Living Room Update – Gray Owl Paint

A reader named Sarah left me a comment the other day asking about how things were lookin’ in our living room. She reminded me that the only photo I had ever shown of it was this one that we took right before we moved in:


She asked if we could “pretty please show a now photo”.

Well, it’s far from finished but, Sarah, this one’s for you!


I just snapped it about 30 minutes ago, so it is truly a “now” photo.

The ceiling went from Sherwood Tan to (flat) Simply White (Benjamin Moore), and the walls are going from Algonquin Trail to (eggshell) Gray Owl (lightened by 50%).ย The trim and doors went from Manchester Tan to (semi-gloss) Simply White, as well.

Today, the fireplace mantel will go from Manchester Tan to Simply White, and the last two coats of (50%) Gray Owl will go up on the walls.

We look forward to personalizing our living room, little by little, over the next several years. Light fixtures and (too small/worn out) furniture & rugs are expensive to replace, and we want to really explore our options when it comes to building out a more functional/cottage-y fireplace wall. (I’m imagining floor-to-ceiling stone and white-painted built-ins!) But again, that stuff isn’t cheap to create.

It’ll be a fun space to pull together over time though, and I look forward to sharing more photos of how it’ll look in the meantime as soon as everything is dry and pushed back into place!

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  1. says

    Nice progress though! Our living room is still in a state of transition as well. Our plaster will get a skimcoat this week though – and that has been a month in the making, so I am excited about that. Right now it is tiny and awkward and the furniture that we bought while we lived in a new constuction townhouse just done NOT fit with an older cottage, but SOMEDAY, we will get there! As will you! Our grandbabies will love it! HAHA

  2. says

    I love the new wall and trim colors! You are really tempting me with that lightened up Gray Owl color. My bedroom needs a new paint color.

    I love a good “during” picture almost as much as “after” pictures. Just gets me even more excited to see where things are headed in this space. :)

  3. Nancy says

    LOVE following your progress! Did I miss the half bath reveal? Waiting and anticipating!!!

  4. Amber says

    Don’t you just wish home improvement stuff was tons and tons cheaper….it adds up so fast and the budget is very small for me. I so wish I could be at the right place at the right time for those tv guys to crash my place or win the hgtv dream home or win the powerball (which I never play.)….someday it will come together. Keep up the good work. I like the color you chose, I think I need something better at hiding dirt because of the ages of my kids.

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Amber! If you like Gray Owl, you could always get it darkened by 50%. Just thought I’d throw that out there in case it was something you wanted to check out! :-)

  5. says

    I am headed to the store this morning to buy 5 gallons of paint to lighten up my house. Loved seeing the before and after as I have that same dark paint in my home.

  6. says

    It looks so much fresher and brighter! You’re so lucky to have such pretty workwork and floors already in place. It took us a couple of years to frame out the doors and windows and put new flooring in. What a great foundation!

    • Layla says

      Thank you, Jennifer! We’re smitten with the classic-style trim and doors that came with this house, too! ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. says

    I LOVE the update!!! You two are great at taking TERRIBLE, overdone spaces and making them PERFECT. I love watching your progress. :)

  8. Kelley Kay says

    About a month ago I bought a couple gallons of Gray Owl (colored matched to Clark & Kensington paint – it was on sale Man!) to paint my livingroom. I’ve only painted a swatch on the wall because I can’t seem to find the time or motivation to do anymore than that and I was very surprised at how light it is. I’m so worried I won’t like it because this is such a switch for me to go from colors in every room (that same livingroom is light green now) to a more neutral theme. But now that I see your livingroom I love it…so here goes nothing! Hopefully by the end of Memorial weekend I will have a beautiful livingroom drenched in Gray Owl. Hardwood floors to follow (fingers crossed!)

  9. says

    So pretty! What a difference paint can make. I am slowing working on my husband to switch out our paint colors from a buttery yellow (which I can live with) to a more beachy hue. Think a pale green/blue seagrassy color! I know exactly what I want, but it is hard to describe!

  10. Jenny H says

    Hi Layla – Your rooms looks really fresh now! I just picked Grey Owl as a potential for a hall/enclosed stairwell. How do you think it would look in a relatively dark stairwell with maple treads and white painted risers and trim. I want to make it fresher and brighter than the current kaki? painted walls. I miss your old house – but this one is looking great. : )

  11. Suzzanne says

    Love the Gray Owl paint…I’m debating on lightening up our LR it is presently BM ( a dark olivey green) Don’t remember the name it’s been so long. I know how you feel about taking your time furnishing your new LR…we have had our furniture since my 2nd son was 2 and he’s now 18! So, needless to say we are in need of new!! :/

  12. Peggy says

    That looks so much better! And I agree with you on built-ins on the fireplace wall. They’d be perfect!

