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If you’ve always got the blues, you might have the wrong paint color for your north-facing room. See, I learned all about paint while avoiding a kitchen remodel. It was the classic home renovation pick and roll; renovate the bedrooms instead of tackling the non-operational kitchen. I mean, why start on a truly urgent project when you can tailspin for months over paint colors for north-facing rooms?

I’ll show you pics of the fabulous coral and true teal we decided on as well as giving specific color suggestions below, but if all you want are bullet points without all the backstory, the key takeaways when painting a north-facing room include:

  • Stark white paint is no good in north-facing rooms. More on why below
  • Warm neutrals (and whites with warm undertones) are a solid substitute for bright/stark white
  • Dramatic dark colors give a north-facing room depth
  • Pastels with warm undertones work well
  • Pastels with cool undertones can look tragic
  • Room decor, flooring, and exterior foliage impact the undertones in your paint selection. I linked resources below for understanding undertones

Backstory:

In July 2016 our electric oven broke (bear with me, this does circle back to paint). The easy fix would be replacing the oven, but my wife really wanted gas—and that meant hiring a plumber, and our janky white shaker cabinet doors were constantly falling off and the footprint of the galley kitchen was tooooo small for two cooks; so if we were going to do one thing, we were going to do it all.


The wee kitchen galley with disobedient cabinet doors and non-functional oven

My wife and I were terrified of taking on a kitchen remodel (rightly so, it turns out the process has been fraught with drama). So over two years of remodel denial we became experts at the no-stove workaround. My wife should write a lifestyle cookbook for the Instapot, crockpot, and countertop toaster oven crowd. Finally, in July 2018, we said, this is ridiculous! We are grown women! We can face our fears…and we promptly agreed to repaint the bedrooms.

Painting the bedrooms

As any novice home renovator soon finds out, we quickly learned that just repainting the rooms does not suffice. The carpets were disgusting from years of doggies, the original 1950s baseboards were jank, and the original closet was a dysfunctional monster. So, instead of a quick paint touch-up, we embarked on a two month bedroom overhaul.

I thought the pale, icy blue of the guest and main bedrooms always felt cold and shadowy. Even when the sun was shining I’d wrap up in a depression sweater when I was back there.


Sad blue paint and sad 1950s baseboards

What I didn’t know then is that north facing rooms have minimal direct sunlight, so colors with cool undertones make cold shadows. So although the blue was, in theory, a beautiful pastel, in our north-facing rooms the color looked drab and cold.

We tend toward modern design and reasoned brighter and whiter might be a good choice. Boy was I wrong. After deep diving into blogs and paint sites, I learned that the type of sun exposure the rooms get impacts how the paint colors look on the walls. So instead of fabulously airy and light, true white looks grey and dingy in cool light, delivery dreary institutional vibes.

Counter to my ideas, light theory was teaching me that bold, rich colors bring warmth and life to dark rooms. In our shadowy room, deep colors could create a sense of coziness as opposed to the depression sweater vibe of our current pale blue.


We have large windows on the north wall of both bedrooms, but the windows look up a wooded hillside and never receive direct sunlight.

So I embarked on a new campaign to paint our main bedroom a warm, glowing deep teal and our guest room/office a fabulous coral. Here are my teal paint Pinterest inspiration board and coral wall paint Pinterest inspiration board.

In 2016 when we painted the living room and dining room, we learned the hard way that paint color cards DO NOT look anything like what ends up on your wall, precisely due to the orientation of your room and the amount of natural sunlight you receive.


My wife trying not to lose her mind amongst all those lilacs that had
masqueraded as grey at the paint store.

As a result of painting millions of misleading sample grays on our living room walls back then, we had a better strategy for painting our bedrooms this time. Try it out if you like:

  1. Search Pinterest for paint inspo for North-facing rooms! Make a Pinterest board with colors you like
  2. Consider your decor (bed frame, carpet/flooring, artwork and overheard lighting) and what colors would look good?
  3. Bring your Pinterest boards to your paint shop and have them help you color match some of the paint cards to the pics
  4. Buy no more than four paint samples to test on the walls
  5. Paint large (I like at least 2 or three foot squares) swatches of each color on the main walls

I wish I had better photos of our teal paint samples, but thanks to the crap natural lighting in our main bedroom, photographing this room is like trying to bathe a cat. Never a good time with natural light and overhead light casts strange shadows. Here is my best attempt:


From the top, clockwise: Real Teal, Seaworthy, Oceanside, Great Falls.
All by Sherwin Williams

The coral guest room photographs far better thanks to an overhead skylight that augments the natural light in the room.


