Happy Friday friends! Today we’re talking color blocking (again). I’ve had multiple people message asking how I determined my “formula” for color blocking our guest bedroom and wanted to share the specifics. How did I come up with the outlined look? How did I determine the width or ideal dimension? What was my painting process? How did I choose to pair those two specific paint colors? The list of questions are still rolling in, so I figured a blog post Q&A would help to clarify! Click through to read about my overall color blocking / border concept for the guest room and how I achieved the final look. I hope this is helpful if you’re planning a similar design in your own home…
This blog post is basically one big Q&A forum, so let’s dive right in… I’m answering all of your questions below!
How did you come up with the outlined look?
I didn’t want to spend a ton of time & effort drywalling and squaring off the two radius edges that bleed into the window nook… a telltale sign of 90’s homes. That would also require replacing all of the millwork in the room, which would be costly and time consuming. I tried to get creative with ideas for updating the radius, and in an effort to better disguise those soft corners, my color blocked border plan came to fruition. Crisp, clean straight lines helped to make the radius edges disappear… drawing your eye elsewhere.
How did you determine the width or ideal dimensions for the color blocking?
I knew I wanted the border to be slightly wider than the base, crown, and casing. I also needed it to be wide enough to conceal the curtain rod behind the bed, so the cornice could easily blend into the border. Did you notice that detail tucked under the crown? Check it out below…
How did you execute the paint plan?
First I painted the main wall color, then I used a template (a card box) and a laser level to mark and tape where the border was going. Once everything was taped off, I painted the darker color (closest to the millwork).
How did you choose to pair those two specific paint colors, and do you have any recommendations for choosing two complimentary colors? What were the exact colors you used?
I was going for a warmer monochromatic look, so I landed on swatches that were within the same color family. I’d recommend pulling some swatches you like and picking colors that are just a few shades different (lighter or darker). If they both live on the same swatch card, that’s an easy bet. My exact colors? Arizona Canyon and Woodacres, but I had them mixed at Sherwin-Williams, despite the fact they’re Benjamin Moore colors… and yes- I was painting on Christmas Eve. Ha!
Why didn’t you include the millwork (casing, trim, crown, base, etc)?
In this room, I wanted a strong contrast with a crisp line. The ceilings are taller in this room and I didn’t need to make the room feel larger, so leaving the millwork and ceiling white was the easy move. It also saved me a ton of time to leave it painted as it was when we moved in. White is always a classic look for trim.
What was the process for painting?
To simplify… make paint selections, roll the wall color, mark & tape off the color blocked portion using a laser level & template, then paint the border. I used a flat finish for the walls and the existing millwork is painted with a semigloss.
Why did you paint the window nook the solid darker color rather than continuing the color blocking?
I wanted to conceal those pesky radius corners and I liked the way the darker paint draws you into the nook. It also added dimension and provided a great high-contrast background for my oversized art. The nook / dormer gets more light than the larger part of the room, so it could handle a heavier, deeper hue.
Is there a specific brush you recommend for this paint application?
I used the Purdy Clearcut Elite brush for this project (I like the short handle version). Check out these posts for additional painting tips…
- 10 Painting Tips for Cutting In
- How to Paint a Door
- How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color
- 10 Pro Painting Tips
What is the easiest way to get super straight, crisp lines?
A few things that make this project MUCH easier… a laser level, a template (I just used a playing card box), painter’s tape, and a good quality paint brush.
Did painting like this take forever?
Honestly, no. Since I wasn’t painting the millwork, I think it took the normal amount of time… or maybe even less than the typical room I’d paint. If you go into it with a good plan, it should be smooth sailing!
Would this work alongside panel moulding or millwork applied to the walls?
I wouldn’t use the same exact border or design plan, but you could definitely color block in a different way with panel moulding or a wall treatment. Maybe the inner panels are a different color, maybe the millwork is the contrasting element, or maybe you try a lower wainscoting type of look… like my old color blocked hallway.
Alright, I think that’s everything I can think of for now! Let me know if you have additional questions in the comment section below. Would you ever color block a room or try a unique paint treatment? Paint is an inexpensive way to add personality to a space and you can use it as a handy design tool. It’s the easiest way to make a big impact on a budget. I’m so glad my idea translated and that many of you have taken inspiration from it. I’m all about getting creative in our homes… no matter what that looks like! Here’s to a great weekend ahead. We’re hosting Laurie Anne and her family, so I’m hopping off for a ski day. Have a good one, friends! I’ll link my tools below…
PeggiMarch 10, 2023 at 5:56 am
Good morning! Yup. Still so into this look! I just love how this treatment both camouflages (radius corners be gone!)(and, you know I noticed that cornice trick!) and highlights (hello, cozy nook!). Color is so impactful. I’m imagining all the different effects you could create by slightly altering the shades. Closer in value for a more subtle take; a completely different color for boldness. What if you reversed them? Darker walls and lighter outline? Hmm. Or only ran along the millwork…or made the lines thinner? HA. I’m definitely not suggesting a change! I just really enjoy exploring all the possibilities! This is, of course, why my decision-making process is um…glacial. A curse. One question that I didn’t see: does the stripe create a teeny ridge that you’d need to sand if you ever decided to paint over the color blocking? I painted stripes in my dressing room ages ago and have pondered repainting, but I see a distinct edge between the colors. The idea of sanding my highly textured walls does not delight. If you have a better solution, I’m all ears! Regardless, that’s a project for Future Peggi. Present Peggi is working on the bedroom. But back to this beautiful bedroom that will soon be welcoming the bestie! Have an amazing weekend of skiing, relaxing and laughing! 💜 Happy Pizza Friday, friends!
