No-Money Remodel #3: Kitchen, Entry & Paint?

The upstairs priming is finally finished.


This was such a lousy week for Kids 5 & 6 to stop taking naps (and kid 6 to revolt against potty training.) Took for-ever.


Anyway, with the walls white there are already some projects that are jumping out at me—some small, some big:


So those projects have been added to the list.

Now that the kitchen and entry way red paint are gone and I thought I was ready to start painting the main wall color, but I’ve hit a bit of a snag.

The color.

I have two nearly full 5 gallon buckets of “builder’s beige,” but my heart’s just not in it.

I know, I know. Beggars can’t be choosers.

It’s just that having The Red House was something that set us apart from the literally hundreds of other identical homes with the identical floor plan in our neighborhood. And Mr. Thrive isn’t thrilled about going back to beige, either. After I got done with the priming he took a look around and said, “Congratulations. It looks exactly like when we moved in.”

So I’ve got two options and could really use your input because here’s the thing:

I’m so not a decorator.

I started following blogs a few years back to get ideas for my house because I’m terrible at designing rooms.

I’m a junker.


An I-so-can-make-that-catalog-thing-from-scratcher.

But a decorator? Not so much.

So here’s my choices:

#1:  Stay The Course – Go With Beige

No one rocks the whole beige/cream + white look like Ballard Designs. And they’re beautiful and amazing and full of perfectly placed wall hangings and knick knacks. And maybe that’s why beige is so intimidating: I don’t get to rely on bold color to “carry” a room and do half the design work for me. I’ll actually have to figure out all those little details that make a room work.

So the kitchen would go from this …


… to something like this: cream walls + white to-be-added backsplash, trim, pantry + black accents on the cabinets and maybe floors.


(It’s actually more of a contrast than it looks like here and the cream has more of a yellow cast than pink, but you get the idea.)

I’m thinking more like this color scheme from Ballard Designs:


Cream walls + white trim + black accents.

#2:  Start Mixing Paint and Hope For The Best

In addition to all the beige, I also have a couple partial gallons of slate grey, medium grey, black and dark brown that I could start mixing with the beige base. I’m crushing on grey at the moment and love the idea of having light grey walls and white bead board to go with my black kitchen cabinets and living room couches. 

Something like this: grey walls+ black cabinets + new white back splash and pantry + fun b/w fabric curtains, etc.


I also wouldn’t mind going the brown route either and trying for mocha color.


But will that even work?

Have any of you ever mixed a cream base + dark paint and come up with a color that worked? Is it awesome or way too yellow-y? I have a long history of selecting terrible paint colors and don’t want to waste the only paint I have.

So … what would you recommend?

Beige?  And if so, what accents for pillows or art would you put with it?

Blue/greens like this Ballard Designs look:


Source: Ballard Designs Online

Something different?

– or –

Go for grey?

Or mocha?

Any mixing tips or please-for-the-love-don’t-ever-ever-EVER-do-this tips?

I’m serious about this. I need your advice. Leave me a comment or drop me an email at choosetothriveblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

In the mean time, the kids and I are working on other areas around the upstairs:

1) Sanding the acres of bead board in the kitchen and living room to get rid of all that lovely “wood”


2) Sanding down this book case from the living room for a much needed make over


3) Washing those dusty light covers in the kitchen.

Thanks for your help!


26 thoughts on “No-Money Remodel #3: Kitchen, Entry & Paint?”

  1. I have never mixed paint. I have no tips or tricks. What I am about to say may completely blow up, but out of all of the looks that you've offered, I'd go gray. Going gray isn't so bad… 😉

    Good luck!

  2. I've never actually mixed paint myself. Could you ask the guys at home depot paint counter? Mayby they could tell you what mixes you could make? The new walls look great though! Im having the same issue in my house, I want new colors but #1 it takes cash and #2 have no idea what color I want to paint. 🙂

  3. I like the grey/blue route. I have successfully mixed paint. Once I painted my kitchen only to find I hated the green color. I had to change it that night before hubby got home from camping. I just mixed a bunch of leftover paint I had and got a tan and loved it. Another time I mixed white and dark brown and painted a bathroom. This one is on my blog under my boys surf bathroom. Check it out!!

  4. Personally, I love the red. Can you put it back? Otherwise the mocha. My kitchen has 3 cinnamon apple red walls and one mocha. The mocha wall is the common wall with the living room, that's painted all mocha. Please don't go beige. 🙂

  5. I personally love the beige/cream route. You can do so many things with it. It's easier to "change your accessories" for different seasons and holidays with that neutral color. Plus I think they would lighten up the house while gray or brown would keep it fairly dark. Just my thoughts though. Do what you love. If you don't love the beige, I wouldn't do it. If you're like me, you'll hate it within a week.

