Gray Owl And Simply White

Before we bought it, our house had been empty for about seven years, and like many foreclosures that were lacking a little love, we walked into a handful of projects that either needed to be finished, or needed to be fixed. One such fix was a leak underneath the toilet above the kitchen…

 photo Lettered_Cottage_Hole_In_Ceiling_Kitchen_zpscbd8a890.jpg

But now that the “headless plumber” (ha!) has that all fixed up, we’re going to start painting the ceiling, trim, windows and doors in our (open concept) kitchen, dining and living room.

Right now, the walls are painted (Benjamin Moore’s) Algonquin Trail, the ceiling is Sherwood Tan, and the trim and doors are Manchester Tan…


We’re going to go with (Benjamin Moore’s) Owl Gray (lightened by 50%) on the walls, and Simply White on the ceiling,  doors, and trim…

 photo Lettered_Cottage_Kitchen_Gray_Owl_Simply_White_Algonquin_Trail_Manchester_Tan_Paint_1_zpsd684def4.jpg

Ignore the towel bar in the photo above- we were shooting something for, and decided to try out a sample of Gray Owl behind it for the picture. We’re taking the towel bar down today, and after the holes are all patched up, we’ll cover up that (flat) sample of Gray Owl with some of the 50% lightened Gray Owl paint in a satin finish.

Be back with another update as soon as we’ve got some more paint progress pics to share!

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  1. Tina says

    I think you two will enjoy the new color scheme! It will be transformational, esp after all these too-tan months. Looking forward to the pictures and update on the adorable bluebird bath.

  2. says

    We have the exact same light fixtures in our house right now and I’m itching to replace them. Everything in our house is also tan except the one room I’ve started on and that’s gray… one day at a time, right?!

  3. says

    7 years it was empty and it still looks that good?! Wow you hit the jackpot! (by ‘that good’ I meant not looting or broken glass/fixtures taken out, etc)
    I’m loving the new color scheme you’ve chosen!!

  4. Jan says

    Cannot wait to see the completed paint job. I am sitting on the fence between the exact shades you picked and Simple White on the walls with True White on the trim. Thanks for the great timing!

  5. says

    I did not realize your ceiling was painted a tan too. The whole area is going to look so much lighter once you finish painting. I love following along as y’all transform your house. It is already filled with so much character and the neighborhood sounds amazing!

  6. debbie r says

    Looking forward to seeing it done. Everything u do is really pretty. Thank you for allowing us to be part of ur life, thru the blog, as it unfolds in front of you.

  7. Jan says

    Wow, empty for 7 years! Usually a house empty that long is in serious disrepair. Your house looks like it was just built. It’s gorgeous! You got a great deal. Just curious why it was vacant so long. It’s a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood, one that I’m sure many people would want to buy.

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Jan! We’ve been told from local realtors that the layout and room sizes upstairs were a big reason why it never sold after it was built. That and because it only has 2 bedrooms maybe? The housing market took a nose dive shortly after it was built too, so we’re guessing that also had something to do with it. We’ve wanted to move to this community for several years now, so we feel very fortunate to have snatched it up at a fraction of the original asking price! :-)

      • Jan says

        Thank you so much for your reply Layla! I guess I can understand about the house only having two bedrooms. I’m so happy you and Kevin were finally able to move into the community you’ve always loved. I anxiously await pictures of all your projects for this house just like I did with your other house. Your design sense is amazing. I’ve learned so much about design and re-purposing items from you ♥.

  8. Lisa says

    Just curious – why Gray Owl at 50%? Did you find it too dark? I was thinking of Gray Owl in my kitchen, but I’m not sure about the living room right next to it. The living room is tan/gold, sofas are tan/gold, & curtains are chestnut from Pottery Barn. (Now that’s a lot of tan). I need to keep the sofa, and curtains sooo….how would I mesh Gray Owl in kitchen and living room with tans? I’m not against painting living room walls, but what color? Oh me! Help!!

    • Lyn says

      I wondered also about 50% of gray owl – first, how do you get that, and then, why are you lightening it?

      • Layla says

        Hi Lyn! The folks at the paint store can lighten or darken any paint color by 25, 50 or 75%, and we’re going with the 50% lighter version of Owl Gray because we love the color, but just want it a little lighter. :-)

  9. Tracy says

    Did you know that Simply White is 50% of Cloud White? Just thought I’d share my color knowledge with ya! You have a fabulous space. Are you leaving the cabinets as they are?

    • Layla says

      Wow- that’s so cool, Tracy! 😀 Thanks for the 411! We’ll be painting our cabinets and island this summer too. :-)

      • Tracy says

        You and Kevin are such an inspiration so much so that I did a picture wall with your photos from your online shop and had a cottage custom desk built for my office. I will have to forward pics! You only add fuel to the fire for my cottage by the sea decor here in S. Florida! Thanks for all you do! Many Blessings – xo

  10. Waynette says

    We are working on a remodel for our home, and used Gray Owl for our main color. Like it a lot, but it’s a bit too blue for us and our taste. We’re changing to Revere Pewter.

