Den One Room Challenge Our Bedroom Painting

One Room Challenge: Week 3 (All That Painted Woodwork)

Let’s talk paint this week! But first, why has only one person chastised me for painting the woodwork so far? People. I expected more outrage. (I still get the occasional comment on this post from 2010 about it.)

OK, for real though. I’ve always maintained that we may paint the woodwork on the second floor. Victorian houses like mine were usually built with the nicest, most expensive materials on the first floor in the common areas, and lesser grade materials were used in the utilitarian spaces (kitchens, bathrooms) and private quarters (bedrooms). The double parlor, dining room, and entryway in my home all have old-growth oak millwork, and fir has been used everywhere else. The details and proportions are lovely — 10″ baseboards! — but the knots and wild, open wood grain are not. Often, the Victorians would paint lesser wood to look like a more expensive variety with faux-finishing, but that’s not my thing.

You know what is my thing? White trim. Beautiful, classic, nice white trim.

You know what else is my thing? White trim paired with black doors. I think the first time I really took notice of the look was after seeing Thomas O’Brien pull it off. (And this was not a deciding factor, but I met O’Brien at an event shortly after moving into this house, and we talked about painting natural wood trim. He was all for it.) Black paint looks better on doors with some architectural interest and you can fake it with flat-front hollow-core doors by adding molding, but luckily I had a good base to start with. My house has, through all of its changes over the years, kept its paneled doors with ornate brass doorknobs, and between the two rooms I’m working on now there are french doors. They aren’t original, but I do like them a whole lot. Even more so now that they’re black.

Eventually, my plan is to paint out the entire second floor. Here’s a before and after mockup of the hallway.

Hallway Before and After Mockup

The hall color may change, and maybe I’ll bring in wallpaper or some other wall treatment, but the white trim, black doors, and antique gold radiators — those elements are staying in the plan. And now they have been made reality in my ORC space!

White Trim and Transom Window, Black Door

I love it.

I don’t like stark white in an old home. My favorites tend to be a little warmer, with a creamy ivory tone while still reading as white. Benjamin Moore’s color of the year for 2016 is Simply White (OC-117), and while I did look at other options, I found that it was the perfect not-too-stark, not-too-cold white. I used it for the ceiling in a flat Ben formulation, and in satin Aura for all of the trim. The doors were painted Black Beauty (2128-10), which is the same color I painted the walls downstairs, but in semi-gloss Aura. I chose Everard Blue (CW-575) for the den — a dark blue with plenty of green in it from the Williamsburg historic color collection. It has the depth I was looking for, changing throughout the day under different lighting conditions but always looking good. And then for the bedroom, I wanted a subtle pink. Nothing too ‘little girl’ or ‘baby,’ and I found White Blush (OC-86) to be the perfect color. Almost off-white, but with a flattering rosy tint that doesn’t go lilac or peach. I chose Regal Select, matte finish, for both wall colors.

I did pick up several samples before settling on that perfect pink though. Just because you feel confident with a color based on the little swatch doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test it! I painted swatches right on the walls in both the bedroom and the den (so I could see the colors under different conditions). I liked Farrow & Ball’s Dimity (#2008) as a close runner-up, but I preferred the light freshness and soft color of White Blush.

Paint Samples

My colors had been chosen and I was preparing to paint everything myself when the opportunity to partner with Paintzen came along. They were about to launch in Chicago as I was about to start on the One Room Challenge, so the timing worked out perfectly for me to give them a try! They make it easy to work with reputable professional painters, and quotes are provided online after giving some basic information about your project. Once you give the go ahead and agree on a start date, they take care of the rest and they send a licensed, fully-insured paint crew to do the work. The service got its start in the NYC area, but they’re now available in other cities too.

You guys. I was very excited about this. I used to paint houses way back when, and I knew how much work there was to be done! It was daunting, and I didn’t want to misrepresent the job because this was a lot more than just ‘painting two rooms.’ I gave them the measurements (two rooms with 9′ high ceilings, 13×15 and 13×17) and explained that there were half-a-dozen small holes to be patched from the electrical work we’d had done. The walls needed to be painted, and the ceilings too. And then there was all of that woodwork, going from bare wood to either white (the baseboard, door trim, window trim, windows, transom windows, shutters, and picture rail) or black (the paneled doors and french doors). A LOT of work, but they were on board. Once I had chosen my paint colors, formulations, and finishes, Paintzen arranged for it to be delivered from a local Benjamin Moore retailer. They also supplied the primer (Zinnser B-I-N shellac-based primer —strong fumes, but good adhesion and coverage). I think we talked things over on a Wednesday and they could start as soon as that Friday, but we moved it to Monday of the next week to give us time to clear out the rooms and move the big stuff to the center. We had planned on staying clear of the two rooms while work was underway, so that gave us the weekend to still be able to sleep in the bedroom.

