Believe it or not, fireplace season has started in Rochester, Minnesota!  My boys love switching the fire on, turning the chairs to face the firebox, and basking in the warmth.  And I love watching them do it.

We also had our first snow.  I thought it was just going to be a few flurries, but it snowed almost all day and we ended up with about two inches by the end of the day!  People keep telling me this isn’t usual, but we got snow in October last year as well, so I think they are just in denial.

I happen to love winter and snow, so I was enjoying it immensely.  I will admit that there is a small part of me that feels like we only experienced fall for about 2 1/2 weeks.  I hope it will reemerge for just a little longer.  Our leaves haven’t even finished turning, yet!

Anyway, I wanted to show you the progress that’s been made in our foyer.

As a reminder, here is how it looked…

It didn’t look bad, but it looked very vanilla and beige.  The same peachy cream color was used everywhere – the walls, the trim, the spindles, the doors.  With everything painted the same color, there wasn’t a clear visual distinction between the architectural elements to showcase them.  I love the arch above the small hall leading to the living room, the transoms over the doors, and the returns along the stairs.

All of these features deserve to be noticed!

I also disdain carpet on steps.  I know it is comfy underfoot and cushy if you fall, but it is so hard to clean!   It would take me almost 30 minutes to thoroughly vacuum the steps and they still looked dirty.  I would just do my weekly vacuum and try not to think about all of the dirt, hair, and fuzz embedded in there.

Anyway, we finally ripped up the carpet, so we could redo the steps.  Our plan got a bit derailed, but I’ll share about that in another post.  For now, we’re just living with the particle board steps and, even though it’s not exactly pretty, I like it much better already!

The real progress that’s been made so far is with paint!

You know that I will paint just about anything and I even enjoy painting.

I’ll put on some good music and get into my painting zone and I can get a lot accomplished.  This job involved painting about 18′ up in the air, though, and after falling off of the top of an 8′ ladder a few years ago, I don’t do tall ladders.

So, we got a quote on getting the high walls in the foyer painted (along with the second story window above the front door).  We also asked for a quote on painting the spindles, doors, trim, and walls in the entire downstairs foyer/hall and upstairs hall.  The quote ended up being so reasonable that we decided to do the whole shebang.  It saved me a solid couple of weeks of painting.

I have never hired out painting before. It felt luxurious (and a little odd) to be working on other things while painting was happening.

We hired a father/son team who attends our church, Gray Painting, and they did an excellent job.  Truth be told, they did a much better job than I would have. They sanded the trim, taped everything off, removed the door hardware, etc.  They were meticulous, neat, quiet, and always asked before doing something extra (like mudding over an unnecessary access point that was covered by a solid plate) or making a decision to paint (or not paint) something, like grates over the stairway lights.

The walls and trim now look cohesive with the adjoining rooms that have already been painted.

And the colors look clean and classic.


Oh, we replaced the almond switched plates with white ones, but I still need to buy a few.  You can see in the photo above what a difference it makes.  We planned initially to replace all of the switches and outlets.  Once we got into one of them, we realized it was going to be a big job that we would have to hire an electrician to do.  I’ve just been changing out the plate, though, and the almond switches and outlets aren’t that noticeable.  In the end, I think there are more impactful places we can spend our home improvement dollars.

I selected Sontington Gray (Aura in Matte) mixed at 50% for the walls and Coventry Gray in (Advanced in Satin) for the doors.  The trim is a custom match to Farrow & Ball’s All White (Advanced Satin).  It’s just a shade off of being bright white.

I love the way the white trim frames the doors and transoms.  Even though they are typical six-panel doors, the paint color elevates their look.

I was excited to hang a couple of ceramic plaques I purchased at the cute hardware store in Barga once the painting was done.  One reads WC (water closet) and the other says “broom closet” in Italian.  Technically, that is a coat closet, but we do keep our vacuum in there so it works.

It’s interesting how much the wall colors changes in different light.  It leans green in the living room (mixed at full strength), looks grayer in the kitchen and hall, and reads as a soft blue in the light of the foyer.  I like that it works with everything, though, since this space connects all of the rooms on the first and second floors.

