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Painting the Guest Room Dark + My Paint Formula for Walls and Trim!

July 27, 2020  —  Written by Julia 

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Last weekend, we painted the guest room a dark, inky charcoal–Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe (this time we had it color matched at Sherwin Williams in an eggshell finish). I wanted to go for something dark in a blueish tone so the headboard would melt right into it and to be honest, the treadmill too.


The tile wood floors (that were here) lightened with the new contrast of the dark walls and the room actually looked so much larger the minute we were done painting! It felt cozier and more intentional and once again, the power of paint astounds me. One question that I have been getting a lot of lately is “Do you always paint the trim the same color as the walls? And what about the ceiling?”

Paint Color: Downpipe by Farrow & Ball, Headboard, Bed Frame, Duvet Cover, Blanket, Sheets (in Beige), Throw Pillow, Nightstand (no longer available, similar), Lamp, Basket (similar), Art (vintage)

Our last house was different, but I made a sort of paint formula for this house that has made the decision pretty easy. Here–we paint the trim the same color as the walls (it really modernizes and extends the space, imo) unless the walls are white. If the walls are white we do a contrast trim–Lamp Room Gray in our bedroom, Accessible beige in the main areas. And I’m sure there will be more to add to that list! As for ceilings, I’ve enjoyed the jewel box feel that painting the ceiling in our closet and music room brought, but the guest room has lower ceilings (8′, compared to 9′) so we kept them white down here to open it up.

The rest of the room, I kept simple–mixing traditional elements (the vintage painting from an estate, beige on beige bedding, that HANDSOME head board–it’s honestly even more beautiful against the dark paint color–with more modern elements like the oversized white lamps (I got a second for the other side but for some reason the shade is delayed so let’s just use our imaginations. haha)

When I was sharing the project on stories, I got a lot of questions about the little door on the left. It’s probably only about 4′ tall and it’s a small under-stair storage that we don’t keep much in.

Having the bed moved over in front of the entrance to the room makes for a really stunning entrance into the room and then if you turn the corner, the treadmill is over by the window. We’ve gotten a lot of questions about why we would put the treadmill here instead of in the theater room (no room) or garage (too cold 10 months out of the year) or any other room–and the truth is, we actually use EVERY room in this house so having the guest room (which is the room that gets used the least) pull double duty made the most sense.

I literally don’t know what we were thinking with that previous layout. Hahaha. But this makes so much more sense and I’m sure it will still continue to evolve! Above all, having one dark and moody room in the house just feels like us. I mean, we gotta have 1!

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What do you think?

  1. Joanne K says:

    I’d kind of like to try painting the trim the same color as the walls, but is it odd to do in only one room? The color is Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster. The rest of our house, except for a guest room in Ben Moore Van Deusen with white trim, is Ben Moore Shoreline with white trim. What do you think?

  2. Annie says:

    So beautiful! When painting walls and trim the same color, do you use the same finish for both? Or a more matte finish for the walls and glossier for the trim?

  3. Amy Dow says:

    LOVE this room! It’s giving me inspiration for our master bedroom we are hoping to update soon. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the headboard. QUESTION???? Did you use a box spring or just the mattress on the bed frame? I love the dark room color and all the bedding!! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Lauren B says:

    Farrow & Ball Downpipe has had my attention forever! What did you bring to SW to have them color match it for you? Would so much rather do that instead of ordering ($$$) from Farrow and Ball’s site.

  5. Gretchen says:

    Hi Julia, what a beautiful space! I see that you used eggshell for both the trim and walls here. I don’t know how textured the walls in this house are, but I remember you mentioning the walls in your old house were very textured. I have some of that going on myself… is there a finish you recommend for playing nicely with texture?

  6. Saby says:

    Absolutely love this, really itching to paint our master bedroom, but it has a lot of windows , would you still suggest a dark and moody paint? Want to go with teal undertones!

  7. Elise says:

    I have the same bed frame. How did you attach the headboard to it? I want a headboard but don’t know how to attach one.

