One Room Challenge Week 5: How to Paint an “Old Wall” Look

Wow, the One Room Challenge has really been a journey! Originally I wanted to makeover our basement into a light, bright, creative studio for blog DIYs, a creative business, who knows the future when you have a big inspiring room to play in, right? But in Week 3, the basement flooded. In Week 4, it flooded again. The basement is beyond any makeover now. Only a total tear-out can help it. So in Week 4 I moved the ORC party to a guest room two stories higher — there’s no flooding 12 feet above the ground and far from plumbing pipes!

So after switching rooms halfway through this challenge, I am sooooooo thankful we have an extra seventh week now. This has been a lesson in handling unexpected events, and thinking fast and flexibly.

I’m not spending much money on this makeover because 1.) I was not planning to  re-do the guest room, and 2.) I already own much of what I need, and whenever our basement is renovated, I want to move the studio down there per the original plans. What’s a great way to get big visual change on a lower budget? Paint!

Paint Paint Paint

As shared last week, the guest room had dark terra cotta color walls, painted with a mottled effect to look old. I left one wall in the original terra cotta color, and painted the other walls with a similar texture to look old. I followed the steps that I shared in a previous tutorial — How to paint new walls to look old — with one big difference. Instead of using a sea sponge, this time I used a Woolie, shown here:

(Hmmmm. Sorry it’s so dark — I will re-shoot this with better light.)

The closet nook walls shown in my previous tutorial have a “small splotchy” look that I still want to fix. I think it’s hard to avoid that when using a sea sponge, even though I shared tips in that post to avoid small splotches. They still happened to my wall. The Woolie has a broad base and you can twist and turn it, pounce it, swipe it, do all sorts of big wide moves with it to make “splotchy swaths” — like big splotches instead of little ones. Here’s part of a wall I did this week. It has bigger swooping swaths of varying colors:

How to Paint an Old Wall Look

One recommendation in my “old wall” painting tutorial that I followed again, and it worked well again, was the advice for choosing paint colors. I recommend using two to three similar colors. Three is much better. You will get more depth on the wall. Then choose an accent color, usually a natural color like a beige or gray.

For the room I show you today, I did the opposite with wall color vs. accent color choices. Because the wall color is beige, my accent color is terra cotta.

Paint Colors for Natural Old Wall Look

Here are the three colors that I used to make the old wall look shown above:

Paint Colors for Natural Old Wall Look

Then the accent color, where small areas of the color peeks through the three above colors. The walls were previously painted mostly with Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett (HC-51) and Georgian Brick (HC-50). I left small subtle patches of this terra cotta color peeking through the beige and white layers.

Accent Color

The ceiling is a light gray. When the walls were terra cotta, the gray wasn’t so obvious. But now that the walls are turning beige, this is emphasizing the gray in the ceiling.

Gray Ceiling

I’m not loving that. I don’t feel like repainting the ceiling. But after finishing the walls, I think I really need to paint the ceiling. There are so many other colors in the room — a teal nook in the closet, a terra cotta accent wall. Gray on the ceiling adds yet another color. I will likely paint over the gray with Benjamin Moore Maritime White, so I’m pulling a color from the wall up onto the ceiling. Also, the white color will be lighter and help bounce light around more, which I like.

How Much Paint to Get

Now, I just suggested buying numerous paint colors. But that doesn’t mean that this is going to cost a lot. As you’ll see below, you are not applying full even coats of paint. So you will use less paint. I used a surprisingly little amount of paint, far less than I expected.

