High Contrast

Well, Phil Nimmo was right, Benjamin Moore’s North Creek Brown or Marshlands (CC-512), as it’s now called, did take my room from casual to sophisticated. At least that’s how it feels to me. Yes, I’ve lost that bright, airy feeling (below) that my mother complimented but I’ve gained tremendous strength and so much contrast. The cream-on-cream scheme feels flat by comparison, no?

The still life above the sofa is by the late French artist Jules Cavailles; a print on linen, it could skew a bit feminine, especially paired with the sensuous curves of the Louis XV settee so I think the vignette benefits from the strong background colour. I bought the Cavailles piece from Waddington’s more than a year ago for about $200 (including buyer’s premium) and this is the first time it’s been displayed. I had considered going with a strong blue wall to really make the art jump . . . maybe next time.

As for Marshlands, I was expecting more of an olive undertone, which would have enhanced the bronze quality Nimmo promised; in fact, the colour feels like dark chocolate to me (at least it’s not milk chocolate). Now, my quandary is what to do with the other walls and the ceiling. I may do a step-down in terms of tone and saturation, which would leave me in taupe territory, not my favorite part of the colour wheel. My friend, Kevin, warned me against doing the whole room in Marshlands lest it feel like a cave; I’m going to live with it for awhile before making that decision. What do you think?

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Monday, July 12, 2010 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

26 Comments For This Post

  1. Karen J Says:

    A very warm and sexy look and works well with the orange.

    Regarding your other wall colour choices…that’s just the kind of decision I’d be angsting over for days.
    The ceiling too?!? You are brave.

    Adding to your quandary – have you considered wallpaper?

  2. Hogtownmike Says:

    I would continue with the darker colour–for continuity, and it seems you have large windows, so that will help it not feel cave-like…

    nice job!

  3. Lois Says:

    Good morning CHRIS, beautiful, I love the color *tho I have to admit*
    I didn’t originally think I would. Would use it as an accent and NOT continue with it. LOVE the light over the table. Great job, keep chirping

  4. Cathy Says:

    Fabulous color!
    I’m very much the type of person who always goes with safe and light colors but that is really nice. I would do another wall and see.

  5. Miriam Says:

    I would also go for light tones…didn’t you say that the place is really small? I am with your mother and keep a light, airy feeling in the dining room: a much lighter version of Marshland perhaps? With all your orange notes it could become a bit carnavalesque. But then I not brave with colours and still have white walls. Good luck with it all.

  6. David in KC Says:

    What about Marshlands again on the opposite wall? You’d have to juggle some art, it’s probably a bit dark for the canvas hanging over your desk, but it could feel really crisp and fresh with the white.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    LOVE the new wall colour! It makes all your furnishings and accessories just pop and it makes the art look like such a vibrant, beautiful piece!! I definitely think the back wall where the credenza is needs to be darkened up whether it be a ligher version of the darker colour you have now or not. It will really make that wall stand out. It looks very pale against the light coloured credenza and artwork. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  8. Sue Says:

    Looks fab and makes each accessory in the room really pop! Thinking about using that colour for a feature wall.

  9. RJ Says:

    Beautiful colour, and wow what a change! I think with such big windows and so much lightly coloured furniture and rugs I’d take the plunge and paint the rest of the walls in Marshlands.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do… I’ve yet to be so brave as to paint a ceiling, but that may also be thanks to the horrid popcorn we have in every room!

  10. April Says:

    The transformation of your space is incredible, and I am in love with the high contrast boldness of your new feature wall color with your orange accessories (the second photo, taken from the dining room vantage point, illustrates this best. It’s amazing!). It gives your living room a extra boost of elegance and sophistication: it almost feels like a swish gentleman’s club now. Very posh, and gorgeous. I’m looking forward to see what’s next in the palette (and on the walls!)

  11. Lin Says:

    The brown looks great and switching the lampshades from black to white was an excellent decision. As for painting the rest of the room I would consider a very soft dove gray with just a hint of a blue undertone. To work with your fabulous orange accessories the blue would have to be almost imperceptible. Without knowing which direction your windows face it’s hard to know how warm or cold the gray would need to be but something like BM’s Mineral Ice or Beacon Gray might work.

    If I may take the liberty of making one other suggestion, I think the painting needs to be raised a good 5-7 inches. Don’t worry about the top edge being higher than the shelving units. Far more important that the wall act as a four-sided frame for the painting.

