This is a sponsored review from BlogHer and Valspar.


Man, it’s non-stop excitement up in this joint. Two weeks ago, you suggested a wealth of paint color options for the boring white-walled bedroom in our very first home, then we narrowed them down together to six possible shades. This week, I’m going to show you which color Sean and I have chosen, announce the winner of last week’s Lowe’s gift card, give away another Lowe’s gift card, and show you a sneak peek of the room in progress. We’re getting there, Internet, I promise.

So first of all, congratulations to Anne Ferris, now the proud owner of a $100 gift card to Lowe’s. Next week, I’ll be giving away the granddaddy of Lowe’s gift cards---the sir of Lowe’s gift cards, if you will; the gentleman-at-arms---so if you haven’t entered yet, next week’s going to be the time to do it, trust me. This week, however, I want to explain how we came to choose the color we did, and show you a little progress on the room so far.

You’ll remember that my inspiration for the bedroom was this gorgeous charcoal gray color I first saw on the walls of a hotel room in Paris. Here’s a picture of my sister in the hotel room, demonstrating how incredibly the color captured the light:

I’ve been in love with this color since March, when we stayed in the hotel, and when I saw that Valspar had a couple of color choices that seemed to look fairly similar, I crossed my fingers that someone might suggest them.

And as it turns out, they did: Mark Twain House Ombra Gray was put forth in the comments, and so was High-Speed Steel and Almost Charcoal: all lovely dark grays a lot like the one above. But then a couple of people suggested Beguile, which couldn’t be more different---it was still a dark gray, but a much browner dark gray---and I fell in love with that too. And then I went right back to the beginning and started to question the idea of choosing dark gray in the first place: would it be too dark? Too moody? Would I look like an angsty teenager painting my bedroom a statement black? (“My soul is charcoal! None of you understand me! I shall paint my bedroom charcoal too, the better to reflect my thoughts as I sit here and read Sylvia Plath!”)

And so my thoughts turned to Metropolis, another popular (and much lighter) suggestion, and I considered that seriously too, even going so far as to try it in Valspar’s Virtual Painter tool and search for glimpses of it on their Color Buzz blog. Honestly, this is what happens when you have readers with such good taste: a person cannot be expected to make a decision! Why couldn’t more of you suggested a neon pink and mint green combination, so I could have rolled my eyes and gone with the other guys? As it was, I loved all of your suggestions and comments and insights and it was tougher than I expected to decide.

In the end, it really came down to High-Speed Steel and Almost Charcoal, both of which you advised would look really good in the room. In order to make our decision, we tested both of them against two other “control” grays in the same family---the Mark Twain House Ombra Gray and a much darker shade called Muted Ebony--and tried to figure out which we preferred.

By the way, are these tiny pots of paint the greatest invention ever or what? I’ve never gone this route before---preferring instead to buy a couple of gallons of what I think will look good and splash it on the walls even as the creeping dread of doubt pours in----and I’ve got to say, it was pretty genius. The fact that they cost a very reasonable two bucks fifty a pop meant we got to try out our two finalists---High Speed Steel and Almost Charcoal---against two other dark grays, live and in person, and see if we still really liked them:

From left to right: Mark Twain House Ombra Gray, High-Speed Steel, Muted Ebony, and Almost Charcoal. When I sent this picture to my mother, asking her which she liked best, she said “Well, I like that just as it is! Maybe a splash of red at the bottom and it fits in with your décor perfectly!” She’s not wrong: you could almost explain this away to curious visitors as a very expensive piece of avant-garde art.

Anyway, the color we ended up choosing, without further ado, just because it straddled the line so comfortably between charcoal gray and cool cement without veering uncomfortably into Goth Teenager Black or Unwanted Tones of Navy or Olive, was.....High-Speed Steel.

