7th House on the Left


posted by Greg  /  19 Comments

We’ve had a few emails and Facebook comments asking us to do a post about how we paint/prep a room, and with the completion of the guest bedroom painting process last week, we figured now was as good a time as any. There are certainly any number of ways you can go about painting a room, but we thought it would be fun to put all of our painting tips/methods/suggestions into one post. On top of that, this will be a good post for us to refer back to if we have the question come up again. Our methods may not work for every type of room/walls/situation, but this is how we do it…

How to Paint a Room // 7thhouseontheleft.com

STEP ONE // Pick a color. Before we decide on a paint color, Ash and I take a trip to the paint store to scout out the colors and collect a few paint swatches. Our first stops for paint are normally Lowe’s and Home Depot, but we’ve been known to stop by Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams if we’re not finding what we’re looking for. Another favorite paint source of ours is Restoration Hardware (we used their paint in our master bedroom and Ash’s office).

We never pick a color right there in the store. Ash would be a nervous wreck if we did that. We normally take home a bunch of swatches, pick two or three favorites, go back to the store and buy a tester for each of our top contenders. Once in a while, a color jumps out at us in the store, so we buy the testers on the spot. Regardless, if it’s a paint color we haven’t used before, we always paint a swatch on the wall before we buy the full gallon.

Paint Samples // 7thhouseontheleft.com

When we go to put our test color(s) on the wall, we paint a 12″x12″(ish) section on each wall of the room. This ensures that we see what it looks like in all lighting situations and at different times of the day. We normally let it hang out on the wall for a couple of days before pulling the trigger and committing to a color. Ash has a good eye for colors, so she’s normally the one to make the final decision if we’re up in the air between a few options. She’ll normally text me while I’m at work to let me know which color she’s decided on, and I pick up the paint on the way home from work.

STEP TWO // Gather supplies. When it comes to paint supplies, there are a few specific brands/styles we like to use (kind of like finding the perfect brand of shoes and you only buy them from there on out). We’ll get into those specifics later in the post, but here’s a general list of the supplies we use when we’re painting a whole room:

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

We’ve painted every room in the house (we’ve even painted a few twice thus far), so we have a lot of paint supplies on hand already, but there are always a few things we have to pick up from the store. Like, for instance, roller covers and paint trays. We normally just buy new ones each time we paint a room. They’re pretty cheap, and well worth the convenience of not having to wash them out for re-use and find a place to store them.

Quick Tip: If you prefer using metal paint trays instead of the disposable ones, put the tray in a plastic shopping bag before you pour the paint in the tray. When you’re done painting, pull the shopping bag handles toward the opposite end of the tray and turn the bag inside out. This will save you a good chunk of time when it’s time to clean up.

STEP THREE // Prep the room. Basically, prepping the room consists of clearing out the artwork/accessories in the room and covering surfaces that need to be protected. We also remove outlet and switch plate covers. I’ve seen plenty of places that decided to just edge around the covers, and they never turn out right. The extra 2 minutes it takes to do this is well worth it.

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

Nine times out of ten, we don’t tape off the baseboards and moldings before we get to painting – I prefer going at it free-handed. However, when it comes to painting around light fixtures, window rods or other hardware that can’t easily be removed and put back up, ScotchBlue™™ Painter’s Tape  is our best friend. It comes in a bunch of varieties, but our favorite one is the Edge-Lock. For smaller projects (like this one), we (especially Ash) likes to use the half inch painter’s tape that is specially formulated for freshly painted surfaces.

When it comes to protecting the hardwood floors, Ash and I are split. She likes to cover the floors around where she’s painting, but I don’t like to bother with it. Basically, she’s a messy painter and I’m not. Sorry, Ash. You know it’s true. Either way, we still use a drop cloth to sit the paint cans and supplies on while we work. We’re big fans of the Scotch Blue Heavy Duty Non-Slip Drop Cloth. Previously, we just used the typical cheap plastic sheeting, but our friends at 3M really hooked us up when it came to drop cloths. The heavy duty drop cloth has a non-slip, rubberized coating so it doesn’t slide around the floor. Seriously, if you have hardwood floors, this is a must-have. I like it so much I might actually start using it in my work area while I’m painting. Yeah… I get a drip or two of paint on the floor from time to time, too. Just don’t tell Ash. Word on the street is that it also works great on carpeted areas.