Come Monday morning, the crew met the paint delivery truck out front and then came inside at 8:00 to start work for the day. They laid rosin paper to protect the wood floors, covered the remaining furniture with plastic tarps, taped off windows and hardware with a combination of painters’ tape and liquid masking, and got started on repairs. They had the holes to fix, of course, but they also went above that and fixed any hairline cracks in the plaster they came across. One section was particularly bad, but they fixed it right up!

Paintzen Gets to Work

Patching Hairline Cracks in Plaster Walls

I was impressed by the attention they paid to the trim too. No cutting corners. They cleaned and sanded the wood, used an excellent primer, and sanded between coats for a smooth finish. They sprayed all of the woodwork, so it went faster than it would have with a brush, and the finish was nicer. I’ve done my fair share of painting, but I don’t own a professional sprayer.

Painting Crew Supplies

Sprayed Primer

It went pretty quickly from looking insane to looking really, really good.

Starting to See the Room

Antique Gold Cast Iron Radiator, Palest Blush Pink Walls, White Trim and Wooden Shutters

The painting crew did an amazing job, and they rocked it out in five days. They were here from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, two or three guys at a time, starting on a Monday and finishing up on a Friday. I can’t even imagine how much time it would have taken me to do all of that by myself! I would still be in there working on it. (A huge thank you to Paintzen for sponsoring the paint job — they were so awesome to work with.)

The Bedroom and Den, Painted

After the two spaces were painted and cleaned up, and the furniture was put back into place, the rooms started to shape up! I had a few things left up in the air when I showed you the design plan last week, but I’ve made progress on that front. I went ahead and ordered the ceiling fan, and I picked up a pair of vintage slipper chairs. (I may only use one in my design right now, but when they’re cheap and you find a pair, always get the pair. Same goes for table lamps.) I’m still holding out hope for the ottoman-as-coffee-table, but I’ve got a backup in place to be safe, in case the other gets pushed back again. And I’ve decided on the curtains: pale pink linen in both rooms, hung from the brass curtain rods I already own. I’m working with Tonic Living on them, and they’re going to sew the linen into lined curtains with a pinch-pleat top. It’s going to look so good!

There’s still work to be done (installing a lighting fixture and ceiling fan, putting up those curtain rods, that sort of thing), but the only big decision left is the art. Oh, that big blank wall.

Follow along with the One Room Challenge participants!

One Room Challenge• Claire Brody • The Curated House • Design Manifest • Driven by Decor • Honey We’re Home • Hunted Interior • The Makerista • Making it Lovely • My Sweet Savannah • Pencil and Paper Co. • The Pink Clutch • Savvy Home • Simplified Bee • Sketch 42 • Jill Sorensen • Orlando Soria • Thou Swell • The Vault Files • Waiting on Martha • The Zhush • Media Partner House Beautiful • TM by CIH

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Laura @ Rather Square
    April 20, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I really love that dark green-blue color – adds such drama to the room!

  • Katie
    April 20, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for describing the paint colors in such detail. I’m searching for a new living/dining/hallway/stairwell color and it’s nice to get some perspective on what to look for.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Picking paint colors is one of my favorite things to do. I geek out over the undertones and subtle differences. :)

  • Barbara A Town
    April 20, 2016 at 9:56 am

    OMG You have made quite some progress! Im obsessed with the white trim and black doors, what an update! Im also loving the new teal wall color, BEAUTIFUL!!! <3 Cant wait to see more

  • Jess
    April 20, 2016 at 10:23 am

    Hooray!! I am so excited to see the final result. As for the woodwork, I’m so glad you decided to paint it and never look back! I feel strongly that honoring a historic home isn’t really about preserving every single original detail, but more about making it the most lovely version of itself. And I have all the heart eyes for that crisp white. It makes the detail in the moldings/trims absolutely sing. Please keep the updates coming!

