Painting the office (repeatedly)

For the first time since 2009, my new lease allows painting the walls! Most of the rooms don’t really need it. For example, check out how the bedroom’s soft blue walls perfectly match our quilt and lamps.


But neither of us liked the yellow walls in what the previous tenants used as a kids’ bedroom. The color seemed playful or juvenile to me, when we’re aiming for sophisticated. Also, the kids’ room kind of smelled like pee (see the stained mattress they left us? we were shocked to get money for it on craigslist) and the yellow walls sure weren’t helping that association.


Remember the row of bookshelves from our last place?


Well, they didn’t make sense in the living room this time because of all the beautiful built-ins. They wound up in the second bedroom/office. Recent experience taught us that it’s a total headache to move them once they’re loaded, bolted together, and anchored to the wall. So I declared that we must paint the room before loading the shelves. Dan wasn’t super excited but he agreed with the logic. We set a goal to get it done that weekend so we could straighten up the house’s biggest mess!


Here’s where I took a risky shortcut. To save time I decided to skip testing paint swatches in the room. Instead we’d go with a color I’d seen on a wall at work: Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray. It’s a medium gray that I thought would pop against the wood floors and white trim while serving as a neutral backdrop for future decorating choices.


We had Home Depot color-match it in the more affordable Behr brand paint and started rolling it on the walls. (Daylight is much more flattering to skin tones than nighttime, eh?)


It looked kinda blue.

Paint often looks weird wet so I resolved not to think much of it. We finished two coats on the first, biggest wall, and went to sleep. But in the morning, it looked even more blue-green. I worried about it all day and even made a mockup of what it looked like (top) versus what it was supposed to look like (bottom):


I was so annoyed at myself for not testing swatches. It served me right to end up with a color that didn’t work as planned. We discussed what to do. Since we didn’t want to waste more money or time, we reluctantly decided just to keep going. That night we moved the bookshelves into place and tackled the remaining walls. Strangely, though, the fresh paint did NOT look blue. Trust me — the difference was pronounced in real life.


After a few days of scratching our heads, we came up with a theory. I didn’t stir the paint can the first day — it had just been in the mixing machine at the store! But I stirred it on subsequent days. Maybe excess blue pigment had been floating at the top of the can? There was only one way to test.

I painted over a small strip of the blue-green.

It dried gray.

After smacking my forehead against the wall, I suggested to Dan that we paint around the shelves so we didn’t have to move them. But he took the high road and said we should do it right. We unloaded all the shelves again, moved them out of the way again, and painted the wall again. We finished with only a few ounces of paint to spare.

As your reward for sticking around through all the neurotic details — you deserve some “after” pictures!



The room is still a long way from decorated, but we’re super proud of our first big step toward making this house our own.


2 thoughts on “Painting the office (repeatedly)

  1. ha! oh geez….what a headache over a tiny detail like stirring the can. i learn so much from your trial and error stories, so thanks….? super sorry you had to go through all that, though! but for reals this color is seriously gorgeous. a perfect choice.

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