  8. Love this layout much better (mostly for the bed being accessible on both sides) and especially the tone on tone! I know everyone hates on the treadmill, but I do have a question: does yours require a different outlet to use? My husband has a big treadmill and he had to make sure the outlet was wired for the extra power (I think 120V?). Not all outlets/treadmills/wiring codes are the same, so this might dictate the location for some (ie: not wanting to bring an electrician in). Thanks :)

  9. Emm says:

    Hi Julia!

    I’m thinking of trying the all dark in my guest room and painting the trim to match the walls. But – what do you do with the very white outlets and light switches? Do you paint the plastic covers to match? Sorry if that’s a basic question!

    Thank you!

  10. Debbie says:

    How do you decide when to use a lamp and when to use sconces? I see that you switched. While redecorating I am trying to figure out what would be best in my space. Any advice?

  11. Inna Kondor says:

    If I am not mistaken, the vintage painting is the old barn at Capital Reef NP. It’s a beautiful place. And I love ALL of your style!

  12. Sue says:

    Looks great. The headboard fabric and the paint you chose were made for each other. Are you thinking about a rug and some kind of window covering to up the cosy factor?

  13. Samantha Pattillo says:

    First of all, I am in love with this moody palette! I want to paint the rooms in my home in a similar style: the walls and moulding are the same color, but I am struggling with how this treatment will look with my white vinyl windows. I can’t paint those and the mullions (sp??) are inside the glass so those can’t be painted for sure. Any ideas for how to remedy this? Is painting the trim to match a dark room out of the question with these types of windows?

    • Julia says:

      I’d still paint the window trim and just let the white windows pop!

      • Megan Lusby says:

        I am thinking of getting the studio and McGee headboard for on of my bedrooms. Just wondering if you used a bed skirt to hide the mattress frame? Thank you

  14. emily jane says:

    My goodness I looooove this dark & moody dual function solution/outcome! Aaaand, I love that you share your design ‘journey’ and not just the successful ‘after’ -thank you! And, because I can’t help myself, I will share my thought upon seeing the image with the treadmill disrupt the tranquility of the ‘bed only’ images : I wonder if dark but sheer curtains mounted via a ceiling track would continue the lovely enveloping feeling in the first images by softening the visual shock of the treadmill while also letting in a diffused light..? Also wanted to mention… Your music room? DIVINE. That’s all… Oh wait -your closet turned out beautifully too! You guys rock : ) Thank you so much for all the inspiration over the years and especially during these uncertain times. Take care, emily jane

  15. Morgan says:

    I love the contrasting trim (the gray and beige) with the white in the rest of your home! If you didn’t have beautiful wooden doors would you have painted them the same color as the trim? Thanks!

  16. shannon says:

    Painting ceilings is such a pain but I can’t help wondering what this would look like as a jewel box! I love that style and love how your music room turned out! We paint ceilings the same as the wall color unless there is crown molding, and it never fails to make the ceiling feel higher, but I haven’t done it below grade, so I’d be curious to see the effect in a basement room.

    • Daizy says:

      When I’m worried about the space being tooooo dark, I often choose a ceiling paint color by going 1-2 steps up the tone from the wall color on the fan deck swatch. Sometimes when you are in the space, the eye can’t even detect the subtle tone difference but the higher LRV keeps the ceiling from feeling heavy.
      Not sure if that makes sense? LOL

  17. Stephanie Chapman says:

    People are really upset about the treadmill. : ) I think a guest room should be of use for the family first and then the guest! I would happily sleep in that moody space so long as I don’t wake up to someone running.

  18. Morgan says:

    Hi there!

    We’re building a new home and I love your contrasting trim with the white walls, I’m thinking of doing the same. If you didn’t have beautiful wooden doors would you have painted them the same color as the trim, the accessible beige? Thanks!

  19. Gem says:

    If you turn the treadmill around so it hides against the wider wall a bit better but then have a beautiful mirror directly in front, you could see the door when running rather than feel your back is to it and you can’t see the entrance! Mirrors in front of treadmills are really common here in the UK , not sure if that’s the case in the US? Just a thought! Cox and Cox have some really nice slatted window-friendly folding screens too, if you decided to screen the treadmill off. Whole room looks gorgeous already though. Love the idea of a book nook in that understairs cupboard! A nice little DIY opp!

