Battlestar Galactica Vs. The Tin Man

I don’t know if those are real names of gray paint, but if not, someone should be fired. I always thought being a paint namer would be a cool job. I’d use food as often as possible. What food is gray? Hmmm…

Also, do you spell it g-r-a-y or g-r-e-y? Is this a regional thing? Social class thing? Some sort of education-level thing? I just can’t get over g-r-a-y, but maybe it’s my upbringing? Anyway…

I’m not sure if anyone important, famous, or trained has declared it yet, but I’m claiming gray as the new beige. It’s already gettin’ a bit worrisome around here. After a few years of totally embracing color, I’ve got gray rugs, gray sheets, gray walls, gray nightstands, a gray desk, gray curtains, gray sofas, gray towels, gray throws, gray pillows (pics of all of that are forthcoming). Not all in the same room, of course. Yet. Somebody stop me! It’s like 1999 all over again: “When in doubt, go beige.”

Beige could go all kinds of wrong. Remember? Baby poop, Oompha Loompa orange, rosey pink, army fatigues. Choosing the right beige was a lesson we had to learn. Gray is just as tricky. No one wants prison-cell or Nazi-hospital gray. We don’t want to depress ourselves. We don’t want to feel cold. We also don’t want blue or purple if we’re trying for gray.

If you choose a color based on a paint chip and then freak out when you apply it to the wall, consider the color next to it. If you are painting gray over a warm color (think yellow, orange or red, or even just beige), it is going to look blue or purple, even if it is a really warm gray. Don’t stop after three passes of the roller and declare that you suck at choosing paint. Definitely don’t stop to go buy more paint. You’ll have the same problem. Paint the wall and hold something pure white next to it, or if you have white trim, do your first wall painting right next to the trim. Buying poster board and painting onto that and then hanging it on the wall to see if you like it in the lighting of that room is also a good option. Once you get the hang of choosing paint colors and understand not to base your opinion of it on what the surrounding color is, you won’t need to test it on white. As with anything, confidence will grow with successes.

If you are worried about gray feeling too blah or just too blue, I would suggest something like taupe or mushroom (hey, that’s food). Names can be helpful; avoid anything called steel or concrete. Those tend to be cooler grays, which can work well, but not your best bet if you are scared of it being depressing or cold.

If you want to try the gray paint trend, but are not sure where to start, look around you. Find a color that you think would work and use it for your jumping-off point. Consider fabrics you like, a favorite shirt or pair of boots, tile, barn wood…anything you love. Then get test pots. There was a time when only the fancy paint stores sold samples. Can you believe that? Life used to be hard, y’all! Those days, like permed hair, are over! Paint samples are less than $3. Just buy them! Trust me!

gray on yellowy greenEven if you don’t “need” to test the paint on white, samples are still a good idea so you can see if you like the color in all the different lighting variances the room will experience throughout the day. I knew right away I didn’t want this color, but it wasn’t because it looked purple. This room won’t be very bright (thank you black-out drapes!), so I knew I wanted the walls to stay pretty light. I hated the lime green, but the depth of it was just about right… maybe a bit lighter. colonial gray


In Lowe’s, under hundreds of fluorescent lights, this medium gray looked to be about what I wanted. Nope. Too dark. That’s okay, you will get used, little sample jar.

So I went back and got a couple more samples.seashell gray

The green doesn't look so lime-y here. Someday I'll learn how to use a camera. Promise!

The green doesn’t look so lime-y here. Someday I’ll learn how to use a camera. Promise!

These both looked white on my black brush. And the one I went with even looked almost white in my tan-ish well-used tray. looks whitepaint trayBut I had compared their depth to a white paint chip, so I knew this time that they were plenty dark enough, even if it wasn’t yet apparent. Oh, and I knew paint dries darker.

