The Great Paint Debate

hamish bowles nyc vogue living australia


I’ve been debating paint colors for our new living room (we move Saturday!) and thought I’d share some of the top contenders.  Above, a pretty pale pink inspired by the New York apartment of Hamish Bowles and the renovations of Black + Spiro.



A daring and vibrant lemon-lime hue inspired by Jeffrey Bilhuber’s country home and this ridiculously fun striped bathroom.



Or perhaps a sophisticated, handsome grey much like the walls in Jenna Lyon’s Park Slope townhouse and this pug-friendly interior?

I’m torn between wanting to make a statement and wanting to keep things light and airy.  The space is rather cozy!  What do you think???

39 comments on “The Great Paint Debate

  1. Meagan

    What a tough decision! I wish I was able to paint – so this is yet another thing I’m going to enjoy through you! I’d say either the lemon or the soft gray. The combination of those two is pretty stunning as well, so if you can’t decide why not go with a majority of one with a single wall painted the other?! Just some food for thought…

  2. Katie Armour Post author

    Megan — Good call on combining two of the shades. I think we’ll have a better sense of what’s appropriate upon having moved in…

    Stephanie — It is always nice to have a neutral backdrop. I don’t know how I’ll possibly decide! I do love pink and grey paired together!

  3. Sage & Style

    I say make a statement AND go airy! Why sacrifice one when you can have both? Hamish Bowles knows how to do it. Powdery pink is so pretty and would be both light and airy in the summer + soft and cozy in the winter!

  4. Kate Z

    We just painted our living and dining rooms in a light grey, and LOVE it. It’s great to have a neutral base – it makes everything we hang on our walls pop, and looks a bit trendy and chic but still classic enough to flatter our 100+-year-old building. AND it means I can hunt for ridiculous bright furniture and not overwhelm the room :)

    That said, the grey and pink would pair nicely…just be careful not to pick a grey with too much blue in the base! Ours looks dangerously close to blue in evening light.

    All lovely options – good luck!

  5. Kate

    I think having grey walls with statement colors more in the decorating of the room would be a nice combination of the two! Like pale pink pillows or a bright yellow chair? That would look amazing with grey walls!


  6. Amanda Helmer

    I love the use of the lemon-lime stripes but am partial to the blue-grey color… maybe a blue-grey stripe! I am an Interior Architecture student at The Art Institute of Chicago and I have used a pale blue-grey like this many times on my design projects. It showcases all the accessories and furniture without being too much. All these choices are timeless and lovely though! You really can’t go wrong.

  7. Katie Armour Post author

    Sage & Style — Good call on the pink transitioning as the seasons change!

    Kate Z — Ohhh my kind of girl! Wish our new apartment had such history! Thank you for the tip on grey going blue, I am definitely leaning toward a warmer hue for the space.

    Amanda — We studied the same thing! Your projects sound fantastic. Stripes would be fun and they give the illusion of higher ceilings (never hurts)!

  8. Emily Davis

    I agree with Kate- a neutral backdrop is so much easier to work with. I vote grey and you can always get accent items in the other two colors!

  9. Shannon

    I’m a big fan of the grey just because I love a neutral backdrop with lots of pops of color in the form of accessories. But, saying that, I painted my bedroom in my last place an eggshell blue, and it was absolutely my favorite room due to the statement it made. Plus, it was nice having such a happy color during the winter or on a rainy day.

  10. The Prippy Handbook

    My living room is a warm grey, but we have a fun poppy red in the hallway leading to our bedroom. We get the best of both worlds with color that way! It took a lot of compromise to get there between me and my boyfriend, but the result really works and reflects us both.

    Good luck!

  11. Katie Armour Post author

    Shannon — Eggshell blue, how chic! There is definitely something to be said for a fun color on the walls…

    Jenn — Touche, we wouldn’t regret a classic.

    Prippy — Poppy red!? I love it! We’ll also have our bedroom to paint so perhaps I’ll go wild with color in one room and tame in the other…hmmmm…

  12. Lena

    I must say, I love the grey. I think painting a bathroom or entryway a soft petal pink would be a great compliment, too, although I’m crazy for those citron stripes!

  13. Lauren

    I love the grey and hope to use it when we move at the end of the month. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good shade of grey for a bedroom with minimal light? I always have trouble envisioning the finished product from a small sample. Thanks!

  14. Elizabeth @ Dapper Paper

    I love both!