From left to right: Ravishing Coral and Lei Flower by Sherwin Williams. In addition to my photog skills, this pic shows off our grody old carpet, the new carpet options (spoiler, we went w/ the darker one) and those beat down baseboards, which are now replaced.

Our final paint choices

Curious how the rooms turned out? We chose Lei Flower for the guest room / office and Real Teal for our bedroom. I LOVE the coral paint and I adore the teal but I flubbed on the teal by choosing a semi-gloss sheen. In retrospect I would have done a satin sheen in the teal like I did with the coral. The semi-gloss is just too damn shiny. Here are the final pics:

Resources: Paint for north-facing rooms


Scooter, my old man dog, has recently embraced incontinence as a lifestyle choice. 

Poor little dude. I took him to the vet, and they ran a $300 test to tell me if there’s a thing to do, but in the meantime my reactions to taking him out to pee every 30 minutes make me feel like an asshole

My kid parent friends are noble. They stay up nights and feed babies and tend to sick kids and clean barf out of beds and I never hear them say things like, “can I just put him in a kennel?”

I love him like crazy. I don’t want him to suffer, but I also don’t want to wake up three times each night to let him out to urinate. And those times that he doesn’t whine to be let out, he just pees in his bed. My mom friends (I don’t know about all dudes, but among my hetero couple friends, it is really only the ladies who are doing this work) seem to be more focused on their baby’s well-being than urine ruining their carpet, while I constantly am concerned about Scooter pee leaking through his bed. 

Unto you a doggy is born

It all started two weeks ago while my wife was out of the country. I was having an emotional melt (not directly related to being alone, but certainly the loneliness compounded it) and woke up wanting comfort (poor me!) and looked to Scooter for morning snuggles. Instead of a soft and fluffy coat I found his bed soaked and his fur drenched in pee. I felt it really lent a type of gravitas to the depths of my self-pity to get on my hands and knees and blot urine stains from our new carpet (!) instead of crying softly in bed over the weight of my feelings. Next, a de-pee fur bath. I even tried to blow dry him, but he was not interested. 

Later that day, I face-timed a friend to recount my sorrows, and she happened to be at the doctor’s office. She was waiting for an appointment for her littlest one, due to the fact that her three kids, all under age seven, were up the night before barfing and she had spent the night comforting them, bathing them, and cleaning up vomit. She was tired but mostly just concerned about her daughters’ health. What I mean to say, she was more concerned with her kids than herself. 

So.

I feel like there’s a lesson here:

  • It’s great that I’m not a kid mom
  • Maybe I could pray for patience

*Just so you know, I am really sweet to Scooter and always tend to all his needs, but inside I secretly wish my dog brought me bed coffee and fed himself. *

Redwood glamour dog

I’m in Thailand and my hometown is surrounded by the flames of Camp Fire—the deadliest California fire in history. My heart is heavy with the literal loss of Paradise. I was there (Paradise) three weeks ago, doing some work for my parents. My dad was talking about updates the city was making—the new park, the downtown. As of November 8, the small ridge town of over 20,000 has burned down. Nearly 7,000 structures gone, nearly 30 people died, and nearly 230 still missing. So strange to witness such close tragedy from so far away. My love is going out to all the people and pets and loved ones and lives uprooted by this massive fire.

Here is a #CampFire List of What To Do If Your Home Has Burned, compiled by someone much wiser than me:
1. Get a PO Box

2. Longer term rental search – include insurance on it so they pay directly for rental. Find a nice place that you like, don’t settle. You should be able to get a “Like Property” so insurance should cover a nice place for you to live while you work through all this. You might be living here for 2 years, so choose wisely.

3. Find a place to buy some sturdy boots and gloves. Get some shovels.

4. Start working on the personal property list (this is not fun at all, be prepared to cry we sure did). Write down the moment you remember – keep list on phone or pad of paper with you at all times.

5. Save receipts. Loss of use insurance will cover incidentals too – hairbrush, phone chargers, etc.

6. As you buy things, tell the store owner your situation. Most stores will give you some level of discount as their way of helping you.

