophisticated by painting the crib wall pear green, the other walls off white (Sanders gave us Mountain Peak White), and then adding in other colors through accessories and bedding. Or you could funk it up by painting the other three walls a jazzier color, and then using accessories in more neutral shades. Let’s take a look at some rooms with pear green and see how Sanders’ choices work in them.

This playroom in the home of Avocado and Papaya’s Jackie Kersh features a cute, classic palette of green, red and blue.

benjamin moore color palette

Here’s Sanders’ palette, which would work well in a gender neutral nursery: Pear Green with Chili Pepper Red and Peacock Blue.

Another playroom, via Cupcake Wishes and Unicorn Dreams.

And Sanders’ corresponding choices are Pear Green with Stardust and Violet Stone.

I know it’s not a kid’s room, but the color palette in this kitchen would be fab in a nursery.

Pear Green with Banana Yellow and Florida Keys Blue.

And then there’s this hotness — who cares if the Pear Green is on a couch and not a wall? Use your imagination goggles to see that this color combo is off the chain… Loves it.

Pear Green, Mountain Peak White and Silver Dollar. DRAMA. Add a dash of black here and there and you’ve got a winner for all ages.

And here are a couple more pretty palettes, just because I made them up all nice in photoshop:

The bold and the beautiful: Tequila Lime, Juneau Spring, Banana Yellow, Tangy Orange, and Pear Green.

Oh so quiet and sophisticated: Mountain Peak White (loving this white!), Silver Dollar, Taos Taupe and Light Khaki. Brilliant.

That’s it for this edition of Ask Sanders. Rossana, I hope there’s some helpful information here, and hey — maybe we inspired some of y’all out there to repaint. Or perhaps even have a baby… After all, what better excuse could there be to redecorate?

I’m leaving you with this picture of Ike and Sanders. Ike LOVES loves him some Uncle Sanders, mostly because Ike is obsessed with Sanders’ nametag, but also because Ike has good taste in people.

If any of you out there would like some professional advice regarding your painting dilemmas, send in a request and we’ll forward it to Sanders.

Thanks for sharing your expertise with us, Sanders!

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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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I (Don’t) Know What Boys Like

It’s been an eventful, loooooooooong weekend at Casa Erin. Our brand new cast iron sink arrived shattered in pieces, my in laws came to assemble cabinets and sew seat covers for us (yay!), and we found out that we’re having a boy. Oh, boy! Now, somehow — despite my initial instincts — I had convinced myself I was having a girl, so this was a little shocker. And I hope you won’t think I’m a terrible person for saying this, but it’s kind of scary. I mean, I know what girls like. We like unicorns and rainbows, purple and pink, and we like glitter. Sparkles rule! But growing up with two brothers has taught me little about boys, except that the rubber wheels on Tonka trucks get excellent traction in long hair, and being drenched by a bucket of cold water is not a nice way to wake up in the morning.

Decor for boys? Complete mystery.

For months I have been stuffing the guest room/nursery with thrifty toys, snippets and remnants from other projects, hoping the whole mixture will magically congeal into a happy baby wonderland. Now, I’m confused. Really confused.

baby deer

Will he appreciate my fondness for precious baby deer, other than to one day see them as dinner?

deer pillow

My dad is seriously going to jump straight out of his Carhart pants when he realizes we’re having a boy. He’s already got plans to buy baby hunting outfits and tiny rifles. I don’t suppose they make pink camo?


And I’m guessing my frilly scalloped pillow shams with mystery messages (anyone speak Vietnamese?) will have to go. I think boys like dragons, but I don’t think they like ruffles… unless I get really lucky and have a baby Miles Redd.

lion nursery

Maybe my favorite vintage piggy bank will make the cut. But I don’t know about these guys:

creepy clowns

I think that coulrophobia is probably gender neutral. The little guy is actually pretty cute, but the fleshy one looks like he hasn’t shaved for days and may be hiding a bottle of ripple behind his back.

marbro lamp

I wonder if my own little guy will appreciate the stellar deal I got on this gigantic Seguso for Marbro lamp ($25 at a thrift store). Or will it just end up all broken pearlescent glass, smashed into a hot mess by an epic Big Wheels accident?

Anybody want to buy a lamp?


Will he be soothed by the sounds of my Furby, or will he attack it with a hammer, ostensibly to figure out where the sounds come from? Not that I’ve ever seen one of my precious, precocious brothers do such a thing… (RIP, Happy Apple)

stuffed animals

I’ve been saving these since I was a teenager. Surely everyone loves monkeys and Pikachu? And Kermit? No one likes Miss Piggy, not even girls.



