1970s Apartment - maintain character but update!

last month

Our apartment is in perfect original form but needs paint! So many apartments in my building have turned everything white and bright but this is an almost perfect time capsule and it would be great to celebrate that. I would like to slowly change the carpet and kitchen but for now I want a paint colour for the ceilings,walls and doors whilst maintaining the dark trim and without it looking too stark. Any ideas?

Comment (1)

  • PRO
    19 days ago

    Hi Sonya,

    What an awesome project. The answers to your questions really depend on your budget and how far you want to go with the renovations.

    Before you paint anything, I would decide whether you want to get rid of the popcorn ceiling finish. If you are getting rid of it, and I would suggest you do, that should be your first task as it is messy. Check if it has asbestos in it first as that will need dealing with by a specialist. If you are keeping it, spray paint it white as the texture will naturally give it some depth and will not look as bright as a flat white ceiling. You could paint it dark if you want a different mood to the rooms.

    Then, are you planning on keeping the brick as it is or would you want to plaster it or plaster board over it? If not, it will have a large impact on the colours you choose. There are many colours that go with brick and it depends on what mood you want to create and how much light you want in the spaces. Brick is generally a warm tone and yours is also two tone and quite dark. Being dark it needs a little more consideration than other bricks. I would stick with cool paint colours. Alternatively, you can paint the brick white. I really like this look at it will brighten up the place unbelievably. You could even paint the brick a feature colour, dark or light!!!

    The dark architraves in my opinion, are problematic and I would look at lightening these to modernise the apartment. Give them a light sand, then one coat of an oil based undercoat that is tinted grey, which will allow a light colour to easily go over that.

    Colours - I'm a white fan but if you are not, decide what would tie in with you furniture and floor coverings. As mentioned, I'd stick with the cool colours from grey to blue to green but keep it really light and a bit muted, i.e, a bit of grey in it rather than crisp and too fresh or it may look clinical. If you can cope with an off white, I use half Alabaster (Resene Paints). You could use this in combination with a colour on some walls if you want or in some rooms. The yellowy creams will date the finish, as it currently is but you could use a soft very light brown tone - this should not be a warm brown.

    What colour will you go with for the carpet or floor finishes? Stay in the same colours for your wall and floors for the living spaces. It will make it feel bigger. You could have a bit more fun in the bedrooms with colour, especially if there are childrens rooms and if there is no brick. You could add a darker wall in the dining space if it is well defined and separated from the living space. The darker colours allows you to focus more on the gathering around the table.

    I hope that helps. There are many options available to you but it comes down to your preferences and budget for the whole project and what mood you want to set. Whatever way you go, paint a big sample of the colour onto cardboard or plywood and put it next to the brick and 'live with it' for a while before you take the leap. Do several colours until it feels right to you.