The Bitter Decorator: Colorful Walls

Ive been thinking about starting an irregular blog series called “The Bitter Decorator,” because I’m a decorator and sometimes peoples design choices make me plain bitter.  In general, I like to keep the blog a positive place, but I also try to keep it really honest too.  So let me know if you like, or don’t like this direction, and based on your response, maybe I’ll tackle more topics.

PAINT COLORS.  I’ve been spending a lot of time in paint stores, which proves to be an excellent place for people watching.  You can tell a lot by a person by how they act in a paint store; they are ambitious, they are frugal, they are bold, they have marital problems, they are boring, they are confused… and so on.  So many times I find myself wanting to step in and shout “STOP you are making a mistake!  You are about to turn your room into a massive blueberry, or that beige has too much green in it, or that pink is WAY too bubblegum or that yellow is so FUG I can’t even name all the reasons its wrong.”  But I don’t step in because I wasn’t asked, and usually these paint stores have their own decorating specialists and frankly, I prefer to be paid for my opinion.  Unless I’m spouting it widely and loosely on my blog, of course.

Last week I watched a young lady merrily purchase a gallon of gloss purple paint in a similar hue to this, and I couldn’t help but think she is in for a Barney-like disaster.  

We all remember Barney the dinosaur, right?

Here’s the thing, I bet she really likes purple.  I bet she wants a colorful room and thinks WOW this purple is FUN.  But there are lot’s of ways to have a fun, colorful room without painting your walls Barney purple.  Now, before I go on further, I should say, that there are certain people that could take this color purple and craft a masterpiece of a room.  A jewel box, a study in rich contrasts, a gorgeous space to turn my whole theory on its head.  But that’s only about 5% of the population.  The other 95% of us (yes I’m including myself in here) will take this wall color and turn a room into a HOT MESS.  So before painting your room Barney Purple (or any other super intense hue) perhaps you should ask yourself if you are a member of the elitist decorator color club.  If the answer is NO, maybe it’s a good idea to take your design scheme and make a few small adjustments.

Take your inspiration purple, and go down a few shades on your fan deck.   Use that for your wall color instead.



 (I bet you are thinking this isn’t purple enough, aren’t you?  Well we aren’t done yet.)



Now take your inspiration purple and find a great rug that picks up that bold shade.  It will ground the space beautifully without overwhelming the room.



Next go find two accent colors.  Maybe one is in your rug.  Use that again somewhere.  Choose a 3rd color that’s a little unexpected.  Use that sparingly in the room as well.



Mix in a little wood to help foster a warm organic feel and bit of metallic for a little spice of glam.  And suddenly, you have yourself a purple room that not’s so overwhelmingly purple.  



So, you are happy because you don’t live in Barney’s magical playhouse.  And I’m no longer a bitter decorator because you are making smarter color choices.  Suddenly the paint store has become just a little less painful.  High Five!  Now, don’t mind me while I go back to eavesdropping on that couple arguing about which shade of hunter green will be less hideous in their bedroom.  

K Thanks Bye.

PS- Purple is my least favorite color and I don’t hate this room.  Who’s bitter now?

  1. Erin

    Dude, you are too nice. Whenever I’m at the paint store I just start pulling swatches for people when Sanders is busy. I also see people pick some CRAZY shit and I am very pleased they do not live in my house.

    Loving the bitter decorator!

  2. LOL – this was a fabulous post. now print it out and go hang it on the storefront :)

    i loveeeeeeeeeeeed reading this!

  3. UGH!…was so going out to buy purple paint for my daughter’s room this week- she’s been B-Egging for an accent wall in a dark purple – thank you thank you!
    (Love the Bitter Decorator series idea!)

  4. YOU are so right, and so brilliant! That purple disaster was me a week or so ago. Not for my walls, but for a desk. Thank Gawd, I came to my senses before making that mistake.
    But the way you’ve walked us through this process was just so kind and perfect of you.
    Thank you.
    ag

    P.S. – I have serious Bitter Decorator issues, too, but that’s a story for another comment ;)

  5. I like this idea. I think you did a good job keeping it positive and not being judgmental. I think that will be key for the bitter decorator series.

    That rug is amazing. Thanks for the link (that whole site has some great rugs and deals – thank you!).

  6. kalynor

    Wow never thought of it this way, you are so right! Much much better than having purple walls!

  7. Tara

    Dude, whenever I’m in the paint store, I stand there PRAYING a decorator will walk up to me and say “That is awful/amazing/fabulous/terrible/etc”. If you ever run into me, just hop right in!

