It’s About Darn Time

It was January when we painted three test swatches of gray on our dining room walls.

It took us just days to pick the color but apparently took us, yeah, um, FOUR MONTHS to finally paint the room.

I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing – our painting laziness or my rockin’ farmer’s tan. Anyway, I searched my brain for some sort of an excuse for the dining room paint delay. Maybe we were too tired at the end of the day in January that we spent painting the living room and hallway the same color? Or we were too distracted by completing the guest room for Sherry’s mom’s February visit? Or we were too consumed with patio and party prep to take it on before Clara’s birthday? Maybe. Or we just like to bounce around randomly and come back to projects after months of dormancy. Probably that. Either way, something got into us, and the room (finally) went from this:

To this:

I know, I know. It’s not a huuuuge difference. Heck it might not look different at all online. But the soft gray definitely feels a lot more polished. And ding dong, the witch swatches are dead! The color is the same gray that we used in the living room and the hallway (Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine which we color matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC paint) so we already had the paint on hand (we got three gallons of it a while back in anticipation). You may recall that we wanted to paint these rooms all the same color to connect and unify the spaces (and then the kitchen, which is in the middle of all of them, will have a bit more color on the walls for interest). Maybe looking at the unpainted and then painted room shots side by side will demonstrate how even a subtle coat of paint can help things like crown molding and trim have a bit more emphasis. The room definitely reads a lot more crisp now that it’s painted:

It still amazes us how much a coat of paint can do to make a room look finished – or, in our mostly furniture-less version, at least make it look a little less forgotten. Especially when it’s covering up test swatches that have been there so long that we didn’t even notice them anymore until friends would say “which color did you pick?” and we’d say “oh yeah… those” (it was the bottom one, btw).

Even this subtle addition of color to the walls has helped us notice a few things. For example, we didn’t even realize how beefy the crown molding was in here until we painted (it’s about twice as thick as any other room in the house). And the soft gray looks nice with the built-ins on the back wall. It lets them “be the star” (as Sherry would say) but still adds that light I’m-in-a-cloud vibe and makes the room feel polished and complete. Well, as complete as it can feel without curtains, art, entryway furniture, etc.

Since this room didn’t have pesky wood-toned-molding that needed a bunch of coats of white paint (like the living room), it was MUCH faster to finish (the living room also called for beam painting, which we’re thankful this room also didn’t involve). So by comparison, this project was cake. We did one coat together during Clara’s morning nap (Sherry cuts in while I roll) and then did our second coat in shifts after the three of us ate lunch (since one of us was on Clara duty while the other painted the day away). It was so relaxed that it further underscored how crazy it was for us to put it off for so long. Sherry even snuck in a phone date with her Katie B (her blogger BFF) at one point.

Oh and see those white tags in the photo above? Allow me to explain. Sherry’s “painting clothes” may look like an ordinary black sweatsuit (yes, she’s from Jersey and proud of it) from a distance, but take a closer look. It’s an inside-out black sweatsuit. Otherwise known as her pajamas when worn the right way. What Not To Wear, here we come!

We also took – and then promptly deleted – a PG-13 version of the photo below. Let’s just say I was putting the “moon” in “Moonshine by Benjamin Moore” (and my butt is whiter than my upper arms). Go ahead, I’ll give you a few seconds to picture that calamity.

Ok now stop, you’re creeping me out.

All tomfoolery aside, we’re just glad to live in a test-swatch free home. But of course, now having paint on the walls is giving us the itch to do more in there. I mean, it’d be a shame to leave these nice blank-canvas grey walls totally blank for too long, right? Especially since we’re dying to knock out a huge opening to the kitchen and hang curtains and add art and dye those off-white chair slipcovers…

Eh. Maybe we’ll get around to it in a month or two… or four. You know how we roll. Have you guys painted anything recently? Are you a fan of inside-out-pajamas as painting clothes? Have you had swatches on your walls for over four months? Tell us we’re not the only ones…

Psst- When it comes to how we paint, this post and this post and the video in this post will hopefully help you out.

Psst again- We’re over on BabyCenter sharing how we made some swanky looking photo books for our moms (late Mother’s Day gifts are ok when you’re waiting on a book to be “published” right?).


