Home Decor

Ask Virginie: How to improve curb appeal and paint an open concept home

Those decorating questions and more (the best white paint, dressing up a dull veranda)answered by Chatelaine's home editor, Virginie Martocq


Roberto Caruso

Dear Virginie, I have a very open concept home. The kitchen opens to the living room and I am having issues with colour and carrying it into the hall and kitchen. I love the colour in my living room – it’s a greeny gold and it makes the room feel so warm and cozy. The kitchen counter is grey with pink and green flecks in it and the cupboards are a golden oak colour. Because the hall also runs alongside the kitchen and down into a stairwell from the front entrance (it’s a high rise bungalow), I have painted all three walls of the living room/dining room with the warm colour. But how do I carry it through without painting the whole hall and stairwell the same colour?
Thanks, Dolrana

A: Rather than try to incorporate every single one of the existing colours in your space, I think it’s important to focus on just a few to create an easy sense of flow between the rooms with a smaller palette of colours. You mentioned how much you love the green-gold tones in your living room, so perhaps this could be a great starting point. You haven’t mentioned the existing wall colour in the hall and stairwell, however, assuming it is white, or another comparable light neutral shade, why not bring some of the gold-green tones you love from the living area into this space using art and accessories? Something as easy as some framed Japanese paper that has some of the same green and gold tones (here are some ideas from The Paper Place) in simple white frames (for example, Ikea Ribba) would be a great way to carry this colour through the space. In the kitchen, I would bring in some of those green tones with a few colourful pieces – perhaps some fun tea towels or a lovely bright-coloured bowl on the counter for fruit. Use these same tones in a few accessories for the living area (throw pillows and small decorative pieces) to tie it all together. I would also consider replacing the kitchen counter with a darker grey colour to anchor the whole room.

Dear Virginie, I want to have a better curb appeal for my house. I was wondering if you could help in suggesting other colours than the white that’s on there, or maybe a combination of white and other colours. Thanks, Ibrahima


A: Adding a bit of colour is always a fantastic way to catch people’s eye and add some quick curb appeal to your home. While your options for colour are almost endless, I think a classic combination of darker shutters and a bright front door will create a cheerful, welcoming statement. Here are some classic combinations that will work well with the red brick: Front door – red, shutters – black; Front door – Black, shutters – greyish-taupe like Benjamin Moore’s Sterling Forest. If it’s in your budget, you might want to consider replacing the shutters with larger ones – the existing ones are slightly out of scale to the size of your windows. Another option would be to remove them completely. In that case, I would draw attention to the door by painting it black and using the suggested accent colour on the door surround. Leave the pillars and awning in a crisp white to show off these architectural features and add focus to the bright colour on the front door. I noticed the black urn by your front door. Adding another one of these to the other side of the door and putting some fresh greenery in both will create a dramatic, welcoming entrance that’s sure to turn a few heads. If you’re missing a green thumb, there are many fantastic, and realistic artificial plants that require no maintenance and can stay outdoors all year round.

Dear Virginie, I have a builder grey cement porch with plastic picketed railing.  How do I make it look nice? Thanks, Shawn

You’re actually in a fortunate position as neither of these features are very strong or imposing. You could easily grow a vine over the plastic fencing, and place an outdoor rug over the concrete floor (Ikea and West Elm have some great all-weather options). Rather than trying to hide the features you don’t like, you can create a new focal point by highlighting a feature you love. Paint the front door in your favourite colour; make the area comfortable and welcoming with some potted plants and inexpensive outdoor furniture accessorized with pretty fabric. When people are enjoying the lovely outdoor space you’ve created with these new additions, they won’t be focused on the more basic starting features.

Dear Virginie, I am looking for a good white paint colour for my wall. I know Cloud White from Benjamin Moore but are there others you might recommend? Thanks, Michael

Decorators White is a good, flat, art gallery type of white with very little undertones
White Down is a good slightly taupe, warm white
Ivory White is a creamy white
I’ve recently used Misty Gray in a contemporary home – it’s a lovely pale lavender-grey-white
Mayonnaise is good mellow creamy white
White Chocolate is another designer favourite – it’s a crisp yellowy-white

Remember that for most colours you can buy a tester size. It’s good to try the colour in your home, since the light and exposure of windows will really affect the colour.