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Remodeling the third floor

    One of the things that made us fall in love with our new house was the third floor.

    From the listing photos, we just figured the third floor was a tiny, sloped room that was more attic than usable space. We were so pleasantly surprised when we walked through the house for the first time and realized that it was much, much bigger than we expected.

    Let me remind you what the space looked like when we bought the house:

    thirdfloorstairsWith the stairwell in the center, the room stretched out identically on either side with two big windows on the outside walls. thirdfloorOur thought right away was to turn one side into a bedroom for our oldest son and use the other side as a playroom/hangout room. The space is bright and open with plenty of headroom even with the sloped ceiling and of course our almost-teenager was excited to have his own retreat.

    First up was framing in the walls. The entrance to the room is on the right side of the stairwell and we framed in a closet on the other side of the stairs.

    framing-wallsOnce the sheetrock was up things started taking shape.

    wallstexturedintoroomdoorsThe funny thing about adding walls is that it actually feels like the third floor is more usable. All that open space made it hard to figure out how to maximize the area. Now, with a bedroom, closet and the hangout area walled off, the rooms feel more finished and we’re excited to make them functional.

    Here is the space before and after side-by-side:

    beforeafterthirdfloorbeforeafterethansroomWith the walls now up, it was time to make some design decisions. Our oldest son is the cutest and was very in to creating a design board.

    His wishes for his room: snowy, cozy, woodsy, mountains, peaceful, calm colors, red, hammock swing and lots of books.

    He spent some time on pinterest, found a few items he liked and we put those ideas (with a few of my picks!) into a design board.

    ethansroomI love creating these boards to help us pull together the vision for a room, see how things work together and get a general idea for items that might work in the room. Once it comes down to buying items and putting the room all together, I might stray from the board a little bit, but it is always helpful to get the overall feel before making purchases.

    With a design pinned down, our first step was painting the walls.

    The walls are currently an off-white and while it makes the space feel bright, when you look up close, the walls are super dingy. That’s what happens with white walls in kid spaces.

    We did all of our walls in our old house white and while I loved it, the upstairs hallways where the kids walked through/played in were not looking so fresh only a few months after the paint was done.

    In this space, even though I would prefer white walls, I knew it was not the right practical choice for this kid space.

    Instead of white, we chose to paint the walls Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.

    Revere Pewter is the most perfect light warm gray. I’ve used in in a handful of rooms and loved it every time.

    I had the paint color matched at Home Depot (because it is convenient, less expensive and quite honestly, I don’t notice a drastic difference between BM and Behr top quality) on Friday and opened up a can to get started on Saturday morning.

    paintsamplesThe first strokes went on and it didn’t feel like the right color. It was so dark, very much gray and not warm at all.

    Ryan and I went round and round until we finally just decided that it was fine. So my girlfriend stopped by, I put her to work and we made quick progress in the room.

    wallpaintAnd then this happened:

    mixeduppaintThe can of paint was about halfway gone when I poured more into the tray. Erica loaded up her roller, rolled it on the wall and gasped. Suddenly the color was completely different.

    Instead of being cold, dark gray, it was dirty beige.


    I didn’t stir the paint.

    In my defense, I figured the mechanical shaking when the paint was mixed less than 24 hours earlier would have been enough. I never expected that it would have completely separated so quickly.

    But, it did.

    And it totally explained why those first brush strokes just didn’t look like the same Revere Pewter I was used to. All of the gray was at the top while all of the warm beige had fallen to the bottom. Boo.

    We closed up the messed up paint, opened up a fresh can and finished the first coat. I went up yesterday afternoon and the walls are looking very splotchy :) Hopefully a second coat of FULLY MIXED paint will cover right over it and we’ll be good to go.

    So lesson of the day … don’t forget to stir your paint.

    We are hoping to get the paint finished, closet built out, trim up and light fixture switch out this week. I’ll keep you posted!

    65 thoughts on “Remodeling the third floor”

    1. Did you post sources for the items on the design board somewhere that I missed? I’m especially wondering about the log rug:-) beautiful, as always!

    2. I’m trying to figure out the configuration of your stairwell. Before you added the closet, what is that box to the side of the stairs that creates a 90 angle? Love his design board. Reminds me of what my own son would probably put together. Anxious to see how it turns out!

    3. That’s the difference between Benjamin Moore and Behr. I can have Revere Pewter (or Edgecomb Grey–another lighter versatile option) mixed at the store and still be able to use it right out of the can with no mixing two days later. Nothing beats BM.

      It’s looking fantastic. You are a great inspiration to me for my home staging business. Thank you, Emily!

