Here’s a quick project I’ve had my heart set on ever since seeing Sherry and John at Young House Love (www.younghouselove.com) add subtle stripes to the half bath in their first house. We were basically working with the same situation…a small half-bath that needed some personality. Here’s our boring before:
Complete with the smallest sink known to man…which is great if you only want to wash one hand at a time.
Anyways, it’s hard to tell from the picture (sorry, taken with my iPhone), but the baseboard and the trim around the door was the same color was the wall. WHO DOES THAT??? Maybe it’s just me, but there are few things I like more than crisp white trim, which was a major point of contention when we were first looking at houses (Bryan is a fan of the old houses with dark wood trim…whhyyy????)
The walls were not white either…they were a very “blah” tan/beige. Of course, the exact shade was unknown to us, so during one of our (many) trips to Lowes, I picked up a few paint chips to find something close.
And by “a few”, I obviously mean that I picked up a ton of paint chips. Is there a rule about how many of these you’re allowed to take in a single trip? Let’s hope not.
After comparing a bunch in the room, I finally decided on three that I liked together: a bright white for the trim, a darker neutral to repaint the entire room, and a lighter neutral for the stripes.
If you can interpret the little scribblings of the paint dude at Lowes, you can tell that I got a quart of each wall/stripe color in semi-gloss. I also got a gallon of the white since I’m planning on re-doing most of the trim in the house at some point. Why semi-gloss? Mainly because most of the rooms in our house are already painted with semi-gloss, but I also like that it has a little bit of a sheen without being in-your-face glossy. The two quart-sized colors were more than enough for this project…I’ll have leftovers for awhile.
So I painted the entire bathroom, then painted the trim (which turned into painting the door, which turned into painting the outside trim, and the basement door). I just couldn’t stop – it’s hard to look at old trim next to the pretty newly painted pieces. Finally I cut myself off to go tape off the stripes.
As an aside, some of you may know that Bryan and I met in law school. I’m not speaking for Bryan, but the saying “you went to law school because you’re not good enough at math for med school” definitely applies to me, so the following instructions on YHL were lost on me:
“Step 1: Divide & Conquer- Measure the full length of your wall and divide that number by twice the number of stripes that you want to have minus one (ex: our ceiling is 98″ tall and we wanted six horizontal stripes so we divided 98 by 11 (6 x 2 = 12 – 1 = 11) to get the thickness of each stripe. Ours came out to about 8.9 inches.”
Ummmmm………….yeah. I’m sure that makes perfect sense to most of you, but I was NOT on board (I blame paint fumes and the brain-melting exercise that is the Bar Exam). Our ceiling measured about 94 inches, and 6ish stripes sounded fine to me, which ended up meaning the thickness of each stripe was going to be about 8.5 inches (how many more times can I approximate the measurement of something in a project where, evidently, it is important to be exact?)
I tried measuring up from the baseboard 8.5 inches and making a little mark. I did that twice on each wall and tried to place the tape to make the first stripe.
Not. Even. Close. I double and triple checked and I still couldn’t get the lines to meet up and be level. I finally decided that there was no way this could be my fault, and that the floor must be uneven (a definite possibility in an house that was built in 1927). Let’s be honest…it was probably me just sucking at math/measurements in general.
The method that worked for me was to use a speed square.
I put the pointed end against the baseboard, used the built-in level to make sure everything was even, and marked a line across the straight edge. Unfortunately, the height of the speed square was closer to 7 inches, but I was willing to sacrifice perfectly sized stripes for ones that were level. Marking all around the room took longer than expected, but it’s nothing that couldn’t be completed in an afternoon. I don’t have a picture of the room all taped up, but YHL’s picture is basically what I was working with as well.
The reason the spaces don’t look even is because you have to account for the width of the tape in the “negative space” stripe (the stripe of the original wall color that will remain after you add the new color). So, for every other piece of tape, you alternate whether you place the tape on top of the measured line, or underneath (it makes much more sense while you’re doing it). The wider spaces get the paint – the smaller spaces don’t.
The most important tip about this project is to peel off the tape immediately after you get the paint on the walls. Leaving it and allowing the paint to dry will cause some of your new paint to peel off when you remove the tape. I did about 1/3 of the room at a time, peeled the tape, then continued. I still had a few minor issues with the lines not being crisp, but I went back and touched those up after the entire room was finished.
Here’s the final product!
We’re still working on art for that room. I think we still need something bigger…thoughts? Hope you likey