  20. Heather says:

    You mention that you colour-matched the paint, so in fact, your inspiration was the colour Downpipe. You can’t rip off the colour and then reference it, surely? Room looks lovely, really lovely but you need to find somewhere else in that big house of yours for the treadmill.

    • Julia says:

      How else should I describe the paint color?

      • I-Lin says:

        Maybe say “Sherwin Williams custom to match Farrow and Ball Downpipe”? I think mentioning Sherwin Williams first would help :)

        Love how the room turned out, it looks incredibly cozy. Great work as always!

      • Aminah says:

        Heather, she doesn’t “need” to do anything. It’s her house if she wanted the treadmill in the middle of the living room, she could do that and you wouldn’t have a say in that either. :)
        “That big house of yours” way to be condescending. People…

    • Dani says:

      Heather, why be so rude? Julia is doing her best.

      • Heather says:

        In the credits originally, it stated that the paint was by F&B and it’s been amended to read ‘paint color’ which is more accurate. If I misread this, then I apologise. Whilst I’m sure F&B are used to people copying their colours, their paint is the real deal and this was a dupe. As I said, it’s beautiful all the same.

  21. Jesseca says:

    I love the after!

  22. Karen says:

    I look at this post and when you posted the music room video receiving its new paint color and how you did it. Hard to believe that this is the same couple who didn’t even know to STIR the paint when they started. I always learn a lot here. Kudos.

  23. suzanne says:

    Looks lovely! Much better seeing the nicely made up bed from the doorway instead of the treadmill. But do you really go all the way down there to use the treadmill? Since you had/have spaces down to the studs, might have been nice to include just a sliver of space upstairs within either the closet or master bath area (both such wonderfully large spaces!) for a treadmill – that way you could have had a nice view while using!

  24. varya says:

    Cozy lovely and I truly appreciate your getting into the why of your choices as well as the results. Personally I would paint the ceiling NOT the wall color but a slight tint of a very different shade. Maybe an ochre or a terra cotta. I just find that white plane of ceiling too jarring, too intrusive. But everyone has different eyes, thanks for sharing yours.

  25. Jaclyn says:

    Any specific tricks/tests u use to determine if a room gets enough light to go white or if it’s not quite enough and you should go moody? Sometimes it’s not super obvious to me and I’m unsure. I wish I could take you paint shopping with me for my house ????????????

  26. Chantal says:

    I absolute love this, great taste!

    I’ve seen you twice (this room and principal bedroom) hang a single small artwork centered to the bed. I would have love to seen it off centered. I think it makes for a modern interesting look – I believe Eyeswoon does this well.

    Keep sharing the amazing work, and thank you for doing so

  27. Claire says:

    Love this guest room! This may seem like a dumb question, but if you paint the walls and trim with eggshell paint, do you need to put anything on the trim before you paint it all the same?

  28. Jessica Ortega says:

    Do you have a link for the throw blanket?

  29. Love the color and the new layout! It feels meant to be.

  30. Camille says:

    This is gorgeous! Have you heard any opinion on it from the ghosts? ;)

  31. Villy says:

    Did you paint the trim/casing around the door the same color as the wall as well?

  32. April Barro says:

    Beautiful!!! Can you please share the Etsy shop that you bought your pillow from. The link just goes to the Etsy home page. Thank You!!

  33. Justine says:

    Are you able to tell us the mixing code for the pint at Sherwin Williams? Love it!

  34. Tina says:

    Beautiful job!! You’ve done it again!
    Your link to the throw pillow just brings me to Etsy home page, not the actual shop you got it from. Can you put in a more specific link? Thx!!

  35. Megan says:

    How does the headboard attach to the bed frame? Like a standard option? I have a wood bed frame from Article because I don’t like dealing with bedskirts when I’m changing sheets. Would this headboard fit with a lower wood bedframe?

  36. Jenna Brown says:

    Beautiful! Only I would always be crawling into that cozy bed rather than running on the treadmill. :)

  37. ns says:

    omg i would have never thought of this layout for the room and now i cant stop reimagining every room in my house to better serve its purpose!!! you guys keep inspiring me !! this is beautiful !! thanku for sharing your talents with us!!!

