Painting Shades of Gray

Friday, March 20, 2015

shades of gray painted wall mural
Still on standby for Mike's final judgment on The Grays up the stair.  Yes, at this point they've earned capitalization as that's how they're referred to in our home now.

I did do a handful of sketchy sketches for him depicting all sorts of different happy bright colors on the remaining wall space plus runners in colors.  He appeared impassive.  He's asked a few questions here and there.  The most recent was, with a mild sense of panic, if I was planning on repainting the living room.  I am not.  "The blue goes with the grays?," he's been asking skeptically.  "Gray goes with everything, babe," I respond, trying to reassure and assuage.

I dunno.  I get the sense that it's an unbending thumbs down for him no matter which way he tries to spin it for himself, he's hesitant to tell me for fear of breaking my wee lil' heart, that if he waits long enough he may actually like it.  I know he doesn't want to hurt my feelings -- I've told him my feelings are fine either way but I don't think he believes me.  I mean yeah, sure, I'd be sad and disappointed to erase The Grays as I quite like them but he shouldn't have to live looking at something he dislikes in his own house.  Right?  Right.  Hm.

Wait wait wait.

Okey doke, the way I accomplished this paint effect was through a spot of planning, mostly winging it, and lots of tape.  It's pretty easy to do actually and I swear,promise, anyone can do this.

My supply list:

My total:  in the neighborhood of $40.00 sans sales tax.

First I had to cover over the stripes and, as I mentioned before, I found this itty flapwheel* rotary tool bit with the bizarro name to be the key to eliminating the raised lines between colors quickly, easily, and with minimal mess.

bright multi-color wall stripes before

I am all about minimal mess, thank you much.

flapwheel bit in rotary tool
Zippy spiffy 120 grit flapwheel!  Who came up with that whack-a-do name?!
Once the lines were erased, I painted over the stripes with that terrible paint that the flipper left behind that I often use as a faux primer of sorts.  Because it's so bad but at least it kinda qualifies as paint.

covering over painted stripes with paint
Ghosts of stripes past.
Here's where things might seem complicated:  I mixed the colors myself.  Do not panic.  Ah ah!  Don't panic!

The other option, if mixing your own shades seems too far-fetched, is to get those cutie paint sample sizes* in several grays mixed up for you.  Take into consideration you can squeeze a supposed 70-80 square feet outta one of those lil' sample thingies.  At generally $3 a pop, that works out to be less than what I spent.

gallon containers of black and white paint
Not the best white paint out there, that Lucite, I know.
Why did I pick flat paint, you ask?  Mainly because the premixed black from Home Depot is flat.  The lightest colors would then have had more sheen than the darker colors had I picked say, a satin white or higher on the glossy chain.  Come to think of it, that woulda been cool actually.  Heh.  Options man, options always a-swirl in my head!

I could have added medium to shine it all up a hair but opted not to.  Flat is fine, flat my friend.

plastic quart container for mixing paint

These quart containers I picked up at Menards were quite handy as they have so.many.measurements already on the side of the thing.  The nice part too was the half quart measurement was on there and that was my target amount of paint to mix per shade o' gray.

Granted, despite my attempts at measuring black and white in proportions, as per usual, my math was incorrect.  I really should brush up on my math skills, huh?!  Sheesh.

My first gray was much too dark.  I split that in half once with white, painted, decided eh too dark, then split one more time.  I ended up splitting it yet one more time to end up with the lightest shade which is on some of the white, hard to see in the photos.

From that very first point, I mixed sorta semi-proportionally up two shades until I reached black, the end point.  The proportions on the container came a little closer to what I wanted on my way up.

What helped me decide when the shade o' gray was just right was heh, I took a piece of chair rail I had ripped off the basement wall (since it was already white), wrote out numbers representing each segment (as you can see I was planning for ten {originally.  .5 was added later}), and dolloped a blob of color under each number when I settled on the appropriate shade.  I used another piece of molding to test out colors as I went to compare them to earlier shades, making sure there was enough distance between them but not too too much.

black and white color charting
Three was my initial mixed color, six is black.
Is this making sense?  I hope it's making sense.  For some reason it feels like this isn't making sense.

So I (unintentionally) went from three (above) to two to one, then up from three to black mixing-wise.  One was the first color I painted next to the white.

Using the fantastic image that I had pinned of Malene Landgreen's work as a general guide, I just sorta taped lines up onto the wall, stood back, head tilted, made changes here and there, then mixed up and applied paint with a brush.

