Creating Heaven on Earth: The Right Paint Colors for Belgian Chic

To paint or not to paint?  That is the question and the debate between wives and husbands throughout the land.  Here is a stunning example of when painting the woodwork (and brick) is the RIGHT choice.

 Painted Brick


This client knew what she liked – I mean she REALLY knew what she liked.  So why did she ask for a paint color consultation with The Decorologist?  Because choosing paint colors is a very tricky deal, haven’t you noticed?  My client and her family recently moved back to Nashville and found a house with a great layout in an ideal location.  However, the finishes were dated and harkened back to the late 1970’s.

 1970’s Living Room


The paneling had (mercifully) been painted already, but the beams were orange and the brick fireplace dominated one entire side of the den as you entered.

 Lots-o-Brick and Wood Beams – To Paint or Not to Paint?


My client knew her own taste and had furnishings that reflected that.  She knew that she needed the transformative power of the RIGHT paint colors to make this dated house her dream home.  You may need to take a deep breath to prepare yourself for the unbelievable change in this space after the new colors were in place and her furnishings filled the room:

belgian chic living room

After – Color and Accessorizing by The Decorologist


Can you believe this is the same room as in the “before” photos?  As peaceful and simple as it seems, I chose 4 paint colors for this room.  See if you can differentiate them.


Painted Brick and Wood Beams



Lest you forget the “before” of this room:

 Before: Orangey Wood Beams and Trim


Although many homeowners would have kept the dark wood beams, knowing my client’s aesthetic helped me make the RIGHT decision to paint the orangey beams and baseboard woodwork in colors that made it possible to take an outdated den to a Belgian Chic living space for a growing family.

wood beams living room

 Belgian Chic by The Decorologist


Notice how the ceiling ties in ever-so-gently with the gray-blue muslin slipcovered chair and pillows?

I want to read a wonderful novel right here . . . 



ruffled pillows



Of course, I made it a priority to create a flow in the color palette from room to room of this home.  This was the condition of the entry leading into the living room at the time of the paint color consultation:

Interior Colors Before The Decorologist


Below is the transformed entry, complete with a fun IKEA light fixture.   Walk right in and say, “Ahhhhh.” 

IKEA entry light fixture

 Entry “After” – A Whole New Aesthetic


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  there is nothing I love more than to come to an understanding of a client’s innermost desires for their living spaces and cast a vision even better than they could have imagined on their own.  That is my heart-felt hope and mission in this seemingly-silly vocation of interior decorating.  Just a little sliver of heaven on our little sliver of earth.  Can I get an “Amen?”


  1. SheShe

    Amazing…..AMAZING transformation. Good job. I want to move in!

  2. Dana Tucker

    Love it!!! What a transformation. You are a miracle worker 🙂

  3. Dianne Tant

    what a surprising and wonderful transformation! I love it.

  4. Andrea Brooks

    I actually thought the “after” picture was a magazine inspiration photo. This is a double take transformation for sure!! Fabulous Kristie!

  5. Paul Martin

    A-men !

  6. Susanne


  7. Richelle

    What are the four paint colors? I see the walls, the ceiling and the beams but where is the fourth? Beautiful job!

    • Kristie Barnett

      We used a white-white for most the trim and brick, then an off-white for the walls, charcoal for the ceiling beams, and a gray with a drop o’ blue for the ceiling.

      • beth bullock

        What is the brand and name of the off white that is on the walls?

  8. Eileen

    Another great transformation! I especially love the new entryway and how it leads so perfectly into the other rooms. What it the wall color? It’s such a great neutral.

  9. Kate

    SO. AWESOME. Stunning! Beyond my imagination! I want to be you when I grow up, Kristie!

  10. Jamie P Brantley

    Where did you get the gray-blue muslin slipcovers?

  11. kelly arent

    Holy moley…..Yes….you can get an Amen!! This transformation is unbelievable…another great job by you! I can imagine your client was overwhelmed with joy!

  12. Kristie Barnett

    from my email:

    “You brought that house from 80’s dated to current chic! Gorgeous!

  13. Sarah

    I love this!! I just bought a home that has that same orangey wood trim! I am trying to figure out what to do with it. One question is what do I do with doors that are that same color through out the whole house?

    • Paula Van Hoogen

      You already KNOW what to do, Sarah! 😉

  14. Vanessa

    I am SO impressed! What an inspiring transformation! It can be a tough decision to paint wood trim and beams, but here you show once again what a perfect choice it always seems to be. Stellar job!

  15. christiana

    Amen! Amen! Amen! I could have never done this without you! Nor would I ever, ever, EVER had the courage to paint the beams the dark charcoal but I trusted you and it is so beyond anything I could have asked for!!!
    Thank you so much for making my home sooo beautiful!!

  16. Annie

    Gorgeous! From dreary to dreamy. I am wondering though why you chose to do the shelf above the fire place in white too. Having it in the color of the top beans works much better in my mind.

    • Kristie Barnett

      We did consider that – but decided we didn’t want that one element to “pop” off the wall like that. But that could have worked, too!

  17. Jennifer @ Decorated Chaos

    wow! What an amzing room transformation all with the power of paint! I love it. Your front room turned out great… shabby chic and beautiful! 🙂

    I am your newest follower via email.


  18. Kristie Barnett

    from my email:

    “Wow! That is an amazing job!!! Love it!! (wish it was my living room!)

  19. Linda

    Great job…so relaxing and calming!

