When I was renovating our Charleston home, I learned a lot about paint and color from a fabulous interior designer who helped me, Courtney Agosti. Courtney is a master colorist (walls, not hair!!) and made my low-ceilinged house appear taller and the nothing-special trim in my rooms blend in and seem more substantial. It’s truly amazing what a little paint can do.

  • DO paint the trim the same color as the walls. Seriously, folks, stop it with all the bright white! I did this for years (even if my walls were red!), but Courtney taught me that painting the walls and trim the same color has incredible results. In our 1970s ranch, this would have only made the ceilings look even lower than they already were, plus the trim was your standard 3-inch stock from Lowes – nothing you’d want to highlight. By painting all the trim and walls a gorgeous umber, I felt like I was walking through clouds in my house. It was beautiful and soothing and rich.Our dining room had a chopped-up look and was dark. We removed the shutters and chair railing and painted everything the same color.
  • DO mix white ceiling paint with 10% of your wall color. It gives your ceilings a hint of what’s going on in the rest of the room and visually extends the height. Magical.
  • DON’T paint a different color in every room. Unless your house has seriously large rooms. One exception is a nursery – every mother wants a pretty color in their baby’s room, right? I even resisted on that and Liam got umber! We painted our entire interior one color except for our family room and powder room.
  • DO make sure the top’s on tight. Perhaps an obvious suggestion, but I once transported a loose-topped gallon of paint (someone else had put the top back on, and I didn’t double-check it) in the back of my father’s Suburban, along with my entire wardrobe. When I opened the back door and saw eggshell white all over what was then one of my biggest assets (if you can call a wardrobe an asset), I burst into shoulder-shaking sobs and created a pathetic scene in a parking lot (people ran to rescue me and then realized I was just crying over spilled paint) before calling my mother to come get me.

Also remember to use flat finish on your walls except in the kitchen in bathrooms use semi-gloss (for easy cleaning). And use semi-gloss on all trim. I’ve always insisted on oil for my trim, instead of latex (painters hate working with oil). Oil paint is really durable and stands up to all the wear and tear (like Liam’s Tonka trucks crashing into them).


Our dining room had a chopped-up look and was dark. We removed the shutters and chair railing and painted everything the same color.


Our refreshed dining room.