LaurenMarch 10, 2023 at 7:47 am
Good morning Peggi! You can sand the seam if you want to paint over your stripes- but I have an easier solution for you. You can by cans of spray on texture-like spray paint. The spray patterns are fully adjustable to match your size of texture, and they are very easy to work with. (Just test the spray pattern on a piece of cardboard to make sure it matches). Spray over your seams, let it dry, and repaint. The best part of using this option is that it dries in 15 minutes, doesn’t require special equipment or tedious mixing, and the match is generally spot on. 😉
PeggiMarch 10, 2023 at 10:49 am
Hey friend! Super suggestion! I’ve used that product to great effect on a ceiling patch. Unfortunately, my 1940s’ house is a choose your own adventure texture extravaganza. The room in question has a kind of ragged on, wet-sanded look. 🤷🏻♀️ Not the easiest to patch. Womp, womp. I’ve considered an all-over sanding; then I get tired and concentrate on enjoying the stripes. Ha! Thanks for having my back, Lauren! Happy Pizza Friday!!💜
SarahMarch 13, 2023 at 8:27 pm
Thank you! I love that you noticed the cornice trick. I was quite pleased with myself for getting the math right. Haha! Color and paint really is the most impactful. It never fails to surprise me how it can instantly transform a space. When I run my hand over the wall, it feels pretty smooth- but it may require a quick pass with a sanding block to make sure it’s perfectly smooth (if I ever choose to repaint). Great question! I think Lauren’s idea is awesome for texture / avoiding sanding. We don’t have much texture on our walls, but that can be tricky. I can’t wait to see Present Peggi’s bedroom! Lol! Cheers to the headboard, picking a paint color, and crossing things off the list. You’re doing great! Keep it up! Hope you had a fabulous weekend :)
LaurenMarch 10, 2023 at 7:40 am
I love every ounce of this bedroom, and most of that is because of the paint treatment. Good morning Sarah! The minute you mentioned radius corners and hiding them in the initial blog post about this room, I snapped to attention. Not me expanding every photo trying to see them- and it’s almost impossible to notice! You’re an evil genius of the very best kind- what a mind! I’ve spent longer than I care to admit pondering the options for this exact dilemma. We have only radius corners, and they’re the very prominent rounded type, which is unfortunate to say the least. One thing to note here is that in California, radius corners are considered an upgrade in all new built homes, and a feature many homeowners want in their houses (for reasons I can’t fathom). For us, removing would be far too costly and not the right move for resell purposes. Tricks like this are a godsend to me. Painting two joining rooms different colors is where things can get interesting. Over the years I’ve found several other tricks that assist in terms of paint and aesthetic, but this one is the best I’ve seen. I plan on utilizing this to help the flow from the front room into the other areas of the house. Do you have any suggestions for determining how large the border should be in the absence of millwork to work around? I love your color blocking techniques and have used them in the past- with awesome results. Thank you for the Q&A on this one! Have an amazing ski day with Laurie Anne and happy pizza Friday!
SarahMarch 13, 2023 at 8:17 pm
Thank you so much, Lauren! You made my day with your comment about the corners. Yay! Mission accomplished :) Emmett told me that radius corners used to be an upgrade for builder grade homes in our area, too. They’re sprinkled around our house- I’d just rather spend our time & money elsewhere. Ha. It’s just weird that they’re not all consistent. It’s not my favorite look either! You’re totally right though… it’s tricky deciding where to start and end paint application since there isn’t a hard edge. I can’t wait to see how you use the color blocking or paint for your own rounded corners. You’ll have to text me some photos! I think the border width should also taken into consideration the size of the room. I think I remember you telling me you have tall vaulted ceilings, so you may need a wider border. Hope you had an amazing weekend, friend! xo
ColleenMarch 10, 2023 at 10:21 am
I’ve actually never seen radius corners before Sarah! I wonder why a builder would choose to drywall in that manner 🤔 The color blocking and guest bedroom is so very pretty and the colors are a lovely combination. In our first house (a very small townhome) I dabbled in color blocking on a stairwell wall for artwork display purposes. I really liked it as it was my way of organizing family photos, and connecting two colors used from the entrance to the living room. While I don’t have plans of color blocking it’s a great post whom might be considering. A genius idea in dealing with those curvy corners. I do love that you chose to keep the color consistent in the nook. You got the most amazing eye for these design dilemmas and executed it perfectly. My lines would have been wonky as patience isn’t always my strong suit. Ha! And painting on Christmas Eve 😱 No way! The bedroom is so unique and stunning, cozy and calming, a perfect retreat for any guest. I bet you are giving the basement bedroom a mighty makeover as well. You always have the best ideas and illustrate such creativity which makes every room in your home so inspirational 🤩
Have a beautiful week/weekend with your friends Sarah! You are the most thoughtful host indeed 😉🥂🥳 Have a blast skiing ❤️
SarahMarch 13, 2023 at 8:09 pm
Interesting! I think radius corners were popular in the 90’s and were actually considered an “upgrade” in builder grade homes. They’re actually kind of difficult to do… I just don’t love the look and don’t think the trend aged well, as it feels a bit dated now. I’m intrigued by your color blocked art installation- that sounds amazing. You’re so sweet- thanks for your kind words! I enjoy these sort of projects. I’m looking forward to sharing the basement bedroom soon. I’m just waiting on the art. We had such a fun weekend with our friends. Weekends always go too fast! I hope you had a good one, too! xox