2013: The Year of My Beige Living Room

This April, it will have been five years since we moved into our home.  We fell in love with this floorplan as soon as we walked in.  The living room is 2 stories tall with a huge bank of windows.  There is a lofted area upstairs which is the perfect area for our kids’ playroom and will later be a good hangout area for them.  The entire space is very open and filled with natural light.

Because this is a builder’s home, we didn’t have a ton of say about the details.  We were able to pick the finish of the light fixtures, cabinet doors and counter tops.  We had the very painstaking (Ha!  No, not really.) choice of light beige or dark beige for our walls.  The same went for the beige tile and the beige carpet.  To say we bought a builder’s beige home is an understatement.  It should really be called a Builder’s Beigeity McBeige home.

Most of the rooms in my home have undergone some sort of transformation.  You’ve seen the Master Bedroom.  The Power Room.  The Playroom.  Zack’s Room.  Emma’s Room.  My Office.  But, what I rarely show you is my living room and entry way.

Why?  Well, here’s why.

A Very Beige "Before" Living Room | Makely School for Girls

It’s kind of tall.  Like so tall that we can’t reach the top of the walls and ceiling with a ladder, so it hasn’t seen a drop of paint.  The existence of that ceiling fan kills me, because the particular finish of the blades is not a wood that exists anywhere in nature (No, we didn’t have a choice on that one.).  And my sofas – which I just loved in 2006 – are not exactly my style any longer.  I could go on and on, but I won’t.

My beige problem with this room extends past this area, though.  Because our home is so open, we have to address this wall at the same time.

A Very Beige "Before" Living Room | Makely School for Girls

And while we’re at it, this area has to receive some attention, too.  Can you see how not awesome it looks next to the playroom?

A Very Beige "Before" Living Room | Makely School for Girls

This open space that we fell in love with is just like the Energizer Bunny – it keeps going and going and going…

A Very Beige "Before" Living Room | Makely School for Girls

Wowzers.  That’s a lot of “before” photos, huh?  I didn’t want any of you to think that these were my “after” shots.  I don’t have any second thoughts about choosing our home (we love it), but the decorator’s voice in me was quieted by the openness and natural light.

Because I’m a backwards decorator, I always think about wall color first.  I’ve struggled with finding the right color for this giant space, and it’s actually kept me up at night.  The color itself isn’t really the issue, but we are only going to get one shot at it.  It’s going to be a huge production to paint these walls and ceilings, which will involve massive amounts of painter’s tape, plastic sheeting and scaffolding or a scissor lift that will fit through our front door.  It’s actually so intimidating that I wake up each morning hoping that the magic paint fairy has paid me a visit.  For the record, she has not.

This year, my primary focus will be this area in my home.  I’ve actually decided that I will paint the ceilings and walls bright white (aka Lindsay White, the custom Glidden color I have the paint counter at Home Depot make for me).  My plan is to take advantage of all the weird levels and bump outs and do color and pattern there.  They will be easier to change in the long run and I won’t have to rent another scissor lift.  I’m also planning on ripping out the tile (I’m still in negotiations with Tom about that) and carpet (that’s a given – it’s pet/child destroyed) and replacing it with an easier to take care of floor covering.  The furniture will be vinage and/or thrifted, and of course be awesome.  I have lots of fun ideas and projects in store.

Are y’all ready to go on this adventure with me?  I’m going to need lots of handholding and “It’s going to be okay”s.  Are you up for the challenge?

Filed Under: Create Your Decor, Decorate Your Home, Paint Your Walls

About Lindsay Ballard

Lindsay Ballard is a former college mascot turned political geek turned DIY fanatic who is conspiring to live in a Technicolor dream world. Her designs are bold and graphic, while her spirit is fun and full of color. Lindsay chronicles her projects and design ideas here at Makely, where she shares daily tutorials and inspiration. Lindsay lives outside of Austin, Texas with her husband (Tom), children (Zack and Emma) and dogs (Jack and Duke).


  1. Oh man, we had the SAME issue with hallways running into rooms and no stopping point to make a decent transition. I also have an issue with doing any design to a room before painting. We waited a year (wait I should say I waited a year, because I’m the one who paints everything in this house!) before finally deciding on a new color to cover up the yellow-y beige builder’s choice, which was quite similar to yours. Our house is not quite as open as yours… but there is a lack of transition between the major walkways. And the change makes such a HUGE difference! In the last month I painted the kitchen, 1st floor hallway, foyer, upstairs hallway, and stairwell all in Valspar’s Tempered Gray. It’s a really nice modern update. Now to hang some stuff on these walls finally!

    • Forgot to add, if you haven’t yet heard of a product like the Black and Decker Rapid Roller, that holds paint in the extension handle, I highly recommend one if you plan to paint on you own. It made my job so much faster and easier when standing on the ladder to not have a paint tray or need to dip every few times I rolled on paint.

