Quick project, HUGE upgrade

Posted by & filed under Our Home, tutorials.


So, I’ve been hinting a bit lately about painting a room in my house black and since then I’ve given y’all a sneak peek at the dining room and a good shot of the kitchen, so I suppose the cat is out of the bag, eh?

Well, suffice it to say this was my scariest paint job ever. I was nervous about painting a wall in my sewing room Watermelon Pink, but black is a huuuuge leap from pink. I was so afraid it would end up looking like a greasy boy’s room or way uber contemporary weird or something. But, the good news is, I love it even more than I expected. (And I honestly can’t go any further here without giving credit to my girlfriend Katy who has the real cajones and was the first person I’d ever seen pull of black walls with such chicness. That girl’s got style – thanks for the inspiration, girl!)

That said, I’ve got two things to share in this post:

1. Some good rules I’ve learned when it comes to choosing a dark paint color
2. A fabulous project I knocked out in my dining room yesterday in less than three hours.

So…. here’s what I have to say about going dark:

  • Natural lighting – and LOTS of it – is a must.
  • The area you’re painting has to be minimal. I only painted one wall bright pink in my sewing room, the other three walls are light and bright. Similarly, my dining room has double doors on one wall, double windows on another, a wide doorway on the third wall and the fourth wall is open to the kitchen. Also, I only painted the top half of the room (above the chair rail). I literally only need 1 quart of paint to change the color in there – that is what I call a minimal area.
  • While we’re on the topic of minimal areas, a kitchen is another place where you can appropriately pack a punch with a little bit of a bold color. Cabinets usually take up a large part of the wall space, so what’s left over can be a nice place to introduce a good color.
  • Black can be chic and not emo. It’s all in the accessories (think fixtures, window treatments, etc.)
  • Finally, even with the small amount of intense color you have on the walls, you still need to break it up with artwork or whatever wall accessories you have planned.

Thank you for your kind attention.

And now, a photo of Hazel and a black dining room (which is still lacking that final step of things on the walls).


After I finished the paint job I still felt like things were a bit incomplete. I liked the white on the bottom, but it felt so stark and plain.

So, we bought about 80′ of wall trim at Home Depot (it cost $.86/linear foot) and on Tuesday morning while Ryan was out of the house I set to work with the chop saw and the nail gun (and also a level – the level is key!) and gave the walls some panache.


Here I’ve just completed the first square and I’m feeling pretty awesome.


This is a good before shot of one corner of the room.


And after it was all nailed up (before making it all pretty).
Seriously, doesn’t that make such a difference?
Once I got everything cut and on the walls, I went around and filled all the holes with wood filler.
After the wood filler dried, I sanded it all clean and gave everything a good cleaning with the vacuum.
Next, paint. I used the Behr Ultra White in semi-gloss for the baseboard, chair rail, lower wall and trim so it’s all one color and finish. (I’d already rolled the white on the wall several days before when I was painting the black, so that step was already done.)
Then Ryan came home, praised his crafty wife and pitched in by finishing up the vacuuming.(And then took us all out for dinner!)
Here’s the completed room. Honestly, if I could I’d leave every room in my house empty. Okay, maybe not really, but doesn’t it feel so good?
A couple of detail shots.
And that’s that! I’m really no handyman (handywoman?), so I probably won’t be super helpful with questions, but I’ll do what I can. This project cost me $70 and 2 nap times (about 3 hours from first cut to last brush stroke) and it feels like a huge upgrade in there!
Have a lovely Thursday, friends!
Also, in anticipation of your first question: the drapes are from Avec Dieu on Etsy.

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30 Responses

  1. keight dukes 24 February 2011 at 2:04 pm

    >i had no idea making those squares (do they have a real name?) was so easy. what a punch they pack! get it, girl! and i looooove the black

  2. Bliss 24 February 2011 at 2:08 pm

    >Love Love Love that you did this project BY YOURSELF!! It's beautiful!
    We just moved into a new home and I am dying to do this in our dining room! We got an estimate for painting and the squares and it was over $450.
    I think I'll show my hubster this post and beg him to let us try it ourselves!
    Love how crafty and quick you are!

  3. Tammy Kay 24 February 2011 at 2:40 pm

    >I cannot believe you did that yourself! Way to go! And on the cheap. Goodness! I love your home..sigh. It looks so CLEAN! :)

    Those drapes are fab.

  4. Erin 24 February 2011 at 2:41 pm

    >wow I LOVE THE BLACK.. can you come help with my house please.. you are so dang crafty it kills me. love love love it all!

  5. Sara 24 February 2011 at 4:37 pm

    >Looks great Raechel! We're totally re-doing a bedroom over here. I mean totally as in we knocked down all the old plaster and lath, insulated, sheetrocked, etc. We're (finally) painting and I'm excited to do a post when it's done.

    Ps. We have an accent wall! And I won the color war against the boyfriend :) (with some compromise)

  6. Raechel 25 February 2011 at 1:35 am

    >Kathy – ha! good question! Well, it was only Hazel's napping (Oliver was playing in the backyard) and, believe it or not, she just wasn't bothered by the noise. The nail gun and air compressor were loud too, but she has one of those super noisy Honeywell mini fans in her room that sort of drowns out any noise outside of the nursery. She's a good little napper, even when Mommy's busy playing carpenter in the room beneath her bedroom :)

  7. Christine 25 February 2011 at 3:00 am

    >I love the trim!! You did a great job, lady. You should be justifiably proud. And you're right, the black really works in that room with all your light. I've been wanting to paint our bedroom a dark teal, but I think I'm going to have to lighten that idea up–because you're right, natural lighting is so important. Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

  8. Kristen 25 February 2011 at 1:11 pm

    >I am totally and completely impressed with A. your ability B. Oliver letting you do this while playing nicely and C. Hazel sleeping thru it all!

    GREAT JOB on all three accounts.

  9. Sarah 25 February 2011 at 3:07 pm

    >I am AMAZED at your skills! And the fact that you intentionally waited for Ryan to be out! GREAT JOB! I love the black paint (and the pink in your sewing room). I would have never thought about black for a room, but it looks so nice!

  10. Claire 25 February 2011 at 3:31 pm

    >I want to put a big puffy white couch in the middle of the room and read there for like, ever…

    I am going to keep this in mind when we can finally afford to get rid of our terrible navy blue carpet upstairs!

  11. Rachel 26 February 2011 at 8:34 pm

    >I love your finished room! Black sounds scary, but your final product is great. I especially love the pop the curtains give the room!!

  12. Laura Lee 14 October 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I LOVE this! Saw it when you posted originally, and just showed it to my aunt. Now she wants to do it!! Odd question….what color black is that? What is the paint brand & name?

    Love your blog!

    Laura Lee

  13. Sarah H 6 January 2012 at 11:06 am

    Hi!! I’ve been drooling over your dining room for ever, and now that we have a house of our own, I have to know – where on earth did you find your curtains?? Our living room is a darkish gray and I really want light and airy curtains in there with yellow! Yours are perfect!!
    Thanks! :)


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