Painting Stripes in the Nursery - The Project That Nearly Killed Me

I think I may finally be ready to write about the motivation killing project that was painting stripes in the  To say the process was traumatic is both an understatement and a total exaggeration.  It wasn't all that hard to do the stripes, but they took forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever.....until I thought my head would explode.  The process was very straight forward and simple, but the execution was mind numbingly tedious.  I tried to maintain my sanity by repeating my mantra of "slow and steady, slow and steady" but after a while I was fighting maniacal laughter.

Let's begin at the beginning.  As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to do the nursery in a circus theme.  Dennis takes me to the circus every year for my birthday (because he's awesome!) so it seemed a fitting theme, plus it's gender neutral.  We don't want the nursery to be cartoon circus, though.  We're going more for a vintage, turn of the century circus aesthetic.  After all, the nursery isn't really for the baby, it's for the grown-ups.  When The Critter is old enough to decide what they like, then they can pick how they want the room decorated.

see, I told you he's awesome

What could possibly be more circus like than stripped walls?  Nothing, I tell you.  Nothing!  So it was settled.  Stripes in the nursery.  I briefly considered using fabric on the walls to create an actual tent in the room, but then decided that wouldn't be a good idea when the baby gets mobile and can pull on stuff.  Next best thing?  Paint.

Now, I've never painted stripes on anything before, but how hard could it be?  I see striped walls all over the internet, and if those people can do it, then so can I.  I consulted with my good friend, Google, and watched several You Tube videos and figured I had the process down pat.  I'm not going to go into the technical side of striping a wall in this post; if anyone wants me to write a how-to, I'll gladly do it, but that's not exactly what this post is about.  Off to Home Depot for supplies!

Dennis and I decided to do red and white stripes, and then I had the grand idea to add gold glitter pinstripes to the red stripes.  I never know when to say when.  We picked Navajo White in Behr Premium Plus Eggshell No-VOC Enamel paint for the white stripes; it has a really nice antique off white, almost tea stained color.  For the red, we chose Antique Ruby, also in Behr Eggshell.  The gold pinstripes called for Martha Stewart's Gold Dust Glitter Paint.  I also picked up a small level and a yardstick so I could measure and mark the stripes.  This may have been the worst decision I made in this entire process.  All the online resources I consulted with said to use a laser level for ease and accuracy.  I didn't want to spend the money on a laser level.  How often would I really need a laser lever?  Never.  So I didn't get a laser level.  Silly me. Silly, silly me.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I also got painter's tape.  Lots and lots of painter's tape.  Not using Frog Tape was my second worst decision.  More on that later, for now, on to painting.

One evening after work, I painted the off white base color.  I didn't have high hopes for decent coverage of even a light colored paint based on my previous experience, but I was happily surprised with the even coverage of just one coat.  Of course, the existing beige paint was a similar color to the off white I was painting, but only having to paint once was way better than twice.  I felt ahead of the game!  I was excited to tape and paint the stripes the next day.  I was certain I could get all the stripes measured, marked, taped, and painted in one long day's work.  I was so optimistic.  If only I knew what madness was to follow.  Ignorance is bliss.

The next morning I got up early and felt so motivated and excited to have an entire day to work on the nursery.  I knew I would leave that evening with stripes on the walls.  I was ready to go!  I headed straight over to the new place and hit my first road block:  measuring and marking.  How wide should my stripes be?  Should the white and red stripes be the same size, or should one color be wider than the other?  Which color should be wider?  How many stripes should go on each wall?  Should I measure each wall separately and hope the stripes come out evenly, or should I measure all the way around the room and hope they end up evenly?  I was perplexed.  I felt like I had already asked myself these questions, and I had, I just hadn't come up with any answers yet.  I got out pen and paper, measured the walls, and began sketching and trying to do math.  I got all wrapped up in my head and made things way more complicated than they needed to be.  I was frustrated, angry, and I wasted over an hour of time.  Finally, I settled on a layout that roughly fit on all four walls evenly and got started measuring.  Slow and steady.  Slow and steady.

This is where things got really tedious and mind numbing.  I didn't have a laser level, like I should have.  And Dennis was at work, so I was flying solo on this project.  I had to measure at the top of the wall, at the middle of the wall, and at the bottom of the wall, then take the level and yardstick and try to connect the dots  in a straight line.  I'd climb up, climb down, climb up, and climb down, just for one line.  And it took a lot of precision with that tiny level to keep the lines straight, not to mention the fact that nothing is square in the whole house, which made for some interesting problems trying to line things up.  Slow and steady.  Slow and steady, I kept telling myself, through gritted teeth.  No matter how frustrating.  I was holding onto that mantra for dear life.