This is not a paint tutorial. There are plenty of those and I’m not re-inventing the wheel here. But a few tips..I just used regular masking tape, because I am pulling this tape immediately. 20131203_201953If there is a chance it will stay there for days, definitely use the blue or green painters tape. Don’t make that face, I know you people exist. Regular masking tape will be HORRIFIC to remove three days from now, let alone three weeks. I know you’re out there. Stop acting like you don’t know what I’m talking about. But seriously, even if you use the better tape, you should ideally peel it off while still damp. If you tend to be the type that doesn’t finish a project right away, get the tape that promises a clean release for up to two weeks.

Use a short-handled brush, especially for baseboards. You have to sit close to the wall (and scoot around the room on your bottom). Using a shorter brush allows for you to have better control and it prevents that pain you get in your shoulder and elbow from having to tuck your arm in close to your side to make room for the handle when painting with a longer-handled brush. (Is it just me?) short handled paint brush

This is my very favorite brush in all the land. I ruined my last one when I didn’t clean it in time. (Shame on me! Not the first time, and probably not the last. Motherhood called.) Though I shouldn’t have been using it with oil anyway. It says right there that it is designed for latex. This is my third one of these. I’ve bought probably dozens of brushes over the years (not counting chip or foam brushes…surely those number in the thousands?), and to my recollection, this is the only brush about which I am particular. Don’t let the fact that I’ve bought three fool you, they will last forever if you care for them well. (They aren’t paying me to say that.) It has a soft-grip handle that is more comfortable than wood, also. So yeah…anyway…if you need a paint brush….I LOVE this one.

Use an angled brush for cutting in. The angle helps you be able to cut in without taping off. Someday I’ll have to make a video to explain that, because I just tried to type it and it made no sense. Or try youtube. I taped off here because I had a lot of imperfections to deal with and didn’t have exactly straight lines (the same reasons why I needed so much caulk). If the baseboards had been installed well,  I would have skipped taping off since I own this awesome two-inch, short-handled, angled brush. It gets easier with experience.

one coat of primer

One coat of primer

two coats of primer

Two coats of primer


One coat of paint

Use primer. Especially if you’re painting white over anything but white. It’s cheaper than paint, so using two coats of primer and one coat of paint costs less than three coats of paint. Plus, primer usually dries faster than paint. By the time you finish one coat, you can start the second immediately. Which is awesome when painting all this trim.

20131203_203024I bought this latex Kilz primer because I spotted it on the Oops-paint shelf. If this wood had been darker, I would have used an oil-based primer for better coverage, but latex is sufficient for this job. Use latex for most things, but oil-based is best for covering dark colors or stains (one time, before I knew this, we used seven coats of primer on 19 doors throughout an entire house. Oh man, I’ve learned so much.)

Prep well. Preparation is key when painting. Wipe down baseboards and tops of door ways to make sure there is no dust or grime that will prevent the best adhesion. If you have any gaps, caulk them.

caulk imperfect corners

I knew I would be painting the baseboards, so I didn’t worry about getting the wall color on them.

I hope whomever installed these baseboards has a day job doing something else.

corner after caulkIf needed, caulk corners, seams, where baseboards meet the wall. All of this should be already done if you’re just repainting, but apparently they never got around to it here.

caulk imperfect seamsI prefer these little tubes better than the big tube you use with a caulk gun. If you’re doing an entire house, or caulking around windows or using it in some other project that would take a lot, go ahead and use that. This tube is more expensive per ounce, but I’ve found it to be less expensive in the long run for small jobs. The big thing always dries up and I end up throwing away half of it. With these, you can just replace the lid and it will last quite a while.

You can just run your finger over the top of it to smooth out your line.smooth out caulk It should work wonderfully if you weren’t too heavy-handed in the application. It takes practice. Caulk can be messy! Remember learning to use glue? Yeah. It’s like that, except not as easily removed. Go slow, and “a little dab’ll do ya.” (Your elementary teachers said that, right? Was it just mine?)