  20. Cindi

    GORGEOUS!!! Girl, please come to LA and redo my apartment EXACTLY like that! I even have the brick wall with the fireplace that takes up the end of the room like that!

  21. Kelley

    Amen sister! AMEN!

  22. Paula Van Hoogen

    AMEN! IS RIGHT, KRISTIE!!! I could see this same room with contemporary furniture as well—the
    painted surfaces brought the sunshine into this home!!!

    Take a good look all of you wood, brick, and rock guys! And…..
    Keep your camping elements outside!

    We won’t try and put lace curtains in your garages either, promise.

  23. Paula Van Hoogen

    PS: All that’s needed now is a pretty fireplace screen to tie in with this aesthetic.

  24. Alex @ Revedecor

    Ooo. What a nice transformation! Amen, for your words!

  25. ayse

    gorgeous! really!
    been looking at your posting on Houzz and ended up here.
    love your work.

  26. Elizabeth Brown

    Wow! I mean sensationnel!
    I see why she hired the “Decorologist.
    Are the beams stained or painted.? And in what?

  27. Michelle at Faith, Trust, & Pixie Dust

    Painting brick is such a stressful decision, but I agree that it’s often a good idea. This room looks so fresh now. What a beautiful home!

    Warmly, MIchelle

  28. Jen C.

    KB, i am sitting here with my mouth gaping open. you have done some pretty amazing “before and afters” but i think this one takes the cake! i agree with the other person who posted that they thought the after pic came out of a magazine–i did, too! i saw it before i finished reading and thought that you must have used it as an inspiration picture. unreal. what a beautiful living area for a beautiful family.

    and by the way, i applaud you on your mission to help people feel comfortable in their homes. there is nothing silly at all about that. thanks to you, my home is what i always wanted, but never knew how to make it happen! i love it and i love you!!! 🙂

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words, Jen. It makes me so happy that you are happy with the way your interior/exterior came out! You know I need to come take some photos . . . 🙂

  29. Kelly

    So beautiful! Great, great job my friend! And yes, it should be published in a magazine!

  30. Kristy Swain

    This is an amazing before and after! Excellent work. Great paint suggestions. Just looks fabulous! Do you mind sharing the actual paint color names?

  31. cathy

    Just HAD to jump on the praise bandwagon for this one – absolutely awesome!! You better believe I saved AND printed this to go into my inspiration files 🙂 Many thanks!

  32. Deborah Bruna

    Thus room is gorgeous. You did a wonderful job. Where did you get the fabulous light fixture that hangs from the beams? And who is the manufacturer? Thanks!

  33. LLH Designs

    AMEN for sure! Fantastic job! Love the subtle hit of color in the ceiling. I noticed it right away. All of my ceilings have a hint of blue gray. I use a half formula of one of my favorite BM colors.

  34. Rachel

    AAAH! This is Gorgeous!!! I was looking for an example of painted fireplace brick and this was the first hit on your website. I LOVE it! We’re considering buying a house with tons of paneling and ugly brick (and I usually LOVE brick.) This is exactly what I’m doing! LOVE, love, love! Thank you for the inspiration!

  35. Barbara

    Fantastic job. The blessings of paint! The right colors and a vision.

  36. liza

    what kind of paint was used on the ceiling beams? were they prepped or treated prior to the paint coat?

    how many coats of paint did it take?

    I am curious as the beams look great and it doesn't look like any of the graining comes through.

    I am hoping to do the same treatment on beams like this and would love as much info as possible on how it was done

    thank you

  37. Connie@Connie Nikiforoff Designs

    Because I LOVE white rooms, all I can say of this transformation is AMEN and AMEN indeed! Lovely! This white room is what I call swoon-worthy!

  38. Melissa

    This room is shockingly similar to the ’70’s-era sunken den in my otherwise charming 1950’s brick cape cod. Would you mind sharing the wall paint color and beam paint color? Amazing transformation!

  39. Arnold Mullgrav

    I am purchasing a English Tudor in PA the closing date is March the 3rd 2014 I love this look however a little hesitant about actually recreating the look of the house . I plan to live in the house at least five years and think that the new LOOK might hinder the resale of the house . However as I give it more thought I think it will help me to resell the house because although an English Tudor has it’s appeal the younger generation is looking for a more Modern LOOK and this look has every Bit of that .

  40. Tricia

    Beautiful room! I have the very same ceiling in my new house and I LOVE this. I’m very curious to know why you don’t list the paint color name & brand? I see people have asked and I would really love it if you’d to share that here. Thanks!!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you, Tricia. I don’t list the color names because I do paint color consultations for a living. I don’t get paid to blog. In fact, it costs me money and a huge amount of time to do so. I love to give advice (for free) and hope to inspire others with what I share here, but I can’t give the store away. 😉 Thanks so much for reading!

  41. Genie Bailey

    I loved reading through these posts! Thanks so much. They are so helpful! I am adding on a bathroom and sitting room. I’m using BM White Dove But I’m also using a fun big black and white hex tile pattern on the bathroom floor and white subway tiles in the barrier free shower. There will be a big black chest and gold fixtures in the room. Will the stark white of the tiles yellow the White Dove?

    • Kristie Barnett

      It depends on how white the tile is. If the tile is more of a bright white, you should consider something like Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. Sounds like a great project!


    Colors used???
    I can always color match using the BM & SW app.
    Would like to hear from you since you know specifically what color and in what finish.



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