Sunday, November 2, 2014

Gray Matters: A Gray Paint Transformation (Part I)

For quite awhile, I've wanted to paint our main floor which was a very warm beige color-- almost gold. The hallway and stairwell were kind of a brick red color. When we first moved into our home I really liked these colors, but over time they just lost their appeal. I'm the type of person that always needs some kind of change too. Anyway, here are a bunch of "before" pictures:

The only thing that had been stopping me was the sheer size of this undertaking. As you can see from the layout of our house and certain walls that don't reach the ceiling, I'd have to paint everything--the kitchen, dining room, living room, entry room, hallway, and (worst of all) the stairwell. I had also just painted our master bedroom and bathroom a few months ago, so the mere thought of this new project was overwhelming. Oh, and we have 10-foot-ceilings to boot.
Nonetheless I decided to commit to it right before Labor Day weekend, giving myself a few solid days to make as much progress as possible.  The first step, of course, was deciding what color. The difficulty of this step was amplified by the fact that I wanted to go gray. As some of you may already know, this is probably the most challenging color to find what you want. 
I must have picked out at least 30 paint swatches and about eight actual paint samples to try on the walls. Making a decision was excruciating.  Luckily there are lots of other people who have been kind enough to share their own tips on choosing the right gray, so I'd recommend doing a little light reading if you're contemplating gray in your future:
The most important thing, however, is just to buy samples and paint them on your walls. A gray that you see in someone else's house can and will look different in your own house. Lighting will make a HUGE difference in the appearance of your gray, along with any other colors that are next to it. Gray is very sneaky and deceiving like that.

Long story short, I ended up choosing Valspar Rocky Bluffs for the primary wall color. We also wanted to do a darker accent wall and decided on Behr Gray Suede for that one. Because Home Depot was having a paint sale that weekend, I just got the Rocky Bluffs color matched to Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint + Primer. We chose a matte finish because we didn't want any shine on our walls. Plus, they're textured and I think sometimes even an eggshell finish can come across shiny when the light bounces off all of the bumpy texture. 

Rocky Bluffs in the paint can
I started out buying just 3 gallons to see how far that would get me. But before I could even start painting the walls, prepping was in order. In addition to LOTS of taping, I had to fix all of the corners where the walls meet the ceiling. Why, you ask? Because the builders who painted our house did a sloppy job and got color onto the ceiling. So annoying. (And another reason I'd been itching to re-paint everything). So I had to get on the ladder and brush on white ceiling paint in all of the corners in all of the rooms. In this picture, I hadn't yet edged along the ceiling yet, so you can see the white paint next to the old color (and a sneak preview of the gray!).

I started out in our dining room, which had the least obstacles to move out of the way, then moved to the kitchen. From there, I painted the entry room, the living room, the hallway, and finally the dreaded stairwell. Overall, it took 10 gallons (for two coats) and several weekends to complete the transformation. 

But because this post is already getting quite lengthy, you'll just have to wait until next time to see the complete gray reveal!  I know, I'm so cruel. 

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