How to Design the Whole House: Part 5

Well, I’m excited about the additions of the color black to my spaces because it adds depth and richness as you’ll see. 

It’s been several months now since I added to my Whole House Design Series, and I guess it’s about time because quite a bit has happened around here.  I think, judging from the #4 article, the kitchen has probably changed the most although other things have happened along the way.  Most of the new wall coverings are up and I’ll let you see how they look.

Before Kitchen -

The kitchen was the first room to take shape with wall covering.  When I moved in, the walls were all off white, which gave us a wonderful blank canvas to work on.  You can just see the tile between the upper and lower cabinets in this photo.  It is a tumbled travertine placed on the diagonal with insets of pineapples.  (Not too crazy about the pineapples because they mess up any other theme you want to go after and of course I’m all about the roosters!)  So, which direction to go was an issue.

Proposed Dramatic Black Wallcovering -

I didn’t want to go with pineapples on the wall and be too themey.  Same goes with the roosters.  I was looking for an overall pattern of some sort just to soften and warm up the room.  However, I came across this black background paper with a variety of topiaries printed on it and I fell in love.  Wow, what drama it would bring to the cabinets and you can see that it pulls the black right out of the granite countertop.  EVERYONE winced when I told them I was thinking of putting up black wallpaper.  This did cause me to step back and do some serious thinking about it.  After looking around my house, I found that I use black quite often as an accent.

Black Desk Base -

My office furniture is mainly black.  I have black bookshelves in my living room.

Black Framed Chairs -

I have chairs in my family room that are painted black with black caning.  I am using a black area rug in my bathroom.  My barstools are upholstered in black.

Black Painted Furniture -

There’s the black Grandmother’s clock, black hand painted bench….OK, OK, that’s enough.  I was sold!!  I use enough black in my home that a black kitchen wouldn’t be out of place.  What I did have to be concerned with were the topiaries and the green.  I would have to use some topiaries in the kitchen and perhaps even in surrounding areas to make this all work.  I also was a bit wary about the pineapple tiles in my backsplash.  My plan was to cover as many of them up with counter items and hope that they didn’t take anything away from the new paper.

Dramatic Black Kitchen -

The almost finished kitchen really has some drama now with the pretty wood cabinets and light tile playing off the black background.  I’m thrilled with the results and now need to concentrate on what to do with the windows in the room and the chandelier.

Old World Pendant Fixture -

The chandelier is a bit too old world looking for me with its bronze tone metal and antique gold glass.  You can see as you look at it against the wallpaper that they just don’t do anything for each other.  I have selected a new light fixture that is currently still in the box in my garage.  The holidays put its installation on hold, so now that it’s February…I have no more excuses!

Old World Sconces -

There are two more fixtures that match it in the family room.  They are sconces that flank my TV cabinet.  I have purchased new sconces to replace these that match the chandelier.  They are a country French design and I’m very excited to see them up…just not as excited to do the installation!!

The windows currently have off white pleated shades that are inside mounted.  They really come in handy when the sun starts to set and blinds me during certain times of the year!  However, I like layering at the windows and I am in the market for an interesting window topper.

Black and Cream Checked Draperies -

While trying to decide what to do in the kitchen, I found a drapery for my “great room”.  Normally I would sew my own draperies but I couldn’t resist the great price per panel on these.  Plus, they are lined, they have an added attached topper and there is pretty grosgrain ribbon detailing on them.

When I purchased the panels, I discovered that the fabric was available by the yard.  I bought several yards of it and I intend on making something for the kitchen over the bay window and the window over the sink.  Just what, I’m not sure.  Some days I think I should copy the attached pleated valance from the draperies, other days I feel I could change things up a bit and be OK.

Black and Cream Bathroom -

In the meantime, I started working on my guest half bath.  To tie the bath to the rest of the house, I used up some of the checked fabric on the walls.  Yikes.  Now I’m not sure if I have enough fabric to do the kitchen windows…hee, hee.  One more thing to figure out!

Coral Color Scheme - MattandShari.comSpeaking of bathrooms, you might remember I mentioned a wallpaper selection for my master bath that had a coral pattern on it.  At the same time I found a shell design fabric for draperies and a shower curtain along with coral colored bath towels.

