July 26, 2012

Getting Prepped for Painting: Our Gray Walls

At the end of May we asked for your help in choosing your favorite shade of gray paint we had swatched up all over our kitchen wall. The results from that vote came in with #2 being the winner — the lightest and warmest shade of the 4 shown.


We were all set to go with that color when we realized there were actually even lighter versions in the Restoration Hardware slate paint collection — so we gave it one more try and ended up finding the perfect shade for us:

It's called "ash" and is a subtle gray color with warm undertones. It's actually not that much of a different shade than the basic ivory/cream we had on the walls moving in, but it's enough of a change to make the trim around the room pop and really freshen up the space. As we've mentioned in other room painting projects, we really love the RH collection because of their tried and true colors, eco-friendly makeup and ease of painting with — we ended up being able to paint all 3 rooms with 1 1/2 cans of paint.

Going into this latest painting project, we decided we wanted to actually paint our kitchen, small back hallway that connects the kitchen to the back dining room and the little downstairs bathroom off that back hallway the same gray color. We wanted to paint these three rooms to visually tie them together and give them the feeling of one larger flowing area — like a kitchen, mudroom and bath combination. 

Here's what we were working with before painting. Many of these photos are from when we took shots the first couple days after moving in and just plopped stuff everywhere since we forgot to take official "before" shots when we started painting. I guess we were just so excited to just get started:

Kitchen with ivory/cream walls before:

 Little back hallway with purple walls before:


Downstairs half bath with blue walls before:

Because these three rooms are high traffic areas and can tend to get messy, we went with the low gloss finish version of the paint. We use that back hallway as our place to keep all of Basil's food and water bowls since it's got a marble floor and makes things easier to cleanup — having the low gloss finish will make things even easier.

Once we finally had our paint, it was time to prep and get this thing going!

My daughter, Stephanie, was in town the weekend we tackled these three rooms which was a huge help. She went around took down all the photos, mirrors and fixtures, then wiped down all of the walls with a dry rag. 

We were worried the areas where we had marked the wall with permanent Sharpie might bleed through the paint — my uncle was a professional painter and warned us it wasn't good idea when he saw it, ha, but it was already too late. Before painting, we sanded as much of the markings off the wall and then just added 3 coats of the paint we planned to use on the wall over it, letting them dry between each coat and that seemed to cover the remainder of the markings completely. This allowed us to have 5 coats in those areas in the end since we went with 2 overall coats in each of the 3 rooms.

Then the two of us began spackling all the holes and rough spots in the walls that we've just been letting hang out over the last 7 months. For me, it was just as elating to cover up some of these big holes and bid them farewell as it was painting.


After 2 applications of spackle and dry time, I went around and sanded each of the areas down so they'd have a smooth finish and went around trying to help clean up while Stephanie and Mary cracked open the first can of paint to begin edging in around all the baseboards, ceiling and trim areas of the three rooms.

Yes folks, the paint visor did make an appearance.

During the cleaning and prepping stages, I pulled out the refrigerator and cleaned 7 months worth of dirt up from back behind there. We also got a peak at some of the unfinished layers where we could see through to the inner workings of what the house looked like a long time ago.

 Oh look — there's our little window garden going strong up there!

Subtle Progress:


As they continued to trim, I would later go in and roll — the color was so light that it was hard to really see the difference of how it was going to look until the rolling stages, which tied it all together.

Goodbye blue bathroom walls:

We were all cheering as I rolled over the baby blue in the bathroom and especially the purple walls in that little hallway!

With the 3 of us working in stages together, we were able to get all three rooms painted gray in 2 days of work — it was an awesome weekend project. Things have since cured up and we'll be back soon with some final "after shots" to show you how everything turned out.

Here's a little sneak peek as we put things back in place until then:

Oh, that good old paint visor has never let me down...

More on this Project:
  • Find all the details on the next steps in this painting project, including a little twist, in this post.
  • Guess What!? We finished the painting — find the full reveal post with final photos of the paint in this post.


  1. Ah I am so excited! I stumbled on your blog by reading about how to grown food from scraps and then I couldnt find the link again but I researched on and off for a few days and viola here you guys are again!!! yay so looking forward to following your blog!

    1. Welcome back Justine! So glad you found us again and we hope to see you around often!

  2. I am so impressed by what you have been able to accomplished so quickly. It does not look like the same house I sold you seven months ago! Lets keep in touch.
    George Cumming
    (804) 334-2251

    1. Thanks so much George! We are having a lot of fun as we go. If you didn't get a chance to see it, here is the end result from this latest round of painting: http://www.17apart.com/2012/07/reveal-our-gray-walls.html

      Hope to see you soon in RVA!

      Tim & Mary


© 17 Apart. Design by FCD. Privacy Policy.