Dark Walls and Unpainted Woodwork - Thinking About Painting My Dining Room

Dark Walls and Unpainted Woodwork - Thinking About Painting My Dining Room

I shared a couple of weeks ago that I was inspired to paint my dining room a super dark moody color. So, in an effort to write more popping-in-to-share-inspiration-and-thoughts-blog-posts I wanted to well, pop in to share inspiration and thoughts about giving my dining room a dark hue. I’ve compiled a bunch of inspiration images and mocked up the dark hue in Photoshop to give you a good look at the potential

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One Room Challenge Week 2 - It's All About That Paint

The biggest transformation for the One Room Challenge's makeover of the den/guest room is the paint. And we're getting into it first!

I had loads of inspiration and lists of paint colors that had been used successfully in multiple spaces. I was trying to marry the wall color with the blue velvet couch that I planned for that room to give it a dark-on-dark upgrade without making the room look monochromatic. As a reminder, here's the before, inspiration, and design plan.

Clockwise from upper left we have Salamander by Benjamin Moore, Hunter Green by Benjamin Moore, Pine Grove by Clark + Kensington, Tarrytown Green by Benjamin Moore, and Narragansett Green by Benjamin Moore.

I painted swatches on the back of a foam core presentation board, since I already had it on hand (I use it as a reflector for photos) but you could instead buy the paint sample boards at the paint store. I was quick to rule out a few colors, then painted my favorites on the wall. By the end, Salamander won our vote.

While rolling on the paint in broad strokes provides immediate satisfaction, my painting specialty is cutting in the edges. I don't use blue tape to get crisp edges, rather a steady hand and some trusty tools.

I use the HANDy Paint Cup whenever painting edges, when I need to be more mobile than a gallon of paint allows, or when I'm working with small amounts of paint. This convenient tool fits in your hand, has a magnet to hold the brush, and cleans up so easily (just let the paint dry in the cup, then peel it off - so satisfying!).

The Wooster Shortcut paint brush is perfect for cutting in. I'll use almost any 2" angled brush for the job, but this lil' one is so comfy with its rubber handle.

When scooching around on the floor to paint the edges on the baseboard, a kneeling pad is a must. I use it for gardening, painting, tiling, etc. While I don't think you'll find this crouched painting position recommended on HGTV, it works for me.

In addition to the walls needing a couple of coats of paint, the baseboards hadn't been touched since before the floors were refinished. They were scuffed up from the sander and I just left them like that for two years. A nice coat of Benjamin Moore's Simply White was all they needed to look their best. The baseboard, three doors, and a window all needed some paint love. Lucky for me, I had the S-Town podcast to keep me company during the hours and hours of painting.

After a weekend's worth of cutting in, I'm swooning over the freshly painted room. The green is so pretty and has a velvety look when the light hits it mid-day. At night, it's nearly black - which is just what I was going for.

Next week, I'm tackling the picture rail moulding installation! Come back over the next few weeks as this room gets a total overhaul. Don't forget to admire the work of the featured and guest bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge!

If you're tuning in via the One Room Challenge and want to stay up to date on the progress, subscribe to the blog via email, Bloglovin', or Feedly! Also, follow along on Instagram where I'll share stories of the transformation along the way.

One Room Challenge progress:
Week 1 - the before, the inspiration, and the plan
Week 2 - paint, paint, paint
Week 3 - how to install picture rail molding
Week 4 - sourcing the artwork
Week 5 - refreshing a chair
Week 6 - the reveal!

One Room Challenge Week 1 - A Moody Makeover

I'm currently digging moody colors. Deep blues, forest greens, and dark grays are all I'm pinning as of late. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was contemplating painting my kitchen cabinets (again!) to give them a deeper hue. Since it's not the best use of my time, I've directed my color affection to another space. Luckily, the One Room Challenge is starting at the perfect time to scratch the moody color itch! Scroll through to see the room I'll be transforming over the next six weeks.

If you found me through ORC, welcome! I'm Ashley and for the past two years I've been restoring a craftsman bungalow in San Diego, CA. Learn a touch more about me here, and preview the before-and-after room transformations here.

Without further ado, here is the inspiration.

See where I'm going? What I particularly love about these spaces is how they play with dark on dark tones. Studio McGee's emerald couch against the navy walls and Julia's black sofa on the deep green are what moody dreams are made of.

