I finally got started on a few house projects this past weekend.
To catch you up to speed in case you missed it: We bought a new house. It took forever to close. We lived in our friends’ above-garage apartment for six weeks while we waited. The week we moved in was also my busiest work week ever. We listed our old house and all of our furniture is still over there since it looks so nice staged. We are currently sleeping on air mattresses, eating off a folding table and using camp chairs for seating. Basically, these past two weeks have been mildly-organized chaos and I kept feeling like I just needed to get through last week before I could mentally move on to working on our new house.
Well, here we are. I feel like I’ve come up for air and am so ready to make this fabulous house ours. I really like it here. I like the layout and the exterior and the views out the windows and our vision for each space.
It will take time, I keep reminding myself. Our last house was a work in progress for 10 years and this one will be the same (well, hopefully not 10 years, but we’ll see …).
We have plans for nearly every single space. Some plans are more involved than others and there are a handful of spaces that won’t be done until we’re ready to do a bigger remodel (take out a wall, replace the floors, new kitchen layout, move doors).
So my goal at this point is to make our main living spaces feel more like us – as inexpensively as possible – since this is really just a phase 1 fix.
The easiest way to update a space without a lot of effort or budget is paint.
And the good news is that I happen to enjoy painting.
This weekend, I pulled out our painting supplies and got to work.
First up: the guest bathroom.
This bathroom is right off the kitchen, is windowless so it gets no light at all and was painted a very deep red. I know red was a thing years ago (remember how everyone was painting their dining rooms red?!), but it happens to be my least favorite color. Red and black together is even harder on my eyes.
In this tiny bathroom, the combination was not working for me and so the minute we got back from our son’s football game on Saturday morning, I popped open a can of old white paint and slapped it up on the walls.
I posted the photo above on instagram and smiled at the comments.
No, I don’t normally dress like this when I paint.
Yes, of course I use a roller.
This was just me unable to contain my neutral-loving self any longer :)
There were also a bunch of questions about picking the perfect white paint. So let’s chat about that for a minute.
Picking white paint is tricky. We went through the whole process in our old house (here is a post about that – the before and afters make me so happy!) and are doing it again in this house.
We hoped we could use the left-over paint from the other house to paint the walls in the kitchen for our phase 1 fix. Sherwin Williams White Heron is a warmish gray white that looked great and I was very happy with the choice.
But in this new house? It looked terrible. So cold and a little dirty and not what we were hoping for.
I did use the leftovers in the guest bathroom because my plan is to put up removable wallpaper (like I did here) for a pop of pattern until we can get to the bigger bathroom remodel phase. So the white was really just to cover up the red and act as a light background for wallpaper (still undecided, but I’m leaning heavily toward this one).
It looks one million times better.
In the kitchen, we needed a different white. So I pulled out my massive paint chip card from Sherwin Williams and searched through the whites. We were looking for something warm, but not yellow. The house is not super bright, so stark white would feel too sterile. The previous gray on the walls didn’t read super dark until we pulled off the upper cabinets and it revealed an off-white underneath that made the gray look surprisingly dark (you can see a little sliver in the photo above where the off white and gray meet in a 90* angle).
I bought three sample pots and tried them on the wall in a few different places.
Sherwin Williams Downy
Sherwin Williams Snowbound
Sherwin Williams Shoji White
It is amazing how you look at white paint in a paint can and it just looks white but when you put it up on the wall it takes on a different hue.
The top color (Downy) looked pink.
The middle color (Snowbound) read cold blue.
The bottom color (Shoji) looked taupe.
One thing I’ve learned about picking white paint is that the color takes on what’s happening around it. With the orange-wood trim and gray background, it was a little hard to tell which white had the right undertones. I painted a few splotches on a white paper plate and that sealed the deal. It was so much easier to see the undertones and pick a winner.
We went with Shoji White.
Now that it is up on the walls, it does not feel taupe at all. Just a nice, warm white.
Oh, white paint, you are such a challenge but you sure do make things look fresh!
So here are my best tips for choosing white for your home:
- Don’t pick a white paint color you’ve seen online or in someone else’s home. It’s tempting, but don’t. Every room and home has different natural light, shadows, flooring, etc. A white that looks great on my friend’s walls in Kansas will look much different on my walls in Washington.
- Think about what undertone you want. Blue, yellow, pink, green. If you are on the blue side, it will feel cool. Yellow will feel warm (but I caution you from going too far on either side because you’ll end up with baby blue or pastel yellow walls rather than white).
- Try a bunch of samples in several different places. Don’t be afraid to mess up your walls. Just paint big swatches all over to see how each color looks around the room.
- Sample the color on something pure white. This made a big difference for us so we could really see what color we were working with. It is so hard to tell on the little paint chips and sometimes challenging when your eye is also seeing colors next to or near the paint sample on the wall. Putting it on clean white makes undertones more apparent.
- Give it at least two coats. Even the best of the best wall paint looks better when covered twice. It will remove any background color and give you nice, clean coverage.
Things are slowly shaping up around here. We have far to go, but white paint makes all things better.