Our $35 secondhand chairs – found here – aren’t quite done yet (picture me tapping my foot as I not-so-patiently wait for the paint to dry) but we thought we’d share our makeover progress in the interest of real-time fun. First a quick rundown of all the colors that John & I talked about for the office chairs at one point or another:
- emerald green
- turquoise, aqua, or dark teal
- dark gray or light gray
- white or light celery
- lime green or grellow
Oh and here they are in the office before paint and new upholstery (from a few different POVS), just to refresh your memory:
Here’s where our brains went when we continued to debate each of those color options over the last month or so:
- when you look into the office from the dining room there are two bright teal bookcases on each side of the doorway, so we thought turquoise or aqua or dark teal would be too “everything’s-teal” from that view
- after going with gray on the walls, we abandoned the light or dark gray idea for the chairs since it felt a little too blah
- navy was close to the color that was already on the chairs and it felt too dark for us
- we worried that white or light celery might be a bit too safe (and could skew a little too palm beach) so we decided to go for something bolder and more cheerful
- we worried plum would be just as dark as the original navy-ish color that was already on the chairs
So then we were left with emerald green and lime green or grellow. And I’m not gonna lie- I was rooting for emerald green for a while. I thought it would be nice and not-too-matchy when it came to the light grellow in the stencil and on the adjoining kitchen walls. But we held up ten million emerald swatches and stepped back and they all looked sort of… wrong. That’s the only way to describe it. The not-yellow undertones just seemed to clash with the adjoining kitchen and even the pop of color in the stencil since they were such warm greens and the emerald was so cool-ish and not-golden.
And the winner is…. grellow! Who is surprised? No one. Ok then. We figured why fight it if a super saturated & bold grellow would fit right in and reference the lighter kitchen walls and the soft grellow in the stencil while playing well with the other nearby elements (like the indigo light fixture, the teal globe on the file cabinet, the dark teal bookcases in the dining room, and the green runner & curtains in the dining room). The key was definitely hunting down something distinctly different (& bolder!) than the soft color on the kitchen walls and in the stencil so it didn’t feel bland and too monochromatic. Enter Sue the Napkin, stage right:
Since Sue is pretty much responsible for a ton of the color decisions that we make around here, we figured she couldn’t do us wrong in the “what green should we go with?” department. So we plucked a deep greeny-yellow right out of the napkin by holding up swatches until we landed on one that looked the most like it: Benjamin Moore’s Olive Tree. Then we taped that swatch to the chair, stepped back, and started singing kumbaya. It was magical. Everything was getting along swimmingly. Done deal.
But we needed to get spray paint in that color (since all the weaving in the chair definitely wouldn’t be easily coated with a paint brush) so the plan was to go to our local Benjamin Moore store to get them to make some custom spray paint mixed in that color (they can actually do that, well some of them can – just call to see if yours is one of them). Late last week I actually called to make sure ours still did it (they did) which is when I learned that it was too late in the day for them to make any (they closed at 6 and it was around 4 when I was calling). Bummer.
I planned to just wait to head over there the next morning but lo and behold while we were at Michael’s later that night we came across the spray paint aisle there, and what did we find? Krylon spray paint in “Ivy Leaf” which was – I kid you not – almost identical to the Benjamin Moore swatch of Olive Tree that I had tucked into my purse. So we bought two cans of it at $5.99 a pop. Hooray! Update: I just called Benjamin Moore back to see how much custom spray paint would have run me and they told me I would need to get a minimum of six cans of spray paint at $7-10 each! So glad Michael’s accidentally came through for us.
After we got home with my beloved spray paint I just removed the seat cushion on each chair (it was held in from the underside by four screws).
Then I wiped everything down with some liquid deglosser (we like Next Liquid Deglosser by Crown since it’s non-flammable, biodegradable, and low-VOC) and set them outside on cardboard for some spray primer. If the chipped paint had been rough and bumpy I definitely would have sanded to smooth things out, but the paint was worn down in such an oddly smooth way, there wasn’t anything for me to sand. Then it was primer time.
I applied a few thin and even coats (picture me misting it from 8-10 inches away, always keeping my arm moving to avoid drips) and let that dry for about 40 minutes.
Then I thought to read the can, which informed me that the topcoat should be applied within an hour or not until 24 hours later. So I impatiently decided that I didn’t want to wait. I quickly misted both chairs with about four suuuuper thin and even spray paint coats until they were happy and grellow. I snapped some photos of each thin coat so you could see how they’re very light (there’s almost zero coverage at first) and they build up to full coverage.
Here are a few more of my favorite spray painting tips:
- Skip the bad/cheap/terrible $2 stuff in favor of the quality $6-7 options (I like Rustoleum’s trigger spray nozzle because it goes on thin and even – and doesn’t get all over your fingers).
- Always keep the can moving. Seriously. If you’re a-sprayin’ your arm better be a-swayin’.
- It’s best to keep the nozzle about 8-10″ away from whatever it is that you’re spray painting.
- You really want a mist, not a heavy wet coating.
- Three thin and even coats are better than one thick and drippy one.
- Spray paint has yet to go no-VOC, so apply it outside with a mask, and let it fully cure as long as the can recommends outside whenever you can (usually 24 hours, we try to double that just to be even safer).
- You can “seal” any spray paint (to limit off-gassing once you bring it inside) by applying two thin coats of Safecoat Acrylacq, which is low-VOC and non-toxic.
Voila, I was left with this chipper guy:
Make that two of them. Just chillin’ in the yard.
Oh but it took me three cans of spray paint total, so I had to go back for one more. As for the seat fabric, I had some leftover yardage from my little dining room curtain project.
