White walls versus colored walls


Have you been to the stores and seen the new peel and stick decals you can use instead of stenciling your walls?  There are flowers, butterflies, balloons, teddy bears, cars, blocks, Disney characters… You get the idea.  While visiting my family in MN this last time, I came across these decals and thought it would be a great border in my granddaughter’s room.  I bought her favorite butterflies and a package of circles; just in case I needed more than one package to do the whole room.   

I randomly placed them along one of the walls as a border, but I never had the time to finish this process on the remaining walls before I had to leave.  A couple of days later I received a call from my daughter, she told me that my granddaughter did a little of her own “decorating” and had removed all the decals from her wall! 

I told my daughter that the border idea would have to wait until she was a little older, but in the meantime they could be placed above the closet and bedroom doors, on the inset panels of the doors (out of her reach).  Even above or around any of the hanging pictures would be cute!

They can be used on furniture, plastic containers that hold seasonal clothing, toys and stored in the closet.  How cute would that be to open the closet doors and see these containers personalized to match the room!  Use them on mirrors, windows in bathrooms, the ideas are endless!

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I recently visited my daughters and their families in MN. and find myself editing their room design.  One is more traditional like her mom, and the other one is very contemporary.  I feel very comfortable in both homes, and am very pleased when my daughters and I talk about ideas to make their homes even better.  A favorite past time of mine is painting; as you know if you have read any of my other blogs and having painted all of the walls in my home I now paint on canvas.   And yes, those paintings show up in my daughter’s homes, probably much to my daughter’s dismay.  While I am visiting them, I feel somewhat like a grade school kid beaming ear to ear; proud that my artwork is being displayed in a prominent area of their homes.   This last visit I was given the honor of decorating my granddaughter’s room.  I painted several canvases to hang on the walls, color coordinated it with the bedding we had picked out on another trip and I even got to paint the walls.

Granddaughter's room

I love to decorate!  My mind goes a hundred miles a minute just thinking about all the facets involved with decorating a room.  HGTV is always on at my house, almost every magazine is about decorating on the coffee table, I have books on the subject, folders filled with torn pages on things I love…  I am hopeless!

When my two daughters and son-in-laws bought their first homes I got busy decorating them; I know it’s not my place to butt in and it was very difficult to keep my thoughts to myself.  I think I did pretty good though and only encouraged them and offered to lend a hand painting or whatever else I could.  Okay, I have to admit that I did put a little of myself in each of their homes by painting a series of canvases in their colors to hang on their walls.  Opps!

I am truly an addict; I hear someone talking about doing a room and I just have to get involved!  A friend of mine is buying a new home and she wants to change her whole decorating style – yes!  I scored big time!  I sat down on the floor with her two daughters, pulled out the color pencils, paper, and got to work designing their rooms.  (I’m preparing for decorating my first granddaughter’s room when she gets a little older, and yes, I have permission.)  We went with bright colors on the walls – stripes, cirlces, and at least two or three colors.  Billowy curtains with jewels, lots of pillows, dust ruffles on the beds, and of course reversible comforters on the bed to get more milege from the look we can create! 
We poured over  my paint color pallete (I own my very own paint contractor wheel – I am very serious about this!)   Pulled together all the fabrics and started editing pieces they already have in their bedrooms and  plan on reworking other items to fit the current look we are striving for.  The girls and I worked on their rooms for about an hour and I can hardly wait to get started!  I hope I have instilled in them some excitement to work on their rooms as well. 

It took me quite awhile to take the plunge to paint color on my walls;  I had lived with white walls for a long time (see “White Walls Versus Colored Walls”).  Thank goodness the jump from color to Faux Painting did not!

My first attempt at faux painting was the typical sponge affect; it is great for hiding any traffic wear that kids can afflict in bathrooms.  I had talked with a paint expert about my plan and he suggested using three “like” colors to achieve the best results.    You also need to use a glaze medium when doing any faux technique.  And, of course, you need a sea sponge!

The three like colors I used were from one beige paint strip; a light, a medium and a dark.   Okay, I know what you are thinking!  Beige is not white; besides you have to start somewhere!   

Faux painting is a layered effect to create texture and it takes time to accomplish.  I suggest starting your first project with any faux technique in a small room or on one wall.  Prepping is like any other painting project; you need to tape, lay down plastic or paint tarps on floors and furniture.  Remove any outlet covers, light fixtures, pictures, and move any furniture away from walls being painted.

When sponging;  your first layer is the base coat in the medium color.  You need to allow this to dry overnight.  Next step; cut the sea sponge into manageable pieces, you also need a bucket of water for the next two layers and paper towels or rags.  The paint used in this and the next layer need to be mixed with the faux glaze medium; please follow directions by manufacturer.