  6. I am personally in LOVE with grey right now. I bought a grey duvet cover for the master bedroom when we moved in. I couldn't decide for the longest time what color to paint the walls but I've finally decided on a slate-blue (ish) color. I think the grey walls in your kitchen would look awesome with your black cabinets and white backsplash. And throwing in the blue color with curtains, pillows and accents would be awesome. Also, the whole bird trend that's going on right now has a lot of blue stuff. I've found cheap birds and bird material at garage sales even. I have no idea how to mix paints so I'm no help there. All the ideas are cute – good luck!

  7. Take a 1/4 cup of the beige paint put a tablespoon of say the dark brown in it. Paint a swatch on a piece of poster board let dry and see what you get.

    Had a brain storm! Have you thought about painting the background beige and then speckling or splattering the other colors over it? Had a friend do this to her living room and it was pretty cool looking. She practiced on pieces of poster board to get the look she wanted. She splattered three or four colors over the base coat. There are direction on the web for it.

    I also think painting it beige and then stenciling borders with pin strips might work too.

    Disclaimer: I'm a pastel person myself because it makes the rooms look larger and light-n-airy. Pale colors are also calming. Might be something you want to keep in mind with six children.

  8. I like the gray idea with your black cabinets for the kitchen but maybe only on the shorter walls. It would show off your pictures and plates well but would be too much if you also went on the long wall into the living room. As far as mixing, as long as they are the same base type (oil, latex, etc) they will mix up fine and you can test the final color on just a white paper plate. Let dry then add more of the base or more of the tint. Another way is to get a paint chip that you like and try to match it by putting a dot of the mixed up paint on the chip until it dries as close as possible to that color.

  9. Heidi is the champion paint mixer! What does she say — I also love her say on a room — she is my go to person 🙂
    That being said — I personally could never live in a beige house, or wear beige, or paint beige. But I think a few months ago Better Homes Garden had a lovely article on the virtues of beige 🙂
    Would Gray be too dreary for you ? Would mocha be too dark ? What do your kids vote for?

    Make sure the reasons you didn't like the red aren't going to be the same reasons you don't like your new color.
    good luck! I can't wait to see your decision. And whatever you decide — I am sure you will make it fabulous!!

  10. I am absolutely NOT a decorator, either, so my advice may not carry much weight, but I LOVE they way the lighter color opens up your kitchen! It looks so much bigger in there now! I'm also really liking that lighter color with the black accent…something about it seems so classy. I also agree with what's already been said: A lighter color will enable you to change the accessories around to match changing seasons, moods, holidays, etc.
    I moderately like the grey, but hate the mocha with the black cabinets. If it were my house and I painted the walls mocha, I'd have to change the cabinets, but I like the black cabinets, so I wouldn't do mocha. That's what I prefer though, and tastes are different for everyone. Good luck!

  11. I think a very light grey would be lovely with white trim and black cabinets… and maybe some bright yellow accents…

  12. I love the idea of a light gray + black cabinets + some bright yellow accents. With crisp white trim it would be lovely.

    I wouldn't choose the mocha with the black cabinets for my own home – it seems a bit dark and heavy for my taste. Luckily we all are different! If you do go this route – have you considered painting the beige and then just having one or two accent mocha walls? That way you will have your bold colour to carry the room + it wouldn't feel so heavy?

    Sorry for rambling – it is fun dreaming (especially if someone else is doing the work + living with the consequences 🙂

  13. Hmmm. HARD decisions! I would take a little bit of the paint and try mixing it. When I did this, I tried to be careful to remember the ratio of what to what when I mixed, so if I liked it I could re-create it with all the paint. For example, three parts beige to one part brown, one part green, or whatever. In our last house I successfully mixed colors several times like this.
    I love the gray idea! Seems great with your colors. That said, we moved into a rental a few months ago with beige/tan walls, and I am really liking it. So that could be a great solution, too. You are good at rocking what ya got, so don't be too scared! 🙂

  14. I've never mixed paint before, but I saw go for it if you aren't going to be happy with the beige! I would do the grey. It would look awesome with your cabinets. Also you could possibly see if a local hardware store would color the beige paint you have for a small few…just a thought.