As a benchmark, here is what I used for “two and a half” walls in a room that’s about 10 x 10 feet, with walls that are 8 feet high. I say “two and a half” walls because I left one wall alone with its previous color, and there is a closet and door on another wall, plus two smaller windows. So I painted about 200 square feet. I used:

  • A sample pint can of Simply White and about 3″ of a gallon can of Simply White
  • A quart of Bungalow Beige
  • A pint sample of Maritime White

Yeah, that’s it! I even bought a quart of Maritime White, thinking for sure I’d run out of a pint. I didn’t. As you’ll see below, you are applying light layers and leaving lots of holes showing the layers below, so you will use a lot less paint. Also, rollers suck up a lot of paint. I would have used a lot less Simply White if I had sponged that on the wall instead of rolled it.

Painting an Old Wall Look

Here’s how it went down. Or, how the paint went on!

The first layer, Benjamin Moore Simply White, was painted terribly! On purpose. I loaded a roller and haphazardly rolled the paint in different directions on the walls. It looked awful, really awful!

First Layer

First Layer

But don’t worry. This is how it’s supposed to look. The purpose of this layer of paint was to cover most of the terra cotta color, and to not leave a perfect finish. Old walls are imperfect, right?

After painting for years, I trust the process and know it will turn out okay. Though this week wasn’t without its worrisome moments. As you’ll see in a minute.

The second layer, Sherwin Williams Bungalow Beige, was applied to the walls with the Woolie. I pounced the Woolie on the wall, swished it, swooped it,  twisted it, turned it. Anything to make a random effect. You don’t want to see any repetitive patterns. I was aiming for a natural weathering look on the walls. So to achieve this, you want to make wider swaths with the Woolie. Leave areas of the colors below peeking through.

Here’s how it looked after this second layer:

Second Layer

Second Layer of Paint to Make an Old Wall Look

I was painting this Bungalow Beige layer late at night. The next morning I took a look at the room. My heart sank. It felt so … blaahhhhhhhhhhhh. Like it was a FEELING. A feeling of sadness. Hopelessness. Loneliness. This is how the room FELT! It FELT like a single lonely piece of plain beige paper, all wadded up and discarded in the middle of a room with beige floors, beige walls, beige ceiling. Just so much beige-ness.

Oh my. What did I do?

I had a moment of uncertainty. But just a moment. This is to be expected!! I just erased a rich deep color and replaced it with, yeah, blahhhhh.

One solution is to TRUST. Trust the process, and keep going. To avoid this blah-ness, a third layer of paint is necessary. The third layer adds more dimension.

When I put swatches on the wall a few weeks ago, some colors looked flat, but the Benjamin Moore Maritime White was really singing in this particular room and in its light, during both day and night. Like I was really loving it. So I saved it for the last paint layer, the most obvious paint layer.

The third layer, Benjamin Moore Maritime White, was also applied with the Woolie, just like the second layer. I paid attention to how much of the first and second layers I wanted to peek through. And also, I was careful about how much of the original terra cotta to leave peeking through.

I felt MUCH better after adding the Maritime White onto the walls! Instead of wondering if I’d made a big boring mistake, the walls are coming more alive, and sophisticated, with the addition of this third layer.

Mottled Old Wall Look with Paint

The accent color, Benjamin Moore Audubon Russett, in the end wound up being far more subtle than the original plan. I originally left larger “rivers” and random spots of the terra cotta color:

River of Terra Cotta Paint

Making an Old Wall Look

But, the next day, as I looked around the room, my eye kept getting caught on those terra cotta blotches. And I realized, I don’t think that’s what I want to be looking at. It’s too much. Plus, I was envisioning the final result, all the other things that will be coming into the room — the textiles, the patterns, the textures. This gives you an idea of the things that will be in the room:

Texture Color Pattern Textiles

The big terra cotta rivers and blotches on the wall will compete too much with these things. The other factor is, this room is smaller, about 10 x 10 feet. If it was a huge room, maybe the walls could have handled more “stuff” happening on them. In this room, I decided it was “trying too hard.”

So I painted over much of the terra cotta. I left subtle areas that you can see in person. But they don’t photograph well, so it’s hard to see online. I should note, what you see in the next photo is not the final wall — this is after the second layer of paint. The third layer evened the splotches out on this wall a lot more:

Painted Over Terra Cotta Accents

After getting through these steps, I am starting to feel excited about the walls and how they’ll “play” with the other things coming into the room!