So which space will earn its dark makeover? The family room/den/media room. What is a good name to call a space that we pretty much use only to fold laundry and watch TV in? The internet tells me that an alternate to the word "den" is "snug." I kinda like it. Please weigh in.

This room has received little to no love over the past two years. 100% of the furniture pieces were brought from our rental, so I've grown tired of them. The paint color is a reject color that I bought for our master but didn't like once painted on all of the walls. (lesson learned: paint BIG swatches before you buy a gallon of paint). Also, the trim never got its final coat of paint. 

The Gold Hive One Room Challenge Week 1
The Gold Hive One Room Challenge Week 1

The room is fine, but it could become the dark hued space of my dreams. I'm looking forward to spending the next six weeks transforming it. I hope you'll stay tuned and check out the featured and guest bloggers participating in the spring 2017 season of the One Room Challenge!

One Room Challenge Mood Board - The Gold Hive

Sources: couch / rug (one of a kind) / lamp / pillow / chair (existing) / chair fabric / credenza (vintage) / painting

If you're tuning in via the One Room Challenge and want to stay up to date on the progress, subscribe to the blog via email, Bloglovin', or Feedly! Also, follow along on Instagram where I'll share stories of the transformation along the way.

One Room Challenge progress:
Week 1 - the before, the inspiration, and the plan
Week 2 - paint, paint, paint
Week 3 - how to install picture rail molding
Week 4 - sourcing the artwork
Week 5 - refreshing a chair
Week 6 - the reveal!

Wall Redux

Before I get into why the walls needed repair (other than to remedy the smell), I'll kick off with some old house wall 101 on plaster and lath, which is a common construction for lots of American homes at the turn of the century. There are so many other great resources that cover other wall materials and styles such as gypsum board, shiplap, etc. Turn to Chip and Joanna for all things shiplap, and refer to This Old House for all things old homes.

Wood laths are strips of wood about an inch tall that are installed horizontally and attached to the wall studs with small gaps between each strip. The plaster is then coated over the lath with a trowel and pressed into the lath until the plaster oozes between the gaps and hooks onto the back side of the lath. Imagine sloth fingers hooked over the edge of a bucket. The funny looking fingers are the plaster and the rim of the bucket is the lath. Did you click that link and "accidentally" watch 45 minutes of sloth videos? I sure did. Let's get back to the walls. This is what the back of a plaster and lath wall looks like. See the sloth fingers?

Once the plaster hardens and gets a few finishing coats, you have a wall! This construction has many perks adored by old house lovers. Unlike modern-day drywall, plaster and lath is quite thick and therefore is a great sound barrier and provides decent insulation. I particularly love how it feels more solid than drywall. It feels substantial and does nice things for the room's acoustics. When Daniel of Manhattan Nest reworked the walls in his bedroom, he doubled up two layers of 1/2" drywall to mimic the goodness of a thick plaster wall. He gets me.

All this is to say, I love my plaster walls, and would much rather repair them than replace them. The bummer with plaster is that after a few California earthquakes and 100 years of the house settling, the plaster can crack and even pull away from the lath. We had this issue in several spots, plus some pretty bad patch jobs, and lots of chipping.

The original texture was really sandy, and the previous attempts at patches were like extra coarse grit sandpaper. I was told this wall texture was created by grinding up walnuts and incorporating them into the plaster mix. The walnut consistency wasn't my ideal surface, but the old house purist in me felt we needed to keep that original texture. Once we determined that the best way to get rid of the smell was to skim coat the walls, I was glad to be able to replace the walnut walls with a smoother finish. 

Remember when I mentioned the phenomenon of "well, if we're going to do that, we might as well do this?" Well, I did it again. Since we knew the walls and ceilings were about to earn a beautiful new coating of texture and new paint, it was the perfect time to tear them open. Enter: electrical.

Here's my brief old house electrical 101: Knob and tube wiring is a pretty interesting technology made up of ceramic pieces that route the electrical wire through the walls. However, this type of wiring isn't grounded, and often can't handle modern appliances and electrical needs. This, plus the potential of a fire hazard makes this a feared technology - so much so that many home insurance companies will charge more if your house has even a little bit of this outdated wiring system. Old houses get a pretty bad rap for their old wiring, but many operate with knob and tube just fine. Our house was 90% K&T, with the other 10% being really poorly spliced additions that were more dangerous than the original electrical. The shoddy modifications and the lack of sufficient outlets led us to redo all of the electrical. 