    THe majority of our house is a grey and we LOVE it! we have rusty orange sofa and pale green and aqua accents. That way, I can buy whatever pieces I want and know they will look great no matter what because that grey is the perfect neutral but still interesting!

    But, i just helped my friend pick colors and I picked a mustard for her, so I am a split personality when it comes to paint!

  15. Ivy Lane

    mmmmmmmmmmmmm….. seeing that you said the space is cozy..I think I would go understated with the paint on the walls and personalize the space with photos and treasures.. and beautiful furnishings…

  16. Liz Hernandez

    I would say yellow!!!! It’s fun, it’s bright, it makes a statement and in my opinion is perfect for a newleywed couple. You can do the grey a little later:) I just recently got married and we are looking at different colors as well. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and whatever you decide I know will look beautiful….

  17. Katie Armour Post author

    Her Name Was Lola — Zesty! Such a great word : )

    Lena — I painted the hallway in my first SF apartment grey. It was quite lovely, if I do say so myself : )

    Lauren — Just go with something pale if you want to keep things light and bright. I usually bring magazine articles into paint shops and have the professionals make the match. They always get it right!

    Elizabeth — Your place sounds fantastic. Orange sofa, yes please!

    Ivy Lane — You’re definitely right about keeping things light since the space is tiny. I can’t deicide if I want to embrace the small quarters or play with mirrors… : )

    Leslie — So many votes for grey! I love it!

    Liz — Awww, thank you! Congrats to you as well! I’m so excited to be a newlywed!!!

  18. Cassie

    I love the pink with the green accents. I also love the lemon stripe! Thanks for the eye candy! Can’t wait to see what you choose.

  19. Joanna

    I adore the grey. It’s wonderfully chic and would pair beautifully with just about any color, especially pink, yellow, and lavender.

    I am impressed that your fiance would be ok with the pink!

  20. Susan R.

    Love the grey! our guest room is grey and I love it, easy to change up fabrics and accessories–a great neutral color, but makes artwork and fabric pop. Good luck, very exciting.

  21. Vanessa

    I love all 3! I had my living room, dining room and bedroom painted a light pink and then ended up getting sick of it really quickly (it was offset by heavy dark browns and masculine colors). I then painted my apartment’s living room a lovely shade of charcoal gray – Valspar’s Lava Stone to be exact. I then lightened it up a lot and painted my bedroom, dining room, and kitchen the same light gray and have been in love ever since! Gray is super serene, sophisticated, and neutral that you can bring in pinks and yellow or blues in accents and accessories and can change the look of your place as seasons change or as you get “tired” of certain colors.

    Good luck and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!


  22. Reggie Darling

    Hello Katie,
    You are correct, the gray room is the living room at Darlington, and the pug is, indeed Pompey! The gray was custom colored for us by a brilliant color expert who designed one of the Martha Stewart paint collections, and who got her MFA from Yale School of Art. Believe it or not, her secret ingredient was to add a tiny bit of orange to the mix, which warmed it up imperceptibly. We love having a gray LR, and get lots of positive reactions from our guests. Yours, Reggie

  23. Rachel

    I’m going to have to vote for gray, too. It’s classic, beautiful, and so versatile. My boyfriend and I recently painted the living room and hallway in our house a grayish beige and I’m so in love with it. I loved it so much I used it in the bathroom too.

    Good luck deciding. Hope all goes well with your upcoming wedding, too!


  24. Karey

    I vote for grey! It’s one of my favorite colors, and i agree with many of the comments, it’d be easy to incorporate the other colors as well as future/seasonal fashion changes.

  25. Emilie

    Katie I absolutely love that scintillating green! Although, grey has always been my favourite colour and you could accent with a juxtaposition of neon and the subtle pink!

  26. Jill Seidner | Interior Design

    Love love love all these images – and all great choices of color for the right room; depends on the lighting and furnishings but the grey is very sophisticated and a pale pink for a romantic room…. Good luck, looking forward to seeing your completed project. :)

  27. Katie Armour Post author

    SO much amazing input!!! I will let you know what I decide! We won’t be painting until after the honeymoon…thank goodness for my sanity : )


  28. arre {stewart & james}

    were you able to make a decision? i have just painted nearly the entire interior of my house white and shades of gray. i want to paint the foyer a pink, much like the shade above. did you have a specific paint color in mind when you were considering? if you did, would you mind sharing? thanks so much.

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