  12. scott Says:

    Chris, first off, congrats on the new place. Second, what a wonderful colour!! The timing of your blog is perfect. I have always wanted a brown room, and now that I have moved and gained a fee bedroom for my photography, I went ahead and painted it Benjamin Moore’s Classic Brown. The bad news is, it ended up looking too milk chocolate, so I need to re do it, and now I know which brown to use. Like you, I have lots of natural light, so all my rooms are dark, moody, yet comforting colours. Art pops off of them. And a vase of fresh flowers against the dark grey walls in the natural window light is fantastic.

    I kind of like the white contrasting with the brown, but a taupe/grey would also be nice with blue tones rather then pink/yellow.

    Question: What paint finish did you use for the brown?

    Congrats again!!

  13. Barb Says:

    Wow, I am really impressed with the dark paint! It wasn’t until I saw someone else’s comment about the change in lampshade colour that I noticed the change because the paint colour really draws the room together. A bold choice and a good choice. Congrats!

  14. Chris Says:

    Thanks for the feedback everybody; I’m glad your response is positive.
    Greg, although I usually default to flat paint, this time I used BenMoore’s Pearl finish because I wanted to enhance what I thought would be the bronze aspect of the paint.
    Lin, while I recognize that the art could step up a bit, one of my pet peeves is art hung too high so I always err on the low side. After your comment I got out the measuring tape and discovered that the Cavailles piece adheres perfectly to “the rule of 57″ which dictates that the ideal height for artwork is to have the centre of the work at 57” from the floor. Still, I may take your advice; when the dogs are gone and the console comes out from behind the sofa, the art will have to move up, rules be damned.
    Regarding the ceiling, I’d like a colour that brings out the yellow/green tones of the paint because I really did choose Marshlands for what I thought were its olive undertones. Thoughts?
    I’ll wait a couple of weeks before painting again but at this moment I’m leaning towards more Marshlands for the computer/desk wall and here’s why . . . when I’m lying on the sofa watching TV I can’t see any of this gorgeous, rich colour. I have a gold and shell screen that I’ll place in front of the work station when it’s not in use and I think the screen will really sing with a dark backdrop. Although grey could work too (thanks Lin) and would pick up the grey in my Craigslist drapes.

  15. Lin Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m with you on your dislike of works hung too high but would be tempted to make an exception in this case to give the painting a bit of breathing space. What about switching the painting with the one over the desk? Might that work?

    Looking forward to seeing where you land with the paint choice.

    As always,

  16. Tiago Says:

    Dude Your new place looks great, go for it, I dare ya, paint the whole thing, as “they” say go big or go home

  17. Gramercy Home Says:

    Love it! Fantastic look. (I found you through you “horrid self-promotion” on Style Court. Glad I did!

  18. Cat Says:

    Wow, I gasped aloud when I opened your blog today! What a revolution. Hmmm, bronze, is there any way of simply layering some other glaze-y type product over this that would lend the effect you want? Me, I like the brown against the silver tones as is. Can’t wait to see what you do with the remaining walls. Do you do colour consults?
    And thank you for hanging in there with your posts- I love Style North.

  19. Cat Says:

    Actually, I like the suggestion of grey on the remaining walls: a mid-pale, pewter-y dove grey, unobtrusive as morning mist, as a foil for the white metals.

    What do you mean, “when the dogs are gone” ??

  20. Chris Says:

    Punch has cancer and Judy is pushing 12 so while I’d love to have her for five more years, I don’t think it’s likely. I’m worried about how she’ll fair when her brother’s gone — they’ve been together their entire lives.

  21. Kathleen Says:


    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

    North Creek Brown is a great color and looks wonderful in your room.


  22. wanda Says:

    Every thing looks gorgeous Chris! I love that wall color.

  23. RenoGrrl Says:

    Sweet. I did not notice the switching of the shades either and I’d like to see the black ones back just to see how it would look. Gorgeous nonetheless. I think the paler walls as some describe would be great with one wall of the same colour for your other painting and whatever else works. Your things just sing in your space. You are such an artist sweetheart.

  24. shadi Says:

    love ur work. Where did you buy your sofa? love it!

  25. Chris Says:

    The vintage Louis XV settee was purchased from a Toronto antiques dealer who was going out of business (Epocha Millenium on Dundas Street West) for the couldn’t pass-up price of $1,600. It was the first major purchase for me and my former partner. We especially liked the single seat cushion which gives it a slightly modern edge.

  26. Mitsy Says:

    Really love the orange, yummy!!!!

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