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Shall I paint the beams and windows white?
mathew39
December 26, 2012 in Design Dilemma
I have moved into a lovely house with exposed beams and high ceilings. I think I would look great to paint the beams white along with the stair case and windows. It would create a fresh modern look. Any comments would be appreciated. I added a picture I found of something similar.
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kitasei
I think you will seriously undermine the value of your house, and wonder why you chose it if you disliked its most significant feature so much. Painting wood is a huge decision. Take a deep breath on this one.
December 26, 2012 at 2:48PM     
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Nancy Hehmann
I love your house and think it looks great as is. Anything you paint has to be kept up. A lot of people like the dark beams etc. But, I am sure it is an individual preference and may depend on what you are hoping to achieve. I am sure you will get a lot of good advice on here. Have a wonderful holiday season.
December 26, 2012 at 2:50PM     
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daytimedesign
I think I would leave the ceiling beams and windows as they are! Then possibly experiment with the staircase. Perhaps paint the stair spindles a warm white and leave the handrail dark? Your house has great spanish revival style! I think what's wrong currently is that the contrast between the beams and walls is too stark. What about a warm cream on the walls? I also think you can modernize and soften up your space with furnishings. This place reminds me of yours: http://www.onekindesign.com/2012/10/26/inviting-spanish-revival-bungalow-in-san-anselmo/

Of course if you hate that style, then go with what you like...which to me looks a little more coastal.
December 26, 2012 at 3:23PM     
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Darzy
I like it the way it is because it has so much character. Once you finish styling it will look great.
December 26, 2012 at 3:26PM     
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emsprater
I have dark beams as well, and plan on painting them. The 'cave' look is depressing, mine is much more dated than the examples you gave ( I think yours is not cave like, as mine is). Bottom line is, do what makes you happy with your space, makes you feel comfortable in your space and don't be dissuaded by those who wish you to follow their tastes in your home. White beams and woodwork like the walls would give you a very modern look.
December 26, 2012 at 3:33PM     
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luv2naach
The dark and white is a beautiful contrast.
December 26, 2012 at 5:02PM     
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simps214
NOOOOO!

Okay I just had to get that out : P I think the dark wood beams add a lot of character to your home but if you plan to be there long term then do whatever makes you comfortable. However, if you may ever need to sell, dark beams would be a real draw for anyone looking for an old home. I know I'm drawn to them right now.

Either way it's a beautiful space.
December 26, 2012 at 5:23PM     
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Jayme H.
I understand what u r saying with that pic of the all white house. But consider also the floor. The floor in that house is also light, yours is not, so that would impact the overall look. I would go for light area rugs to lighten your floor, but leave the dark beams for their impact.
December 26, 2012 at 5:42PM   
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pamrhess
You can't unpaint (well, you can but it's terribly hard and expensive.)
Live with it,decorate around it, respect the architecture, and see what you think in a year. If you still crave white beams, then by all means paint them.
December 26, 2012 at 5:58PM     
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Karen Somerville
Leave the beams! I think they are really unique. Perhaps, change the flooring using a lighter tile or hardwood. If that's not in the budget, go for a much larger blonde carpet (light tones and pattern may be better with puppy). A must do....add some track lighting (to boost the white walls), a fabulous chandelier in the stairway(something on the rustic modern side, see Restoration Hardware). And lighting in the space under the stairs, recessed if you can). Add some wall lights here for art, or scones with some up-down light. I'm dealing with aLOT of wood and beams at my place (log house), so I know how you feel. (P.S. I think you could get away with painting the stair rails white, the contrast is a bit busy, this I would try first before committing to painting the other features.) Good luck!
December 26, 2012 at 6:06PM     
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judianna20
No, do not paint the beams. If you would like to change anything, change the stair railing to wrought iron.

December 26, 2012 at 6:09PM     
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nancymic
I agree about the floors. Try very large cream area rugs. Buy them someplace where you can return them if they don't solve your darkness problem. I'd try that before painting the beams. I have wood stained woodwork throughout my house and I hate it but am very reluctant to paint all of it because many new houses don't even have wood, plus once you paint you have to repaint often enough!