  38. Jenny says:

    Beautiful! It looks like such an inviting space for guests. If the closet under the stairs isn’t used much, could you eventually change it to shelving/built-ins? It seems like the perfect space for a nook full of books.

  39. Olivia says:

    Hi! I’m not sure I understand what you mean by you made a “paint formula” for the house. Do you just mean you simply made a decision in advance to paint trim and ceilings the same color unless you were using white? Would you explain further please.

    The headboard is pretty and IMO more masculine feeling (love it)- not sure why you would want to have it blend into the wall/get lost? BTW love the music room!

  40. Anna says:

    LOVE THIS LAYOUT AND COLORS! I could totally see you adding a mirror or affirmation prints above the treadmill. I’m sure the light coming in is such a better experience for workouts too! Great reveal!

  41. Kathleen says:

    Hello! Can you share the formula for this color!? I want to use it in my dining room. What finish would you use? Lastly, would you paint the chair rail as well and the crown molding(top and bottom)? Thank you so much!

  42. Kenzie Kline says:

    Looks great! What kind of trim/ baseboard did you end up going with? Do you mind sharing where you got it from? Thanks!!

  43. Anna says:

    I was curious about that door too! Maybe if you change the door knob to a flatter black one it would recede more? The hinges too!

    Great colour choice as usual :) Am I right in thinking this is what you used in your office?

  44. Emily says:

    Love the color! Such a cozy guest room. Do you paint the main door the same color as the walls and trim or do you leave it as is? I always struggle with making that decision if I’m painting the trim the same color as the walls.

    • Julia says:

      We paint doors to match trim

      • Jenny says:

        Your thoughts regarding what you paint and why is super helpful and very much appreciated! When the trim is painted the same color as the walls, is the sheen the same as the walls or different? I suppose this question also goes for places like your bedroom – are the walls more matte than the painted trim?

        Thank you again ;-)

      • Julia says:

        We’ve actually done it the same sheen here. Our bedroom trim is satin though.

  45. Rochelle Reech says:

    Do you use a different finish on the trim or the same as the wall?

  46. Alison says:

    I love the moodiness! When painting trim the same color as the walls, do you use the same sheen also? Or do you go with a semi-gloss on the trim?

  47. Claire says:

    Love this change and makes so much sense for this room!

    I have a question about transitioning the trim between white and non-white rooms. How do you paint the door and it’s trim between wall-color painted trim rooms and contrast-paint trim rooms? I think the transition from your bedroom to closet worked really nicely because you used lamp gray on the trim in both rooms. But, for example, what if I paint our bedroom a darker shade and the connecting hallway is white with lighter contrast trim. What goes on each side of the hallway door? Thank you and love your home!

  48. Lynn says:

    Love the transformation – that color is amazing ! The texture of the throw pillow is great – what shop on Etsy was it purchased from (if you don’t mind sharing).

    So enjoy following along on your designs for the new house!!!

  49. Alli T. says:

    I’ve always loved your paint color choices! Is there rule you use so that the house really flows well? I’m a fan of darker paints over white, but am afraid that painting each room a different color will make it look disjointed.

  50. BZ says:

    Love the moodiness!! It’s daring and really pays off. Do you have plans to have a separate workout space in the future? Is there a dresser or place for guests to put their things?

  51. Jordan says:

    Stunning room! I also love that the darkroom
    Makes the treadmill basically disappear and it’s nice when your using it to be able to look out one and have natural light! It really is the perfect solution!

  52. Stephanie says:

    Will you please share the paint formula of the Sherwin Williams paint (color matched to FB Downpipe)? I’d love to use it somewhere in my house.

    • Julia says:

      They actually had the formula!

      • Miruska says:

        This is so interesting to me as when I tried to get F&B colours matched in the past, none of the other brands could do it. They just said it was difficult to do and they cannot do it but I wonder if there is more to it. I love F&B paint selection (more curated and easier to choose but also just beautiful on the wall) so i buy originals but they are pricey for sure. Maybe it’s Canada vs USA :-)
        Love the colour choice and how the room looks now.

      • Kirsty says:

        I’m interested in this colour matching and the fact that it seems so readily available in the US.