      • I haven’t used that one, but I had an “incident” with one of those handle filled rollers. I need to write about it in detail because it’s pretty entertaining, but I basically squirted myself directly in the eye with it. My husband has banned me from using them, as there was lots of “I’m BLIND!” screaming going on. :)

  2. AH! I can’t wait to see the beige-ness be transformed!

  3. Ahh! So funny! i just painted some test areas in our master bedroom to get rid of the beige! Decided on: http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/paint-color/babyfawn
    But it looks way more gray in real life!
    Also, just painted our master bath this morning this color:
    and i love it!!
    Can’t wait to see what you decide on! and the results! Good luck!! – after the bedroom I have our two story ceilings to tackle in the family room, foyer, and dining room as well! …oiy!!

  4. Your home is gorgeous. I like your idea to add patterns in the nooks. Good luck!

  5. Just a suggestion if you haven’t checked, but my parents had a similar issue as you do with 2 story ceilings and feared painting for quite some time. My mom finally could not stand the builder’s cream anymore and decided to at least get an estimate on someone else painting it. It was by far, much cheaper than her and my dad doing it, and it was done in a little over a day.

    • That is DEFINITELY a consideration that we need to look into, Jessica. It would be so nice to just get it done. Do you know if they brought in scaffolding or how the painters did it?

  6. I’m excited to see what you do with this room… we have a very similar living room layout, minus the incredibly tall ceilings–they are vaulted, but not that high! and its very open to other rooms…. plus windows on that wall. and I really struggle with what type of furniture to use and how to set it up for the best use of the space!
    Waiting anxiously! : )

    • Thanks, Amy! I’ll definitely be posting my progress as I go. Furniture layout is a struggle with me in there, too. Together, we’ll get it figured out. Hopefully! :)

  7. Love your home! Although a little bit different our foyers are almost the same. We also had the huge vaulted ceilings in the living/dining. We knocked out that wall and made a great room out of the three rooms. Has made such a huge difference. We finally hired out to paint since it was so scary to get on those tall ladders. We have all the top windows framed but the two in the middle because we are too chicken :)

  8. Giiiirl, I am excited to see the color courageous pops throughout…I just painted 2 walls in both my fam room and livingroom delicate white by Vaspar and then did 2 walls in each room Valspar la fonda teal in the living room and jalepeno jelly in the fam room, I am in love with all 3 colors.
    The 2 rooms do not connect, they are separated by my kitchen which is delicate white with teal and apple green accesories.

    Finally I got really color courageous and painted the doors in my delicate white hallway between the kitchen and living room jalepeno jelly.

    My 3 yr okd son and husband came home and were like “whoa” after the door painting, it’s definitely different but I am really digging it.

    Good luck and i cannot wait to see what you come up with!!!!

  9. I totally feel your pain – all three bedrooms in our house have 13-foot vaulted ceilings and our stairwell going up there is 2 stories. I love the tall ceilings, but I have not been looking forward to the painting, especially the stairs. Our master actually has never been repainted in the 30-odd years since the house was built! This is our year to paint them all. Since I am especially not keen on painting in the stairwell, we are definitely planning to have someone come in and do it all at once – walls and ceiling. Normally, I love painting, but there’s something about those high ceilings that worries me. I’m excited to see the outcome … hopefully, it will be as fantastic as yours will be!

  10. We are dealing with the exact same problem in our living room. Ceilings are so high that I only get one chance to get the paint color right….because the Lord knows we aren’t doing it twice.

  11. If your remodel leads to another rug, I live in Austin and would happily take that one of your hands. I may even be willing to paint for it :) Can’t wait to see what comes next!


    • It could be yours, Anna! LOL I love it (it’s SOOO soft), but I’m afraid it’s not going to be as bright as I want in there. We’ll have to see how it all comes together.

  12. I love our open floor plan with cathedral celings but it’s hard to find a paint color that works for all the walls. We currently have hand trowled glazed walls and it’s driving me crazy. Where do I begin! Do I sand down the trowled wall or just paint right over them? We also have stained and stamped concrete floors that I hate and want to cover with hardwood.I’m alittle color shy.

    • Gosh, I don’t know what to do with those walls. I bet you will end up having to sand it or something. I have no idea how that works.

      But, I do feel your pain on the stained concrete. We had them in our old house and HATE doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt about them. UGH.

  13. I can’t wait to see what you do!! We have a similar issue, two story foyer & living room with a catwalk seperating the two. We were lucky that the previous owners painted before we moved in so it’s not a builder’s beige, but still pretty close with a little bit of green mixed in. It’s neutral enough that it doesn’t clash, but I would like a bit more color on my walls. We’ve lived with it for almost 7 years now & I don’t see us making a change on our own. My hubby & I both are afraid of heights so when I can’t stand the color any longer we’ll have to save up for a pro. :) Good luck on the transformation!!!

  14. I completely, TOTALLY understand. Our living room is a two-story vaulted space, too.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the people who say “oh paint is an easy fix” came and fixed our spaces? LOL.