      1. I use a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator (or sometimes Google Presentation) to make mine. I have a whole section in my Simplified Decorating class on how (and why!) to create design boards.

    4. Love your design board! Looking at the pictures I don’t feel like any of them read the true RP color. I would take it back. I have it in my Dining room and I know lighting can change things but doesn’t look like mine at all. I live in a 1908 house in the North End of Tacoma. I have painted almost every room of our house and all rooms in my old house which equals lots and lots of painting. By far my favorite paint is Benjamin Moore. I have tried all grades. If you don’t want to use Regal or the higher priced ones I think Ben is really good. I use it on my walls and Regal on my trim. A few weeks ago I decided to use Sherwin Williams on the trim going up our stairs. I am not happy with it at all. Looks great but already has some chipping!! If I could take it back I would but we’re almost done and I can’t imagine doing it all over again. My advice would be: If you go with Benjamin Moore don’t buy it at McClendons in Tacoma. My mom and I have had bad experiences with them. (Colors don’t always look true to color) Malory paints on South 38th street is the best Benjamin Moore retailer. (Not sure about the retailer in GH I’ve never used them) they are also really good at matching colors. Lastly if you decide to have a yard sale please please let us local people know. I would love to come.

    5. Hi Emily! We are not too far from you (Auburn) and will be drywalling our basement soon. I was wondering if you taped, mudded and sanded yourself, or if you hired it out. We’re looking to hire that part of the job but have no contacts. Any way could you email me your contact if you used someone? Thanks!

    6. I’m excited that you purchased a new gorgeous, character-filled home for your family and the transformation you are undertaking now – even pushing yourself into some new design POV. I appreciate that you’re tackling some projects right away, but also letting yourself just “live” in the house and see what it really needs to work for your family.

      Thank you for sharing your bad experience with the paint with your usual honest transparency, which is who you are. On some blogs, all you see is the perfectly lit and styled shots, which while they are inspirational – they’re also maybe not “real” life? I like that I can see both on your blog. I also LOVE that your son is involved! That’s awesome!

      I haven’t done a lot of painting, and the little I’ve done, has been with Behr b/c HD is like 3 minutes away. Based on what I’ve read on your blog, other blogs and shelter mags, our next paint project – our family room and kitchen – will be w/Benjamin Moore. This experience and those of the commenters have only confirmed that decision. :-)

      BTW – when I saw the first shot of the room, I immediately thought of Sharon Powell’s blog “Sawdust Girl”. She has a very similar attic that she’s been transforming into her craft room. Her most recent post was a recap of her progress over the past year (she takes breaks and does other projects). I’ve pasted it here for you. If you don’t know her work, check her out. Her skill at designing/building ANY kind of cabinet or built-in, or transforming a scrap piece of lumber, is amazing! She’s all about building organization into everything, which you’ll see in this post. Also, you should check out the redo she did on her workshop. Goodness.

      Lastly, I was wishy washy about signing up for your online Design class, and of course, the minute I couldn’t sign up, was the moment I knew I should have. Sigh… :-) When will your be offering it again?


      1. Thank you! And yes, I think going with a better quality paint is a good idea :)
        The Graphic Design class will be open again in the new year! We’re working on our class schedule this week so we’ll keep you posted!

    7. We are 3 months into our 1st home in Boston with a huge tidy but unfinished attic space and I’m patiently gathering ideas as we plan to finish it in a couple years. We love the openness and light as ours has similarly placed windows as yours and are leaning towards built-ins with a Murphy bed that has matching paneling as the cabinetry. So much to consider! Appreciate that tip about stirring the paint too – I’ve never painted a room before so I’m sure I’d forget to do that too.

    8. I just finished painting my office and had the exact same thing happen with behr paint! I bought the paint, went home and stirred and painted and the cutting in was a completely different color than when I rolled. Same gallon. I returned it and tried again. Twice. It was terrible. I finally switched to valspar because Home Depot was no longer working with me. Ended up taking 2 coats of the valspar on top of the 4 coats of terribly uneven behr. I used to be loyal to behr, but no more. I hope your second coat goes better than mine! Good luck!

    9. I love how that space is turning out! Can I come live in that bedroom with all the woodsy stuff?! My 12-year-old just wants superheroes and star wars and Legos all over his room *eyeroll* He has finally narrowed his colors down to white walls (because I got tired of the gray in his small-windowed bedroom) with black, gray, and silver for the furnishings along with a bright green for an accent (he shares with my youngest son whose favorite color is green). Great idea to let your son do his own design board. My kiddo has designer instincts too and would LOVE to have free reign of his own Pinterest board! LOL

      I wish *I* lived in Seattle! I’d take those beds off your hands ; )

      I’ve used BEHR paint throughout my whole house with no issues, but I have a friend who had the EXACT same thing happen to her with a gray BEHR paint! She got the whole room painted, then waited a week for me to come help her do the cutting in (I have a ladder), and after getting the whole room cut in, it was a completely different color and had to be redone. We were sick over it. Maybe it’s the more saturated colors that separate faster. I haven’t tried any BM paints (not a convenient local store), but I haven’t been able to tell a difference between BEHR and Sherwin-Williams (aside from the horrific difference in price), and I love that all of the BEHR paints are zero-VOC.

