Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bedroom makeover: painting

Painting is really hard, apparently. Clearly neither of us were fully prepared for the undertaking, or else it's doubtful I would have talked Sam into it. But not knowing what was in store for us, we embarked on a "Labor Day weekend" activity that was appropriately titled. I guess I did have some vague sense that it might be challenging, because I said in advance that since this was the first time since we were 17 that we weren't moving somewhere at the end of August/beginning of September (2004 - college; 2005 - college; 2006 - college/Panama; 2007 - college; 2008 - Somerville; 2009 - Cambridge (and in together for the first time!); 2010 - back to Somerville), we should do something strenuous knowing that it would still pale in comparison to how hard moving is.

Just to remind ourselves of how lucky we were not to be moving again, we looked at some moving pictures. Like this one of our apartment a few days after we moved in:

My back hurts just thinking about it. And my arms. And my hands. And my wallet. But I digress. Back to painting.

We'd debated colors for awhile. I liked the idea of something really striking, maybe blue. I've had a hankering for a cobalt accent wall for awhile now...


But since our room is pretty small and we have a lot of dark furniture, we decided to go lighter. Much lighter. Like yellow. So I grabbed a bunch of paint swatches from the hardware store and taped them up on the wall. We spent a week taking note of our favorite shades at different times in the day, with different lighting, etc. Finally we settled on a favorite, and then on the recommendation of a few painting pros went a shade lighter than that (paint is going to look more intense on the wall than on a tiny paint chip, especially with something as bold as yellow). So we ended up with Ace Hardware "downy chick." A little mellower than I was initially planning, but since our room is pretty dark it typically looks more intensely yellow than the paint swatch alone appears:

We only wanted to do one wall yellow, and then the other three walls a very light gray. We went with a flat finish, because even though flat paint is known for getting dirty more easily (and thus might be bad for a room like the kitchen), it also hides imperfections in the walls - unevenness, cracks, etc - much better than glossier finishes and is easier to touch up. Since our walls are very old and have plenty of dings and uneven places, and plus since we planned to put a lot of holes in the walls for art and such that we'd then need to patch and paint when we move, it seemed like the right choice. (I rely on one of my favorite blogs for advice on things like this, they seem to have a post for just about anything you can imagine home-related: Young House Love. I even turned to them when selecting a new vacuum, and haven't been disappointed with the model they suggested.) We also got a quart of off-the-shelf semi-gloss white to do the trim and doors in the bedroom, since the white was looking pretty dingy and I thought a fresh coat would really pop against the yellow and gray walls.

Then we got to painting. We used a foam roller for the most part, with an angled brush to do the edges and trim. Even though a lot of blogs I read claim that you don't need painter's tape to do edges and trim, just a good paint brush, apparently they have steadier hands than we do. No in-process pictures of us painting, unfortunately - we were too busy sweating and cursing one another and the decision we'd made to paint the bedroom. It took a really long time. Plus we had to take apart the bed and move out all the furniture and then move it all back in the same day, since it's our bedroom and we don't have anywhere else to sleep. But as soon as it was done and we'd gotten a good night's sleep, it felt totally worth it.

A reminder of the before:

Please ignore the reflection in the mirror of me taking this photo...

And the after (granted, these are pictures at the conclusion of the bedroom makeover so way more has changed than the paint, but the paint is a big part of the transformation):

So there you have it. We may never paint again (except when we move out - I think we might be able to get away with just painting the yellow wall gray so the whole room is light gray...), but I'm so glad we put in the effort this time!


  1. Sage, it's interesting that it was recommended to you that you go a shade LIGHTER with the final paint. My experience has been that I need to go a shade bolder. When we painted our living room a few years ago, we didn't want something too neutral but were afraid to be too daring. After we finished, we realized that we erred too far on the side of neutral. Well, there's always next time.

    1. Hmmm, interesting indeed! It worked out well in our case, but who's to say I wouldn't have liked it even more if it were a bolder yellow? I did a project today using the darkest paint! You'll get a sneak peek when you're here on Wednesday :)

  2. The doily art looks great, too!!

  3. Thanks! I'll share more about making it soon!