  13. Kirsti says

    We just bought gray owl to repaint my childhood room in…. It is going from light pink to gray. The small 80sq feet space is going to be my moms office when I get married in the fall. It’s going to be gorgeous!

  14. Erika says

    I’m very excited to see how you place your furniture in the room! My hubby and I just bought our first home (a cape) and the living room is laid out very similar to this, except that instead of 2 windows on the front of the house we have a big bay window. I can’t figure out yet where we’re going to put the TV or what I’m going to do with that large wall opposite the windows. I’m sure you’ll have some good ideas!

  15. julianna says

    First: What a difference a paint color can make!

    And B a question: I’m hoping to repaint some rooms this summer. Right now we have flat paint, does eggshell wipe clean with a damp sponge or will I need to go glossier. I like the flat look, but with three boys our walls are eight different kinds of nasty and the flat paint is not forgiving with dirty, smudgy hand, feet, (probably even) face stains : )

  16. says

    Even your unfinished “progress” shots are able to inspire and brighten my day! You’re wonderful, and your space looks awesome. :-)

  17. says

    Wow – it’s amazing how much this lightens up the room! This room is going to look like a million bucks when you are done with it. Love the texture added from the seagrass stools, too.

  18. Karen J says

    You should paint your tile surround too, until you can replace it. I bet you could do a faux white marble look (don’t you use a feather for the veining?) easy-peasy.

  19. says

    Wow – what a huge difference! I love that Gray Owl color – it really brightens it up! I have a room in my house that is currently just white that needs to get painted – I may need to look at the Gray Owl color for that one. You’ve inspired me – thanks for sharing! ~Jess

  20. Kelly says

    Layla, After following you for a while, I have come to the conclusion that the way I paint must be all wrong. If ever you get a chance, I would like to request that you and/or Kevin give a detailed painting 101 for anyone else out there like me that needs to start at the basics, then again, I might be the only one. My walls and trim never look as good as yours in the process stages and after completed. Not sure if it is the paint choice, the way I paint or what, but something is amiss.

    Always look forward to each post, decorating or other!

  21. Sarah says

    Hi Layla!

    Do you guys prefer to have any texture on your walls or are they completely smooth? Looking good!

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Sarah! They’re completely smooth right now, but one day we’d love to add some Gray Owl-painted pine paneling on top of few of them. :-)

  22. Carrie~The Corson Cottage says

    Funny~ I was just thinking about how we haven’t seen much of your living room. Looks like its coming along. Can’t wait to see what cottage goodness you all add. It has great potential & you have great taste:)

  23. Sarah Swartzentruber says

    Hey, Layla! Love how this room is looking so far. You have such amazing style. Just wondering if you could tell me where you found those bar stools? They’re great!

  24. Amy says

    Hey Layla!
    I know this is a weird thing to ask, but do you happen to know the color of your kitchen cabinets (the paint color?) I know y’all are gonna change a lot of things about your current kitchen, but I happen to love it exactly how it is and want to find out the info on it before it’s gone!! I love the granite, the cabinet color (which I can tell isn’t white or even cream exactly) and the oil rubbed bronze hardware. We are moving into a new-ish house soon and we intend to paint the kitchen cabinets. My safe, go-to color is Crisp Linen white, because it “blends” well with the white trim around the house (which is brighter)- yet is a nice, softer, off-white color. I guess my conflict is thinking that I can’t paint the kitchen cabinets anything but white because of the existing trim (crown and baseboards). It appears in yalls kitchen, that the cabinets were treated separately from the trim in the house- which inspires me that I can do the same. Could you share some info on the cabinet color and if it is what it appears, a different color than the rest of the trim? Is the trim white?
    thanks so much for your help!!!

    • Layla says

      Hi Amy!

      I’m not sure what color is on the cabinets, but it looks like they used a yellow paint color, and then made them the mustard color by wiping a glaze on top of it. Hope that helps!

  25. L.S. says

    I love the after photo. I’m not fond of dark rooms even though the bright white helps. I much prefer your gray owl shades. Make it however you want it. I’ve been in this house for 22 years and I’m still not done painting, repainting, putting up new shelves, taking down old molding etc. Endless FUN.

  26. says

    We used Gray Owl throughout our house and it is one of my favourite colours. We used it both at 100% and at 50%, It took me such a long time to settle on this colour, every time I see it in another home it makes me smile!

    Great job :)