December 26, 2012 at 6:21PM   
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LM Designers
Contrary to most of your advise I say paint away!! I painted my dark beams once in 12 years and have never regretted it. It bothered me to see them and once painted white they disappeared. I did not like the chopped up look on my ceiling. The dark beams stop your eye at each and every one. I did not care if it was popular or not, my comfort level mattered more to me.
December 26, 2012 at 7:15PM     
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claudiann
I would get all of my furniture and artwork hung before I decided. The colors you use may make a big difference in how the beams look. Big bold colors would look beautiful with the dark wood.
December 26, 2012 at 8:43PM     
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Nazanin Frzbkht
dont paint the beams. the beams and the contrast of the colors give the room a character that you cant find in most of the other homes. i love the stairs and the beams in your home. you just need to find a right furniture for your home. and plz plz plz forget about the 3rd white picture you added.
December 26, 2012 at 8:50PM     
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collettec
Another option would be to paint the walls so less of a contrast between the dark and light if that's what you are less fond of and it would preserve the natural wood.
December 26, 2012 at 8:55PM     
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Skye Rutherford
Wow.. painting that fabulous wood is something that you cannot easily undo... how about adding color to your rooms? vibrant is great, but if you are going for modern find some tone on tones to give it the look you crave.... though I just looked at a home done in a crazy deep Benjamine Moore natura line red that had exposed wood and looks great!
December 26, 2012 at 9:38PM   
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iceddopio
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO please.
December 26, 2012 at 10:03PM     
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po8475
I'm going through the same thing. I have dark beams and a dark ceiling. I don't like it and I am trying to decide what to do. Here is a pic of my place. Was planning on painting the ceiling and beams cream. What do you think.
December 26, 2012 at 10:19PM   
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po8475
I'm going through the same thing. I have dark beams and a dark ceiling. I don't like it and I am trying to decide what to do. Here is a pic of my place. Was planning on painting the ceiling and beams cream. What do you think.
December 26, 2012 at 10:20PM   
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karongwe
I LOVE the beams, people pay big money to install that exact look. It can fit many styles, pottery barn, old world, modern, European, etc. Enjoy your new house!!!
December 26, 2012 at 10:22PM   
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po8475
And I would agree with your comments and paint your beams. It will feel lighter and brighter.
December 26, 2012 at 10:24PM     
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apennameandthata
No. In any case, you are asking the wrong question. Before you do anything you need to have a mood board with all the colours and finishes planed out ahead of time before you start. Then, when you have done that, you can ask yourself if the plan as a whole works.
December 26, 2012 at 11:02PM     
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duckdawg1
I live in a similar style home. I say paint the ceiling white. If that's not enough, do the window trim next. The dark beams around the doors might look cool when everything is lightened up. I love my white beam ceiling. I have darker spanish tile floors and my house looks coastal without looking beachy. The dark wall beams will resemble a Restoration Hardware look. If the cooler tones are calling your name...do it! People told us not to paint our beams but they also told us to leave the wood panneling alone. I painted the ceiling and the wood panneling and I love it.
December 26, 2012 at 11:21PM     
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cohoek
Once painted white theres no going back. Why not get rid of the dark stain on the beams by sanding them down to the original wood, this will create a much more natural look and lighten everything op. There are even wood bleaches available. Lots of work but well worth it.
December 27, 2012 at 12:45AM   
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jpfox
YES PAINT THEM......I've just painted mine and I love the look, lifts the whole room. No regrets
December 27, 2012 at 6:04AM     
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sconway11324
It really depends. You need to do what you like best because you need to live there. However, from a selling standpoint, the darker beams make a stronger selling point. If you want to lighthen some things, I would paint the trim of the windows but definitely NOT the over head beams. I think you will like the compromise.
December 27, 2012 at 8:33AM   
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Kate
I say don't do it! I bought an old house with dark wood trim and initially thought I would paint everything out - BUT after living with the dark wood trim for a few months I decided not to. Would have been the biggest mistake ever. The dark wood adds so much character. And besides, you can brighten it up with lighter furniture, rugs, sleek white frames for photos, etc.
December 27, 2012 at 8:58AM     
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PRO
Interiors International, Inc.
Absolutely NOT!!!!!!!!!!!
