Emphasis on the Accent Wall

A couple of weeks ago Harry and our daughter, Jenna, made the big trek down to the big city of Boston to help our favorite newlyweds, Meghan and Craig, spruce up their new apartment.  Painting is one of the least expensive ways to update and refresh a room.  In Meg and Craig’s case, they wanted to add a bit of pizzazz to otherwise dreary white walls.

What’s the quickest (and cheapest) way to add some drama?  Paint an accent wall!

Here’s an accent wall primer I found on tlc.com.

Unless you’re a decorator by trade, you probably painted each room all the same color. If you even ventured into the world of color on your walls, that is. Painting one wall a different shade of the room’s color, or even a different color entirely, will add some visual interest to a space that could use a little perking up.

Choose Your Wall

Before you get started, you need to pick the wall you want to paint. Start by taking a look around the room. Is there a place your eyes are naturally drawn to when you walk in? If so, this is your focal point. It may not be a feature you want to show off, so it’s up to you to designate the focal point by choosing to highlight a wall that has architectural details, like a fireplace or a built-in bookshelf.

In your bedroom, the wall with your headboard is a good choice. Perhaps you have a collection of paintings or accessories that you want to highlight, so you can paint the wall where they’re displayed. An accent wall can also help make an awkward room seem less so. If you have a long, narrow room, painting the short wall at the far end will make it seem closer and less oblong.

Choose Your Paint

One way to paint an accent wall is to choose a color a couple of shades darker than the other walls. There are seven colors in the paint spectrum, but most paints are made up of multiple colors. For example, blue isn’t just blue — it usually has gray or green or yellow or red in it, which can make finding the right complement to the blue on your walls a real bear. You can find paint chips with a range of three to six shades in the same color family. This is a failsafe way to make sure you choose the right shade of gray-blue in a darker tone to complement your light gray-blue. If you really want to pack a punch, you can also choose a different, but complementary color all together.

Recall your early art classes and choose from colors opposite each other on the color wheel for the ultimate dramatic statement. But here’s a quick tip: Take advantage of the sample sizes of paint that most home improvement stores offer, and try a small swatch on the wall you want to paint. Paint colors look different depending on the light, so that lovely sage green could turn out to look more like seafoam.

If you feel like getting a little crafty, you can step into the world of DIY faux finishes. Just be sure to experiment on a smaller surface first. Or skip the paint altogether and try out a wall covering. Wallpaper has made a big comeback, so you can choose from a variety of bright patterns or natural materials with mellow textures. Whatever you choose, make it stand out from the rest of the walls.

I love this sage accent wall I found on Baer Home Design’s website.

And this look makes a big statement without having to go with an outrageous color.  (Image on JenniferYoung.com.)

I found this image on Benjamin Moore’s Facebook page.  Which color do you like better: silver fox 2108-50 (with tea room AF-270 inset) or butternut brown 2095-30?

Painting an accent wall is an easy and budget-friendly way to add impact to your home.  Have fun!


Harry Stearns Painting


Faux Bois Concrete Floors

We used to have a beautiful finished basement. An off-white Berber carpet, comfy furniture, a big TV, spare bed, and all the kid’s toys corralled into one place….

Then a record-breaking rain storm left us with a big mess of wet and moldy carpet.  Most of the carpet has been stripped out of the room leaving us with bare and boring concrete floors.  We’ve since had several more floods following big rain storms, so we don’t dare to re-carpet.  What to do?

I found inspiration from a fellow blogger, Mandi Grubler.  Check out how Mandi took a few cans of paint (and a little elbow grease scraping and scrubbing to remove the carpet glue) and turned a yucky concrete floor into a beautiful “faux bois” floor in her daughter’s room!  I can already visualize bold painted furniture and the colorful fabrics you could use to finish up this space.

Read Mandi’s step-by-step instructions on her blog, Vintage Revivals > >


BEFORE image found on vintagerevivals.com


AFTER image found on vintagerevivals.com

Thanks for the inspiration, Mandi!

Harry Stearns Painting’s unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader

Cool Ideas for Chalkboard Paint

A young couple with small children hired Harry to re-paint a number of rooms in their new house.  The clever couple asked Harry to create an eco-friendly message center (a modern-day bulletin board) using chalkboard paint (which looked similar to this image, right, I found at BenjaminMoore.com).  Benjamin Moore’s Studio Finishes Chalkboard Paint (307) is easy to apply to almost any surface in your home.  All you have to do is buy some chalk and an eraser.  Voila…a message center for jotting down phone messages, menus, reminders and grocery lists – and without wasting paper and adding to our landfills!

Harry also created an entire chalkboard wall in the children’s playroom (similar to the image, below) – a fun canvas to encourage creativity!  With a chalkboard wall, hopefully children won’t feel drawn to paint or color on your other walls!