    When you’re talking extension ladders and scaffolding, it isn’t easy. My hubs told me to pick a color carefully, because that’s what it’ll be for a long time. That was six years ago. We’re starting the process of repainting now, and once again, the choice has to be something we can live with for another six years.

    What hue(s) are you leaning towards? I chose Misty Gray by Benjamin Moore. Light and bright for this go-round :)

    • Honestly, I think I’m going to just go white and then bring in some color/pattern in the weird bump outs and nooks that we have. It’s hard for *me* to consider white, but I want to do brightly colored furniture and dark floors. We’ll see – I could change my mind tomorrow!

      • White is a great choice. It’s a nice clean backdrop to style as you like — and change as you like. Can’t wait to see what shade of white you choose.

  15. I am excited to see the transformation!! I am in the same boat! Open floor plan with two,story walls in a color I don’t love!!

  16. These ceilings are crazy scary high. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do!

  17. I LOVE your tall ceilings. I do not envy you on the painting, though. I say go crazy and do spring green :)

  18. I’ve had the same problem with tall ceilings at my home. Finally after weeks of chosing and looking of colors me and my wife decided topaint the walls in very light green and the ceilingin white. The carpet and the sofa are beige but out unit is a combination with bright yellow and brown. It actully worked pretty well with us. I don’t know is it a good idea to paint one of the walls in diffent color? It might look well. Your house looks great, though congrats on your work.

  19. Oh MAN. I am SO feeling for you on the GIGANTIC task of painting ALL. THOSE. WALLS. I was hurting for you when I saw the tall ceilings in the living room, but then with each photo that showed how much those walls just go on and on, I cringed a little more. Not because it’s bad – it’s not! – but because wow. That is going to be a JOB. (Is this the least encouraging comment ever? I’m so sorry! haha). We painted our whole common area when we moved in, and I’m not loving the color, but it’s staying for a loooong time because to paint one room would mean painting the whole downstairs, into the upstairs and into the hallway. *sighhhh.* Can’t wait to see how yours turns out!

  20. Let’s do this thing!!!!!!! 😀
    SO excited to see what you have fun creating!

  21. I rented a scaffolding from an equipment rental place. It was easy to put together and I fit it into my Honda mini van. Since I rented it over a long weekend, I got two extra days, and it only cost me $100. I have also painted my stairs with a super long handle and Mr. Long arm brush holder extension kit that you can buy at Home Depot. Since I was painting my walls white, I didn’t worry too much about hitting the trim with the roller or brush. Either way it wont Just a few DIY options. Good luck either way is not easy, but worth it.

  22. Lindsay,
    I suggest you go to House Beautiful and search for an article/link on paint neutrals. There are other choices besides white if you want to go neutral and add color in the nooks and bumpouts, which is a good strategy.
    I have painted various rooms of my house all different colors over the years. Now I am loving a color named Pensive Sky by Behr. When a room comes due for a painting, i use Pensive Sky. All the rooms are now this color. My furniture and wall pictures look fabulous against it and the color makes me smile. You’ll find your color.

  23. I love your gorgeous tall ceilings & windows! Can’t wait to see how you transform the space :)

  24. elizabeth adams says:

    my house has an open floorplan- i hate it- the house was purchased by my husband before we got married- so i just make the most of it. i think of wall color first- for me it sets the tone for the rest of the areas design. since our house is open i decided to paint the walls whatever color i wanted- so long as they fell on the same side of the color wheel- the ones that have doors do not follow this rule- they are whatever color went with the bedding i loved that day-
    anyway- what i did to tie my areas together was using a chocolate brown in the open areas- it goes with everything- so it’s not like it will clash-
    in my reading nook has ivory walls so i painted a 36″ horizontal stripe of chocolate brown- it connects to the den- i painted the mantle chocolate brown- our kitchen is a moss green- i did a faux brick backsplash with tones of chocolate brown and in the sunroom there is a dark brown rug- my foryer has drapes that are paisley with chocolate brown- it was the only way i could do it.

  25. Boy you do some fun Out of box stuff…that I so love….the drum lamp for real…how cool and the plants via bedframe…same love ..painting walls…..like yours been their…one it is hard to rent scaffolds because for the lay person the liability…we have done the lifts four times in the 20 years of our house outside and in…if you opt for doing it yourself….clear the area of everything the new lifts are really heavy I mean crazy heavy getting from the rental location was out problem…up and down the ramps….of the trailer we learned the hard way and when loading back up we got a come a long…..When you go to use, the legs to support the lift come on and off…and must be level for the lift to power on….once you get into the swing of it…its really easy to use….we changed out our ceiling fan and still a shade of beige but a deeper tone that is more dramatic then builders tones….best of luck on the painting

    • Thanks so much for those tips, Kathryn! I’m kind of nervous about the lift and leaning toward professionals, but my husband REALLY wants to use the lift. 😀 We’ll see how it all shakes out.

  26. a newbie here!
    love your home! already read about your painting “incident” can’t wait to see how you guys pulled off painting this yourselves.

    I too have those high ceilings. I would love some inspiration!


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