December 27, 2012 at 9:03AM     
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PRO
By Design EK
Leave the ceiling beams, paint the trims and especially the oversized trim over the doors and windows, and lighten up the staircase. You will still have a nice feel without it looking dated or heavy. You could also paint the walls a more creamy white. If you want to play up the meditterranean style a bit have the walls painted in a mottled faux finish or venetian plaster. This will soften the rooms and warm it up!
December 27, 2012 at 9:07AM   
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iceddopio
Jpfox- 1. Your interior is very different 2. It may not have been a good idea, the wood did look better, less "Miami Vice"
December 27, 2012 at 9:31AM     
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PRO
Nestings Home Staging by Julia Vigneron Maher
You've received lots of great advice here! I like the idea of sanding the wood to a lighter, more natural color. One thing I would definitely recommend is to paint the walls - the stark white provides too much contrast. Or, consider painting the ceiling a warm caramel-type color to provide less contrast, and tie in the floors.
December 27, 2012 at 10:24AM   
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kristakt
Don't paint the wood! Love the high contrast. Change the floor. It is very dark and heavy. Weighs the room down.
December 27, 2012 at 11:03AM   
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PRO
San Luis Kitchen Co.
Don't paint the beams! Please! I agree with painting the walls or ceiling instead.
December 27, 2012 at 11:50AM   
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PRO
My Villa Austin
Your beams look flat because they are halfway done they need dimension and depth and in order to achieve that they need to be fauxed. I would add some lighter color paint to the beams and then wipe off. After that they should be varnished, that will add dimension and depth to the wood. I would then paint the walls a color that compliments the look you are going for. Banisters can be painted.
December 27, 2012 at 12:58PM     
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PRO
JMittman Designs
I would definitely paint the walls before I painted those beams. Walls look stark.
December 27, 2012 at 1:08PM   
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tonypignataro
DONT DO IT !!
December 27, 2012 at 2:32PM   
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dcer
Please don't! They are beautiful, and add to your home's value. Paint the walls something to complement them, and create the fresh, modern look through your furniture and accessory selections.
December 27, 2012 at 3:22PM     
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Kevin Retired Decorator
I love the beams, in fact I have that same look in my place and I'm calling rustic modern Using all modern furniture and modern & rustic/earthy accessories. I love it. But I think if you want white wood go for it. The trim has simple modern lines already. Kevin
December 27, 2012 at 3:50PM   
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decoenthusiaste
Why don't you live with them, go all out on your preferred decor and then decide after 6 months to a year?
December 27, 2012 at 4:06PM   
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feeny
Your house with the dark beams is SO much more attractive than the bland white on white one you posted as an inspiration. I think it would be a big mistake to paint your beams.
December 27, 2012 at 5:58PM   
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margaret
PLEASE DON'T PAINT THOSE BEAMS!! look at pictures of spanish mediterranean homes because you are set up for that kind of amazing ambience! Good Luck!
December 27, 2012 at 6:33PM   
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mbnrick
No! Don't paint beams, they are an archtectural feature most people search for. Softening the windows with treatments would help, plus good area rugs. Please proceed to furnish, then make a decision about the beams. So glad we didn't paint ours -actually encased them in a lighter oak,and they add to our 70's custom home in a neautral livingroom.
December 27, 2012 at 6:51PM   
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PRO
Michelle Miller Interiors
I think the beams are lovely and would recommend painting the walls a warm cream such as Alleys Earring from Benjamin Moore; it will warm the space a make the beams look less bold. If the budget allows I would recommend dark wood floors...it would be stunning and give you a totally fresh look.
December 27, 2012 at 7:13PM     
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sovanni
I think you should leave the beams as they are.
December 27, 2012 at 7:45PM   
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sandkshouse
The photos make it look like the wood is a dark espresso color. I think it really works well with the white walls and the tile floor. So I'd say no to painting.
December 27, 2012 at 8:40PM     
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Andrea Prasch
If this is your dream home and you plan on staying there do whatever your heart desires. Personally I love white beams and white wood work over the dark. But if you plan on selling in the near feature I would keep with the homes original state.
