The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project

Twelve years ago we had our house built.  Today we both agree that the floor plan is great for us.  It’s a transitional style home, so we have rooms that are traditional and we have rooms that are contemporary.  The rooms are juxtaposed in such a way as to create an interesting, non-cookie cutter feel to the house which adds a fun energy to the place.

But I never really liked how the inside of this house looked.  We worked with the builder’s interior designer and I’m not sure that she knew what she was doing.  She gave us pinky beige and taupe walls– with dark cherry cabinets, creamy tile, yellowish bathroom counters– and shiny brass knobs and door handles everywhere.  I trusted her, but either she put the wrong neutrals together because she was stupid.  Or she put the wrong neutrals together because she was malicious.  [We refused to go with her first design plan for our house: purple walls, leopard print, shiny brass with beveled glass light fixtures, and black counters.  Really.  Not kidding.]

So for eight years we lived with what we paid for.  I tried to correct a few of the rooms but ended up with a so-so look in each space.  It bummed me that things never looked right and Zen-Den, who has a good eye for decorating, was too busy at work to focus on how to fix things here at home.

Then four years ago, in what I can only describe as a burst of peri-menopausal bravado, I announced that: “If I’m going through the change, so is the house.”  Zen-Den, bless his heart, said: “okay.”  And with that, we set out on what has come to be known as The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project.

Since then it’s been almost non-stop change.  We’ve kept the furniture and accessories that we both liked– and sold, Goodwilled, or St. Vincent de Pauled the rest.  [A few antiques still need to be sold to a dealer.]  We’ve painted or had someone else paint almost all the walls and ceilings and trim in the whole house.  [One room to go.]  The kitchen has been entirely remodeled and the master bathroom has been refreshed.  And now we’re to the point where we’re slowly removing the old wall-to-wall carpet and putting wood floors downstairs/new carpeting upstairs.

While I did have a pretty good idea of how much money it was going to cost to redo everything, I didn’t have any idea of how much clutter this project was going to generate.  At some point in the last four years every room in our home has undergone some sort of change– which has created various degrees of chaos caused by stuff shifting back and forth between rooms and the basement.  Zen-Den has taken this process in stride.  Me, perhaps, not so much.

I’m glad that we decided to do this whole house overhaul instead of moving, but I won’t lie and say that it’s been a fun project.  It’s been very anxiety inducing for me, an English major turned self-taught interior designer, to make all these color and style choices.  Obviously, improving a house while property values are dropping across the country is a bit of a worry, too.  I doubt that we’ll ever get our money back from The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project.  But I don’t know that I really care about that.

What I do care about is the fact that we have a home with a cohesive color scheme, comfortable furniture, and a sense of our quirky personalities— three things that were lacking previously.  We’re relaxed when we’re at home now.  It’s our house fixed up the way we like it.  And we both feel like we belong here– finally.

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted most days.

11 thoughts on “The Just Say Nope To Taupe Project”

  1. I really think you’ve done the right thing. It’s too bad that your interior designer wasn’t that great. But at least you now know what you like. And it’s so important to have the paint colors, handles, tile, flooring, etc. be the things you love and not what someone else tells you you should love. If you’re comfortable in your home, that’s all that matters.
    I remember when we were selling our house in SC, the real estate people told us we needed to paint all the walls beige to appeal to a wider audience. I refused, and what sold our house was the color choices of our walls and the mural I’d painted in the master bath.
    Enjoy your new living space!

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  2. Very funny post – saying no to taupe! I find that working with colors and fabric choices ends up giving me sensory overload – suddenly I can’t decide which one I want, and end up settling on something safe and boring.

    We got crazy about five years ago and painted all the walls in our kitchen and living room four different intense colors, from gold to purple to rust and green – a little alarming at first but now it feels just right.

    thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words of encouragement during my convalescence.

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  3. glad to hear you say you feel you belong – such a great feeling to sit in your own home and it pleases all the senses and just feels right. good job!!

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  4. Beth, you nailed it with the idea that these are the things/colors that we love. That pinky beige & taupe made my skin crawl with it’s not quite rightness.

    Aunt Snow, I know what you mean about sensory overload. Choosing colors, fabrics, wood tones doesn’t come easy to me, so I’ve found myself with crossed eyes more than once. Your bright color scheme sounds pretty to me, btw.

    Lori, you said it– home needs to be pleasing to the senses and feel right. But oy vey has this been a project… which is almost complete now.

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  5. I just don’t know if I could handle the clutter–not right now. I want after photos too! I’ve always loved before and after shots. We need to do so much around here. We’re talking about new linoleum and counters in the kitchen. (ugh) I am so burned out on white linoleum. It shows EVERYTHING.

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  6. Margaret, the constant clutter just about drove me over the edge. I’m not a neat freak, but stuff everywhere it doesn’t belong all the time did me in. Ask Z-D; he was around for some of my breakdowns.

    We have white tile floors in the bathrooms and you’re right, they show everything. Maybe someday we’ll change them, but not as part of this project.

    I’ll take photos of everything after the floors are finished and the carpeting has been laid– which will be, I hope, later this summer.

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  7. Helena, thanks. It has become my mantra for these last four years. Works equally well for house decorating decisions as it does for clothing purchase decisions. Very versatile.

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  8. On this side of your project being finished, I can say, “It sounds like fun!” But, of course, having been through the process where stuff and boxes and clutter is everywhere, it does take a toll on a person. I have shed many a tear over in-process decorating projects!

    Hooray for finding a design scheme that you like. It makes so much of a difference in your state of mind, more than most people think!

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  9. Stephanie, it took a toll on me alright. I agree with you that my state of mind is much better, mellower now that our home is in a color scheme and style that I really like. But there have been tears along the way. Just glad that we’re on the home stretch with this project now.

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