  • Jen Muratet
    April 20, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Sweet lord, it’s SO.SO.GOOD. The Everard Blue is just so swoonworthy. I got ahead of myself and didn’t read properly, and I got so excited that the hallway had been done too. Now I’m just so excited for that to happen in the future! I love your woodwork downstairs too, but the black and white is just stunning.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:44 am

      I wish the hallway was done. It needs a ceiling first! It’s going to look so good when everything is finally done throughout the second floor, but it will take a little time to get through.

  • emily
    April 20, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Can you tell us the painters method to get the paint off the French door window panes? It looks great!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:45 am

      They taped off the panes, and then used a razor along the edges after everything was dry to score the paint before removing the tape.

  • brooke
    April 20, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Beautiful! I painted the natural wood trim in one of my upstairs bedrooms when I converted it to a nursery, and it’s still my favorite room in the house. This has me thinking hard about maybe doing the rest of the upstairs…

  • Amy
    April 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    You’ll get no push back from me! I adore painted trim and these rooms look so fresh with it! Black doors are also a love of mine and the wall colors are perfect. Can’t wait to see more progress!

  • Nole
    April 20, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Nicole!! It looks SO GOOD! The painted trim is gorgeous, and I love all the colors you chose!

  • Tilisa
    April 20, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I love the paint color! And I am so jealous of your beautiful house and all the fun little details!

  • Feisty Harriet
    April 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Oh, that blue paint is gorgeous!!! Swooooon!


  • Katrina
    April 20, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Neighbor (i’ve sent you a couple of emails on this and our victorian)
    We too have original wood downstairs w/pocket doors but upstairs is painted a warm white.
    So far we’ve tried SW summer white and its great. I love the mock-up and your saturday appearence on the improvement show featuring plants!

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Oh, thank you! We shot that a while back, and I’ve never actually seen it. It has aired a few times, but that reminds me I should go and look for it!

  • Alana Waters-Piper
    April 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    HOLY CATS! YOU’RE PAINTING WOOD! Don’t you know what will happen? That wood’s gonna have paint ALL OVER IT.

    Like, ON IT. What on earth are you going to do? That’s completely irreversible! It’s not like they make paint stripper. Jeez!!

    What next? Dogs and cats living together???

  • JessiBee
    April 20, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    It looks amazing! The black doors with white…and then that dark moody blue. Swoon! Good thing it’s a big house because I’m moving in. With my husband. And two cats. That’s cool, right?

  • Allison Crawford
    April 20, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    This is so timely! I need to have a bathroom painted, and this service sounds fantastic! They did a wonderful job- impressive! Can’t wait to see the finished space.

  • Victoria
    April 20, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I think all the wood looked very busy with the trim sort of clashing with the floor. The white and black looks sophisticated and clean. Much better IMHO.

  • Amy
    April 20, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Have you considered flip-flopping the bedroom and den? The bed would be awesome against the big blank wall. It might help more with the dresser/nightstand layout as well, which looked a little tight before.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:51 am

      I’ve thought about it, yes, but I love waking up in the bedroom. It was better when we had a beautiful leafy tree right outside the window and I do miss that as part of my view, but I like seeing the sun rise from bed. The room just feels right.

  • Monique
    April 20, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    OK, I’ll bite. It’s your home, and I’m glad you like it, but I think the reason you’re not getting much push back is because the rest of us wood-lovers are hopping off ship. When you painted your trim white in the old house, everything appeared flat. -Especially in your kitchen, where it also looked cold and sterile. So I stopped coming to your blog until I heard you were in a Victorian. I prayed you wouldn’t touch that wood as my heart beats for Oak Park preservation and had truly been enjoying your interiors. Each time I saw the combo of dark paint, pink paint, grayish blue paint next to that warm wood it made my heart skip a beat. Now your home no longer appeals to me and I’ll have to find another blog for my morning routine. That’s how it goes. No kicking, screaming, or protesting. There are bigger things in this world to focus on. (Perhaps Trump gives us that perspective. One good thing.)

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:54 am

      I’m certain I did lose a fair amount of people when I originally painted the wood in our last home. Where you saw cold and sterile, I saw fresh and bright. I’ve been enjoying the process of pairing colors with the wood trim here (of which there is still plenty), but I’m also excited about the contrast and modernization I’m bringing to the second floor.