And after holding up the fabric to the freshly grellowed chairs we were so happy. All systems are go. They look great together.
Originally I intended to use that extra fabric to make roman blinds for the office since that room is so open to the dining room thanks to the giant double doorway that’s flanked by the built-ins. But I got to thinking that it might be too matchy-matchy to use it on the windows and John and I kept dreaming more and more about bright grellow chairs, so it was the perfect compromise. This afternoon’s project is to reupholster the seats. I’ll share all those details along with after pics in a day or two (as soon as they’re dry enough to get jammed back together for photos).
Oh and don’t go very far this morning. We’ll actually be back in a few hours with a rare 11am post instead of our regular 2pm jam. Which is nice because it frees up my afternoon for reupholstering. Everyone wins.
Psst- We’re over on BabyCenter sharing an amazing resource for projects that you can DIY with your kiddos. There are so many fun ideas to add to our “someday to-do list” with Clara.
My little stenciling project above the chair rail in the office has officially concluded. Woooo to the hooooo! It only took three 4.5 hour installments spread out over four days (so my hand-claws could turn back into hands between sessions). You can read all about my stenciling process here), but in short: it was well worth all that work and a bag of chips. Behold:
Of course since it’s a subtle tone-on-tone effect, the further away that you get the more – well, subtle – it gets. In person when you stand at the doorway to the office you see pretty feathery texture, but of course in photos it’s somehow MUCH harder to capture. Here’s a shot I snapped during the day (ignore the too-dark chairs, non-permanent lamps, bad leaning frames, too short rug, giant placeholder ottoman, random toy basket, lack of window treatments, etc):
And here’s one at night (again, avoid all the weird we’ll-change-that-later stuff going on). I wish the stencil were more obvious in photos, but in real life, yeah, it’s our favorite thing we’ve done so far. Maybe someday we’ll master the Nikon enough to truly do it justice on film.
Here’s the much requested shot from the dining room, where in person you can still see a soft & pretty tone-on-tone texture (you’d swear it was wallpaper from this distance). But again, in photos it’s nearly impossible to capture. It’s a nice amount of subtle interest beyond the bold teal built-ins and colorful textiles in the dining room. And hopefully when we hang some art and add window treatments in the office it’ll be a good balance between those two rooms.
But let’s get closer again. It’s more fun.
Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.
The writing on the mirrors is our weird to-do list madness. Ignore that too.
But don’t ignore this sweet faced chihuahua who just turned five (five days ago, actually). Burger is always my favorite accessory (tied with the bean of course).
But let’s go back to ignoring stuff. Like the just-for-now chair and too-big ottoman (borrowed from the living room) along with the too small rug. Just figured you guys might appreciate seeing the room from a few different angles (even though the only “finished” things in here are really the light, the desk, and the stencil):
As for the wall color under the chair rail (Moonshine by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in satin), we’re toying with the idea of going a smidge darker to ground the stenciled upper part and add a tiny tiny bit of dimension (don’t want too much contrast since that might look crazy from the dining room beyond the built-ins). Of course we’ll keep ya posted if we make any changes! The nice thing about stenciling is that any other regular painting project feels like a cake walk by comparison. Haha. I actually wish you guys could all come over and see it in person – it’s so much better than these photos! Who’s down for a quick visit?
Oh but before I go back to staring at the walls with the same expression that I reserve for Eric from True Blood, let’s get into the paint color details, how we did it, and the budget breakdown. As for those paint details, here you go:
- Gray paint for stencil: half tint of Moonshine by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in a satin finish
- Grellow paint for stencil: Sesame by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in a semi-gloss finish
Oh and how about a time breakdown? It took 13.5 hours over three evening sessions. Definitely not a quick project, but one that makes you especially proud/excited/relieved/amazed when it’s actually done. As for all of our stenciling tips and techniques, click here for a nice long post all about applying the stencil. Now here’s that budget breakdown for ya:
- Stencil (from here): $54
- Martha Stewart Stencil Adhesive (from Michael’s): $2.99 (with 50% off coupon)
- Foam brushes (from Michael’s): $2.50 (with 50% off coupon)
- Quart of gray paint* for stencil (half tint of Moonshine from Lowe’s): $11
- Grellow paint* for stencil: $0 (leftover from kitchen, but would be $3 for a test pot)
- TOTAL: $70.49
I’ll admit it, it’s definitely not a super cheap-o paint project (which normally run us about $15-30. But to wallpaper the entire room above the chair rail could easily have been five hundred beans or more. And the effect is so amazing that – dare I admit it? – I probably would have paid $150 to get ‘er done. But not a penny more. Haha.
And true to form, we we still have about ten million things on the ol’ to-do list in here (one project at a time = sanity, glorious sanity). So we’ll definitely be tackling these things over time:
- adding window treatments
- painting and reupholstering our desk chairs
- hanging art on the walls (no, the oddly small leaning frames aren’t for keeps)
- finding a more permanent armchair, ottoman, rug, etc (there are lots of placeholders goin’ on)
- replacing the lamps (or reupholstering the shades, not sure yet – but we’ll keep you posted)
Anyone else do any stenciling lately? Or make any home office updates in general? Do you have a special expression that you reserve for Eric (or some other celebrity)? Oh yeah, let’s talk about that. Who’s your famous man (or lady) crush? Any Jake Gyllenhaal ladies here? Matt Damon? Team Edward? Team Angie? When I met John he totally had a Britney Spears calendar… and she was wearing leather bodysuits with sneakers. Le yikes.
Psst- Read all about my stenciling process and the paint colors that I used here (there’s even an application video).