We will still be swapping out the light fixture for an antique chandelier, but the one that is currently there even looks better with the new paint color.  (We’ll change out the hall lights, too, but I haven’t found the perfect fixtures, yet.)

The painters didn’t paint the banister and spindles along the stairway, because they will most likely have to be removed when we work on the stairs.  I’ll deal with those once that project is done.

 The baseboards on the first floor are also unpainted since they will likely get banged up when the quarter-round is removed and the tile is installed.  I’ll share more details on the tile, but here is a peek at the sample…

When I first started talking about the foyer makeover, it didn’t seem like it would be all that involved, but it’s turning out to be a much bigger project than we anticipated!  Jeff and I feel like it’s worth it, though, since it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door and it connects all of the other spaces in the house.  It’s a “room” you can’t get away from, so it should flow nicely with the rest of the house.

I can’t wait for all of the other major components to be in place, so I can start adding texture, layers, and some warmth…


  1. Lisa

    I love it. It looks so fresh! What a difference it makes.

    Question… You mentioned recently about your gingerbread houses being featured in a magazine, I think it was in stories. I can’t remember which magazine. I’ve been looking and can’t find it. Was it Country Home or another magazine? Thanks. Have a great day!

    • Marian Parsons

      It was Romantic Homes.

  2. beck campbell

    It took me 19 years to bite the bullet and change my wall color in the living areas…and I too hired it done even though I paint on a weekly basis…it was just so nice to let someone else do all the work! One suggestion…think VERY carefully before putting down a dark flooring! I love my dark hand scrapped wood floors, but dark floors show every little crumb and fuzz!!! I have to sweep and mop them often due to dog and cat hair and just every day dust! I had dark flooring in a kitchen one time and I had to sweep and mop daily! I have light travertine in my entry now and sometimes I forget to actually clean it!!! Again, love the look…not the daily maintenance!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, hiring it out was an amazing treat! I like doing stuff (especially painting) myself, but sometimes it’s nice just to have something done.

      Thanks for the thoughts on the floor. I already ordered the tile, so it’s what we’re going with, but it’s not covering a large area. I’ve lived with dark floors as well, so I knew what I was getting into! 🙂

  3. Downraspberrylane

    It really looks a thousand percent better, and showcases all of the great features. I love a crisp white trim against a contrasting color. And how nice to be able to watch someone else do the work! Hopefully next year we will get to enjoy a nice, normal (warmer and colorful) Minnesota fall. But this year the poor kids will wear parkas over their trick or treat costumes!

  4. Susan

    This inspires me to get busy painting. The change is amazing and lovely! I know you are happy!

  5. Marc

    We used a similar dark tile in a very small area of our home. It is the first thing we will replace, as it looks bad all the time. Every shoe print and speck of anything stands out. We sweep and mop it every day but within a couple of hours, it looks awful again. Maybe if we had no kids, no pets and no visitors, it would be OK. It looked so good in the magazine and in the showroom.

  6. Jessica | Petal + Ply

    Looks great already! I think the new slate tile is going to take this space over the top. Can’t wait to see it finished!! We have slate tile in our mudroom that either needs to be fixed (grout redone) or removed and replaced with something else. I’m leaning towards fixing it to save money. What color grout will you be using?

  7. Janet in Kansas City

    Love the tile you chose! It’s such a great color with that room.

  8. Jolie Anne

    I like your tile choice, too! Very well done! It is 86 degrees here in Stuart, Florida, today! 🌞. We want cooler temps!

  9. Krista

    So pretty! Will look forward to seeing it all finished!

  10. Greta

    Marion, when I heard you had snow I finally had to google where you lived. I live in Windermere, ( named after Lake Windermere in the Lake Disrtict, Uk). In Tasmania. We are in full Spring at the moment with Apple blossom and daffodils. I was amazed that you were towards the east coast as I’d always pictured you on the west coast. My States geography is sadly lacking!
    I’ve love reading of your Italian holiday with interest as we spent a couple of weeks in Tuscany and LOVED it. Greta

    • Marian Parsons

      I actually used to live on the east coast, in PA, but now I’m in the middle, up north, in Minnesota.