When he’s older, will he enjoy the books I have so conscientiously selected for guests? Perhaps I should warn him that some are much better than others.

Or maybe it’s best that he find out on his own.

While I struggle with tiny, inconsequential matters — like how to raise a boy when I myself am completely wang-free — I thought I’d ask you wonderful readers for ideas on how to decorate the nursery. Here’s a few overview images to set the stage:




Don’t mind the rolled up carpet and stacked piles of art in the corner; renovations have caused a fair amount of deco shuffling. We’d like to keep the bed and dresser in here, but I was thinking about moving the tall chest into the closet and putting this crib in this corner, so I can easily see it from the door.

This is the only room in the house that still retains its original band-aid beige wall paint (just say no to flesh toned paint!!!), so I definitely plan to paint over it. I was thinking of doing pale gray with black on the window wall, but now I’m thinking of gray all over and painting a colorful super graphic on the wall opposite the bed. I love this post that Molly over at Designer’s Brew did for a chill, gender neutral baby room. How would pale gray, aqua, tangerine, and maybe a hint of tomato red look together? Plus black, white and gold as neutrals.

Don’t worry — I will be editing the accessories. Severely. (If you live in Austin, stay tuned for garage sale info!) But, if I can, I think I’d like to keep this guy in the room:


He might just make up for losing the deer.

Ok, readers — especially those of you with boys — any sage decorating advice for a first time, shell shocked, mother to be?

And for everyone who perishes the thought of decorating a nursery, not to fear! I’ll be back on Thursday with expert paint advice in our very first Ask Sanders column.

But, wouldn’t you know it — all the rooms will be blue.

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King of Paint: Interview With Sanders P. Gibbs III

I am officially a paint snob, and it’s all Sanders’ fault. When we first started painting our house, I giddily skipped around the corner to Home Depot and completely denuded their paint sample wall. I mean, I took every. single. sample. While I ended up choosing one of their colors for my bathroom (which was a HIDEOUS and GLOSSY macaroni yellow mistake that got painted over not once, but twice), I couldn’t find a color for my kitchen or bedroom to save my life. I must have bought 30 samples (no lie!) and every one of them skewed red or blue or looked muddy or garish — I’m sure many of you have had the same frustrating experience with paint. Dragging my heels in defeat, I drove the extra two whole miles to Benjamin Moore after reading countless blogs’ shining praise of their paint and color selections. That’s where I met Sanders.


Sanders has this crazy encyclopedic knowledge of color that he started accruing way back in 1997 while working for Benjamin Moore, and he’s now the manager of South Austin’s Hill Country Paint. If you tell him a color name, that man can give you the number. He helped me pick several different shades for my house, and remembers every color I’ve even chosen. In short, even though Benjamin Moore’s paint is more expensive than Home Depot’s, Sanders has saved me a lot of money and time. He even talked my cheap behind (and Karly’s) into buying the $50 a gallon Aura paint, and I will never buy another paint again. It covers like a dream, and it even smells delicious (low VOC rocks!). Do I sound like I get my paint for free? I don’t. It’s just good paint.

The power of paint to transform a space is divine, and since I first met Sanders I’ve painted almost every room in this house, so we’ve seen each other relatively frequently. When Karly and I started this blog, we told him about it and Sanders is now one of our oldest readers. He still reads it every night, and can recite all of our adventures in detail (which is slightly unnerving, and reminds me that I need to be more careful about what I write). So I promised Sanders that as soon as we had more than 5 readers, I would make him TOTALLY FAMOUS by interviewing him.

When the day finally comes, I walk in and ask if he’s ready, and he says he’s so nervous he couldn’t sleep last night. I laugh because I’m pretty used to Sanders telling me what’s what in his kingdom, and it’s mildly entertaining to see his swagger a little diminished. But as soon as we sit down to talk paint, he’s all cool, calm and collected business again. I tell him that a lot of interior designers are currently painting spaces black and ask him what he thinks about that. (photo via Living etc.)

black room

He looks a little bemused, pointing at himself in his black shirt, and stutters slightly, “W-w-wellllll….” It’s pretty clear he doesn’t like the idea, but to say so goes against his first priority, which is to give the customer what he or she wants. He goes on to say that he wouldn’t personally paint his home black, and certainly not black black, but maybe a “shade of black. It’s a personal choice.” I ask him if he thinks dark colors make small spaces look smaller, and he says, “Dark colors are fine for small spaces. The right tone of color works for a certain unique space. You don’t have to stick to whites and pastels. Dark colors can lend masculinity and power to a room.” He does say that natural light is helpful for a small, dark space, “because light is your ally,” and also to stick to “small scale, sleek furnishings” so that the room doesn’t feel too heavy and oppressive. I ask him to pick a black color palette, and this is what he chooses.

black color palette

I then ask him about white, since it seems overwhelmingly to be the most popular paint color in all the decor magazines. (photo via Living etc.)