  15. Ok, so I am so not a beige person either. We actually are moving into a house that needed a little sprucing up, even though it is a rental, the landlord just does not care. Me on the other hand can't stand white walls. So, I went to painting. I am not going to put tons of money into this place since it is not ours but I do want to be able to live in it without wanting to pull my hair out. SO, I went and bought mistinted paint. Found a pink that my daughter is in LOVE with and found a semi-brown that my boys liked but not loved. I did however find some small paint samples for like a quarter that I thought I would try to mix in. I started with somewhere between 1/8-1/4 of a cup of paint and added the smallest amount of the other colors to it until I found a color that I thought I would like. One small batch I just hated and the other one I loved and so do my boys. It went up and cost under $8.00 for all of the paint that I mixed to make a gallon.
    My best tip is to start with a little color because you can always add more but you can't go back as easy. Next make sure you mix both buckets together with the tint so that it is all the same. Finally remember that it always dries a little darker so use your test sample first and let it dry before you mix it all.
    Good luck I can wait to see!
    I like the black and mocha, but I just had a friend do a fabulous job with grey. You will be the one deciding upon the intensity.

  16. Hi Nike! I'm back–not posting-anything-myself back, but back enough to comment on your quandry. It's just too tempting to be asked for advice :). I'm loving the grey and black. The right grey will not be cold–kind of dove grey so it has a little warmth in it. Although again, beggars can't be choosers, so maybe it will be hard to achieve that perfect mix of grey with begged/borrowed/hopefully-not-stolen paint. I have mixed paint and had it turned out well. I read an article about paint mixing in "This Old House" last year (I think??). Ah yes–here is the link:,,20237806,00.html. Some good tips. Could you work out and keep track of the proportions of paint that you experimentally mix (like 1 tsp of your beige and 2 tsp of your grey)? That way, when you hit on a mixture you like, you can put a sample on the wall and know your "recipe" before doing it with larger quantities. If you keep the proportions the same, then your end result should be pretty close, right? Although after voting for the grey, it must be said–I love white and black/creamy beige and black. My closet is a sea of those colors. They are so versatile and classy. Love that picture from Ballard Designs. Oooo-brain wave–you could get a black/cream checked curtain for that cupboard above the fridge as a nod to your inspiration picture.

  17. Well, I have a cream walls with a brown accent wall, is that something that would work for you? that way you don't have to go through the hassle of mixing the paint, but still it will be different from just using one color, it gives rooms a fuller warmer feel, without the color being invasive in any way… Good luck!

  18. I have tried to mix paint. I was trying to make a dresser look more beige. I mixed some white into a darker brown. It looked like puke when it dried. I wouldn't suggest it. I am not a designer, but I have done some cute things in our house and really love painting. I would go beige baby! The black looked so amazing. Especially if you can do the black & cream checkers. With your cupboards and how creative you are, you could so pull it off and make it your own. Not like all the others in your neighborhood. That's why I read your blog, you have the best ideas!!!
    We have a split level except we have the living room & kitchen on the main floor, bedrooms upstairs and school/playroom downstairs. Since our living room is attached to the stairs and hall going up I was scared to repaint. I did a light gray and it came out nice. Gray would be nice for you too, but maybe as an accent wall since all of your walls are connected it might be too much. Sorry to not be much of a help, but you can go to Sherwin Williams website and use their digital room visualizer. Just upload your pic and play until you find what you like!!

  19. Love the gray. I think it gives more options as it is still neutral but not boring builder beige. I'm sure it will be fab whatever you do.

  20. You may want to check with your local store, but my local Home Depot will re-tint a colour for free. And if you're starting with beige they can probably re-tint it pretty much any colour of the rainbow. Sorry, that probably didn't narrow down your choices much, but if there's a colour you're dying to try, it may now be an option. I think with black cabinets, I'd try something like a nice pale dingy aqua blue, especially if you get lots of light. I like Martha Stewart for Valspar "Vintage Map", and also Benjamin Moore's "Irish Spring"….just a thought.

  21. Oh, and I forgot to mention, if you like a colour, and have the paint chip, you can get Home Depot to colour match it, so you can get a paint colour from any paint company.

  22. I've done the decorate-on-no-money-with tiny-kids thing and my solution to the light-and-dark paint paradox was; to paint the walls the light colour (white, beige, magnolia, whatever) mix up a mid range of light and dark and sponge the walls with it, and then sponge again with a layer of the dark. The sponged colour had some depth and texture and, if the kiddies got to it, I would just sponge the creativity/disaster area with some reserved paint. I usually did this with beige and red, because, like you, I really, really like red rooms.

    Does anyone sponge or drag walls any more? This was a while ago.

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