  11. Sue

    I love your color choices so much, I have painted my living room and halls Stonington Gray. Now I think I will paint my doors the Coventry Gray! You have very good taste!

  12. Julie | Home On The Hill

    Your entry space is sort of similar to mine width wise and that as you open the door you have a short piece of wall before an opening. I found that space challenging as I felt a seat may make it too congested. Luckily we didn’t need a seat there as we use the back door into the laundry/mudroom more often when entering (we live on a farm). I recently found the cutest little very shallow in depth writing bureau that can be used to hold spare bits & pieces related to the great outdoors for that space, it’s a perfect fit.

    Your snow looks lovely. Here in my part of Australia we don’t get snow even though we are just 1.5 hours from the Australian snowfields, but sort of wish we did as it’s so beautiful, but days or weeks of snow I guess can become difficult to get about in and messy once it turns to slush.

    I like the dark floor tile you have chosen as I think it provides a nice contrast to all the light walls & trim. We used a very wide board rustic mid brown floating floor that has that worn scratched look so it doesn’t show any doggy scratches or bits of dirt, grass or hair (our dogs don’t shed much – golden doodles), but does show the paw prints in certain lights. BUT at least I can clean it thoroughly unlike the beige fawn carpet like yours that we had in our last place that showed every single bit of ‘stuff’, so I totally understand how you feel about the carpet that was on your steps!

    Entryways can be a challenge that’s for sure, but I’m happy at last to have a proper entry foyer in my home – gives me an extra ‘room’ to decorate and looking forward to seeing your finished room! 🙂

  13. Elissa

    I have slate tile in my foyer, and I have 6 kids, and I do not find keeping it clean to be a burden. I think it will be fine, especially if you usually enter the house through the garage as we do. I get the dark floor showing dirt problem, I have a navy blue rug in constant need of vacuuming that I cannot wait to replace, but like I said, the slate doesn’t bother me.

  14. Nancy Johnson

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has fallen off a ladder. I came crashing down while trying to paint the very tippy-top of a skylight well. My head left a big, round circular dent in the wall on the way down. I patched the hole and kept the sheetrock piece in a drawer to remind myself to be more careful. On the bright side, I decided that I didn’t need a bone density test that year.

  15. Penny

    Sontington Gray?

    • Marian Parsons

      Sorry, Stonington Gray. Just slipped an extra T in there on accident.

  16. Barbara Smith

    I painted my front guest bathroom and my master bathroom Stonington Gray after seeing your home painted in it. I love it and find it is a true gray. I’m about to paint another guest room the same, but this time will hire out. hehe I love painting but like the treat of someone doing it for me. I love following along as you make your home more yours!! Blessings!

  17. Betty

    I followed your blog and enjoyed it immensely…used your slipcover tutorial. Have you moved to a different home in recent years?

    • Marian Parsons

      yes! I moved from PA to MN last year.

  18. Nancy

    Love it so far! We just bought a small apartment in NYC as a second home so we could be near our first grandchild from time to time. We hired pros to paint over the dark gray, darkest of burgundys, and burnt orange. I’m a light and bright lady, so we went with two shades of blue. Can’ Wait to see the change! The small kitchen was done in burnt orange with an orangey color wood cabinets and black countertops. We’re painting the room Dove White and I’m hoping to convince hubby that yellow cabinets with black handles would pop! 😄

  19. Mary

    Did you consider a classic checkerboard pattern for your foyer? I think dark floors are difficult to keep clean. Your home is a beautiful reflection of you. I may incorporate the idea of accent painted interior doors…

  20. Sue Anderson

    Love the gray and white theme with the darker doors. I did something similar and was really surprised too at the way the colors change with the light. My doors are white but now I’m thinking about that beautiful dark shade. Yours look great. I actually painted part of the stairwell a darker shade and it is gorgeous against the white. You can do so much with gray!
    With natural bamboo and dark gray tile on the floors and love love love it.