A couple of notes here: 

Try the faux technique on a piece of wall board or plywood first to get the feel for it.

If working by yourself, work a small area at a time.

Don’t take a break in the middle of a wall, you need to keep working a wall while the medium is wet!

Step back to assess work frequently.

Onto the second layer!  This layer is the darkest color – yes, the darkest!  Using the sea sponge (dampened with water, but not soaking wet), dip into the dark paint/faux mixture and apply to wall in pouncing fashion.  Repeat this step until all areas are covered.  You will need to clean the sponge in water frequently to keep a consistent look throughout this process.

Again, allow this layer to dry overnight.  The next layer is the lightest color mixed with the faux glaze medium as well.  Same technique, different day!  Repeat the sponge pouncing to cover all the walls. 

We are almost there!  The last step to what I’m sure you are thinking “is sheer madness” by this point… Take the base coat color (the medium color) mixed with the faux glaze medium, along with the other two paint/glaze mixtures and fix any spots that don’t quite look right until you get the desired affect you are looking for.  That’s it!  I know it sounds very complicated and time consuming, but my very first attempt looked great.  Everyone told me it looked like wallpaper!  That was the best compliment to me.

I used to live with white walls.  My thought was that with white walls I could inject color using my collections (see my article “Decorating with a Collection”).  I liked to rearrange my furniture it seemed every week; at least that is what my husband, Robert thought.  I would move my collections around because I get bored quickly.  That brings me back to my white walls; if I used color on the walls I would be limited to what I could do in a room.  That would never work for me!

Confession time (sorry Mom!), as a kid, my sister and I shared a room.  The walls were a dark lavender, with light lavender curtains, dark purple carpeting, and you guessed it – purple bedspreads!  It took me a long time to like purple again.   As if this wasn’t enough to cure anyone not to use color when painting… I painted my sister’s home.  She had five kids and each one chose a different color for their bedrooms.  One was a sunny yellow, another a light blue, another a light green and yes one in that dreaded lavender.  I called it “The Easter Egg” house.

While Robert and I were house hunting in Oklahoma, we would drive around the neighborhoods and this one house remained in my thoughts.  As it would get dark outside and the lights in the house would come on, this one living room with a huge picture window would come alive with a rich burgundy color that would draw me to that house again and again.  Well… (long pause here), I was wrong about color on the walls. 

So I took the plunge into color with all abandonment.  I chose a deep burgundy rose to paint in our living room (the color was pulled out of an area rug).  I was excited as I went to picked up the paint and talked with the expert at the paint counter.  Did I need to prime the walls?  Should the primer be tinted?  How many coats would I need for good coverage?  What finish did I want to use?!? 

 White walls definitely did not require all these questions to be answered or for that matter; ever thought of!  With the help of the paint expert, I headed home to conquer my living room walls with great gusto!  I painted a tinted primer and Robert kept saying he didn’t like the pink walls.  I assured him it was only the primer and not to worry.

The next day I did the first coat of my beautiful burgundy rose color in a semi gloss.  Color is not as forgiving as white; you need to be careful cutting in all the windows, corners and ceiling.  There was a lot of trim and moulding work in our living room and I was struggling (did I say I was a perfectionist?), but I kept on painting.  I could already tell that I would need to paint yet another coat – which of course Robert felt he needed to point out as well…

Third day, third coat of paint and I wasn’t enchanted with color any longer; what is wrong with white?  Our living room looked like a rosy, faux leather vinyl colored box!  We lived with it for a week (that was as long as we could tolerate it), thinking it would grow on us.  A couple of tears, an admission of defeat, I made the trek back to the paint store.  Talked with a different expert; I guess I knew enough about painting that you couldn’t just paint a different finish on top of another without doing something to prep the walls first.  Yes, I needed to prime again.  What?  The primer doesn’t need to be tinted?  Color will cover in one coat?  (Can you believe it, I was still using the same color with a eggshell finish this time.)

Back home I went with my arsenal of knowledge and tools ready to conquer the walls!  The white primer gave me some peace, but the color beneath was peeking through and yet I just kept painting.  Next I painted the burgundy rose, eggshell finish on the walls….

Can you see where this is going?  The white primer was showing through!!!  I ended up doing a second, which was really the sixth coat of paint to get the walls just right.  Were you counting?  I was!  We did like the results and yes, I did paint other rooms with color.  I am smarter about the whole process now though.  

Three houses later I still paint our walls with color as part of my decorating.  I have become very good at cutting in the trim, mouldings and ceilings; I don’t even need to tape any longer, but I still use it.  That must be the perfectionist in me!