Speaking of the Other Things …

I started painting other pieces too. I’ll share more in future weeks. For now, here’s a peek at a little Moroccan table that will be a step stool to get up into the Moroccan-Indian closet nook:

Moroccan Stenciled Step Stool

And I started painting trays that will be stenciled to look like baskets from Africa, like the one shown here with the trays:

Trays

I started painting over a bowl that no longer fits my style. It will be painted with varying colors of Chalk Paint, then dry-brushed with metallic copper to catch on the raised edges of the flower pattern:

Repainting a Tray

There is still a LOT to do … I’ll stop now and get back to work!

But first, visit the other bloggers who are doing the One Room Challenge. There are 20 featured designers and about 200 guest participants who are making over rooms. As the end gets closer, I’m seeing color concepts come together, accessories meeting furniture, walls and floors transformed, and innovative DIYs. Go see what they’re doing!

How to Stay Cozy: Warm Chili Recipe

Every Halloween, my mom cooked chili. Steaming hot chili with oyster crackers floating on top. It was served in red, orange, ochre and brown ceramic bowls. Even the colors of the dishes were warm. We would eat the chili to warm up before dressing in our costumes to go trick or treating in the crisp autumn air. Now, for me, chili is forever linked with cool fall evenings. I crave this chili when the nights get cold and the leaves start turning color. So, I thought I’d share the chili recipe.

Autumn Chili Recipe

COZY CHILI RECIPE

  • 1 pound ground beef (as a vegetarian household, we substitute with MorningStar Grillers Crumbles or Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles for vegetarian chili)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup (sometimes we use fire roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 2 16 oz. cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

In a bit of oil in a deep skillet or big saucepan, brown the beef and cook the onion, garlic and chili powder until the onion is tender.

Add remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Makes 4 servings.

*******

Chili Ingredients

We like to add fire roasted corn to the recipe. And serve it with sharp aged cheddar cheese grated on the top. I also love chili powder from Penzey’s or a flavorful chipotle chili. It has rich savory flavor without tongue-burning heat. But mostly, I try to keep the chili close to mom’s original recipe. There are a bazillion chili recipes out there, but there’s nothing like the original favorite food that you enjoyed as a child.

Setting a Cozy Table

Color can go a long way to creating a cozy feeling to go with cozy food. Darker warm colors like red, terra cotta, paprika, olive green, even navy, all work together to make meals feel like comfort food on chilly days.

I love to decorate my dining table with unexpected, different things like a table runner made from kimono fabric. I find kimono fabrics on eBay. They’re about 14″ wide — perfect for table runners! Here’s a silk kimono fabric with autumn leaves and colors that I shared in a blog post several years ago:

Wouldn’t the bowls and copper pieces shown above look great with this fabric as a table runner? Add candles, pumpkins and acorns, and you have a cozy autumn table.

 

Our dining room walls are also painted a warm cozy paprika color. I can tell you, sitting in there feels like a warm embrace, perfect on colder fall and winter days!

One Room Challenge Week 4: Moving Upstairs to the Guest Room

Moving Time

This has been a tough week.

  1. Temps in the low 30s are coming to Chicago very soon. So I’ve been busting my butt to finish the final things with our exterior painting job before it gets too cold.
  2. It rained again. Our basement flooded again. And again, the flooding lasted for days. (See the result of flooding during Week 3.)