    LOVE this post! Keep ‘em comin!

  8. This post is amazing and sadly sooo true. My mother is one of those “decorating specialists” (but with MFA and years as a color theory professor). Sometimes I’ll hang out in the store waiting for her to finish up and just observing the “choosing paint colors” process of the customers who DECLINE professional help is mildly entertaining. Crest toothpaste green is a hugely popular color for bathrooms, dog pee yellow has a “happy aura”, vomit brown will provide “earth tones” and hide the dirt the children track in (how dirty are your children I’d like to ask). This cringe-worthy list goes on!

  9. nigel

    One time I was waiting for my color to be mixed — a warm white for my kitchen cabinets with a secret hint of pink. So pretty. So they finish up, and open up the can to put a dab on the top? OMG it is the most terrifying green-yellow-brown mess. I yelped out loud. (It turned out to be someone else’s order.) The saleswoman laughed til she cried at my reaction. :)

  10. LOVE this! Oddly, I have a friend who wants a purple room with blue. Ugh. I’m trying so hard to tone her down. I’m having her read this. Thanks!!

  11. I like the room you created! And I agree with you- it can be frustrating to see people make drastic design mistakes.

  12. More of this. Yes. I moved into an apartment with maroon accent walls in one room. Tonight I’m finally going to stop being lazy and go get some white paint swatches.

  13. Would you believe this is how I started my blog? Seriously, I emailed a design blogger asking her opinion on a similar shade of purple that my husband wanted to paint our master bedroom and I was uneasy about it. Before she could even answer me, I wanted to compare pictures and talk it out so I started writing. Spoiler alert: Passed on purple.

  14. Sounds like a fun series your starting! I feel the same way when I see people make poor design choices.

  15. Yeah “bitter” is putting it mildly. Watching that scenario drives me nutz. I usually try to stand real close to them so they ask me what I think. If so, they get at least 5 min. of complimentary “don’t do it” advice. Great Barney intervention!

  16. Santi

    love the colors !!

  17. Best series ever! I dare someone to find me a yellow wall that isn’t depressing. Ironic, but true.

  18. SCORE. This is an 11 on the entertaining/educational 1 to 10 scale for me (c: And plus, that RUG is fantastic…I think purple is probably my least favorite color as well, but not on that rug…I could totally dig it if it was with that rug!

  19. KEEP BITTER DECORATOR AROUND, I love this! I tried to convince someone recently to use similar advice as you gave here rather than painting their walls a bright green…They did not listen! I’m bitter too. lol

  20. I like this post! I like your thought process….the end result was fabulous. I was laughing from the beginning because my dining room is purple…..and not because I chose it and styled it…..but it is FANTAStic…..Im away on vacation but when I get back I will email you a photo and you can let me know your thoughts….its actually pretty close to the barney one you have :)

  21. Too funny and so true!! If we ever happen to meet in a paint store and you just happen to see me making the biggest paint mistake of my life, please come over and let me know! :)

  22. Oh I think paint colors are so hard…hoping to run in to you on my next paint hunt!!

  23. You’re a genius! Love this step-by-step. You are helping thousands with this new series, I just know it!

  24. I want to be best friends with the bitter decorator.

    Purple is also my least favorite color and I like this room too. The bitter decorator is goooood.

  25. Love it. As much as I’d like to think I could make a super intense hue work, it would take so much exacting talent and planning… which I probably don’t have the energy for. Do you think saturation is the main culprit here? Could adding more black or more white to your chosen hue also make it more workable? I ask because I love the idea of using dark colors, not necessarily highly saturated ones though. Like maybe a near-neutral dark gray-blue? I’m just spouting thoughts here.

  26. hey five and hell yeah. thAT IS exactly how i feel in the paint store!!!!

  27. Yes please keep these posts coming! I’m a mess in this topic, this is fantastic!

  28. Kristen

    Thank you! I complelty agree with what your saying here. Btw, that rug is amazing.

  29. Ha! I so always feel like butting in when I hear other peoples decorating conversations. One time someone butt into MY conversation. Girl was lucky claws didn’t come out.

    Anyway, digging this new series already.

  30. You must have eyes in my house. Because I’ve made this mistake. This EXACT mistake. The Barney purple mistake. (Don’t worry, it didn’t last.) I LOVE your purple concept though! If only this post had been around a few years ago, I could have made my purple dreams come true! :)

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