December 27, 2012 at 9:54PM     
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Andrea Prasch
Hardwood also might make a huge difference here
December 27, 2012 at 9:55PM   
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lupinglade
Don't paint it, change the floor to large light polished tile
December 27, 2012 at 10:28PM   
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Margaret Phillips
If the ceilings were lower I could understand the cave mentality, here it gives depth and interest to your extremely high ceilings. I think changing the railing be a big change for the better. Your inspiration room is very nice too. A lot of people will have trouble with balancing all the expanse of white with their decor. I'd say the best advice here if you have any doubt is to live with the beams for 8 months.
December 27, 2012 at 11:25PM     
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PRO
decoration
i think dark brown is best for ur wooden things & u should reconsider white on wood bcoz walls are also white..
December 28, 2012 at 12:07AM   
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kitasei
We could offer a more robust argument if you would provide a close up of the timber elements in question. If it is rough hewn or even less than smoothly finished, painting it white will not look modern. It will look like a hack home decorating project. It may be possible to white wash them. Our opinions and your decision will be more informed by knowing: the age and architectural style of the house, the size of the beams and whether they are structural or decorative, and the kind of wood and finish. There have been a lot of comments encouraging you to go ahead and paint the heavy lintel over the door. Not so fast! You may be missing the most authentic, interesting, and ultimately valuable part of your house. The wisest advice you've been given here is to do everything you can possibly do to achieve the modern and clean lighting and look you're after without violating the original structure. Then decide.
December 28, 2012 at 2:12AM     
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Saja Sadek
don't paint the beam please please
December 28, 2012 at 2:18AM   
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Darzy
@po8475..hi. Do you want to post your room separately regarding painting the ceiling? I this your ceilings are lower and have a wood ceiling as well. In your case it may be a great solution to paint. Give it a post and see what houzzers say. Whitewash may be a good solution for your ceiling.
December 28, 2012 at 11:22AM   
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Barbara Griffith Designs
It is too early to decide. What type of furniture? What wall and ceiling color? (always paint ceiling a color)These will determine what color the beams and trim should be..but don't limit your choices to dark or white.
December 28, 2012 at 2:20PM   
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Kevin Retired Decorator
Another comment, to me the home is transitional. Not Mediterranean as a lot of comments have said. I feel the room has good bones and I would change anything. But your feelings are yours and it's your home. The finial post of the railings could be cut off flat. If I were to do anything to make it more modern I would change the flooring. Big money there though. That would make the space more modern than painting out the beams white. I use to like all white wood work but that's when I was more traditional. Now that I have gone modern It's all about simple clean lines. Less & larger accessories. Open space. The look of modern now is not white ,white,white.... It is warmer & earthy so the beams work. I would go out and buy a huge deep shag rug to cover up a lot of the tile. Then work with furniture & accessories to go the modern route. Dark espresso wood colors are very modern and it looks like the beams lend towards that. Have fun. Kevin
December 28, 2012 at 3:17PM   
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greengirl
Bumping this cause I'm really curious about others opinion. I really have no answer. I like it the way it is, but would like white too. Very undecided. What do the want the room to be?
December 28, 2012 at 4:36PM   
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Mooshlu
I played with a few different styles in photoshop and I think lightening up the wood on the ceiling, windows and beams above the doors brings the room up to date and shows off these nice original details.
December 28, 2012 at 5:28PM   
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she2
Please wait a while and really think about ALL of these options & great ideas.
I walk out of houses that have been painted white. White bores me. It reminds me of all of the other cookie cutter houses your neighbor lives in, across america.
We have a huge, thick, dark fireplace mantle on a 2 story diagonal fireplace. I was going to paint it or replace it because it looked so dark & 70's to me, but I am so glad I didn't. Instead, months later I changed what was on the fireplace mantle, flooring & pieces in the room that now compliment it. What a difference and my house does not look like the neighbor's white family room, kitchen & bedrooms.
December 29, 2012 at 10:55AM     
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lilhoffy99
Paint them. You have to live there. It will look fresh, and you will hate it till you do. It's just old fashioned train of thought to think you can never paint wood. If you are concerned about resale, maybe ask a realtor, but when we looked at homes we would rather have clean fresh open than dated(not saying yours is dated) just really trust your gut.
December 29, 2012 at 2:13PM     
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Mooshlu
Also looks good with just the ceiling and door beams lightened.