      Have fun painting! I always get the urge this time of year (during the off-season of soccer!) and have been looking at my house with a paint brush in mind (you know those old cartoons where someone would have dollar signs in their eyes? That’s me, but with paintbrushes instead of dollar signs!) ; ) I should probably finish my kitchen cabinets…

    10. First off, I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and feel a kinship to your blog so thank you! I started doing my bathroom months ago using a free stencil you provide (a sort of trefoil shape?) that almost mimics wallpaper. I’m using Thrive (green) paint by Colorhouse, and loving it BUT I need your advice and experience.

      I always paint in short bursts (nap times, time outs, me time on the weekends, etc.) I remember to stir each time and am just painting outlines of shapes so I haven’t noticed problems yet. But I’m worried about my paint aging. How long is paint supposed to last? I don’t want to throw it out, but because I’m just doing a design and not a solid wall color I can’t tell if the paint is “bad.”

      1. I’ve used paint that is nearly 9 years old, as long as its temperature has been kept consistent (inside your home, and not in a garage that heats and freezes) and your have sealed it well between uses, you should be just fine.

        I used Emily’s stencil too in my dining room and loved it for years. We just updated our home and painted every wall and all the moulding to get ready to sell and we decided to cover over my beautiful hand-painted work with shiplap. My mom almost cried when she saw it was gone. It was beautfiul.

        good luck its a labor of love

    11. Cutting Edge stencils has a birch forest stencil that looks similar to the wallpaper that your son picked out – I have used several of their stencils in my kids rooms and love them. Super easy to use and line up plus much easier to get rid of than wallpaper.

    12. Love the Best Made Company sign “what good shall I do this day?” We have the same sign, but haven’t decided where to use it.

    13. If you find Revere Pewter to be too dark, try Edgecomb Gray (they are on the same strip). It is lighter than RP, but has the same warm gray tone. I’ve used it a number of times and it is a great alternative when RP is too dark (north facing rooms).

    14. I just wanted to add my two cents to the paint discussion. We just finished painting our main floor in BM Revere Pewter. There was a long break in between rooms while I dealt with a leg injury. The paint only needed a quick stir before beginning again, even after several weeks of just sitting. I love the quality of BM paint. Even though it’s pricey, it’s well worth the cost. I especially like that it is self levelling and doesn’t dry with the streaks cheaper paints can leave.

      I hope the rest of the painting goes better for you and look forward to following your progress!

    15. My hubby used to paint and he told me that you should always stir the can. He also said if you are using more than one can, you should mix them together in a bucket. I never went that far though! I love the Revere Pewter. We built less than a year ago and that is the color in my main living area. It is a great neutral!

    16. We just painted our exterior. I got the paint from Sherwin Williams but my painter needed 2 more gallons. Since Lowes is closer I thought I’d just take my swatch and run up there to get some mixed. Big mistake! Come to find out, even though Lowes sells a SW line…the bases are not exactly the same. The difference was huge. And awful! Luckily my painter was on it and didn’t use a lot of the bad stuff. Lesson learned for me. ?
      You son’s room is going to look amazing! I love that he wants lots of books! His room will be his reading sanctuary.

    17. It’s going to be awesome! Love the mood board you and your son put together. I just painted my LR and went with behr to save money since it’s so close to the holidays ( I’m a ben Moore girl) I have to say it was pretty awful. The Ben Moore color match wasn’t the same color and the paint was difficult to apply. I ended up spending more in the end with my mistake.

    18. Emily… my husband works at a high-quality paint store and suggested that the need to stir immediately is also indicative of the poorer quality of the paint. He also said that the better the quality of paint the more easily it goes on the wall. And though you might not see the difference in the first little bit, the cheaper paint usually doesn’t wear as well. If you have to keep washing down the same spots where the kids rub their hands over time, the cheaper paint will give up sooner than the better paint. BTW… if we lived close I could give you my new top of the line Revere Pewter gallon which a lady decided she didn’t want and her painter took it back to the store because he didn’t want it either. Now what to paint!?!

      Good luck with the room! Sorry for the big mess up.

