House For Six

Fresh Paint For The Living/Dining Room & Working With A Focal Wall

Deme Crinion12 Comments
Once we were under contract on our house, I spent the majority of escrow packing and pouring over the house listing pictures brainstorming our furniture arrangements and plans for the new space.  From the very beginning, I knew that wall behind the piano and the adjacent dining room wall would be getting some sort of bold wall treatment.

I thought about using these faux brick panels like Katie did here, but I worried it wouldn't feel organic to the space given the style of our home..but I may change my mind down the road since I'm in love with that look. 

What I DID know is that I wanted to incorporate a rich dark color somewhere in the house and with the high ceilings and natural light this room receives, it could definitely handle a deep color without feeling like a cave. 

I was truly ridiculous when it came to picking a color.  I pulled out my paint deck looking at all the dark charcoal greys and deep navy's.  I picked this color right off the bat (Valspar's Volcanic Ash) and immediately bought a sample pot.  I LOVED it.  Not too black but not super blue either.  

That swatch stayed up there for weeks, because, of course, I can't make it that easy on myself.... 

Like a broken record I would second guess the whole thing, pull out all 5,000 color choices again, hold them up in all areas of the room at all times of the day....and always land right back on Volcanic Ash.  Every. Single. Time.  It was on a swatch with other colors that had a green undertone, which was not what I wanted.  But with the light in our space I didn't get that green vibe at all.

I finally committed and bought the gallon.  You Insta-junkie's probably saw this sneak peak.

Here's the first coat mid dry...
And I started to freak out.  I always do mid way.  Was it too blue? too dark?  Maybe I shouldn't do the wall behind the piano....maybe I shouldn't do this at all....aaahhhh!!!!  I was a total wreck but pushed forward.

After the second coat dried (sorry for the blurry iphone pics)...and finally I relaxed.
You can see from the above picture that originally I wasn't sure if I wanted to paint two walls of the dining room to help define that space from the open living area.  Or if I wanted to simply wrap the color around the section of wall that sticks out into the room.

Here's where it's important to thing about the purpose of your focal wall.  A focal wall will do just that - draw your focus or attention.  But it can also serve a few other purposes.  I can help define a space in an open can highlight certain architectural can help to anchor a space...etc. etc.

I really wanted to accent the room's high ceilings and help to direct your attention to certain areas in a room that's a little oddly shaped.  So we painted three walls, basically wrapping the area that juts out into the space, avoiding any harsh "stop lines"

And this.  I would never let them do this if we were on carpet but lucky them...
For about two minutes, until I reclaimed my brushes before someone painted over the outlet covers.   

I've been color agonizing in a similar way over the other walls in this living/dining room.  I know many of you are probably cringing that I painted over the "perfect neutral", but I really didn't love this beige (that had a pink undertone in person).  With such a dark accent color, I wanted light and bright thought the rest of the space.   We landed on Valspar's Grey Shimmer, an almost-white with grey undertones.  You can see the difference here....
 With all the furniture moved for the dark walls, it was as good a time as any to push through the rest of the walls.

On a random note - in between coats I wrap my brush and roller in cling wrap so I don't have to wash them out.  This keeps them from drying out and they are ready to go once the first coat of paint has dried.  I also try to empty the tray of all paint (onto the walls) then cover it with Press N' Seal.  I feel like it gets a tighter seal than the cling wrap. 
I also like using a smaller roller made for walls and ceilings because it's not as heavy as a large roller, therefore easier to maneuver, and I find I have less drip accidents. 

Now, I apologize in advance.  These are not pretty "after" photos.  But they are what our house really looks like when a painting project is happening.  The kids get a wild hair because the furniture is all out of place and feel compelled to bring everything they own into said out-of-whack space.  Which I let them do, because it entertains them while we get the job done. 

Now that the other walls are lighter I'm not loving the curtains. 
I haven't even hemmed them but did plan to line them with a colored panel.  Now, I'm thinking the fabric might be better used to recover those dining chairs.  Since the room is very cool with the blue and grey tones I can't wait to warm things up through texture, layers and warmer color hues. 

I'm on a rug hunt as well, so if we end up neutral on the floor we'll go with more color/pattern in the curtains.  If we end up with lots of color/pattern in the rug, we'll go more subtle with the window treatments.

I still have this last wall to finish too.  It's the largest, so...procrastination. Hopefully by Friday.

Then we get to think about dressing those walls!  We have these four frames depicting each season that James picked up when he was deployed to Japan. 

I've always loved them and they're a great height for above the piano. But the frames got a little beat up in the move and need some love. I'm thinking something light would look great against the dark wall...white? gold? silver?  A combo?  What's your vote?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to keep in touch!