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:


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!

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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!

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One Room Challenge Week 3: Rained On, But Not Rained Out

This week, I wondered if I’m doing the One Room Challenge or if I’m doing Survivor!

Remember last week when I used words from this song: “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone …”

Well how ironic.

This week, the rains came.

And the ORC got rained on at my house. But as you’ll see at the end, the game is not rained out here yet.

Blissful shopping Saturday

I spent Saturday afternoon running errands, getting painting supplies and decorations for the soon-to-be creative studio. It was so fun! You know how it is! You get ideas, you envision what they’ll look like in the room. It’s a blast!! While shopping, I was imagining the final reveal pictures. I chose a few things to add texture and pattern. I found containers to artfully arrange paint brushes. I was excited to make vignettes like this:

Paint Brush Vignette

The Vision

Yeah it was raining all day. But no big deal. I didn’t even carry an umbrella.

I was blissfully unaware of what was happening back at home, in the basement.

The week’s tasks were carefully planned:

Week 3 Schedule

And ta-da!!! Today I would have given you a tutorial showing how to make an old crusty, rustic faux brick wall. There are tutorials online, but mine was gonna be crustier and more rustic with heavy texture build-up.

You can guess now that this post isn’t about that tutorial.

CRANK UP The Horror Show

Before going to the basement to paint on Saturday evening, I feed the cats, make a pizza and drink cider. I’m listening to the patter of rain on the roof, enjoying the apple cider, and thinking simple thoughts: I love October. I love cider.



Oh @%$*&!!!! The water alarm in the basement!!!

I run down there.

There’s water all over the floor! Here’s when I first saw it:

Here’s the thing. I put only plastic containers on the floor. NEVER cardboard boxes. But I was painting these cardboard boxes and they were on the floor for a day. That’s it!! Only 1 day! What’s the chance of a flood the next day? It rains all the time and the basement hasn’t flooded in 2 years. Why now?

Thankfully the painter’s drop cloth protected the boxes and all the fabrics in them. Not a single box got a single drop of water, despite a river of water running underneath the drop cloths! Crazy.

Long sTory Short …

The cardboard boxes stayed dry, but lots of other things got wet. Water was everywhere. The night was crazy.

I wound up dropping a shop vac drain cap down into a basement pipe. And made a mad dash to Menards, squeaking in through the doors just before they closed for a new shop vac. I was soaking wet and had mascara running down my face. Which I didn’t realize until later! I wondered why the nice employees at Menards were helpful but they were … cautious.

Anyway, long story short, water came into our basement all day Sunday, all day Monday, all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, and on and on.

This is what my calendar looked like in reality:

What I Really Did This Week

I’m calling contractors to come look at the situation, but everyone is super busy because many houses flooded.

I make a long video, capturing all the visible damage.

Knocked Down …

I would love to bounce back and power through the next three weeks and turn this mess into a gorgeous room. I know these three posts have left an ugly impression of my house. I don’t want to leave that impression of my house. And I wanted to deliver on the DIY tutorials so you can see and do the cool ideas I had in mind.

But that would be the wrong thing to do.

I don’t believe in putting lipstick on a pig. I believe in doing things right.

It’s Tuesday as I write this and wait for a basement drainage contractor to show. Water is still running underneath the walls, like a skinny slithery river. It’s following the downward slope in the floor toward a drain. I know the water is doing its damage to the walls. I can already smell mold, my nose is stuffy and my lungs feel stuffy.

We need to do many things that won’t be done within three weeks, before the ORC ends:

  • Talk with our insurer
  • Mold remediation
  • Identify the problem with the exterior drain and fix it
  • Rip everything out of the basement (walls, framing, wood built-ins, etc.)
  • Re-build the walls, etc.

… But Not Knocked Out?

I wrote a “dropping out” ending for today. But maybe not. I’m definitely dropping studio plans for the basement, until we fix the basement.

But I can’t keep painting and doing blog DIYs in the living room and dining room. We do have a guest room that isn’t used much. It’s smaller, about 10′ x 10′. The walls would need to be lightened. I can work with it. It would be a much smaller plan, a “really mini makeover,” because there’s only 3 weeks to do it. I might do it. I’m still uncertain because I still must remove 100% of everything out of our basement, so basement waterproofing experts can identify what’s happening. AND the exterior painting of our house isn’t 100% finished yet — I’m still finishing that too.

Come back next week to find out!

Many other rooms are being renovated and decorated during the One Room Challenge. Some of the 20 featured designers are creating textured, neutral spaces like I was planning to do, and I can’t wait to see what they do! The nearly 200 guest participants share many useful ideas, renovation tips and innovative designs. Check them out!

Yeah, cheesy free clip art! This was a rare moment of kitschy fun this week.

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One Room Challenge Week 2: I Can See Clearly Now

These words ring in my head today:

I can see clearly now, the {STUFF} is gone,

I can see all obstacles in my way

Gone are the {TALL PILES} that had me blind

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)

Sun-Shiny day.

Hear these words in the voice of singer Johnny Nash and be uplifted! All things are possible now!! I’m gonna bring bright sun-shiny sunshine into this basement space. I’m gonna turn it into a light, airy creative studio.

Here is what I see clearly now:

Clean Room

Clean Room

Far cry from what I showed you last week, huh? To recap, this is a room makeover that I’m doing as a One Room Challenge guest participant. I am turning an insane mess into an inspiring creative studio. If all goes as planned, a finished studio will be revealed in early November.