A handy tip:  put a small pair of scissors* on a lanyard* to wear around your neck -- makes trimming tape much easier when you've got insta-scissor access.  And make sure to press the inside tape edges down well -- use a plastic scraper* or plastic putty knife* or credit card or something along those lines to help you smooth the tape down tight.

laying out the first round of tape on wall

First went the center white.  Which, by the time I got to the end, is probably a smidge too large, but, so it is and I still like it.  Partly why I added the .5 gray onto two areas within the white at a later point.

white paint in the center

I waited a full day for the paint to dry so when I went to apply tape on the white for the next color, the tape wouldn't yank up the white.  Hence why this project took over a week to do, waiting until the next day to apply tape to the previous day's color.  But it was fun to watch it slowly take shape, kinda like a time lapse in slow motion.

adding more tape shapes and grays to the wall

As you can see, TFA Finn was helpful as always.  Heh.

Finn the GSD holding the door shut
"Got that door from flying open on ya there Mommy."
So essentially after that, it was tape, paint, wait.  Tape paint wait.  Tape paint wait until I got all the way out to black and now it's wait wait wait to find out Mike's decision about it.

progress photos of the paint taking shape

next round of progress photos of paint taking shape

And, so, here it is!  

finished faux wallpaper wall mural painted with gray paint

view down the stair of the painted wall treatment

I wrapped it around, taking the paint up the adjoining wall just cuz hey, ya know, why not?  I could see how someone might say it looks funhouse-y or Flintstone-y from this angle.  Out of politeness I'm sure, no one's said that yet.  Yet.  :)

close up of artistic wall paint idea

Part of the problem currently, I maybe, possibly, could suspect for Mike, might be the horrible cheap a** carpet and the vile dog vomit yellow color abutting the new paint, dragging the whole program down.  As I randomly speculate.  

Or, maybe he just outright doesn't like it.  Or, maybe I'm doing a terrible job of explaining the whole vision in my head to him.  

Honestly, I think this looks less weighty than the stripes, opens up the foyer area, makes it brighter and look larger.  It makes me like the light fixture better.  A bit.  Sorta.

I think the effect is fun, definitely bold, unusual and different; it's a "risky choice" as some in the design world might say.  It's purposefully large in a small space to visually open it up.  A realtor would freak and tell me to paint over it right away if we were selling.  Which I always find a thought-provoking conundrum -- many folks desire interesting, individual, non-cookie cutter homes....I suppose it comes down to a matter of personal taste and being able to make a house your own, giving a potential buyer a blank slate to envision upon.....hmph.  A post for another day....

The Grays fit within my goal of being bold which heh, I suppose is not much of a stretch for me.  I find not being strong and bold, to contain myself, that's my struggle actually.  Poor Mike.  I try to make him happy, I do!  I guess that's why we're super for each other -- we're both "out there" in our own ways and one balances the other out.  Awwww, so sappy!  Heh!  Blush.

Mike says he's still waiting for something to come popping out of the wall so, hmmmm, heh.

(Keep your fingers crossed for me though!)

And yes, it's true, I have oodles of leftover paint.  Oops.  I over-planned.  I thought I was going to need more than I did.  I thought I would be doing more than six shades.  Alas, I have nearly a whole gallon of black left over, hmmmm.....One can never have enough black paint lying around in wait, if you ask me.

By the way, I found eight more paint chips tucked about. 339 now. Yikes!

All righty, off to the park with Finn to try and remember the long list of things I have forgotten that I had planned for today!

*The painters tape, quart containers, flapwheel gizmo, small scissors, lanyards, plastic scrapers, plastic putty knives, are Amazon affiliate links.  The black paint and paint sample sizes are Home Depot affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. You have a very creative and unique vision! Definitely inspiring!

    1. Heh, thanks Cory! I'm not your average every day girl for sure. Thank you!

  2. This is my favorite part of the house

  3. I really like your feature wall. It has depth, motion, visual interest, it is unique. Great project.

    1. Thank you very much! I really appreciate your super kind compliments! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  4. Merci pour ce partage très créatif et original. Je sens qu'un de mes murs est jaloux de votre mur "intergalactique" vite ...mes pinceaux.

    1. Merci beaucoup! J'espère que votre mur n'est plus jaloux après avoir attrapé vos pinceaux !


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