      1. We bought two sets of bunkbeds from Costco YEARS ago. They are still using them but we’re hoping to get rid of one set. If you are in the Seattle area let me know!

      2. We have a floor like that. We’ve had our house for over 10 years, and we’re just now using it and it’s so much fun! WE love it and I’m jealous my two older kids get it and not me. `

      3. I love the idea of having your son create his own design board. I was just out shopping with friends (we all have babies and toddlers) and we were all getting new design items for our littles rooms. We each brought up our experience with our rooms growing up. One was not allowed to pick out anything at all and felt like they couldn’t be themselves and one could do anything and it was ridiculous.
        I’m a big believer in letting my child have a freedom in their own expression, but I definitely have my own personal style. I was really conflicted on what I would do in the future. I love your idea of letting your child help design their room, while using a tasteful guide such a pinterest.
        And I have SO done that with paint before. Sorry, girl! hah
        Good luck with the remodels in the new house!!
        k |

      4. I used Benjamin Moore on my last project (third whole house interior I’ve painted) and thought it was the best paint I’ve used. The cost difference was worth every penny considering the ease of painting/flow of paint, color satisfaction, number of coats, low odor, and low splatter.

        1. I have painted my house in nothing but Benjamin Moore! I got it because I originally liked the color choices, sometimes when color matching, the base paint tones are different and can change the over all color. I have used the Ben line in Benjamin Moore and have been incredibly pleased with the outcome! (Stay away from glidden! My husband thought we’d cut some cost and use it on the ceilings ? Boy I was that a mistake! It had solids in it that didn’t shake or stir out! Worst paint ever!)

      5. Thank you so much for doing what you do! I get excited each day to see the progress on your beautiful new home. Your hard work brings a little relaxing joy each day to this busy mom!

      6. I agree, 24 hours later, I have never stirred my paint. Also if they put it in the mixer, I don’t think the colours would separate, that just doesn’t make sense, to me. I hope you take it back Emily with pictures, they should give you a free can, something went wrong. So excited for room reveals!

      7. I love learning that your son put together the design board! I’d like to teach my son to do the same – he’s really into designing. Have you done a blog post of how to create a design board? I’d love to know how!!

        1. We worked on the design board together – he picked items and I put it together using a combination of photoshop and google presentation. It is so much fun and makes designing easier!

      8. So neat to see the transformation! I love the slopes and angles, makes it such an interesting space! I wanted to pass along a wallpaper I put up in my daughter’s room that is VERY similar to the Anthro one on your board, except this one doesn’t need to be professionally installed and can be put up, taken down, re-used in another room, over and over… (how cute would it be in a little bathroom??) It’s not cheap but I love that it can be re-used…

      9. You said you don’t notice a difference between high end paint and behr but I think this experience shows otherwise ?
        I’ve never had that issue when I use SW or BM but I’ve had lots of issues with color matching and paint not mixed properly at big box stores.

      10. I can’t wait to see this transformation! The natural wood barn door on your mood board is perfection! Do you remember where you found it? We are going to be building a house and I’m planning a barn door for my hallway pantry.

        I’m curious though…with sloped walls and doors that will need to be cut to fit on an angle, how would you use a barn door? Would you cut them down on the sloped wall corner?

        1. The door on the design board is just an example of what we’ll use. It is an image pulled from the internet :) We’ll likely find two doors at a local salvage yard for his actual doors. I’ll keep you posted!

      11. This might be a silly question, but how do you keep the paint from going every where? Every time we paint we put down cardboard, blankets, and cover things in plastic. No matter how careful I am the paint makes a mess.

        1. I’ve found that if you buy higher quality paint, there’s less mess. Behr and Valspar are the cheapest I will get, and Glidden is an absolute no-go; it always makes a huge mess because it’s so thin! When you get into painting with Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore (or something of even better quality), it starts to be like painting with butter. There’s no way for it to splatter because it’s so thick.

      12. I’m so interested to see what you do with the angled door opening…our attic has a very similar door & we were told our only option was a very expensive custom cut door.

        1. We are going the DIY route. We haven’t figured it out exactly, but we’re planning on grabbing two doors from our local salvage place and we’ll cut them at an angle. We’ll see how it goes :)

      13. It’s been so fun to follow along and watch you update this house. Can you tell me what program you use to creat your design boards?

          1. Have you ever posted a tutorial on how you create your design boards? I’d really appreciate seeing how you create yours. Thanks!

      14. That seems very odd (the paint settling). I often don’t stir, or at least just give a couple quick stirs, even a week after I bring it home. I think before you use the “bad” can you should take it back and have them shake it again. The space is looking great! How fun for you to have this huge project.

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