  • jacquelineef
    April 20, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    I love that you’ve barely begun ORC, and I love it already. And you are absolutely spot on in deciding to paint this particular woodwork. I expect that with any design blog I follow, decisions and projects will not always be in line with my preferences, but that’s just life, not a reason to pout or get huffy. It is after all, your house.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Thanks. I hope you enjoy the final reveal — we’re getting so close now!

  • Emily
    April 20, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    That blue is gorgeous! For the hallway, this is my very favorite wallpaper: I think they are zinnias? gold on white.

    • Making it Lovely
      April 26, 2016 at 10:56 am

      I love that one too! Joy from Oh Joy! designed it for Hygge & West.

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators
    April 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    No, you’ve painted the woodwork?!! It looks fabulous and so glad you got professionals in to do the job. That would have taken forever! I like that you’ve kept the natural wood on the first floor but for these more private spaces I say go all out and make it feel like you. The deep teal and barely there pink already feel more your style. Love the black doors and the awesome transom windows. Can’t wait to see the pink linen drapery either. Tonic Living always does great work.

  • Amy Knight
    April 21, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I love unpainted woodwork and have been having a serious struggle in my own house. We have beautiful wood but it’s in crappy shape- you know? Like the people who lived in the house for the lasst 100 odd years didn’t paint (most) of it, but they sure screwed in plenty of hooks and curtain rods and cafe curtains and curtain holders and door locks etc…By the time I’m done filling all the holes, I’m pretty sure the only way they’ll look remotely nice is if I paint them. And it’s not a grand house so even in the room where the wood is in good shape, it’s not NICE wood. So I appreciate hearing your reasoning and it giving me permission to make the choices that I think are right for me and my house. Convincing my husband is another thing…

    • Rae
      April 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      UGH! We have the same problem.

  • Andrew Schultz
    April 21, 2016 at 11:23 am

    It’s looking so amazing! I painted all of my doors Black Beauty in our Chicago condo and it made a huge difference. Going to eventually do the same with our house in Minneapolis. I got estimates for all the trim & doors in the whole house to get a fresh coat of white (it’s currently just a bit too yellowy, but a gorgeous enamel finish) and it was going to be 15-20K! Soooo… I will be doing it myself over the next, oh, 30 years. Decorator White, one window at time.

  • Kristen
    April 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

    That is A LOT of painting! It’s such a transformation just having the paint done! I love white trim and black doors and have been trying to convince my husband it’s a good look, thanks for the help! :)

  • sherry hart
    April 22, 2016 at 6:10 am

    You will find no argument from me about painting out wood….it looks a 100x’s better!

  • Kate
    April 22, 2016 at 7:03 am

    I love the look of black doors with white walls and trim! I was going to ask how you went about the process of painting the doors with a semi-gloss finish, but nevermind. :-) It looks so good!

  • Tracy
    April 22, 2016 at 7:12 am

    We lived in a house from 1880 and we painted all the trim in the house bright white. It looked much nicer and suited our style. I say paint the whole house! The next owners can strip the paint if they don’t like it.

    • Elizabeth
      April 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      OOF. “The next owners can strip the paint if they don’t like it.”

      And they’ll be cursing you every damn second of it. Clearly you’ve never stripped woodwork, Tracy!

  • Katherine
    April 22, 2016 at 9:35 am

    The progress is absolutely stunning! So excited to see how it turns out.

  • Kristina
    April 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I love this! (And am facing a similar situation). Did you have a place where the wood banister from the stairs from the ground floor comes up into the hallway where the trim is now painted? If so, how did you handle this transition?

  • Laurie Crist
    April 24, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    oh my lord, it all looks so, so good.

  • adawnpaxton
    April 25, 2016 at 8:38 am

    I am participating in the ORC too as a guest participant but wanted to pipe in on the woodwork debate! We have a 115 year old house with the most beautiful and expensive oak trim. I tried to replicate the trim in a closet addition we did and I couldn’t afford it, so that helped me make my mind up not to paint the trim in the house! I painted it in one room the night before we moved in for my daughter’s room and I instantly regretted it. I think the original owner of our house owned a lumber yard so he used the good stuff on all four floors! But I think yours looks lovely and it is your house! If it isn’t in good shape, why suffer through looking at it if you don’t love it!?

