Making the BIG Material and Color Choices – My Top Tips!

Mar 08 2020
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Besides the “How do you know how to do it?” and the “How do you get motivated and accomplish it?” The other question I get asked very often is how I make the BIG design choices in my home. I always say everything is fixable and though that is TRUE, not everything is cheap or easy to change or fix. (Certainly not everything is just a different color of paint on the wall when that mauve turned out to be a terrible decision.) So, how do I make my own design choices here at Grandma’s House DIY?

First thing is first. If you own your home then I would say OWN your choices. I’m certainly not writing this blog post for people who are renting or for people who are staging their houses to sell. If this is your house and you live there and you want to paint your floors black and your bedroom walls neon green than GO FOR IT!

Quite frankly you live there it really isn’t anyone else’s business!

Come see how I converted my extra bedroom into my brand new workshop space with black ceilings, teal walls and pine hardwood floors! Workshop Reveal

HOWEVER, even a paint color is work and cost to change once the “fun” of that neon green wears off. I still love my workshop which I painted black and turquoise but its definitely not for everyone. AND, I painted that black knowing full well that I will be in for a whole pile of hurt (and MANY coats of paint) in the future if I ever want to get rid of it.

When it comes to more permanent decisions I stand by one thing that I feel helps keep my home from looking like a crazy person lives here:


If you like brass hardware then use it on everything. Doorknobs, light fixtures, cabinet knobs, towel holders etc. If its consistent throughout the home it tends to make the place feel like you know what you’re doing.

(Its also one of the easier things to change and can create a striking update with just a few hours of time. You don’t even have to buy new anymore, Rustoleum makes hardware spray paint that can take ALL of your fixtures to chrome, nickel, brass, gold or bronze depending on what you like.)

Consistency with trim colors throughout can also help add cohesion to a home. Especially if you have different kinds of trim (common with homes that have been added on to) painting it all out in the same color helps rooms flow together.

If you’re stuck in the “almond” color scheme with all of your switches, outlets and face plates you can paint them out or replace them all. NOTE: The paint won’t last forever even if you use a paint specific for plastic but its much cheaper and easier then replacing all of them – but both options are totally doable in a weekend.


I hate that word but its a really good jumping off point when it comes to your more permanent (and expensive) choices. Neutral floors and ceiling colors means you can go crazy everywhere else and in more replaceable applications.

A neutral sofa means you can add color with pillows. A neutral floor makes it a lot more fun to add color to the walls etc.

A snowy and cold November starting out winter off in the expected way in northern Minnesota. Getting to know my house again and getting cozy.


There was a BIG push a few years back toward the earth tones. Personally I can’t stand them because, if you look close at their making, they ALL have brown in them. Even the blues, yes they have brown in them, that’s what gives them an “earthy” feel.

They can (and do) add warmth.

The reason I’m bringing it up is because this is a great place to start in understanding what YOU like. If earth tones aren’t your thing than that’s a HUGE portion of the color wheel you can just throw out and thus limit your color choices.

Which is probably my biggest tip I could ever give when it comes to how to make design choices in your home.


Start by removing everything you DON’T like.


I have two things that limited my choices immediately here at Grandma’s House.

Firstly, I hate carpeting and tile and linoleum. I am a wood floor chick all of the way and I am also a DARK wood floor chick. So, to start, every single one of my rooms has the color of black dirt on the floors in the form of Dark Walnut stained 100 year old hardwoods.

To me that’s PLENTY of brown for any of my rooms. So, that’s half the color wheel gone for me.

(Not to mention I grew up in the 90s era of beige, almond and gold so I’m already over brown in every way hence my abhorrence of those “earth tones”.)

Secondly, I live in a 100 year old farmhouse and though I’ll always say that this is YOUR home and you can do WHATEVER you want. That’s not totally true for me. I can’t bare the idea of doing anything here that doesn’t respect the age and truth of this little home of mine.

For real I’ve had NIGHTMARES of one of those HGTV stars coming in and covering my gorgeous hardwoods up with engineered fake wood floors because my hardwoods aren’t “level” or “perfect” enough. *shudders*

Your home can help you a lot when it comes to making design choices! Craftsmans, Ranches, 60’s Pads, Farmhouses etc. All have a very specific architectural look and working with that can help you limit your choices and also bring out the best in your house!

DIY Farmhouse Kitchen Reveal, somehow I took space AWAY from my kitchen and yet I ended up with MORE storage and a bigger feeling kitchen! A small remodel!


One of my favorite little tips for adding color when you really don’t want to paint a room out in MAGENTA for your 9 year old daughter is that you can always paint the doors!

I have been totally astounded by just how many homes I’ve been in where the doors have never been painted. In fact, most of those doors purchased as they are prehung from Menards (or any of the big box stores) are NOT painted, they’re primed! They come READY TO PAINT.

They are SUPPOSED to be painted!

Doors are really easy to paint. Even more fun is you can paint the different sides different colors. All of your doors in the hall might look white but the side facing into the rooms can be any color your family might like.

Such as: MAGENTA!

I actually made the decision to paint all of my interior doors black and I so totally love them!


Between what you actually like and want to live with, what your type of home is and how it limits your choices the last big one is BUDGET.

A good example of budget limiting choices is when it comes to hardware (knobs, fixtures etc.)

There are basically three affordable choices when it comes to hardware and that is: gold, chrome and plastic. You guys already know how I feel about gold and I wasn’t going to be putting plastic anything in my 100 year old farmhouse so my decision was already made for me: CHROME.

Fortunately I really like chrome!

Of course that is not set in stone either as there are TONS of choices out there when it comes to hardware but I do find it to be mostly true enough to use it as an example here.

Between budget, what you like and what will be true to your home – many of your choices will be MUCH easier to make! Several of my own choices were basically picked for me which helped so much!

Making the BIG Material and Design Choices - My Top Tips! Not letting large choices paralyze us, figuring out what's timeless and whats just a fad and being


  1. Liz Nix
    March 8, 2020 at 10:52 am

    On the wall in the last frame of the Design Choices newsletter is a black and white linotype/sketch of a heron in reeds. Who is the artist? It looks very familiar.

    • March 9, 2020 at 8:48 am

      Hi Liz, I’m sorry to I don’t know :/ I’ve wondered that myself but the print has no signature on it and its been in my family for a long time!

  2. Emie
    March 9, 2020 at 4:05 am

    GREAT post!!! Thanks so much this is a helpful outline of where to start.

  3. June 4, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    I love your pops of red. That’s one of my favorite colors to use at home too. Totally agree about dark wood floors. Mine are old and super creaky. Do yours creak a lot? Thanks for the door painting tip. I will have to try that.

    • June 5, 2020 at 9:04 am

      We definitely have some spots that creak a lot I think it just comes with the territory lol Love those pops of red, I think it can really make a space!

  4. Mose
    June 14, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Those red chairs with the cutouts are so weird! I love them!! Where did you find these??

    • June 15, 2020 at 9:06 am

      Thanks I found them on Amazon!

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