Bathroom with Coral Color Scheme -

So far, the wallpaper is up and I’m trying to design the window treatment and shower curtain.  I have one little issue with my window covering.  One of my cats put a snag in the window shade.  It is low on the shade and it would be nice if a window covering would hide the snag.  It’s a problem and my only other option would be to buy a new shade but of course that’s going to be several hundred dollars and I’m not too interested in that.  Especially since it is in my master bath and no one but my family sees that room!

Artwork with Coral Designs -

There are two solid color walls in that bathroom.  The previous owners painted one of the walls by the tub and the entire commode room in a taupe Venetian plaster technique.  This would be difficult to fix on the walls.  You know, sanding and skim coating then sanding again, so I’m staying with it.  It does pick up the background color of the paper and the solid walls are a nice break from the patterned wallpaper!  I did find a couple of small prints of coral and I plan on using them somewhere in the space as well.  One thing especially nice about the prints is that the frame around them matches the wood of the cabinetry in the bath.

Butler's Pantry -

Let’s go back to the kitchen for a minute.  There is an area between my blue living room and my black kitchen that I didn’t know what to do with as far as color.  I had sample swatches on the wall for weeks trying to decide.  After much consideration, I brought the soft beige from the family room around and into the “in between” space or hallway, and it blends well with the blue, the black kitchen and the spice colored accent wall that surrounds the kitchen.  Whew.  That was a tough one.

Neutral Painted Border -

Now I’m going to hop back to the bedroom for a minute.  Really the only thing I’ve worked on there are the walls.  When we moved in, the walls were off white with a tan stripe around the top of the walls within the crown molding and an additional trim piece.

Since then I grabbed the oil base trim paint and painted over the tan stripe.  I want to make the molding at the top look more substantial and I eventually want to add some decorative wood pieces between the two moldings.  It will be blocks or diamonds or something dimensional to add a bit of style.

Grasscloth with White Painted Border -

The wall covering I selected was a grass cloth.  I’ve had grass cloth in my homes before and have always enjoyed the warmth and texture.  This color is just right with the carpeting and the fabrics on the furniture in the room. (Notice the tricky cuts the paper hanger had to make around the crazy opening to the hallway!)

Master Bedroom Early Stages -

This is another room that is in desperate need of window coverings.  Desperate because the sun shines in so bright there is no option for sleeping in!  I’m going back and forth between using a velvet drape because of the earthy colors and texture in this room, and a silk because I do live in Florida, not the Yukon and I don’t really need the velvet to keep out the cold.

The next decision is to either blend with the walls or go darker to make a statement with the draperies.  Stay tuned, I hope to get this solved in the next couple of weeks!

You know, going through this exercise…trying to explain to you what I have done and why is a very good exercise to go through.  You may want to try this with your own decorating.  Sit someone down and explain your reasoning for making certain decisions.  This helps you to confirm what you are thinking or it may even cause you to change gears!

In the near future I will be doing a lot of sewing it appears with draperies for the kitchen, master bathroom and bedroom. Whatever I decide, I’ll write up as projects so you too can keep that sewing machine of yours busy.  What better time to do it than during the cold winter months?

Happy Decorating!


Close-up Black Wallcovering -

P.S. – For those of you who were asking about a close-up shot, hope this helps.  This is about the only full wall space in the whole kitchen!!  That’s probably why the black isn’t overpowering.


  1. Sheila Kercheville says

    Shari, I love your decorating style! I have been trying to sum up what I love and well, this is it!!! What “style” would you call this? It’s just beautiful!!

    • Shari Hiller says

      HI Sheila! Thank you for the compliment on my spaces. Hmm, I guess most of my furnishings are transitional..not too traditional and not too modern. Basically clean lines with some detailing. I accent my furnishings with European country details like my rooster collection, toile, the black wall covering with topiaries, the black bench and black grandmother’s clock, and other painted and distressed case pieces. Being in Florida brought about the coral wallpaper in my bath, and I use color to tie things together. I think if you surround yourself with things you love, it will blend together and become a reflection of you.

  2. Kristine says

    LOVE your style! I have a fan of you and Matt since HGTV days. The black wallpaper as an accent is so striking. Thank you for sharing

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