  21. Pat

    The mention of your boys loving the gas fireplace made me smile. My dear Mom had such a fireplace in her little townhouse. She would sit in front of the fire all day long once it turned cold. I was astounded at how much higher her natural gas bill was compared to our bill for a two story house! Bless her heart. It brought her such joy! She has been gone seventeen years now. The beginning of your post brought back a sweet memory.

  22. Cindy A Redman

    Good lord those colors are all so pretty together. … and i really like the depth that the dark tile will bring into the mix. Now i want to paint all my doors!


  23. Jeffrey Favreau

    Marian I am not very patient when it comes to decorating Ha. Anyway I feel for you with those carpeted stairs now particle board, have you not considered painting them a matching wood color until you can have them torn out and replaced? I always say why live with ugliness when you can fix it at least for the time being. Jeffrey

    • Marian Parsons

      I have been very tempted to paint them so they look better while we’re waiting. I think it will be better just to wait, though, and work on other projects! It is tough to be patient, though!

  24. DeAnne Voss

    I love the curtain fabric in your living(?) room! Sort of an oatmeal and navy (I think). Can you tell me where they are from? Or is it fabric that you sewed into curtains? Thanks so much!

  25. Lillie

    Excellent!!! Love the colors you have chosen for your home. I especially love your ironstone collection and you have them displayed !!

  26. Sherri

    Marian, the paint looks so good!! Paint does make a difference. I love that color! Can’t wait to see what you do with the stairs!!!

  27. Antonella

    Actually, in a “ripostiglio” you can put whatever you want, it’s basically a little storage room, not only for brooms. We usually keep suitcases, bottled water cases, Christmas ornaments and yes, even coats at times 😉

    hugs from Milano

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, good to know!

  28. Nancy

    Did you say what store your paint was from, maybe I missed it. I like your style very much

  29. Katie Mansfield

    It looks amazing. I painted our two story foyer and stairwell once. Never again. I can’t wait to see the stairs. I hate vacuuming the stairs. Beautiful color.

  30. Cape Cod Chic

    Gorgeous, as always!

    I have a really silly question…….how did you hang those plaques on the doors?

    • Marian Parsons

      They have a sticky back!

  31. Esther

    I am in love with the colors. So great.

  32. Dianna

    Seeing if I have this correct: Stonington Gray on the walls (texture?). Then, Stonington Gray for doors w/ 50% white added? Paint texture for doors and woodwork? I have to have very specific details before I begin. My house is very large and I love these colors and textures on your walls and trims, so I have quite a bit of painting to do. Thanks for being patient and helping with info. In my kitchen I will be using MMS Boxwood. Love it.

    • Marian Parsons

      Sorry if it was confusing! The walls are painted in Stonington Gray mixed at 50% in Benjamin Moore Aura in a matte finish. The doors are painted in Coventry Gray in Benjamin Moore’s Advanced in satin. The trim is painted in a color that is just off from being a bright white. It’s a custom mix matched to Farrow & Ball’s All White and is also in Advanced Satin. I didn’t add any texture to any of these surfaces, but they were simply painted. The doors and trim were sanded, primed, and painted. I would always suggest getting sample pots of the paint, so you can make sure you like the look of these colors and finishes in your home.

  33. Brenda Van Riper

    what is the wall color and the door color please??

  34. Jubilee

    Stonington grey looks soothing 🙂 I like your home even more now, Marian 🙂

    Ramya Srinivas

  35. Amber

    Catching up on my favorite bloggers, as I’ve been out of town. Funny enough, I was in Rochester for a family wedding when that snow happened. Being from Maryland, it was crazy waking up to snow in the hotel parking lot. My husband, who has family throughout Minnesota and North Dakota, warned me to bring my coat because October snows aren’t unheard of. Such a change from the east coast. 🙂

  36. Jenny Utting

    Would anyone know a conversion colour name and number for here in Australia for both wall and door?


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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