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

If we’re painting a bedroom, we always cover the bed with a drop cloth. Dripped paint isn’t as easy to clean off of cloth as it is a hard surface like a floor. This $4 investment can save a lot of headache later. And, of course, like with a “cloth” of any kind, Bentley thinks it’s especially for him and makes a perch to watch the painting process.

STEP FOUR // Patch holes or dents. We like to patch any holes in the walls that aren’t going to be immediately covered up by artwork or other wall decorations. It just looks and feels nicer to know everything is “back to new” as Ashley puts it. During our most recent room-painting session, we had a lot of holes and a few dents to fill.

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

3M Patch Plus Primer is smooth like butter, doesn’t require any sanding afterward (if you put it on thinly enough), and is ready to paint once it dries. I used my handy-dandy Bondo Spreader to push it into the holes and scrape off the excess. It worked great on all of our little blemishes. I like using Bondo Spreaders in particular for this job. They’re inexpensive, easy to store, and even easier to clean. Just wait for the putty to dry, flex the spreader, and most of the dried putty pops right off.

STEP FIVE // Get to painting. Around here, I’m the official edger. I really like Wooster’s 2″ angled brushes for cutting in around ceilings and molding. Any larger and the brush feels unwieldy; any smaller, and you have to go back with a larger brush to paint the area that you can’t get to with the roller. Also,when buying a brush, don’t go cheap here. A nice brush will give you much cleaner edges than an inexpensive one.

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

A lot of people get nervous about edging. While it’s not my favorite thing in the world to do, it doesn’t really give me pause anymore. To start the edging process, I pour some paint into my blue plastic cup with finger grooves. I know what you’re thinking: “Finger gooves? Who cares? How important can they really be?” but hear me out. The finger grooves help you hold on to your cup, and they also help you pick the cup up the same way every time. That way, you’re only wiping the brush on one side of the cup, which means less chance of getting it all over your hands or brush handle if you need to set it down. We always buy a 3-pack of roller covers so we can just throw them away, rather than trying to clean them when we’re done. Rather than using some expensive container made specifically for edging, I just use a disposable plastic drinking cup. Side note: I seriously don’t care about ergonomics when it comes to drinking from a cup, but if you can find the cups with the finger grooves on the sides, it makes for a much nicer edging experience. Again, I buy a pack of the cheap ones so I don’t have to worry about washing them out when I’m done for the day.

Once I’ve got my groovy cup loaded up, I get to edging. Basically, I take my 2-inch angled brush and place it parallel to the edge, then I apply pressure and rotation such that the bristles flare out toward the edge. At that point, I just have to focus on a very small area at the edge of the brush, and all the bristles around it are pushing paint toward that edge. If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about (or if you’re completely and utterly baffled), this video gives you a general idea of how I do it.

STEP SIX // Roll. I get usually get a 20-30 minute head start on the cutting in, then Ash comes in with the roller and starts rolling the walls. This process is pretty self-explanatory… even, over-lapping “W” shapes.

STEP SEVEN // Second coat. Even though we buy paint with primer built in, we normally still have to do a second coat. We generally wait about an hour to start on coat #2, or we just come back the next day if we’re super busy.

STEP EIGHT // Clean up. Well, if I did it right, I don’t usually have much to clean up. The first thing I do is put any leftover paint back in the can and hammer the lid on. At that point, my paint pans, roller covers, paint stirrers, groove-tastic paint cup, etc. can all be thrown in the trash. Once I’m done with trash duty, it’s just a matter of rinsing out my brush and putting away the drop clothes.

Quick Tip: To clean freshly-spilled oil-based paint, clean up with paper towels, water and dish detergent. The dish soap will cut the oil in the paint and make it easier to clean up. We learned this the hard way. Oh, and if you’re having trouble removing paint from your hands, try using a bit of vegetable oil or shortening. Then use a bit of dish soap to get the oil off of your hands.

Handy Touch Up Paint Storage / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Another step for clean up is putting a bit of the left over paint in a small mason jar. Ash talks more about it in this post, but we do this to have the paint handy for quick touch-ups. Since we implemented this system, touching up scratches/marks/dents have been much more convenient and cuts down on time and frustration.

STEP NINE // Check for touch-ups. We usually wait until the next day to place the extra paint in its final storage space and put the furniture back in place. Especially if you’re working on the room at night, things might look different in the morning. You’ll almost definitely find a few spots you missed.