After doing one wall, my back hurt, my shoulders hurt, my hips hurt, my legs hurt, my feet hurt, and I had a headache from furrowing my brow in concentration.  And I was sweating like a pig; our central A/C still hadn't been fixed and it was H-O-T!!!  I would've killed for a laser level at this point, and I'm not exactly sure why I didn't just go back to Home Depot and buy one.  It would've solved so many problems.  I think the heat was keeping me from thinking clearly.  But I was still determined to get this project done!!!  I forged ahead and got the other three walls done, sans laser level.  Slow and steady; slow and friggin steady.  Time for a much needed lunch break, after who know how many hours of work.

After lunch, I came back and began taping off all the lines I had drawn on the walls.  Again, I was sure this process was going to go fast and I'd still be able to paint that day.  I was holding onto a dream.  Cue maniacal laughter.  Taping wasn't quite as bad as measuring and marking, but it certainly felt like it.  My spirit hadn't been totally crushed, yet.  I don't know if it was the heat and humidity, or the fact that I was a sweaty beast, or the fact that the base coat of paint wasn't quite 24 hours old, but the painter's tape just did not want to stay on the walls.  It would take me 3 or 4 tries to get the tape to stick at the ceiling, and then as I worked my way down the line to the floor, the edges of the tape wouldn't stay tacked all the way down.  I would press and rub along the edges repeatedly to no avail.  I even ended up giving myself blisters on my fingertips from the friction of rubbing the tape.  I tried using an old gym ID of mine to seal the edges.  I tried using a hand towel to reduce the friction on my fingers.  Nothing really worked.  But I kept on taping.  SLOW AND STEADY!  SLOW AND STEADY!!!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

After hours and hours of taping, I decided I'd had enough.  There was no way I was going to get any red paint on those walls after that.  I was ready to fall down right where I was, in a fit of crazed laughter and hot, angry tears.  But at least the taping was done.

A few days later I was finally able to get to the red paint.  After all that measuring, marking, and taping, I was tempted to just leave the painter's tape on the walls and call it striped, but I already had the red paint on hand, and hated to see it go to waste.  One thing you should know about red paint, it that's is a fickle, fickle color to paint.  It never covers evenly, is always streaky, and takes at least 3 coats to look decent.  First thing was cutting in around the ceiling, baseboards, and windows.

Next, I started rolling, and rolling, and rolling.  I used a 4 inch roller and it really worked very well.  I started in one corner and painted my way around the room.  By the time I got back to where I started, the paint was dry enough for me to add a second, and then a third coat of paint.  I can't remember if I did three or four coats of paint, but I went around the room enough times to get dizzy.  The whole process wasn't terribly tedious and went much faster than I anticipated.  It almost left me with hope that the project was back on track.

first coat; you can really see the uneven coverage of the red 
multiple coats; nice even coverage--finally

I was really nervous about pulling off all the tape after finally getting the stripes all painted.  The walls are textured, and I was worried about paint bleeding under the tape, especially since the tape didn't seem to stick all that well in the first place.  I really regret not buying that Frog Tape!!!  I smoothed down each piece of tape before I painted, but wasn't sure if that was going to be good enough to maintain a smooth, even line.  In the pictures, the lines look nice and crisp, but I definitely had paint bleed under the paint.  I was so disappointed!!!!!  But there was no way I was going to start this project over again.  I told myself that it wasn't so bad and that it added to the vintage feel of the room.

Now, it may look like I was done with my little wall stripes experiment, but I never know when to say when, and I was determined to add those gold glitter pinstripes to all the red stripes.  I had obviously not learned my lesson at all.  Back to Home Depot for more tape.  And did I get Frog Tape this time?  I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.  No, I did not get Frog Tape.  Duh, I don't learn lessons very well.

And so I taped.  And taped.  And taped, well into the night.  This time I had to tape twice as much because each red stripe got two gold stripes.  Slow and steady, slow and steady.  By the time I got done taping, I was so crazed that I was determined to get that glitter on the walls.  I was afraid if I stopped I would never get back to it.

Martha Stewart lies.  The example of the color of paint on the lid of the container, and even what the paint looks like in the container is NOTHING like how it actually looks on the walls.  NOTHING!!!  I started one pinstripe and was so shocked at how the glitter didn't show up.  At all.  I was flabbergasted.

what it was supposed to look like
what it actually looked like.  see the glitter?  Yeah?  Me neither.
I threw down my paint brush in disgust and decided to just go home.  Dennis and I brainstormed other ways to get gold glitter on the walls, and decided that since I had already bought the Martha Stewart stuff I would try again with a thicker application, and multiple coats if necessary.  This really pushed me over the edge of insanity.  I just wanted anything in this room to go simply and easily.  The next day, I gritted my teeth, and started painting thick layers of gold paint.  I can't remember how many coats it took me.  Four?  Five?  Too many, that's for sure, but I finally got the coverage I was hoping for.  I was so frustrated/tired/demoralized/over this project that by the time I was actually finished with the glitter, I hardly cared anymore.  But at least I was done!!!


No comments

Back to Top