Paint my library
August 18, 2006 6:20 AM   Subscribe

I need advice on painting an odd room in my house.

The room is the approximately 20 x 10 with a steeply pitched ceiling. The ceiling starts at the normal height along one long wall and then climbs to meet the ceiling of our second story. So, I guess that makes one wall 8' tall and the opposing wall 16+? There is an opening from the second story, looking down into the room. In the middle of the exterior long wall is a fireplace. We use this room as the library so the interior long wall has oak book cases that are 7' tall and extend the length of the available wall with a doorway at each end.

Everything is beige right now, floor to ceiling. We know we'll paint the ceiling and trim white. We hope to have the brick of the fireplace covered in slate and build a new mantle. We're stumped on what color to paint the walls.

The room is pretty removed from the rest of the downstairs, but is visible from the home's entrance. If I stand in the entrance, the library is to the left. To the right are the living and dining rooms which are painted in shades of a neutral gray green called Gray Silt and Mossy Aura. There is a third color, lighter than the Gray Silt that was used as well.

We are very open to colors and just do not know what would look good in a room with such odd measurements. Keep in mind that it needs to coordinate with the colors we're already using.

Any thoughts?
posted by onhazier to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My house looks like a rainbow threw up in it, but I vote for a deep earthy red, looks very distinguished and lends itself well to libraries and wood. For a more modern look I would vote for a burnt pumpkin color, it will look striking with the neutral green. If you aren't up for a big splash of color, think dark, perhaps something I've known as Payne's Grey or a dark slate (make sure the actual slate you use is not as dark as the walls)
posted by stormygrey at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is virtually impossible to answer without pictures. The current color scheme includes slate, gray-green and white trim, right? Maybe make the walls a deeper green devoid of gray that would still tie in to the Gray Silt.

I'm not a fan of hunter green, especially in abundance. I imagine something like the felt on an old, classy billiard table. Hey, how about the color of the screen you're reading right now?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:59 AM on August 18, 2006

Yes, pictures!
posted by theantikitty at 7:16 AM on August 18, 2006

Navy blue! It will go well with the other colors you mentioned and look crisp and classic with the white trim. I would only worry about making the library too dark, but if there are windows and the flooring isn't a dark color the navy blue will make the room feel more cozy.
posted by Alison at 7:37 AM on August 18, 2006

Another vote for pics.

Also do you HAVE to paint the ceiling white?
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:04 AM on August 18, 2006

If I understand you correctly, the room you describe looks exactly like my living room, which is white all over with hardwood floors and dark green furniture.

I would decide on the fireplace slate first, then match a color swatch to the slate. Then I would play around with the Behr ColorSmart color matcher. I just did it pretending I had slate as an accent color, and it suggested a color called "Pecan Sandie" which was a warm brown.
posted by nekton at 8:09 AM on August 18, 2006

I'm at work and don't have any pictures of the room available. My apologies.

I do not have to paint the ceiling white. When we moved into the house, it was monochromatic. The previous owners had put in beige carpet and then had everything painted to match. The ceilings and trim were done in the same flat beige as the walls. It sucked and was depressing. The one exception was the orange room with brown trim upstairs. It too sucks.

Now, we're two years into the house and have been making gradual changes. The living, dining, son's and guest rooms are done. We've revamped the landscaping out front and built a wood playset for our son out back. We're about to work with a contractor to pull out the wooden deck and put in a new patio.

When we started painting I insisted on the white ceilings simply because it was a clean and refreshing change from the beige. It is important in the dining room which has a low ceiling. It does make the room feel a bit taller.

My only concern with using a color on the ceiling of the library is that it is a huge expanse of ceiling. I do not want the ceiling to feel like a slab propped against the side of the house about to land on our heads. So, if you have coordinating wall/ceiling color suggestions, I'd love to consider them.

Keep the color suggestions coming! We are definitely not color shy. Our last house had 8 different colors in it, including a green just a bit more blue than this page. Not exactly rainbow barf, but more than the average house. If it helps, our furniture is either oak (white not red) or aspen and mostly Mission style.
posted by onhazier at 8:37 AM on August 18, 2006

i agree that its impossible to give you good advice without pictures, i will say though that the only reason to ever paint a ceiling white is like you said, to make the room seem taller. in a room with a slanted ceiling it doesnt usually work like that if it comes down too low to feel like a wall at times. but when you get home show us photos and we will get you some great ideas flowing.
posted by trishthedish at 9:24 AM on August 18, 2006

Agree that you'll want to use a sample of the slate to pick a color. Aspects of the slate may suggest a color that you never would have thought of, or it might ixnay a color that would otherwise be neat.

With all that ceiling, perhaps something light but not white?
posted by desuetude at 9:33 AM on August 18, 2006

Just a note on the ceiling if you go with a dark red, a hunter green, etc. -- The larger the contrast between the walls and the ceiling, the less it will have the effect you're going for. I'd paint it a much lighter shade of whatever color you're doing the walls in so it actually gives the "taller, airier" effect, rather than the "AHHHH! A CEILING!" thing.

Paint is the easiest thing to colorize. I'd take a look at the furniture you're putting in it, the slate (as mentioned above) and any soft goods that'll be in the room (chair cushions, drapes, etc.) and find an accent color to those.

Off the top of my head? A warm gray in a mid-tone that strikes you as "flannel colored." It'll pair well with the green (if its what I'm envisioning) without being too much of the same and the white trim will work well with it. Also, it's a calming, not distracting color that won't cause eyestrain when you're reading in the library and won't bounce too much light back (a la white/light beige) but won't suck too much of it up (a la all the dark colors).
posted by Gucky at 10:09 AM on August 18, 2006

If that room were mine I'd go one of two directions:

Walls a strong burgandy red with cream accents and ceiling. The living/great space of my last home was done this way and it was the warmest/coziest large room I'd been around in a long time. Very luxurious feeling.

If that scheme was too much I'd go with a brown. It's a hard color for many people, but it's really quite lovely. Something with some red in it like Behr's Mississippi Mud or Belgian Sweet. Chocolatey, as it were.

Both of these go nicely with mission style furntiure for different reasons.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:00 AM on August 18, 2006

Look what I found! Pics from when we first moved into the house. This should get you started. Fear the beige.
posted by onhazier at 11:09 AM on August 18, 2006

oh god onhazier - you even have the same carpet I had. has a pretty slick little paint selection dealio to help you visualize the colors together in a room. You can also make subtle changes based on "lighter", "darker", "warmer" and "cooler" without having to redo everything.

That might help you get an idea of what things might look like for you.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:15 AM on August 18, 2006

I'd be careful painting that big slanted ceiling a color. It's just my opinion, but I could see that REALLY weighing down the room and making it seem dark or closed in. If you do paint the ceiling a color, make sure it's very light. I also vote for earth tones, btw.
posted by theantikitty at 5:56 PM on August 18, 2006

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