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

So, there you have it… how to paint a room 7th House style. Yeah, painting isn’t the most fun you can have on a Friday night, but it sure is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to completely change the mood of a room. Hopefully this was helpful for those of you who have requested a post of this nature. If you have any painting tips to pass along, be sure to share them in the comments!

How to Paint a Room // 7thhhouseontheleft.com

For more information about 3M products and DIY tips/ideas, check out 3M DIY on Facebook and Twitter.

We spent a good portion of this last weekend re-painting the guest room. Before we get to what it’s looking like now, we need to back up a bit and explain a few things. First off, here’s what the room looked like when we bought the house…

Guest Room Before // 7thhouseontheleft.com

And here’s what the room looked like after the new floors, freshly painted trim and a few coats of paint on the walls. (Obviously, this is the view from the other side of the room.)

Guest Room Before // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We (well, mostly I) have been hankering to paint this room since the day after we painted it the first time. True story. I liked it, but it still wasn’t exactly what I envisioned. It was a lot bluer than we thought it would be–even bluer than it appears in some of the photos. Basically, it was a very pretty color, but looked more “nursery” and less “classy calm” – “classy calm” being the look we thought we wanted.

Guest Room Before // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We kept trying to make it work by adding dark furniture to add some “weight”. We’ve also changed out the bedding twice, trying to make it look less “nursery”. After trying to make it work for so long, we realized the room as a whole just wasn’t jiving for us. It felt really contrived, forced and not at all “us”, so we decided to start over from square one. We didn’t start painting right away, though. We knew this room wasn’t working for us, but we decided to hold off on repainting again until we were completely sure what color to paint it this time around.

Since we’re kicking the forced “airy classy clam” idea to the curb, you’re probably wondering what direction we’re heading with now. Well, simply put, we’re going with our guts. A while back, we even put together this mood board hoping to generate some direction. Now that we look back on it, we’ve decided to just go with the flow and create a room that forms organically as we go along. We’re still aiming for a room with a “modern rustic vibe with touches of vintage”, and we’re planning on keeping the bed, dresser and (maybe) the sconces… but that’s about it.

Wall Color Inspiration from Vintage Christian Dior Hat Box // 7thhouseontheleft.com

A few weeks ago, thanks to our friends at Target, I got the chance to have a phone chat with one of my favorite interior designers, Nate Berkus. (Yeah, I’m still recovering.) During our talk, I told him a bit about the guest room and the look we were aiming for, then I asked if he had any wall colors to suggest. He talked about how pretty much every guest room looks the same, so if we go with a deeper / moodier color, it’s more unexpected and overall cozier. “Cozy” is definitely something we’re aiming for, so he hit the nail right on the head. That being the case, one of the colors he suggested was a medium “classic gray” similar to vintage Christian Dior hat boxes. Needless to say, this gray-wall-loving gal was happy to hear his suggestions and couldn’t get to the paint store fast enough. For more of our conversation and phone-charging difficulties, check out this post.

Home Depot Paint / 7thhouseontheleft.com

With iPhone in hand, we went to the paint section at Home Depot and collected a bunch of gray paint swatches that we thought were similar to the vintage Dior hat box. Without looking at the names, Greg and I both pointed out Anonymous by Behr – the same color we painted the laundry room. We’re still really loving the color of the laundry room, but we thought maybe would be best to do something a little different. So, we kept looking… and still kept coming back to Anonymous. That’s when it hit us, if we love that color, why not?! Two gallons of Anonymous by Behr in flat finish, please!

We spent the majority of the day on Saturday and a few hours on Sunday painting the room and the closet (ugh, painting closets are the worst!). But… here’s what our not-so blue room is looking like now…

Anonymous by Behr // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Huge difference, right?! Unexpectedly, the black bed and dresser “pop” a lot more than they did with the nursery blue walls. Right now, there isn’t much color going on because we’ve taken everything down to the bare essentials – think of this as the “foundation of the room”, with more color to come.

Anonymous by Behr // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We’re coming back later this week with a post about how we prepped and painted the room and some of our painting tips, so we’ll hold off on the details on the actual process. For now, we’ll just bask in the awesomeness that is Anonymous by Behr – or as we’re now calling it, the “Dior hat box paint”.

Hat box image from here.