  1. Katie Kerr says

    I don’t remember when youu got the slipcovers for the dining room. Did you buy them or make them yourself? If you bought them where did you find them?

  2. says

    You guys really love BM’s Moonshine! I like the way it looks on the wall. The color of the built-ins really pops now! You’ll be able to bring in color elsewhere (the seat covers, wall art, maybe even a rug under the table??

    And Sherry- I’m a Jersey girl, too, and promise not to tell Stacy and Clinton about your painting clothes! Gotta stick together.

  3. Amara says

    I love it!!! Man, if you guys call having paint swatches up for 4 months lazy, I won’t even tell you how long mine have been up :)

  4. Edie says

    I’m dying to paint my wood paneled kitchen, not totally dissimilar to your first kitchen, but larger. It is unfortunately totally varnished, so I’m not sure if I have the patience (or arm strength) to sand the whole thing down first. I’ve lived with it for three years, but I’m not sure I can go another one, especially since I’m going to be at home with my infant son full time. Y’all inspire me, so we shall see…

    • says

      So sorry Edie! There might be something called a “deglosser” that they sell at your hardware store that you can just apply to your wood before priming (it might save some effort). Maybe check them out and ask what they recommend at the paint desk? Good luck!


    • JulieK says

      We had varnished wood panelling in our old house. We discovered that the process of removing it was far simpler than our attempts to paint it. Luckily for us all it required was finding the nails and removing them. Another part of our house, someone used liquid nails (glue) and it required much more muscle. In the end we were happy to remove it all together.

      Either way, good luck!

    • Misty says

      You can even get a primer with a high hide….it has an extra adhesive to help stick to the glossy surface and then just paint on top of the primer. Most manufacturers carry at least one primer with a high hide.

    • says

      We had the same thing and used an oil based super “high hide” primer before painting. Worked like a charm! We tried a latex primer first with really disappointing results, but the oil based has kept the yellow ick from creeping through for over a year now.

    • Rachel says

      I’ve also used an oil-based “high hide” primer with great success on varnished paneling. We painted our panels a super pale gray and there are zero orangey tones peeking through. Definitely try priming before going to town with a sander!

  5. JMB says

    The room looks great; so crisp and much more finished even without all the other details you’ll be adding. We’re giving serious consideration to grey in our new house (moved in less than 2 weeks ago) and this might just be the PERFECT shade! As always, thanks for the inspiration :o)

  6. says

    Looks absolutely fabulous! I agree, much more polished looking. I absolutely adore when bright white trim pops against painted walls- it looks so crisp and clean! And um, hello, projects (even small painting ones!) always take forever for me! Like our six month + long bathroom remodel… sheesh! Patience is a virtue, right?! : )

  7. says

    You’re right, it’s not a huuuuuge difference, but it really warms the place up.

    I haven’t had swatches on any walls for months, but I painted over an accent wall almost a year ago and still haven’t touched it up. If you look closely by one of the vents, you can see a little green. Oops!

  8. says

    I’ve had swatches on my bedroom walls since at least March!! Oh and my entryway has had primer under the chair rail for 2 months or so. I like bouncing around projects. As my husband puts it, it keeps us always excited and motivated to be working on whatever we’re doing at the moment! Right now we’re in outdoor mode because of the nice weather, but once it gets too hot to be gardening and whatnot, I’m sure we’ll get our rollers back out :)

    ps- the painted bookcases pop even more with that subtle gray!

  9. Christie says

    The dining room looks fantastic! Congrats on finishing that project. Now I have to comment on something totally awesome in your post besides the paint on the walls…….I think Sherry is totally brilliant for turning her clothes inside out to paint in. It’s genius and you can still use the item of clothing if it gets a little paint on it. Consider that idea snatched! :-)

  10. Wendy says

    The paining clothes….what a great idea! I have a scary(?)outfit I normally paint in but inside-out stuff would be even better.

    Also, is that a new dog?

  11. says

    The room really does look more polished. I love the idea of jammies as painting clothes. I’m an artist and my painting clothes feel even slouchier(in a bad way) than my PJ’s, so jammies would definitely be a step up!

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