Interior Color and Design for your Home

503 287 4354

Client testimonial

"I wanted to tell you we finally had our rooms painted and we love how it looks. The new colors made everything seem more crisp. It inspired us to move all our artwork too and create a salon wall of our Paris photos. The Sunroom is wonderfull, we call it our Floridian room. Everyone we have come over can't believe our rugs are the same because now the colors really pop. The whole project is a big hit. I just wanted to share with you how happy we are with what you selected for our home."
~ Best, Dana.

Client testimonial

"You might enjoy knowing that our Bancroft house sold in five days and at full price. I give YOU much credit for this good fortune! The color palette was noted by many agents/clients as being pleasant, serene, warm, fluid, etc. I couldn't agree more! My dream is now for us to enjoy that same serenity in new surroundings. Looking forward to working with you again, Mary!"
~ Laura.

above: before right: after

forlorn before

A sad Living Room, with forlornly pink tile around the fireplace surrounded by a sea of pea green. We redeemed it by balancing the tile color with the correctly chosen mantel color and infusing new life into the space with wall, ceiling and trim paint colors.

room colors by

Colors benefit on many levels; they harmonize your environment and heighten the ambiance. Colors make architecture sing, increasing the beauty and value of every home.

Using my time-tested, step-by-step process, I help you move from indecision to the concrete realization of your highest vision for the personal place you inhabit.

Together it's exciting, different and fun to discover a whole new look where once you saw a dead end.

I specify colors for paint, tile, carpet, countertops and all surfaces, to create a unified and dynamic effect for your interior world.

Helping with the selection and placement of fabrics, window coverings, lighting fixtures, furniture and artwork, we re-create your space with what you have, or improve it with smart economical additions.

I hope you will enjoy viewing the difference Art First made in these home projects.

Craftsman Goes Contemporary


A whole house remodel gave scope to the homeowners’ desire for a harmonious blend of contemporary art and furnishings with the original Craftsman style of the home.  Choosing paint colors that bridge the styles and lend a sophisticated ambiance was a challenge that met with success.

Another Client Wrote:

I can’t tell you how appreciative I am.
Getting the changes started in the kitchen has changed my attitude completely.
The electrician was there all day yesterday getting everything ready to hang the light fixtures and sconces. I’m in such a good mood about everything that I don’t mind the job stretching out.

I can’t thank you enough – you are a miracle worker!

Laura T.


All Art First photos are copyright-protected by Digimarc


Dear Mary,
Thank you again for your expert assistance and all of your fabulous insights!
I hope that the actual painting process is as satisfying as the color selection was. We are progressing… in six weeks or so I hope to have something to show you!
Laura K.

To read the whole story from Oregon Home Magazine in which Mary McMurray was the color designer of both the exterior and interior click here and then wait a while and it will appear.

We guarantee that every color design we create is original and selected especially for you.

A Taste for Sleek



After after

We start a kitchen remodel by clearing out elements that make it function badly.

Here the island was rotated 180 degrees to place the oven conveniently facing the cooking surface, while creating seating space in the center of the kitchen.

The former breakfast bar at the far end of the room was removed and the countertop finished in tile matching the existing surfaces.


Thick and grey-toned granite countertops on the island and breakfast bar looked dated and unfriendly. We selected lighter granite in colors coordinating with the floor tile, and specified a contemporary profile to make the island look sleek.

New lights with a clean shape and warm glow replace the quasi-industrial fixtures with dangling chrome weights. And paint colors in light neutral shades broaden the visual field.

More about how we stirred things up coming soon!


Comfort is in the Eye of the Beholder

Why not remodel your bedroom into a luscious haven of repose?

dining room

In this Dining Room, a new vibrant color palette in gold and orange enlivens the artwork and the surroundings. I consulted on the new picture frames and display of the paintings and art prints. see more

Oregon Home, November-December 2007

Though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s fair game to judge a library by its color. When Louisa and Stan McCleary bought their house in Portland’s Forest Heights neighborhood in late 2001, most of the rooms—including the library—had taupe walls and white woodwork. And the carpet? More taupe. Its bland palette notwithstanding, the 4-year-old house had lots of charm and traditional touches not always found in contemporary homes, including crown molding and built-in bookcases in the library. So though the library had great bones, its ho-hum color scheme had to go “Boring is a good way to put it,” says Louisa. “I wanted to experiment with saturated color, because in my previous house I’d also had pale walls. That can be a nice look, but I was ready for something bright and rich and deep.”

Choosing the right colors was important for another reason: The library would be home to treasured family keepsakes that the McClearys wanted to display. Those keepsakes include a set of leather-bound books by English authors; porcelain Lipizzaner horses that Louisa’s late father, who’d obtained the figurines during his many vacations to Austria, had bequeathed to her; and a coastal-theme oil painting from Stan’s late parents.

For guidance she called in Mary McMurray, a color consultant with Portland-based Art First Colors for Architecture. “When you’re doing multiple rooms and you want them all to be extraordinary in terms of depth of color, it helps to have someone who knows what they’re doing,” says Louisa. “When I’m working with paint samples, I can’t predict the effect the color will have after it’s painted on a huge wall. But Mary can look at a paint chip and say, ‘That’s going to be too beige.’”

