Color Block Walls + Painted Curtains

I just love paint.  Don't you?  It's truly magnificent.   

It can pack a real punch for, really, not a whole lot of cash.  I leaned heavily on that fact when I made over the playroom-now-bedroom.  Solid walls are nice but, especially in a kids' room, adding a little more color on the walls ups the ante and makes things just a little more fun.

The walls in this room were painted right before listing by the previous owner (China White by Ben Moore) and it's really a great color (we've actually copied it to most of the rooms in our house so far and the exterior) but I wanted something a little more upbeat for S & G's new room.  I wasn't actually planning on painting this room when we first decided we were going to move them but then I thought, well, if we're going to be moving furniture around, we might as well paint.  Over-achiever, I know.  But it was worth the extra effort.  :)

The Process:

Before the walls got painted, I had to paint the trim (read our tips on that here).  The previous owner had also had them freshly painted but they had them painted a really shiny, ivory-beige color.  We painted the ceilings in here Pure White (Sherwin-Williams) back before we moved in and wanted to follow suit with the trim to make things cohesive.  The crown, door and window molding, and baseboards all got a that white treatment.  The chair rail isn't a favorite feature of ours and taking it down meant filling in holes and, since the top part of the wall is painted-over wallpaper (grrr...even though they did it semi-right by filling in seam gaps), there'd be a line where the painted-over paper met the chair rail that would also have to be hidden with some spackling.  So, while painting an entire room sounded fun, painting and having to fill in where the chair rail was didn't.  You can only be so much of an over-achiever.  Ha!  

We still have to paint the doors but we're going to paint all the doors in this house in one foul swoop so that will happen down the road a bit.

Next, I had to figure out what colors I was going to color block with.  The top part was easy - I wanted it to match the ceiling and trim so Pure White (SW color-matched to Valspar paint) it was.  The bottom had to be something a boy and a girl could live with.  I went back-and-forth between a light gray-blue, mustard yellow, and mint green but in the end Oyster Bay (SW also color-matched to Valspar) was the winner!  It's a grayish mint green and one color darker than Sea Salt in the SW swatch book. 

Along with color, I had to figure out how high I wanted to lower color to go up the walls.  There weren't any fancy measuring or decorating rules I used to figure this out.  I knew I wanted the color to go up past the chair rail but also be slightly underneath the middle frame of the window.  It just so happened that, if I propped my sewing square (similar*) up on the chair rail, the top hit at a spot that checked off those two qualifications so I went with it because I knew that it would be easy to tape using that square.  47.25" up was the sweet spot.

So, moving my square along the chair rail as I went, I taped off the wall.  

If you don't have a chair rail and a sewing square that happens to be the right size (which, chances are, you don't...sorry!), you can just measure up from the floor and make a small pencil mark to guide your taping every 8-12 inches along the walls.

Out came the paint.  I read this trick awhile ago and made a mental note for a project such as this.  Apparently, to get perfectly straight edges, it helps to paint over the tape edge with the existing wall paint - so for me, the Pure White. 

Doing this apparently seals the edge so that paint can't get underneath and ruin a crisp line.  The walls in our house have a slightly orange-peel texture so I had to try it since paint bleed was more likely.  (Way back when I painted stripes on the kids' walls in our old house, I didn't do this and I had a little bit of bleed so it was worth a shot to see if it worked this time around.)

One important point about this step - the thicker the coat of paint you apply over the tape's edge, the more pronounced any line between the paint colors will be.  I did not want a visible line for future's sake - when we eventually paint over this, we won't want that line showing up on our freshly painted walls.  So, I applied the paint as thin as I could making sure I covered the whole edge and I also made sure to feather out or brush out the paint at the bottom so that I didn't leave any lines behind there either. 

A sideways shot shows what I mean a little better.  The paint is thin but can you see how it extends down past the paint streaks and looks dotted on the walls below?  That's me feathering it out as much as I can.

Next up came the Oyster Bay.  First, I edged - painting just below the tape line where the green would start, around all of the trim, the chair rail, and in the corners.

I made sure to feather out the green here too so I didn't leave any thick paint lines behind.

I edged on two coats to make sure everything was covered well - especially important at the tape line because once I removed that, it'd be to hard touch up paint there that wasn't splotchy.  (Note:  the above photo looks like there isn't any tape on the wall between colors but that's because I ran out of painter's tape and had to use some thinner masking tape.  It's there, just hard to see.)

Then I spent an hour after bedtime one night rolling on the lower half.  Rolling tends to put more paint on than a brush in my experience, so I only needed one coat.

When I rolled, I got close to the tape line but didn't cross it.  I didn't need any more paint on the line because it had already been sealed and edged twice.  More paint would've just upped the chances that I'd have a line later.

With the paint still wet, I pulled off the tape to reveal...


Sealing the edges with paint beforehand was a SUCCESS!  I was a tad worried that peeling up the tape would take some paint with it since this whole process was done in a matter of a few days - good in that the white paint I painted on to seal the edge didn't have a ton of time to cure but bad in that I taped over white paint that didn't have a ton of time to cure.  I used this painters' tape* so I'll chalk the no-peeling-paint win up to that.  (Although I did run out 3/4 the way through and used regular old, beige masking tape...I just made sure not to stick it down too hard.)

We're really happy with how the walls turned out, especially with the added character that chair rail brings to the lower half.  It's like it there but not SO there, ya know?  We can live with it now.  ;)  After I was finished painting I kind of wished I would have went all the way down including the baseboard with the Oyster Bay.  But then again, I really hate painting trim and so that would probably mean it would have to get painted over later.  If you don't hate painting trim, it be fun to include it and maybe even all of the other trim in the room that extends down past the second color.  Lots of options which brings me right back to how awesome paint is.  👍

Questions?  Leave 'em in the combox or email me!  

Color-blocking the walls wasn't the only thing I did with that Oyster Bay.  I only used half a gallon on the walls so I had plenty left to...

paint the curtains.  You might've guessed it.  I like to do that sort of thing.  ;)

I didn't take enough pictures to write a whole tutorial on this but it's really a straightforward process.  I bought these curtains again, laid them out on the floor with a painters' sheet underneath lest I get paint on the rug, and used an old piece of 5' long baseboard to paint stripes.  A 2 x 4 or any thinner piece of wood work work, as long as you don't mind it getting paint on it.

To help the paint go on better, I added some water - a ratio of about 1 part water to 3 parts paint.  This helps the paint soak into the fibers of the fabric better instead of just sitting on top.  The more it soaks into the fibers, the more washable it is.  I can throw these curtains into the washing machine without ever losing any paint in the future.  

I started at the top, lining the baseboard up with the top of the curtains, and made my way across and down, moving the baseboard as I went.

I went with a very hand-painted look (because a perfect-stripe look would've required lots of taping on the curtains) to make things easy.

I didn't measure and I think I probably should've because some of my stripes slope down just a smidge.  Thankfully, I'm probably the only one who notices.  So, if you paint some stripes yourself, all you'd have to do to make sure they're straight across is measure 4" (or however wide you'd like the spaces to be) increments down the curtain, make a tiny pencil mark, and follow your marks when lining up your straight edge.

So, for the cost of one gallon of Oyster Bay (of which I still have half a gallon left!), just under $30, I got to gussy up four walls and some curtains.  Not too shabby.  

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1 comment

  1. I can't get enough of that paint trick and I really wish I knew who'd invented it so I could give them credit. It's saved me so many times!!! I love the color you chose, too!