October 24, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 4: Paint Fail Lessons

As the title implies, I painted our room and didn't love the color. So you could stop reading now and still get the gist of my progress this week. But if you've made it this far, I actually learned some pretty valuable personal and design lessons from my paint saga.

Week 1: The Befores & Plans
Week 2: The Mood Board
Week 3: Paint Swatches

Before you get all up in arms about me not liking it, let me explain some things (things I didn't consider when I said I wanted to go dark). Our house is a true rectangle. The sun rises on the front of the house and sets on the back. The back yard is covered with 3 (or 4) gigantic trees as well as our neighbors have a row of 20 ft. cyprus trees, meaning it gets 0 sun throughout the day. It's why there is no grass. Our master is situated in the back right corner of the house, next to the back yard. All that to say, it gets little to no natural light throughout the day.

In the photos below I really tried to capture the true amount of natural light we get in our bedroom. It's easy to be deceived in photos because a camera can have long exposures and capture large amounts of light. This photo is taken in the middle of the day with no extra exposure.

Should I have looked at those photos and thought about it before I painted an entire room? Probably. But this is the actual first time I tried to paint a room something other than white or Repose Gray and I'm no pro so I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Obviously, I painted the entire room nonetheless and as soon as it was all up I instantly had a gut feeling.

Anytime I have a gut feeling that I've messed up, I try to rationalize it in my head for as long as I can. We spent about 24 hours in it painted. As I was cleaning up the paint supplies, my gut was saying "You don't like this." As I was lying in bed awake because my anxiety kept my mind from shutting down in a pitch black room that usually has a small amount of light , my gut was saying "This is too dark." But I didn't want to listen. I was so worried that I had told you guys I was going dark and everyone was excited to see how it would turn out. I was worried because I knew it meant sleeping a few more nights in the guest room.

It was like a cave made love with a dark chocolate Hersey bar. And then sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The "finished" photos are severely overexposed just so I could get a clear view of the color. That means you should imagine not seeing the beautiful natural light flooding in and the walls about 30% darker.

The next day I went to Auston and told him it was too dark. He agreed but lovingly said he was going to let me go with it if I liked it. I did not like it haha.

Let's talk about the actual color, Behr's Chinchilla. Objectively it's actually a pretty color. It's a dark dark brown with red/purple undertones. It's not a color I'd paint a room, but it would be great for an accent wall or desk. It also takes center stage when you look at the room when I really wanted the headboard to be the focus.

My verdict on this color is that it is just the wrong room in the wrong house. Maybe if we had large windows with large amounts of light, or maybe if we didn't have really short ceilings. Even then it is too brown. But all in all I think I just don't think dark is the way to go for this master. I haven't written off moody dark rooms, but I do think there is an element where it's better looking for Pinterest or Instagram than it may be in real life.

I keep saying it was a "fail", but it really was a learning point for me. I learned how outside surrounding affect a color, how undertones come through swatches and how they play out on a large scale, and how wall colors connect to floor colors. I also read about how a color's LRV (light reflective value) is important and how it helps you figure out how a color will look in a big space. From a design aspect; take undertones seriously. I thought from the swatches I wanted a warm dark something and if I go back and look at the Chinchilla it is exactly what it said it was - dark brown.

Does it look bad? No. It is the best color for this room? No. Is it what I want to go to sleep and wake up to every day? Also no.

What does it look like now? I have Killz-ed one coat. The swatch on the wall is SW Dorian Gray and that's another dud. It's too brown/sandy for this space, despite this photo being taken at dusk when the light is most yellow.

I've gotten a lot of negative vibes on painting over the dark that kind of got me down, but I'm trying to be true to myself and my personal style (even though I'm not 100% sure what it is). My bedroom has always been "my place" and I need it to feel just right. I've also gotten a lot of support for not caving to the pressures of feeling like I need to do something different to stand out in the crowd or attract new readers, because this is just my hobby and I'm the one who is living in it.

If I could give you one piece of advice through all this: paint BIG swatches. From now on I'm using half the sample for the first coat and the other half for the second coat. Back to the drawing board!

Take the extra 30 minutes (or if you're like me hours upon hours) to go through the guest participants for this week and check up on your favorite spaces.


  1. Good for you for going with your gut. Have you purchased your rug yet? I was wondering if you had considered doing on dark wall the get your vibe/mood and 3 light to bounce light around your space? Good luck!

  2. Dovetail! Dovetail!! or mix the two :)


Back to Top