December 29, 2012 at 2:25PM   
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Kevin Retired Decorator
Bottom line paint anything & everything you want to. I have painted & stained brick , woodwork & furniture. You can even paint or glaze the floor. There's paint & stains to cover everything from wood ,plastic and everything in your home. With that know you can always refinish the beams back to the dark in the future. You had stated you wanted Modern and every finish is in a modern look. Kevin
December 29, 2012 at 2:43PM     
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lyrel
I think that the problem is the shade of white that is used - if it were a warmer, creamier white, the room wouldn't look so stark - as i the pictures posted by decoenthusiaste - I would do that first, and live with the results and have a very very long think about painting the beams etc. -
I wouldn't paint them, but make them the best feature of the house
December 29, 2012 at 3:57PM   
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jsalop
Definitely paint it...
December 29, 2012 at 4:09PM   
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PRO
The White Barn
BOY-feel way outnumbered here but I say PAINT them!!!!! I LOVE white wood and I think you will be very happy. If you want a little contrast, you can paint your walls a creamy white (what I did) and then the woodwork stands out just a little. I pickled my beams in our house and I wish I had painted them white. White woodwork was everywhere in the forties and I still love to watch those old movies and drool. Its seems to be coming back and I do not think you will regret it. The architecture draws the eye and does not need a dark paint to make it stand out. It is much more subtle and classy when it is quiet. But then, I am a furniture "painter" and I know a lot of folks that think I'm crazy for slapping chalk paint on a vintage wood dresser, but you know what? The painted dressers sell, the stained ones SIT. Good luck! Mary-The White Barn-OKC ;)
December 29, 2012 at 5:24PM     
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jagood
I say NO if painting the wood white destroys the original architectural integrity of the house, such as in the example posted above where the Asian-influence house seems completely altered now that the beams are painted white. I think that house has now been ruined and lost all of its original beautiful esthetics. It reminds me of the people who buy lovely old Craftsman style homes and slap white paint over all of the beautiful old woodwork, and then the next buyer comes along and labors long and hard to return it to its original state. Painting everything white in an inferior home where someone has added dark beams because they think it is a look they like but the beams have nothing to do with the original architecctural style is different than doing it in a house where the very essence of the house depends upon the dark structural forms above.

Furthermore, I don't understand why people buy a house with dark beams and immediately decide they need to paint everything white. I think the trouble comes when people move their furnishings into a house and it doesn't "stand up" to the architecture. It may also be the lighting - natural or artificial that is causing an emotional reaction, so make sure to investigate that before making a drastic change in such a valuable house. Your house is dramatic - and maybe as you furnish it with art, etc you will find the house pleases you more. If not, do something about it in the future, but I think it is good advice posted above for you to live with it for a year or two.
December 29, 2012 at 6:29PM     
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adriana215
A Big NOOo NOOo nooooo no
December 29, 2012 at 9:30PM   
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Skye Rutherford
Lighting as said before makes a big diff... Waiting is SMART.. furniture, decor, art, make a huge dif! Paint the walls!! They are easy to alter... those beams would be a sad mistake to regret;)
December 29, 2012 at 9:49PM     
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karlakish
It is beautiful the way it is do not touch it!!!!!!
December 29, 2012 at 11:01PM   
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The White Barn
I do agree with jagood about keeping the integrity of the original design of the house, if it can be made to work with your possessions AND if the original design is GOOD. However, sometimes the original designer/builder doesn't do it quite right. And I also agree that furnishing the room will make a huge difference, and living with it for a year is very good counsel. But if it were me, I would have purchased a house that I could paint the wood white, because I love white woodwork and architecture.
December 29, 2012 at 11:33PM   
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lanton1
Add short rods and curtains to the ends of the beam on the walls so the when u cover the walls with the curtains the illusion would be that you have bigger windows and those beams don't look like they are sticking out like that.
December 30, 2012 at 2:20PM   
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Kelly Phan
Yes, i would paint it. The beams make the space look so outdated! If not white, any color would help this place. It just makes the room look small. I like the classic white that you are thinking of. It really just depends on the look ur going for.
December 30, 2012 at 2:51PM   
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jagood
The White Barn - I also love white in many situations. Do a Google image search on "Nordic Interiors" if you want to see a sea of white rooms! Perhaps our desire for white is dependent upon how much natural sunlight we get in our homes? And some people need more than others?
December 30, 2012 at 2:54PM     
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