On this icy Sunday, I am pretty happy to report that I am cuddled up on the couch in my Rutgers snuggie, daydreaming about paint colors. I’ve said before (and so have a million other designers/DIYers/HGTV stars) that it’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to brighten up a room and make it feel completely new. In fact, my very first DIY-related post was about painting our bedroom a glorious shade of Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue. Painting gave me the confidence I needed to start this little journey, and four months later, create this blog. In summary, I love paint. What I don’t always love about paint is the process. For Dan and I, every opportunity to paint requires quite a few steps. I thought I’d talk about our painting process in general, while also sharing some ups, downs, and the color that we finally settled on for our bathroom renovation.
Step 1: Get the materials. We go all out when it comes to painting: prepping our favorite small paintbrushes for cutting, the actual paint can itself, a hammer to secure the paint can closed, drop cloths over every surface, painters tape to attach the drop cloths, cups to hold the wet brushes in, a nail to open the paint can, rollers, rolling pans, and plastic disposable rolling trays (I think that’s it). Even when putting up paint samples, I still try to make sure that the surface below me is covered by either cardboard or a drop cloth. I keep my paintbrush, paint sample, and cup handy so I always have somewhere to put my brush down. Being as meticulous as we are (and knowing how clumsy/forgetful I can be), we often have to make multiple trips to the hardware store, though thankfully it’s less than five minutes away (more on this later).
Step 2: Look the part. I don’t wear a googles and mask for a regular painting job, but I do make sure that I am wearing paint-appropriate clothes, even if I’m just painting a swatch or sample of paint on a wall. Before any painting process begins, I’ll put on old or paint-splattered clothes and I will always put on shoes. I learned this the hard way when I tracked paint out of a room in my bare feet onto the hardwood floors! I just slip my shoes off right before I leave the room.
Step 3: Prime it. When in doubt (or even when not in doubt), prime it. We have primed every colored space before we’ve painted. In fact, for our downstairs bathroom, we even primed a swatch of wall which would be big enough to paint a few samples. This takes extra time, as you sometimes have to do multiple coats of primer, and you have to wait for it to dry. Plus, you have to get dressed in painting clothes before each coat. In the end, it’s worth it, but it takes a lot of patience.
Step 4: Sand and spackle your heart out. Any potential area where there might be roughness, holes, or uneven wall – take the time to spackle, sand, and repeat. You can see me doing this after we removed our light fixture. Oh yeah, don’t remove your light fixture before you put up paint samples (oops) because it’s hard to see the paint colors in accurate lighting.
After all that, it’s time to actually put up paint samples. Yay! And what you’re thinking: finally. I pored over Pinterest and a few of my favorite blogs to identify the right color gray for the bathroom. In fact, in my Bathroom Mood Board, I had selected Benjamin Moore’s Elephant Gray as the front-runner from this bathroom makeover. In the hopes of saving costs on paint samples, Dan and I took to the basement and looked at our past gray paint selection, picking out a few contenders to try on the walls. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
Our foyer painting process back in June went fairly smoothly. We tested four paint samples before settling on our final choice, Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray. While I am happy with the way the foyer turned out, my vision was for this wall to become more of an accent, with much stronger gray undertones. This was a classic case of too-light gray paint for us.
When we first moved into our house, Dan and I decided to tackle painting the upstairs bathroom. Back in the day, Dan did all of the work (and I mean, I was too scared of making a mistake to even lift a paintbrush). We chose Benjamin Moore’s Timber Wolf, partly because we liked the color, and partly because I appreciated the Game of Thrones House Stark reference. This color has grown on me over time, but it originally surprised me at how dark it was in such a small space. This was a classic case of too-dark gray paint for us.
Before putting paint to paper (or wall, so to speak), I had my heart set on Elephant Gray, with Wickham Gray close behind. After a few strokes of our paintbrushes, I have to say we were surprised at how brown the Elephant Gray looked to us, and sadly, the Wickham Gray looked a bit too green for our space. This time, I was beyond determined to truly match my vision. My determination reared its ugly head in the form of not three, not four, but five paint samples, and three trips to the hardware store within a span of 48 hours. I pored over paint samples in the morning, afternoon, and night. I stood in the paint section, scrolling through my phone furiously looking for a recommendation for a true gray, without any color undertones.
As annoyed as I was, my chumminess with the store clerk over a few days worked in my favor: he gave me a contractor’s discount on my final paint choice! We finally settled on Benjamin Moore’s Harbor Gray. The above picture is just a snapshot, without giving too much of the bathroom reveal away. For an overall look at Harbor Gray in action, check out this nursery reveal from Apartment Therapy. Sound the trumpets! I have finally found the perfect gray!