        In the UK, most places wont colour match other branded colours for you – the branded colours are protected as the intellectual property of that brand…so if I ask a hardware store to colour match a specific Farrow & Ball colour, they generally refuse (I’ve heard you can often find someone to do it, but they’re clearly not meant to). But if you take a book or piece of paper or a vase in, they’ll colour match that (so maybe paint an old vase in an F&B colour and claim it’s an antique you’re trying to match? :)

      • Melanie says:

        Hi! I live in Nova Scotia and have had success getting F&B shades matched at my local Benjamin Moore dealer. They have the formulas in their system and are quite happy to do it. I painted my living room Downpipe last year with the BM matched paint, and it turned out beautifully. Hope this helps!

  53. Jing says:

    Can you really get an accurate matching of F&B color at SW store?

    • Julia says:

      Yes!! The color is the same. The depth of the paint will be different.

      • elle says:

        Hi Julia! I’ve never done color-matching before, can I just go to my Sherwin Williams and ask them to do this F&B color? Would I need to bring in a paint chip sample for them to physically match to? Wondering if your local one knows how, or if it’s in their system for all SW (across the US!)

  54. Patricia says:

    Layout makes more sense this way. The treadmill is not the “feature” of the room, the bed is. Plus the treadmill is a handy place for guests to hang their clothes (typical treadmill use…).

  55. Thora says:

    It looks great! This room and the music room have definitely shown me the power of a darker color in a darker space. When you do the trim the same color as the walls, do you use the same finish (eggshell) or switch to semigloss?

  56. Abby P. says:

    It looks incredible! What are your feelings on only having one room in a house with matching trim? My house is historic with big, chunky trim throughout and it’s all painted BM Simply White. But now I’m dying to paint the trim and built-ins in a guest room all the same color!

  57. Christina says:

    This is gorgeous! And I don’t want to be one of those people giving advice – honestly the number of people who were saying “why don’t you just put it ____” was making me so frustrated on your behalf. So this is a question, not advice. ;)
    Would the treadmill work turned around the other way? So the handles and screen are more on the larger wall and less of the window is obstructed? Just curious.
    Overall, this is an absolutely gorgeous space! I love seeing real world problems like “where to put the treadmill” addressed with style as well as substance.

  58. Lauren says:

    Hi! Gorgeous color choice. How do you handle doors? Interior closet door painted same as walls and trim, and for the bedroom door is it two sided, facing out matching the hall and interior dark like the wall? Thanks for sharing.

  59. Jeanne says:

    I love the colors in this room and how they all compliment each other! Can you share the shop you bought the pillow from on Etsy? I’d love to browse the shop. The link just links to the Etsy homepage. Thank you!!

  60. Clarissa says:

    Love it! Did you ever thought of adding a folding screen to hide the treadmill? Greetings from Brazil :)

  61. Lisa says:

    Wow, what a huge impact from patching, painting, and rearranging. You’ve really nailed it on the layout!

  62. Amy Schroth says:

    This is fantastic. I really love what you are doing witht his house. I have two questions for you:

    1. Could you share the name of the Etsy vendor for the throw pillow? The link doesnt take me to their page.
    2. What are your thoughts on two dark rooms leading into eachother? I live in Pittsburgh, which is not the sunniest place in the world, so most of the rooms in my house are pretty dark naturally.

  63. Abby says:

    Love this room and that paint color! I saw on your stories that you had a bed skirt for your metal platform frame? Would you mind sharing? I have the same frame and the skirt I bought slips around like crazy! Thanks!

  64. Jamie Schmit says:

    The link for the throw pillow didn’t work. It just brings me to Etsy’s home page. Can you re-link this?

  65. Ronda Rowe says:

    Love the color! And having a window near the treadmill should brighten up your workouts! Speaking of windows, will this window get replaced as part of your exterior redo?

  66. Kelly H says:

    I love this! Having a formula keeps you from having to decide on a color for the trim every time. But I always wonder – do you use latex or oil based paint on the trim? I’ve heard it has to be oil based and I hate using it!

  67. Amy Chen says:

    I have a dark basement guest bedroom. It’s pretty small. Do you think it looks better to just commit to the darkness or try to lighten it with white? I really like what you did here and it’s making me rethink my strategy. After all, dark is good for sleep.

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