A few bits of good news:

  • My husband got back from an overseas work trip, so I wasn’t dealing alone
  • We set up a pump over the drain pipe that’s pushing water into the basement; that cut the flow of water into the basement and water is now pumped down a hill through a garden hose instead
  • We found a floor crack on the opposite side of the basement where more water is coming in; we were really confused about the source of that water before finding the crack
  • We found a water remediation company that will take care of everything we need — walls, wood trim, everything in the basement will be torn out and intensive cleaning needed

The not-so-great news:

  • We still await a visit from our preferred basement waterproofing contractor; it might be a few more weeks and more rain is forecast
  • We suspect catastrophic failure of drain tiles around the foundation and/or a collapsed pipe somewhere underground but we have no idea where it is
  • Gonna cost some dollars to fix all this stuff

I shared pictures in Week 1 and Week 2 of the basement room I originally planned to turn into a creative studio. Well here it is now:

Basement Wallpaper Removed

I’ve said that I like the look of old mottled walls, but not when the look is made of wallpaper glue and mold!

All the wallpaper came off the walls like frosting sliding off a cake on a really hot day. It was SO humid in the basement. That wallpaper had been extremely bonded to the wallboard, but I practically pulled it off with my pinky finger. It’s like the humidity steamed the wallpaper off. Which is a good thing, because it was thick vinyl and the walls cannot breathe. We had to expose the walls to see what was happening to them. I’m using Simple Green d Pro 5 Disinfectant (affiliate link) for mold treatment until the water/flood remediation folks come. That product was recommended by the water remediation company and I found it on Amazon. They recommended that I not put bleach all over the basement.

Moving to the Guest Room

Meanwhile, I mentioned on Insta stories that I would re-paint our guest room to lighten it up and use it as a temporary studio. The room needs to be painted anyway. This will be a “very mini makeover” if I can pull it off. I had big intentions this week, but didn’t get much done. One night I got only 90 minutes of sleep due to getting water out of the basement, and I’m really tired.

Here’s a longer video about the guest room with explanation:

And a short video just showing a quick 360 of the room without talking:

Nice shot of the switchplate as a focal point there, huh?

So far, I got paint samples on a wall, spackled holes in the walls, taped off trim and ceiling, covered things with dropcloths, and dusted/cleaned. Unfortunately that was it.

I will try to repeat the same painting technique that I used 13 years ago when I painted the guest room walls the deep terra cotta color. It’s a mottled effect with rivers of dusty gray running through.

Terra Cotta Guest Room Walls

I love the terra cotta walls and am conflicted about painting over them. But the room is too dark. It’s time for a change. As a compromise, I decided to to keep this wall terra cotta:

Terra Cotta Wall

And I don’t have to move that Ikea Expedit shelf much! Bonus!

This room also has my Moroccan-Indian nook in a former closet:

Indian-Moroccan Nook

This nook is staying mostly as is! A few things to do:

  • Hang up a Moroccan pierced metal lantern found in Marrakech
  • Install a silk saree found on eBay as a partial curtain for the nook
  • Cover the aluminum closet door track

I was not planning to makeover this room, so the decor makeover will be minimal:

  • I’ll put things that inspire me creatively on the Ikea Expedit shelf
  • I’ll likely sew pillows with teal and terra cotta fabrics for the futon, to tie the colors of the room together
  • Fix the saree that hangs from the ceiling and drapes down the wall

I’ll bring in a few pieces from my original plan to make the creative studio:

  • Updates to vintage folding chairs and folding tables with paint and fabric
  • Stencil the rug that I wanted to use in the basement, but it might now stay in the guest room so the color plan is changing

I cannot guarantee this will get done. Sorry this sounds so non-committal. We’ve had waves of water thrown at us, literally, and I don’t know what’s coming next. All I know is more rain is forecast this coming week. But I’m trying to keep a sunny outlook!

It sounds like there were disruptions and drama for other ORC featured designers and guest participants too. Linda from Calling It Home hosts the ORC for us, and she made the unprecedented call to extend the ORC by another week, due to extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires and floods that are affecting a lot of bloggers and their supply chains to receive things for their rooms. So, we now have three more weeks instead of two! See what the ORC featured designers and guest participants had to say this week!