  • Calling it Home (@callingithome)
    April 25, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Oh wow, so amazing. I would paint almost anything, so I’m never the one to ask. Looks so beautiful.

  • Kristin @ Postbox Designs
    April 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I’m a sucker for painted molding (age of the house be darned!) It looks amazing, and bright, and cheerful! Can’t wait to see all of the beauties you fill it up with!!!

  • Lisa
    April 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Um, is that good enough? ;) Love the colors!

  • doodletllc
    April 26, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Love your color choices and painting the wood – I know I would have thought twice or probably 10 or 20 times before painting the wood, but watching your decorating style here has been an inspiration because I know how great it all turns out. Thanks! It looks fabulous.

  • Megan
    April 26, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I’m a fan of the painted woodwork! It cleans it up. I can appreciate the original woodwork, but dang. Nothing looks more crisp and classic then white trim and black doors. Especially with those gorgeous transoms!

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  • Jill
    April 28, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I would paint out the plate rail the same deep blue/green that’s on the walls.

  • Christi
    May 6, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Absolutely love the black doors and white trim. We are the the process of remodeling a rambling old farmhouse, and I’m seriously considering painting all the white doors (we still have some unpainted ones, which I hesitate to paint at all . . . mostly because my mother would say, “tsk, tsk, tsk,” ha!)

    What I was wondering, was if you go with black doors–do you do all the doors black? Closet doors? Master bath door? Built in cabinets? Wondering if I have to go all in, or if it would still look ok to leave some white doors.

    • Making it Lovely
      May 6, 2016 at 11:37 am

      One way would be to just do the doors facing out into the hallway (assuming you have one with your layout). Some people even just do the side of the door that faces out, and the other side is white, along with any closet doors, built-ins, etc. I’ll be painting all of the doors on the second floor black, but there are lots of ways to approach it!

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    May 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

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  • Hyedi
    May 14, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I’d like to use that dark blue/green paint color in my small bedroom (low ceilings). How do you feel about dark paint colors in small rooms?
    Do-able ya think? I have very similar taste as you; white or light pink bedding with dark walls. It Teeters between feminine and masculine, which balances out mine and my Hub’s taste.

  • Rich
    June 26, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    The original wood frames and detail was beautiful but you have done it justice with the quality white paintwork.
    We did something similar with white detail and grey walls in our home (renovated to be hamptons style). All that hard will pay off nicely, love your styling too.

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  • Melissa Livesay
    September 26, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Thank you so much for your commentary on painting woodwork. My husband and I just put a contract on a home with terrazzo floors and woodwork throughout. The home has been on and off the market for over 3 years and at this point, it’s a bargain because it needs updating. If the contract goes through, we plan on painting the woodwork in PARTS of the home and bring the home love and character. I appreciate your willingness to put your thoughts out here, allow for commentary and photos. This board has helped me have the courage to know that the home will be mine, my decisions, and hopefully bring love and value to a home that needs a breath of fresh air. The Chicago History Museum recently went under construction and even the History Museum decided to paint their woodwork. Thank you again for your willingness to allow for this thought process and debate!

  • Deb
    November 6, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    The woodwork looks great!! I love the white trim and black doors combo – it makes a huge difference and it brightens the rooms and hallway so much! I am in the Chicago suburbs and will check out Paintzen. Thanks for sharing them! Can I ask where you got your wood shutters in the windows? So many shutter vendors want to build a box around the window. I have nice window trim (just, honey oak and needs to be painted, thus the Paintzen interest). I want very simple shutters, just like what you have. Thanks!!

    • Making it Lovely
      November 7, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Thanks! The shutters are antiques, sorry I don’t have a source for you.

  • Elnora T.
    January 3, 2017 at 1:04 am

    So sad to see all that beautiful woodwork ruined and painted over in a bland, lifeless white. It totally destroyed any historic value your home might have had and completely stripped the character from it. This fad for sacrificing any and all original features to make homes “bright” (why is that even good?) is very sad. I can only hope someone down the road can undo the damage you have done.

  • Tyler
    May 15, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    WOW! It came out beautifully! Good choice using the Benjamin Moore paint. That’s exclusively what we use at our painting company, never failed us yet.

  • SAM
    July 8, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    It is sad to see well kept wood be painted over completely. I like the cleanness of white, however for this, I feel it looks cheap especially with the black doors. The house has lost much character in doing this.