Of course if you have any baseboards, crown molding, or door trim coming loose, you’ll want to nail those in place before caulking. nail baseboards

This image reminds me..I hate when the baseboards don’t match the window sills and the rest of the woodwork in the room. Okay, not ALL woodwork MUST be matchy-matchy, but baseboards that meet door trim should match it. Ugh. And I feel like crown molding and baseboards work like a frame. If you’re into your frames being two-toned, awesome. I’m not. These baseboards seem to have been installed when the wood floor was (about 11 years ago). They are not original. The bathrooms and kitchen still have the original baseboards, but everywhere that got new wood floors, got new baseboards. This is the only room that they painted the doors and other trim white. Can’t figure out why. The rest of the house has darker wood-colored trim and these lighter wood-colored baseboards. So yeah. Lots to consider as far as staining or painting or something…but this room already had white (almond?) paint, so it’s all getting fresh new white paint.


You can really tell how much brighter the white is in this pic. Much better than the almond window sill. And check out that green paint. I don’t think there was a ton of attention to detail around here.

We’ll address the wood in the rest of the house later. Bleh.

Use drop cloths. Or not. I usually don’t. My husband hates that. While painting this room (one day after the floor had been refinished), he brought me some drop cloths in from the garage and said, “Just in case you decide to be sensible.” I kissed him good night and said thanks. I’m impatient. I subscribe to the idea that cleaning up paint that probably won’t spill/drip/splatter is faster than using drop cloths. But trust your judgement; consider your skill level, your confidence, how much you value things in the paint area, carpet, maybe the strength of your marriage?

None of that applies when painting the ceiling. ALWAYS use drop cloths when painting the ceiling. Rolling the ceiling always results in splatters everywhere. You might even wear goggles. I don’t.

Speaking of ceilings, I was totally hoping that I could get away with not painting this one. I knew it was delusional. I knew the cream/1996 computer-monitor/nicotine-residue colored ceiling would look beige after painting the crown molding. Ugh.20131204_054038

No, it isn’t nicotine residue. That is one thing that wasn’t going on in this house, thank goodness. It’s just what I like to call that lovely shade called Almond by the appliance industry. Why do they still make that color? Who is buying it? That is a food-named color that is NOT descriptive.

color changing ceiling paintI had a quart of this color-changing ceiling paint (which is pretty neato). I used about 1 ounce of it to touch up a water-damaged (but fully-repaired) spot in our last house. So yeah, it was like full. But a quart wouldn’t cover this ceiling. It was 1:37am. I also had a third of a gallon of flat white paint left from who knows what, and less than a quart of white semi-gloss in a gallon leftover from something else. I am the queen of mixing my own paint (if queen means “does it often”). I believe in using what I have on hand. Especially when it is 1:37am and 19 degrees outside. I hate Colorplace paint (available 24 hours from Walmart), so mixing it was pretty much my only option, though I probably would have mixed it even if it were 1:37pm. Because why not? The hubs will be thrilled to have a couple less paint cans in the garage, it cost zero dollars, I didn’t have to wait until tomorrow or brave the cold. Win-win-win-win.

Now that we’ve refinished the floors and gotten rid of the lime and almond color scheme, we’re ready for the fun stuff!

Note: when mixing your own paint, it is vital to save some for future touch ups. I use old pickle jars or empty quart paint cans.  Label the lid with a sharpie. Also, I do not recommend semi-gloss for ceilings. Ceilings are likely to show imperfections/seams and semi-gloss would only highlight that. I only used semi-gloss in this case to stretch what I had, and to finish it off. It was only about 15-20% of the total, with the rest being flat and ceiling paint (which is also flat), so it works.label paint cans

fresh paint

Blank canvas, ready to add the fun stuff!


Oh yeah, gray paint… Mushroom? Oyster? Raw Shrimp? Sardine? Yummy. Those paints would fly off the shelves!




  1. Pingback: blackout drapes, bolster pillows, brother signs, and bowling pins | Who Took My Tape Measure

Tell me what you think