As I mentioned in the last post, we’re busy putting the finishing touches on the covered patio makeover. We’re going to be so, so excited when it’s “done done”, as Greg always says. We have a few little projects to finish up before we can share the “after photos” and right now, I’m going to dish on one of those little projects…

How to Turn Craft Paint Into Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We picked up a few of these planters from Target a while ago to go on the table under the new artwork. They were the perfect size for the table, but as things started coming together, we realized they weren’t quite the right color (they’re a much darker red in person). The obvious makeover method for a project like this is spray paint. The only problem was that I couldn’t quite find the perfect color spray paint. Everything was just a bit too “primary” looking. In walks my favorite new DIY trick, like… um, ever.

Martha Stewart Craft Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Let’s back up a bit. I have a great, massive love for Martha Stewart Craft Paints – and Martha Stewart for that matter, but that’s for another time and place. Not only are the colors super yummy, but the paints are also durable, outdoor safe, dishwasher safe and can be applied to pretty much any surface. I’m pretty certain I have every color available stashed in my office. Basically, in my book, there is no other craft paint. There, I said it. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post, haha. Even if it was, I’d still be saying the same thing.

How to Turn Craft Paint Into Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I was in Michael’s a few months ago and spotted Martha’s Gloss Spray Paint Kit. Basically this kit turns any Martha Stewart craft paint (except for the glitter versions and there’s a separate kit for stain finish paints) into an aerosol paint. At the time, I had no idea what I’d use it for, but I had to pick it up just in case an opportunity arose. The kit was $20 (plus the cost of paint). I ended up getting it 40% off with my Michael’s iPhone app. Two points for technology. Also, you can get it here on Amazon for $11. Oh, and as for the paint color for this project I used Beach Glass – which in my opinion is the perfect “Martha Stewart Blue”.

In walks the planters and where we are now. The large, smooth surface of the planters were the perfect surface to try this baby out.

How To Make Martha Stewart Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I followed the directions carefully and combined equal parts of the medium and high gloss paint in the paint bottle. I gave it a good shake and reconnected the contecter thingamajig to the paint bottle. The above image is from here (I just added the writing) because I was too excited and forgot to take a photo. #badblogger

This next portion of the process doesn’t have any photos – which will be self-explanitory in a minute.

Spray painting is totally a solo project, so I was working on this while Greg was at work. Here’s how it went down: I’m all ultra-excited to get this show on the road and go outside to paint. Our next door neighbor is outside tending to his totally-awesome flower beds, so I’m trying to not look like a DIY idiot (as much as I could, anyway). I set the first planter up on a brick in the grass and start to paint. Two seconds in, paint starts spewing out of the connector thingamajig. Someone didn’t read the directions carefully enough. I’ve got paint all over my hands and face, in my hair, in my eyes, and on my brand new shirt. Yeah, I know, ya’ll are probably thinking what Greg asked: “What were doing spray painting in a new shirt?” I don’t know. Remembering that craft paint normally comes out easily if you put water on it immediately, I put down the paint and walk over to the water hose. I turn on the water hose and, knowing that the sprayer was broken, I twisted the sprayer off. All of a sudden, a high-powered stream of water aimed directly at my face comes flying at me. My clothes are drenched, along with my hair. Everything. Is. Soaked. Let’s just say I’m pretty sure I gave my green-thumbed next door neighbor a good laugh. Oh happy day.

If that debacle already wasn’t enough, I had to “unclog” the nozzle a bunch of times and my hands (and hair… and clothes…) were a mess by the time this process was over. But, I didn’t care because I was going to have fancy shmancy “Martha Stewart Blue” planters.

How To Make Martha Stewart Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Just when I was about half way done with the larger planter, the paint sprayer can ran out. Needless to say, I had to capture this moment on Instagram. #sadtimes So… the only option was to go back to Michael’s to get another kit.

How To Make Martha Stewart Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

When it was all said and done, the finish is flawless. No streaks, no splatters (well, on the planters anyway) and no bubbling. I’m so glad I decided to go with the glossy paint rather than the satin because the glossy finish makes it look like a glazed pot.

How To Make Martha Stewart Spray Paint // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Moral of the story: read the directions twice. Also, this isn’t the best method for medium to large spray paint jobs. The spray paint kit really does work great – despite my mishap (I think I just didn’t have the two pieces connected tight enough). Word on the street is that Lowe’s now can mix custom spray paint (though we haven’t tried it yet) and there’s this contraption that “turns any paint into spray paint”. The reviews weren’t too hot for that one so, I decided to go the Martha route – and because I was dead set on having “Martha Stewart Blue” planters. ‘

Now I have them, and I’m happy.