Painting the Dining Room

You might have noticed that we’ve made more than one change to our dining room in the past few weeks. Our DIY photo ledges were really the catalyst for several updates, starting with the wall color!

I think this is one of the most recent shots of our dining room before we painted. That frame collage and the bright brown walls (can brown be bright?) had been bugging me for awhile, so one weekend, I took down all the art and started patching nail holes.


I couldn’t believe how many holes we had in this wall alone.

Patching walls

Before we started priming the walls, I took a full afternoon to caulk, patch, and repaint our baseboards. I’ve been slooooowly working my way through the house, finishing out the baseboards from our wood floor installation almost a year ago.  It’s a long process!

Finally it was time to prime.  Getting rid of those brown walls was such a relief.

Priming dining

Now here’s where the story gets a little dicey.  We’d had the dining room wall color mixed at Lowe’s from one of their old Valspar paint chips.  That night when I opened the can to get ready to paint, the color looked lighter than I expected it to be and I noticed a pool of dark tint all around the rim of the paint can.  But it was late, and I wanted to be done, so I went against my better judgement and painted the room that night.

When I woke up the next morning, I was sure the color was wrong.  The paint chip I had was a warm taupey-gray, and the color on my walls was barely-there gray.  The photo below doesn’t even give a true sense of how light this paint was.

Wrong color

I hung up the curtains and tried living with the wrong color (because I REALLY didn’t want to repaint), but I’m sure you can guess how long that lasted.  Until the very next weekend when I marched up to Lowe’s with my mostly-empty can of bad paint.

Surprisingly, I received a full refund which I used to pick up a can of the right color (Valspar’s Gray Silt) and get back to work.  See the difference?

Right color

This picture is probably the best depiction of how truly blue-gray the original color was compared to the warm taupey-gray I was after.

Color difference

Finally, two weekends after we started what was supposed to be a quick color change, we got it right.

Gray Silt Dining Room

Then it was time to put the room back together. After hanging the curtains, I used my hillbilly hemming trick, which is basically to pin the curtains where they hit the floor, bust out the ironing board, and heat’n’bond that hem without even taking the curtains down to do it.

It may be unconventional, but it works!

Hemming Curtains

After the curtain hemming came lots and lots of photo framing.  Most of our prints came from Walmart (I ordered them online one night and picked them up the next morning), and the frames are from a variety of sources.

B&W Ledges

To keep framing costs down, I shopped around for a couple weeks to find simple black and white frames (the bigger, the better). I’d say my most surprising sources were Big Lots and Deals (similar to a dollar store) – I scored two 14×18″ frames for $5 each from Deals and two 11×14″ frames for $3 each from Big Lots.

Another tip for finding big frames: Don’t overlook frames with collage-style mats. My four large black frames all came with collage mats, but since I was framing standard-sized photos, I just tossed the collage mats and picked up pre-cut plain white mats from Hobby Lobby.

Black and White Photos in Dining

So that’s what went on behind the scenes before we shared our new photo ledges. I’d still like to find a rug for under our table, but that’s not high on the priority list yet.

What do you think of the new paint color? Do simple finishing projects like caulking baseboards or hemming curtains take as long at your place as they seem to around here? Tell me I’m not the only one!

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11 Responses to Painting the Dining Room

  1. Mary says:

    Love the new color, Meredith. Worth the two weekends of work!

  2. veta says:

    The colour is much better, but the light fixture is all wrong. (I’ve been thinking this for a while, but I know how much you love it! It’s a great fixture — maybe for an office area instead? — but the colour and the shape doesn’t work for your dining room. Sorry!)

    • Meredith says:

      Hey Veta,
      We did love the light fixture for our dining room with the previous color scheme. It’s another thing on our list that I’d love to change, but we probably won’t be able to for a little while. Thanks for the input though! If only buying light fixtures were as painless (free) as “Pinning” them, right?! 😉

  3. leslie says:

    glad you have some time to blog again! I enjoy keeping up with your projects. Your new dining room color looks very similar to the color we painted throughout our house, but it was a different brand from a local store where we know the owner (never using that again though, valspar is so much better). We are half way through printing and framing pics for a photo wall in our dining room, but now I can’t decide on a wall collage or picture ledge..

  4. The curtains are perfect for this room! It’s like you brought the outside in with the leaves! I love it 🙂 Well done..

  5. Bethany says:

    I love the new paint color, it really brightens things up! I also love the ledge shelves with the pictures and I’ve definitely done that with my curtains a time or two 🙂

  6. Janice says:

    Meredith, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but have never commented. I have to say, I read a lot of DIY/home blogs and am always the most excited when I see a post on yours! I have your dining room curtains in my bedroom, and love your use of taupe to complement them! And your picture ledges have convinced me to go all the way in my living room… I have two short ones now, but I think tomorrow (or later this week, more likely) I will build a full-wall length one to finish the look. I love your work, keep it up!

    • Meredith says:

      Wow, thank you Janice! What a compliment!
      How did the shelf turn out? I’m glad we inspired you to try building one yourself – I still LOVE the ones we built for our dining room!
      Send pics if you think of it. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Painting the Kitchen | Welcome to Heardmont

  8. Jill says:

    Good afternoon!! We just painted our family room gray silt, so I have been looking up color schemes to match it with our brown furniture. I stumbled across your site and love your dining room! Where did you get your curtains from or did you make them?

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