Even though the room is clean now, there’s nothing in here that’s fashionable or inspirational. My goal is to change that, but do it on a budget. I want to show a:

Big change that doesn’t cost big money

I will re-use and re-purpose things that are already hanging around our house, but not used much. And apparently, according to the “to do list” below, no surface will go unpainted …

The To Do List

During Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, I did a lot of half-baked things. So there’s no DIY tutorials or completed projects to share yet. Today I’ll show you more solid plans, in the actual room instead of a moodboard. And I’ll show you a few quirky things — don’t all rooms have their quirks? — that I must work around. Think of these things as “obstacles in my way.”

First, let’s revisit the inspiration photo because I’m serious about capturing the feeling of this room:

ORC Fall 2017 Inspiration Photo


Though my basement ceiling is 7 feet — yeah! only 7 feet!! — so my room won’t have the effect of a tall soaring wall. But we can use elements of this inspiration photo: brick texture, white, woven, slight industrial, storage, big table.

I warn first, the photos that follow are not gorgeous!! I feel like I’m ruining my blog with these photos! Where is the gorgeousness? Well, it gets worse before it gets better, right? And the photos are really yellow even after I toned the yellow down in Photoshop. That’s another issue to deal with in this room — the yellowish lighting and surfaces!

Faux Brick Wall with German Smear

I’ll be covering this wall with faux brick panels:

Faux Brick Wall

The brick will be painted light neutral colors and given a German smear treatment. It’s a 24-foot long wall. So this is gonna be some work.

Weathered Oak

I will be using matte chalky paints to get rid of honey oak. Good riddance!!! That change is worth three exclamation points.

To paint like weathered oak

Shelves to paint like weathered oak

I will paint the entertainment center and the shelves with gray/white/neutral colors that will show off the natural oak grain, like a limed oak effect.

White Paint

The oak doors, trim and ceiling will get 1-2 coats of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White paint. Also the gray exterior door leading to a staircase outside will be painted. This door was installed years ago and I never bothered to paint it.

Paint Exterior Door

All the cardboard bankers boxes that hold fabrics in the oak shelves will be given the white paint treatment. I’ve already started this. Sorry the first pic is blurry — I forgot to take a “before” picture so I screen-captured it from my Instagram stories:

Painting Storage Boxes White

The boxes will be labeled with metal label holders, sort of card catalog style.

Rot Repair

There’s some moldy rotted wood trim that will be fixed by digging out the rotted wood, treating the trim with Rot Terminator, and filling it with epoxy. I recently went through that process on the exterior of our house and I’ll be sharing reviews of the products I used. They are magic products, and easy even for a first-timer like me to use.

Rot repair

Stenciled Rug

I’m keeping this rug from Ikea in the room. It will go under the crafting tables:

Ikea Rug to be Stenciled

It’s synthetic, which is great for a basement that floods periodically. I will stencil a big suzani pattern on the rug. I’m still investigating paint that won’t run and stick to the tile floor if the basement floods.

Drop Cloth Covered Craft Tables

The four tables will get covered with drop cloth, to capture the inevitable drips and spills of paint and glue that happen during mammoth crafting sessions:

Paint Folding Tables

I’ll also spray paint the green legs black for consistency.

Vintage Folding Chair Makeover

I have truly vintage folding chairs from my teen years. Because one of them has OZZY written on the bottom!!

OZZY Folding Chair

And no, that’s not about the Ozzy Osbourne of the MTV show of the 2000s — I was honoring the Ozzy Osbourne of about 1980, 1981 and the Blizzard of Ozz album! Yeah make me feel old. So if I’m old, these chairs are old. And they’re built to last!

The chairs will get a spray paint treatment and, believe it or not, cushy silk cushions! Using these chairs is a great way to repurpose what we already have around the house.

Desk Makeover

As another example of re-using what we already own, this desk will be painted:

Desk to be painted

Because it’s a left-handed desk, it would make a great sewing station! Sewing machine on the right where the chair fits, and the left side can hold fabric going through the machine.

Pattern-Full Things

I am inspired by mixes of patterns and textiles, so there will be fast ‘n easy miscellaneous projects to decorate with patterns and fabrics. I’ll leave those as a surprise for posts in future weeks!

Natural Light

Somehow I have to boost the natural or white light in here. All photos are so yellow! I even toned down the yellow and warmth in Photoshop, and the photos in this post are still yellow. It would be most convenient to do DIY tutorial photography in this room. But the light needs a major overhaul. I do have portable photography lights, and need to play with those to see if they balance out the yellow from the ceiling lights.

Oh yeah, I almost wrapped up here, and almost forgot about the quirky things …

Quirky Things

Get a look at this BULKY HVAC BULKHEAD:

Bulky Bulkhead

Ugh. Hate this thing. Our basement ceilings are already only 7 feet. Then this bulky bulkhead brings a thing running through the middle of the basement that’s only about 6 feet off the ground! Good thing we’re short people. Anyone over 6 feet tall who visits my house, fair warning, our basement ceiling could knock you out.

The good news is, we have air conditioning because of this bulkhead. So it’s not going anywhere. It’s a quirky thing I have to work with. Our 50-year-old house was obviously retrofitted in recent decades to add central air. I just wish they had found a different way to run the ducts through the house.

Related to the bulkhead, look what happened over here by this window:

Bulkhead craziness by window

Crazy!!! This is the wall where I want to install the faux brick. I also want to wrap the brick into the window opening, because that’s what real brick would do (to cover all area where you can see the wallpaper here). I’ll need to do some cuts in the brick panels to work around this crazy bulkhead business.

We have warped oak baseboards because of past flooding. So I’ll replace those with cheap plastic/polyurethane baseboards, which is a better material than wood for this flooding situation.

To Be Continued …

Now on to the real work!!

There are 20 featured designers and more than 200 guest participants sharing their One Room Challenge Week 2 updates this week at the Calling It Home blog. Check them out and see their progress and plans! I’ve already caught up on the featured designers’ Week 2 posts and oh my goodness, so much yummy inspiration to see!!

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