    We did use Gray Owl at double intensity for our dining room and we LOVE it. Odd, it doesn’t seem too blue at all!

    Best to you!

    • Christine says

      Hi Layla! I recently found your blog and it has quickly become such an inspiration to me. You have impeccable style, really.

      My husband and I just bought our first house and are having fun making all the updates it needs…. We recently painted our ceiling, trim and doors Simply White and we love it. Oh, and you mentioned moving to a matte finish for your walls — I think that’s a great choice! We just painted one room Rockport Gray and another room Gray Horse (on the walls, it’s very much a blueish-greenish more than a gray) in matte finishes and we love the look :) It makes semi-gloss trim “pop” even more.

      Thank you for all you do to inspire us!!!

      • Layla says

        Hi Joanne! Our Gray Owl paint will be 50% lighter than Gray Owl at full strength. I think they add more white to the mix. ?

    • Layla says

      Hey Rachel! It just means that it will be 50% lighter than Gray Owl at full strength. :-)

  11. says

    Wow Layla, the house looks amazing for sitting empty for 7 years. Honestly, we looked at a house today that was empty for 6 months and it is needs tens of thousands in repairs. The house looks gorgeous to begin and I can’t wait to see how you personalize it!

  12. Debra says

    Are you sure?!
    I love the tans and browns : )
    Would never second guess you as I love your makeovers…but are you really really sure?! ha.

  13. says

    7-years!! That is a long time for a house to be vacant! I’m pretty excited to see how this big ole’ room looks with some paint sprucing it up. We also use Benjamin Moore Simply White for our trim and after trying *many* white samples, I’m convinced it’s the perfect white :)

  14. says

    I”m sure it will be just loverly :) I feel like the odd man out with so many folks painting stuff grey. Heck I just finished painting my kids’ new kitchen cabinets BM Deep Space (dark grey) on bottom and white on top! I love the blue greys and green greys like the ocean, but I can’t seem to warm up to pure greys for my own home. I do love seeing it in other’s spaces though….and I’m sure after seeing your ‘afters’ I’ll be second-guessing my color choices for my new house :)

  15. Kelley VanEgmond says

    I’ve been agonizing between gray or tan…gray or tan…gray or tan…I swear I mumble those words in my sleep. As of late – I’ve been leaning more towards gray but then what shade of gray?? So could you do me a favor and hurry up and paint your room(s) so I know if I love Owl Gray or not!?! No pressure:)

  16. Cami says

    Would you be able to post a picture of the 100% Gray Owl next to the 50%? I would love to see the difference.
    Thank you!

  17. Sarah says

    Hi Layla!
    You mentioned you are painting your kitchen cabinets and island? Just curious what color they are right now? They look cream in your pictures. Can’t wait to see your finished bathroom!

    • Layla says

      Hi Sarah! They’re painted a tan-ish mustard color right now, and we’re thinking about painting the uppers and lowers white, and the island a blue or green color! :-) (PS- We look forward to blogging about/finishing the bathroom next month!)

  18. Suzie says

    Here’s what it means for a paint store to custom mix a percentage of the original formula.
    The color at full strength is 100%, so the 50% lighter custom mix is made using half of the exact colorants used to mix the full-strength formula.
    For example: Let’s say a particular white uses 4 parts Raw Umber and 2 parts Gold in the formula. If you request 50% lighter, then the store will only use 2 parts Raw Umber and 1 part Gold colorants to mix in the can of base paint, and WAHLAH….a 50% lighter version.
    If you request a particular color in 50% darker, then the store will ADD 50% MORE colorants in the same ratio, making your new custom color actually 150% of the original color.
    Does this make sense or help anyone? I hope so:)

  19. Kelly Hawkins says

    Layla, I have a question about paint and your choices. My entire life, I have been “guided” to use Semi-gloss or Satin paint for washability, etc., but in most of your pictures, it appears to be Flat paint. I was curious if you always use flat paint and why.

    Thanks and really enjoy all that you post. I too have an open concept with high ceilings and still working on trying to fill my home with coziness while while not cluttered.

    • Layla says

      Hey Kelly! We actually always use satin finish on our walls, and semi-gloss on our trim and doors. This time though, we’re switching to Benjamin Moore’s matte finish. The guy at the paint store said it’s equally as durable, and won’t look as shiny, so we’re giving it a whirl! 😀

  20. Anu says

    Hi Layla, What do you think about decorators white (BM) for the cabinets? Also how to white dove? I have been going back and forth between both colors…now simply white adds more confusion :) Let me know your thoughts :)

  21. says

    Layla, I’ve thought about you and Kevin so much, because our journey has been so similar. We also just bought a beautiful home with beige trim outside and in, but we love the bones!!!

    How did you find out the colors of the walls and trim? I’m dying to know!


    Erin @ Dwell and Tell