The McClearys and McMurray turned to the oil painting for ideas. “We used it as a departure point, but we didn’t match the colors,” says McMurray. “I think a common error is to use the predominant color in a piece of art as a wall color. When you do that, you don’t see the artwork as much.” Inspired by the painting’s coastal hues, McMurray created custom variations on a theme of blue: a deep teal for the walls, an aqua for the back of the bookshelves and a lighter aqua for the ceiling. She also advised ivory for the bookcase and sand-colored carpeting in place of the old taupe one. To help her clients visualize the final result, she painted three-foot-square patches of paint on the walls.

“When we first put the big patch on the wall here, my husband came home and looked at it and went, ‘Oh, my god!’” says Louisa. “Because the blue is so bold. But now he loves it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting over the hump of being ready for a deep color.”

As for Louisa, she’s thrilled with the room’s revamped ambience. “Before, it was kind of depressing to look at all that taupe,” she says. “Looking at colors that are this deep and this pretty, it almost gives you physical pleasure.”

Color and design consultant: Mary McMurray, Art First Colors for Architecture, Portland, 503-287-4354 or visit her website,

Some additional views of the same library.

Masterful Color Update


A master bedroom with a great view now wraps the homeowners in warmth and style. Art First suggested wall, trim and ceiling colors, and the selection of a coral wool carpet


Beaux Arts Interior

The delicate grandeur of a 1924 Beaux Arts residence is given expression by highly individualistic colors and subtle delineation of the plasterwork.

A new vacation home at Cannon Beach, featured in Coastal Living. Interior colors throughout the house and the tile designs in five bathrooms, are by Mary McMurray of Art First Colors.

Often, moving the artwork you have to another, better place for it is what’s needed. I enjoy finding the piece that works best for every location.When this client moved into her new home, every wall was painted either red or pink. It was overpowering her artwork - and her mood!

Finding the right places to show her treasured art pieces to best advantage, we simultaneously chose paint colors that nourish her feeling of being joyously at home.

new colored fireplace

A Bolder Colorway

In the home of a colleague in the design profession, Art First recommended these richer colors to heighten the dramatic effect of the architecture.


It looks terrific! The whole house feels warmer and happier! Thanks!
Christine S.


before and after

All Art First photos are copyright-protected by Digimarc

Enliven a Home Office

Mary McMurray of Art First helped a consultant enliven her home office to welcome her clients, bringing warmth and energy to a previously white room.

We guarantee that every color design we create is original and selected especially for you.

Warm colors personalize a loft in the Pearl district

Home for collectors of early American antiques, the design plan includes McMurray’s graphic art piece consisting of squares painted on the wall which reflect elements in their collection of game boards and quilts. A multi-hued wall treatment along the kitchen wall lends textural warmth.
Kitchen cabinetry was stained a warmer green-grey, raw concrete was glazed to subtle shades, and colors in a range from neutral to dramatic applied to selected walls.
Mary McMurray excels in crafting a home out of a ready-built shell.







A Kitchen Revival

What a mess! That was the initial reaction of the new homeowners to the sight of the house would become theirs. As you can see from the before photos, many hours of loving attention changed the kitchen and dining nook into the spaces they love.

on the left: before

right: after repainting in Art First Colors

left: before
right and below: after repainting

After Photos by Patrick Sullivan

The homeowners removed the offending 1970 kitchen from their historic home, and restored wainscoting, lighting fixtures, and appliances in period-appropriate style. New paint colors complete the dramatic transformation. Charming!


Restoring and updating a home on the Historic Register

The living room of a home built in 1883, which Mary McMurray designed to incorporate authentic Victorian elements.  On the new fireplace, a raised firebox is surrounded by handmade color-washed tiles. The magnificent black walnut fireplace surround, overmantle, and bookshelves create a focal point and fill the volume of space created by eleven-foot-high ceilings.

A light and airy color palette suits the style of the homeowner, a blend of traditional and contemporary.  We designed the window coverings, and added a dark bronze metallic paint over the garish aluminum radiator. Small touches like these add a lot to the historic feel and uninterrupted flow in the room.


Tasty Kitchen

A new kitchen provided the setting for a smart new color palette. Splashes of Red Pepper and Savory Herbs simmer in this happy kitchen, where you might say that ‘tasty’ has replaced ‘pasty’. The adjoining Living Room benefits from some toasty warmth, too.

And the adjoining living-room
above: before                  right: after

A rough panorama assembled from the photos above.

Expanding a Kitchen and Adding Form to Function

ART FIRST consulted in this delicious kitchen remodel, removing a wall to embrace the adjoining family room. We retained the cabinets to conserve costs, but designed new counter tops, co-ordinating backsplash tiles, and paint colors. Mary McMurray drew the fluid shape of the dining bar on-site, both to facilitate traffic flow and to function as a free-form sculpture.

below: before;       on the right: after.

More Colors =More Space

A mlti-colored interior personalizes this open floor plan. The kitchen, dining room, and family rooms radiate with co-ordinated colors.

Before, all white walls and ceilings lacked spatial definition and character.

Only changing the paint colors made this house a delightful home.

All Art First photos are copyright-protected by Digimarc

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