He frowns a little and hesitates. Nope, not white, either — although he is careful not to say that explicitly. He says that if you have great architecture and lots of light, white can be good, but again, not pure white. “Off white is rich and soft.” I ask for his favorite whites, and this is the palette he chooses:


By the way, if you buy the Aura paint and you’re painting a light color over a light color, you can probably get away with only one coat if you’re a good painter. It worked for me in several rooms, it looks good, and I saved a lot of time and paint. But sssshhhhhh, don’t tell Sanders, ok?! His favorite thing to say is “Two coats! two coats!”

Alright, I say, how about gray? His face lights up. A string of happy expletives tumble out. Mothereffing yes! Yes, gray is good! In fact, Sanders knows many of them by heart, including the ones I have chosen for my house (Abalone and Silver Fox, as well as Karly’s Harbor Gray). “Gray is neutral, but not boring. It’s versatile.” (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Bilhuber)

jeffrey bilhuber

If you’ve ever tried to pick a shade of gray paint, you know how hard it is. Nothing is quite pure gray. Sanders points to all the undertones in the different shades, and stresses the importance of choosing a gray that looks good in your personal space. “The biggest mistake people make is not buying samples. Everyone’s light is different and paint changes in the environment it’s in.” I ask him if people often come in complaining about their paint selections and he says, “No. It’s ’cause I make sure they get a sample.” That and Sanders is a color matching wizard, capable of choosing something great to match the rest of your house, or custom mixing the shade of your dreams. Here are his picks for grays:

sanders' gray picks

As we chat, Sanders eats his lunch and we reminisce about how we became friends. For some reason, early on he asked me where I was from and when I told him it was Texarkana (a tiny town at the corner of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana), he said he had lived there for several years, too. We spent the better part of an hour laughing about how craptacular T-town can be, and we’ve been pals ever since. There’s nothing like bonding over harrowing times, to be sure. I ask him about his son, who is now three months old, and his face is downright beatific. “He’s growing and changing and adapting to his new world.” It’s obvious that his son is the apple of his eye, and I ask him what colors he painted the nursery. He tells me that he has light wood floors and this is his household color palette:

sander's house

And I imagine that his house looks something like this, with a shot of lime in the baby’s room:


(photo via The Style Files) Very cozy, right?

Since so many people are pretty clueless about the nuances of color, I ask him how he might help a person who has no idea what they want. “I would ask them about their favorite foods, you know, places where they might go to vacation, what their interests are.” What about the whole psychology of color theory, where red is hungry, blue is soothing, etc? Sanders shakes his head and says, “Different strokes for different folks. People should have unique colors. The Dewey Decimal System of color is not the way to go. It’s an outdated idea.” What about the idea that you choose colors that look good on you, so you always look good in your environment? He shakes his head again. Another string of verrrrrry funny expletives, and I start giggling. A browsing customer looks my way and I try to take it down a notch. “You don’t need to choose colors that look good on you, but clothing choices may reveal fondness for colors. You don’t have to keep the staus quo, though.”

I go on to quiz Sanders on some technical stuff and things, so here is Sanders’ Wisdom, from him to you:

For walls, matte or glossy: MATTE. Definitely.

Even for bathrooms: Yes.

What about for trim: Glossy, and oil will give it that extra kapow ZING. (insert hand motions here)

What kind of paint do you use for concrete floors: For low sheen, use paint grade concrete stain, which is not a true acid stain. For an opaque paint, use latex Porch and Floor paint (also good for wood floors). For a glossy finish, use an oil base paint.

Can you paint tile: Yes, but you MUST use a 100% acrylic primer. Then you can cover with any paint, but the primer is the key.

How about a bathtub: No. You need an epoxy paint for that.

As we finish up, I thank Sanders for his time and expertise, and he gets all nervous again. “Don’t bash me, ok?” Don’t worry, Sanders. There’s nothing to bash!



This write up is running long, so tune in on Thursday to see Sanders’ picks for the hottest new color trends. His palette is so on point, Elle Decor UK is currently running some of the same picks. I promise it will be the super antidote to fall and winter’s dreary, gray days.

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