7. Let people do things for you. Do you have a friend that you can send to the store to buy you some basic clothes or comfort foods? Let them do it – they want to help and you don’t need to spend time doing these errands. (The ‘fun’ of shopping is gone…it quickly becomes a chore because you don’t want a new shirt, you want the one that you always liked to wear but now it’s gone and you are sad/mad.)

The Big List:

1. Register at the shelters, with Red Cross and any other agency there, california FEMA, etc.
a. Most of the aid coming in will use these lists as a point of contact and will help to ensure that you don’t get left out of anything.
b. This will be especially important should FEMA be activated, which in my opinion is very likely with the amount of devastation experienced.

2. Call Homeowners/Rental insurance to trigger “Loss of Use”
. This typically will allow you to be in a “Like” property for x number of years and sometimes has a dollar limit attached and sometimes not, this is dependent on your policy.
a. This coverage should also give you some immediate access to funds for essentials, clothes, toothbrushes, food, etc.
b. This will also get the ball rolling for the insurance claim on your home and rebuilding/personal property Dollars.

3. Get a PO Box and forward all mail to the Box.
. Use this PO Box as the mailing address on all forms you begin to fill out.

4. Start Searching for a Long term rental.
. Coordinate with your insurance company so that payments can be made directly from them using your “Loss of Use” money.
a. Plan on renting 1-2 years, but do not necessarily sign a lease for a full two years as circumstances can change.

5. Itemized List of belongings – (This is very hard but very necessary for your claim)
. I would organize by room and list everything that was there with a replacement cost. (you will cry a lot doing this and that is ok)
a. Replacement Cost should be what it would cost to replace not on sale from pottery barn, it should not be the price you paid for it with that 50% off coupon.
b. Make sure you list everything, even if it is above and beyond your policy limit. This is very important because everything above and beyond the policy limit is considered a Loss and can be claimed as such on your taxes – See #9

6. Call all of your utilities and either freeze or cancel service.
. Electric, Gas, TV, Land Line phone
a. Newspaper delivery, either cancel or update to PO Box.

7. Call the rest of your insurance points as needed.
. Car insurance
a. Any specialty insurance for unique items

8. Permits – An unfortunate necessity.
. Debris Removal – as things wind down it will be necessary to remove the debris, this requires a permit usually. (This should be covered by your insurance, we had to force the issue but ask repeatedly.)
a. Erosion Control – If you are on any kind of hill or have sloped property you will need to put some sort of erosion control measures in place, again this will need some sort of permit.
b. Temporary Power Pole/Trailer on site Permit – Getting this earlier on can prove helpful in both the rebuilding process.

9. Taxes
. You will be able to claim the monetary loss of the value of all your items minus what you receive from your insurance company. I’m unfamiliar with the exact laws, but I believe that we were able to carry our losses back 2-5 years and received most of the money that we had paid in taxes back in a nice large check.

10. Network with others. You will learn so much from others as you go through the rebuilding process. We all have our strengths so share yours and use others. The amount of time that you will spend on the rebuild, insurance, recovery process is staggering so you need to use all your resources.

Thanks to Angie‘s friend (who sadly lost her home in Santa Rosa fire last year) and made this incredibly useful list.

by Annie

I’m mostly missing my tiniest toenail. No need for pity. I imagine it adds to my mystique. I blame my mother and her woefully scrappy excuse for pinky nails. My own small scraps of keratin make a debut once every few weeks, hang around for a spell, then skitter away. The glamour is almost unbearable. My wife realized two months into our marriage that my pedicures were two tenths a sham. Red polish painted onto the skin spot where pinky toenails might be. But I already had the ring on my finger. Snowed her good.

I got a half whistle from a tan Ford Taurus yesterday. Like I was the dubious protagonist in a Louis CK skit. Tired man beat down by life, seeing a late 30s lady waiting at the crosswalk. It’s 2:30 on a Thursday, he’s driving by, hey the window was already down. What the hell. “WOoo…” the half hearted whistle trailed away, lost in the paunch of his burrito belly. So many missed opportunities in my life.

Thank god he didn’t know about the cyclical alopecia in my eyebrows.* Every three weeks the poor dears drop out like flies. I might not have gotten any whistle at all. His gaze averted as the 2002 Tauras silently rolled by. Thank god for brow pencils. I’d be a complete shut-in.

 

*theoretically cyclical alopecia only happens to dog flanks, but I’m a firm believer that the irregular patchy spots of my brows are symptomatic of a latent onset syndrome.