Image found on BenjaminMoore.com

Other ideas for chalkboard paint:

  • IIn the kitchen, frame a chalkboard square on the wall with decorative molding or a colorful paint to display the day’s menu. This can be a great touch for special family meals and when entertaining guests.
  • Kids love to draw on “forbidden” surfaces like tabletops or closet doors. Turn these surfaces into wondrous canvases with chalkboard paint and multicolored chalk–they’ll love it, and it’s easy to clean up.
  • Personalize your coasters with chalkboard paint for just about any occasion. Use them as name cards at your dinner parties, draw storks on them for your best friend’s baby shower, or use magnetic tape to put them on your fridge as mini-blackboards. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.]
  • Do you have to rummage through your storage bins every time you need to find something you put away? Problem solved: Just paint chalkboard squares on your bins and label them. It’s a great way to keep things organized. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.]
  • A home office is the ideal spot for a family planner. Coat part of a wall with chalkboard paint and create four weeks’ worth of squares in a variety of chalk colors. Use it just like a regular planner for events, reminders, school schedules, and lots more.
  • If you enjoy growing herbs indoors, paint terracotta planters with chalkboard paint and label them with chalk to keep track of exactly what’s growing where–from basil to mint. [Note: Be sure to prime the surface before painting.)Cheers!Jan
    (Harry’s wife, unpaid marketing consultant & chief cheerleader)


5 Easy Ways to Bring Color to Your Home

Image from colorchats.com

Benjamin Moore blogger Sharon Grech wrote, “One of the questions that I get asked all the time, is “how do I bring a splash of colour into my space when everything I have is neutral?”  As ideal as it is to start with a ”blank canvas,”  it can seem really overwhelming to add that first stroke of colour.  Similar to adding a trendy scarf colour, handbag or shoe to an all neutral outfit, bringing colour into your home is very personal, and for many people starts off conservative but before you know it,  turns into an obsession!”

Check out Sharon’s five easy ways to bring color into your home – from painted furniture to portable art.

Paint for Humid Environments

In a bathroom or laundry room, high moisture content and heavy water vapor can take a toll on paint. In the past, the traditional paint for humid environments was a semi-gloss finish. The shiny, durable surface of a semi-gloss paint prevents water from absorbing. Sure, the water beads and streaks, and the semi-gloss finish shows every little imperfection in the wall. But the alternative—mold and mildew spores thriving in a porous, less durable flat or matte paint—outweighed the semi-gloss coating’s aesthetic shortcomings.

Today, satin or semi-gloss isn’t the only option for a bathroom. A product like Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath and Spa (532) has a chemistry optimized for humid environments, even in a Matte finish. First, this low-VOC, low-odor blend of Aura is mildew-resistant enough to discourage the growth of stachybotrys chartarum, aka black mold. Second, it uses Color Lock Technology, a proprietary resin formulation designed to prevent colors from rubbing away if condensation on the paint is wiped off. Last, while conventional paints can be sensitive to moisture, Bath and Spa has been tested and designed specifically for these conditions.

For hospitals, schools, spas, and other environments where mold and mildew control can be a matter of public safety, Benjamin Moore makes a product called Eco Spec Silver. This formula contains elemental silver. In the presence of water, silver ions rise to the paint’s surface and attach themselves to mold microbes to inhibit their growth. The zero-VOC formula, is available in flat, eggshell and semi-gloss finishes.

Does your own bathroom seem muggy enough to need a silver bullet? It’s more likely that a mechanical solution to the room’s ventilation could help solve a chronic moisture problem. All bathrooms need an exhaust fan, and sometimes a little work on an existing fan can improve its performance. Take a few minutes to remove the cover, clean it off, unclog any blockages and give it a chance to move some air. If a fan is over ten years old, consider replacing it—they don’t last forever. Once a fan is running properly, two coats of Aura Bath and Spa should provide a satisfying finish. And with the walls taken care of, you can redirect your cleaning efforts into scouring the scum off those hazy old tiles.

(Found on paintgurus.com)

Basic to Beautiful “Before & After” Photos

Who doesn’t love before and after photos?!  I wish I was more consistent about carrying a camera with me to jobs so I could get before and after photos of the projects I’ve worked on.  But, since I don’t always remember my camera (and I’m not the best photographer!), I’d like to share some “basic to beautiful” before and after makeovers that I found on countryliving.com.

Hopefully you’ll find them as inspiring as I do.

Click here to view 43 before and after photos of rooms transformed in a flash thanks to clever, budget-friendly ideas and an eye for reinvention.

The secret to this subtle yet super-stylish wall treatment? Ceiling medallions! We installed the ones shown here in a single day using adhesive caulk. A Belgian-linen slipcover by Bemz updates a standard Ikea sofa—and delivers a soft dose of color. Photo credit: Miki Duisterhof; found on countryliving.com