In 2000, we moved from the city to the country of California in the Sierra foothills near Bass Lake. For five years, I planned the decoration of my dream, a casual camp-style ranch house on a pretty steep slope. In February 2004, the building began and that August we moved into our trailer to wait for the house to be finished.
Painting interiors of a mountain house
Painting a house 12 different colors? Am I crazy? I don’t think so and see if you agree that a many colored house can be quite wonderful!
The painters painted the entire house interior white and the builder admitted that it would only serve as a base or prime coat. He was right,…it washed right off.. My husband jokes that as they were leaving, I came in with my buckets and began painting every room a different color. It’s true. But, for the year previously, I had planned what furniture and decoration would be in each room by clipping magazine photos and keeping a notebook of ideas, likes and dislikes for each room.
First with the help of design templates, the purpose of each room was defined. In this house, is a great room open to the kitchen, which would be our main living area, an entertaining space and the heart of our home. Off the great room was a den that could be closed off from the main living area. This was a concept of of an ‘Away Room,’ inspired by Sarah Susanka, in her book, The Not So Big House. A hall bath, guest room for family and visitors and our own bedroom and bath were at one end of the house and the garage and utility room at the other side of the living area forming a long ranch style house.
Each template sheet with a floor plan and notes was placed in a folder of the notebook and ideas added over the year. Paint chips for the main color, ceiling and trim were added. As the date to start my painting became closer the pressure mounted and I needed to decide on the exact colors and the amounts to buy. As the painter’s worked I made my list and at the paint store it took an hour or more to have everything mixed up. That was a fun day.!
When I could finally start, I assembled all my painting tools, set up a CD player with all my music, from 70s rock and roll to Mozart. Everyone who undertakes a painting job knows that half the job is preparation. Not so in this case! I would leave the trim in each room the ‘Swiss Coffee’ white semi-gloss and since the paint was fresh, I could just start with the fun part,….adding color!
Color blocking is what was done in the great room with 4 walls each painted a different color. Two walls were a soft yellow gold, called ‘Quiet Veranda.’ One accent wall was a terracotta that I mixed myself starting with one called ‘Miami Spice’ which turned out too pink. I was shooting for a true terracotta clay pot color that I saw on a cover of a book. Also on this book cover was a clear watery blue color called ‘Americana.’ That color went on the inset which was formed by the bay window on one long wall. The rest of that wall which includes the front door was made a warm beige, ‘Oat Straw.’
Off this large room the den was painted a dark red called ‘Leatherbound’. The ceiling was left white in this room as well as the great room and kitchen. A faded blue and white striped material was used as a valance.
The kitchen has creamy off white tile counters and light oak cabinets. One wall, the soft yellow, extended into the kitchen. Another was painted a soft teal, ‘Bon Voyage.’ Later the buffet we used as a kitchen island was painted the Americana color.
Looking through the door in the teal kitchen wall to the utility room shows its color a very pale sage green called ‘Rejuvenate.’
The hall bath was paneled with white ‘bead board,’ and above that, painted a lavender blue, the color of faded blue jeans.
The master bedroom was in Americana blue, with the teal, Bon Voyage, in the vanity area. The bath itself was painted the sage green. The wall behind the bed is dramatic, a dark blue called ‘Nocturnal Sea.’
I started a collection of oil paintings of pines. Shown below is an original watercolor of Yosemite by a local artist. Phyllis Overstreet.
The guest room is most conventional in an off white called , ‘Raffia Cream.’ The ceilings in all the rooms were kept white, except for the bedrooms, which were painted ‘Rocky Mountain Sky.’ More vintage saris serve as draperies here, too.
All parts of the rather plain white ceiling fan was sponge painted in the ceiling color to ‘disappear’ it.
It was only later that I realized that I had painted the house variations of red, blue, green, yellow, lavender and orange. Better than white!
For more on house planning, see