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. Ellen says

    The room looks beautiful! Can’t wait to see it all come together. It seems to me you guys have done an incredible amount of work since moving in! I’ve had paint chips taped to my daughter’s room since the 1st of the year. Haven’t even progressed to trying paint samples, let alone painted!

  2. Rachael says

    I’ve had paint chips up in my living room for over 5 years! There is a stripe around the top of my living room with a little piece of molding to define the bottom edge. It was the first thing we painted when we bought the house and we tucked the paint chips under the molding. All but one fell down on their own and we never got around to taking the last one down ourselves. It’s kind of a game now – how long will we leave it be?

    • says

      Haha, we have those games too! Clara’s b-day pom poms are still hanging from the fan in the sunroom. How long will they last… who knows!


  3. says

    I love it! It really does make your crown molding pop.

    I’ve had test swatches in our formal living room now for about two months. Right before our wedding in April, my husband was all up in my shizz about picking a paint color (uhm, hello, I’m planning our wedding, I don’t have time for paint!). After the wedding I settled on a color, but then hubs said “oh, we’re so not ready to paint that room”. WTH! Probably for the best though because now I don’t love the color so much.

    Looking forward to seeing what you pick out for curtains and art!

  4. says

    Love your new paint color… I have this thing about gray on walls too! We just painted ours a similar color from Martha Stewart’s line, here’s the post I did on painting it:

    but you may be able to see the color scheme a little better wwith these full kitchen views!

    Love your blog, Sherry and John… thanks for the daily fun reading dose. :)

  5. Amz says

    And that’s another thing to cross off the list, I can’t wait to see how your dyed slipcovers will look, maybe you can paint your front door apple green to coordinate (yeah I’m just saying that cos I love green doors!).
    One thing I’ve been meaning to ask, where’s the lighting in this room? The light switches (I’m assuming those are light switches – yes I know what happens when we assume) are by the front door but I can’t see any light fixtures. Wait is it in the picture right in front of me? I can’t find it, it’s like losing at where’s Wally!

    • says

      Those are all outside lights. There are no ceiling fixtures in this room! Of course that’ll change when we finally get around to adding a big fixture over our round table someday. For now though it gets pretty dark in there when the sun sets. Haha.


    • Amz says

      Oh, that explains it, haha I thought it was just me being oblivious.
      Also I can’t believe no one’s said anything about Moonshine a la Petersik, I shan’t say what first came to mind since your submit comment note says your moms are reading, but I guess watching paint dry isn’t as dull as you’d think :p

  6. meredith says

    For over a year and a half I had swatches just like that all over my red family room. (I know…I went thru a red phase.) I knew it (the red) had to be gone before the new baby came so we painted when I was about 8 months pregnant. Not my proudest moment. We had some friends over and we knocked out the large front hallways, family room, and kitchen in a couple of days.

  7. Kellie says

    Yea! So glad you finally tackled it! I’ve been wondering about that room. Cant wait to see how you incorporate wall decor and panels! :)

    Not usre if you have time to answer a question like this, but maybe another reader can! So… when I first bought my home, at the ripe age of 22, I painted my entire house in semi-gloss… the thought of shiny glossy walls sounded great at first! WHY DIDNT ANYONE TELL ME NOT TO PAINT WALL WITH SEMI-GLOSS!!?!?! I blame my dad.
    Anyways, the walls are plaster and have some imperfections in it, so the gloss makes it look worse. I am eager to re-paint some rooms but am cautious about how to go about it and waste more paint! Am i supposed to sand the gloss paint off first & then prime and paint? Or should I just paint the satin/eggshell paint OVER the semi-gloss.
    Also, I seem to get really nervous with large walls on making paint lines. Do you start at one end and work from top to bottom or vise versa? I’m nervous to mess it up!

    • says

      You can probably use one coat of water based primer and follow that with one coat (or two) of latex paint in the finish of your choice. You might want to go with flat (it hides imperfections best and newer paint formulas make it more scrubbable and easy to clean than ever). As for large walls, we use the make-a-W-with-your-roller technique and just work from bottom to the top in the corner and then work out to the other side of the wall from there. Good luck!


  8. says

    We are painting our kitchen and master bedroom on Thursday and still haven’t picked out the colors- eek! Love that grey though… thinking it might go perfectly in the kitchen which opens up to a yellow dining room. Oh yeah, we’re not painting- Bid my Crib is. Have you used them before? I bought a Groupon a while back for two rooms to be painted for $60. Boo-ya! I plan on blogging about the process… I’ll let ya know if they’re worth the 60 pesos! :)

  9. says

    I just remembered that remodelholic posted a drapery stencil DIY- the curtains from West Elm that you (and I, too)love? Here they are custom-made to fit any color: I’m seriously contemplating this!

    Also, I was living with a punch of cards taped up to my dressers ( for months! I hid them when friends were over to dog-sit, and then finally picked the winning color when I took the cards out of hiding yesterday. Now to see how many months it takes me to actually DO it….