Running new electrical through existing walls is some sort of magic trick that electricians humbly do for you. Through their sorcery, they manage to run new wires throughout the entire house and only leave a few holes behind.

Because I'm (sometimes) an old house purist, I knew that if we had to cover up the original plaster, I wanted to be sure that it was recoated with old fashioned plaster. That is until I got bids that cost as much as a Toyota Corolla. So, I changed my tune and decided that a thin coating of drywall mud would suffice.

I called a few old house neighbors to ask them for referrals to retexture all of the walls. A block away lived an older gal named Holly who when asked for a referral replied, "Are you home now? I'll be right over." No more than 12 minutes later Holly was waltzing through my front door with a paper bag full of her preferred drywall tools: a trowel, a taping knife, a mud pan, joint tape, a multipurpose tool, and joint compound. (I'd also recommend a hawk, but it bothers her wrist). Without hesitation, she took the pointy end of her multipurpose tool and carved a gash in the living room wall along the seam of the major crack. She narrated her process of cutting a v-shaped crevice in the line of the crack which would provide more surface area for the new compound to adhere to. She then filled in the crack with joint compound, layered it with joint tape, then smoothed it over with more joint compound.

With the gash in my wall and the tutorial from a woman that restored her house with her own hands, I was inspired and confident that I could retexture the walls on my own. So, I started scraping anything that was lose, and began carving into the cracks.

That multitool (seen above) was a dream. It was able to dislodge any loose pieces and I could carve into the plaster easily. The scraping process was cathartic and I even managed to get a few family members to scrape the walls with me. Thanks, guys! With Holly's confidence in me and that tool, we scraped, and scraped, and scraped until the walls looked like this.

I'd say it's finished - if I were going for a medieval French chateau look.

The process of scraping one whole room was very time-consuming, and my hands were beaten up after scraping against the sandpaper walls. (I know, gloves. Live and learn!) I was losing patience with the scraping and decided to tackle the retexturing process. Since I was just starting out, I kicked off my hours of retexturing in the closet where I could experiment with different techniques without care of how my clothes would judge my inevitable mistakes.

The process is quite simple once you get the hang of the wrist movements. I used Holly's recommended mud pan and a small putty knife to fill the big holes and cracks, then layered them with fiberglass mesh tape to add strength that would prevent cracking again. Once everything was patched, I used a trowel to scrape the walls so I could knock down any high peaks in the texture. Then, I used the joint compound mixed with a touch of water to coat a layer over all surfaces. The idea was to use enough mud to fill in all of the valleys in the texture to bring the recessed portions to the height of the peaks but not so much that you're caking everything with an inch of drywall. I worked in the closets late at night so I lost track of time and the ability to judge the quality of my work, but I'd say it turned out pretty nicely - for a closet.

I really enjoyed working with the drywall mud but I was losing energy. I was retexturing walls while also doing lots of other projects on the must do before move-in list and I wasn't moving as quickly as I hoped. The wall texturing was necessary to complete before the floor refinishing, so I was risking slowing down the progress of the rest of the renovations. So, we hired it out, and I'm so glad we did. It was completed perfectly by the pros, freed up my time to work on other projects, and ensured that all wall surfaces were completely covered up and free of smells.

The crew skim coated everything in a very light skip trowel texture to make the walls almost completely smooth. The ceilings had their fair share of cracks, and due to the horizontal nature of ceilings, they tend to crack perpetually. To prevent this, the ceilings earned fresh pieces of drywall that won't crack or peel.

dining-retexture.jpg

Once the crew was done, the walls needed to dry out, then they got a healthy coating of primer, then paint. Picking a paint color is always tricky, and white is a particularly easy color to mess up. Take these paint samples below. They all looked white on the swatches, but when compared to each other, their undertones pop and it's easy to see which ones are too blue, pink, and brown.

After the walls got a fresh skim coat of new drywall mud, I started to fancy their new hue and found myself color matching to the drywall color. Thus, we selected the swatch on the far right, Sail Cloth by Behr. With my time freed up not doing the drywall install, I was able to paint all of the ceilings and walls before move in with the help of my mom. Thanks, mom!