Hurrah High Speed Steel! It conjures up images of fast-moving freight trains for me, don’t know about you; and sure, while it’s not the most romantic name for a bedroom paint color---no Honeysuckle Breeze or Whispering Willows (I just made those up: do you think I have a future in naming paint colors?)---it’s sort of poetic in its own way, I think. High Speed Steel, High Speed Steel: yes, I like the sound of that.

We’ve spent the last few days taping and painting, taping and painting---I am a cautious painter and always tape first; for other tips on how to make your paint job look less DIY, check out Valspar’s Paint Like a Pro page---and we’re finally getting there, I think. Next week I’ll reveal the finished room for you---we ended up painting a couple of other things with Valspar paint, since they had such a good selection of colors (much better, if I’m honest, than I thought they’d have)---but for now, here are a couple of in-action shots that’ll show you how we’re getting on.

We chose a flat finish because the walls are kind of weirdly shiny and textured in our bedroom and I’d hoped it would minimize that. We also bought better quality rollers and brushes than we normally buy, my justification being that we own this house now and we should do it properly. (Truthfully, I’m not sure how much difference it made. You can see, however, that I didn’t splurge on a drop cloth and just ripped up some old grocery bags instead. Daredevil idiocy or earthfriendly environmentalism? I’ll let you decide. After I tell you that I spent an hour the next day scratching up paint splatters with my fingernail from the hardwood floors. Yeah, that one’s pretty obvious.)

This is how I always start painting. No, it’s not a love song to the letter W, it’s just something I read somewhere about how to paint evenly. Maybe you were supposed to make an M, actually, now that I think about it, and then fill that in. Oh well, too late now, no harm done.

Ooh look, there we go: real color on the walls! This is only after the first coat; the second gave an even deeper hue and minimized the shine further. But you’ll have to wait until next week to see that.

So go on then, what do you think? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a $100 gift card to Lowe’s---thanks to BlogHer and Valspar---chosen at random by one of those random number-choosing sites. As before, duplicate comments are not permitted, I’ll notify the winner once s/he’s been chosen, and the official rules are here if you’d like to read them.

Come back next week for the big reveal, a ton of before and after photos--- though mostly afters because the befores are so boring they’d put your high school trigonometry himself to sleep (I’m sorry; I don’t find trigonometry very interesting, but you can substitute this for calculus or American Idol or another boring subject of your choice)---and the chance to win a final grand prize which any home improvement enthusiast will surely find rather thrilling. Not long now, and then the entire Internet will see my bedroom! Wow, I’m trying not to think about how creepy that actually sounds.


Aug 18, 2010

Looks great!

Aug 18, 2010

This looks fabulous! I think you're brave to go so dark. I can't wait to see it all come together!

Mary Daiger
Aug 18, 2010

Looks wonderful! Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it. It will be so fun to decorate with that color as the backdrop.

Aug 18, 2010

Can't wait to see it with all the furnishings!!

Jesse B.
Aug 18, 2010

I would love to paint my bedroom this color but it get barely any natural light. My son's room would look great though. Can't wait to see the finished room!

Aug 18, 2010

Seems kind of dark, but excited to see the outcome!

Aug 18, 2010

I bet the finished walls will look great!

Laura B.
Aug 18, 2010

Love the High Speed Steel! It was my favorite of the top 6! Can't wait to see the reveal!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks very cool and fits your style perfectly! I also noticed you have the same gold door handles we do...I plan on replacing ours asap. Are you guys doing that too? Have you thought about what you'd replace them with? I'd love it if you could do the research and just show me the best option and save me the trouble!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks good! Woulda chosen the lightest gray, though you probably made the best call given the shiny-ness.

Aug 18, 2010

ooh i'm excited to see what it looks like in the end.

i love those little tester pots too, when i was little i had the most awesome dolls house ever, and painted all the rooms using them. :)

Aug 18, 2010

It looks a bit dark to me, but I have always been scared of color! I love it when others use it, but it freaks me out. I do LOVE the little sample pots idea!

Sara U
Aug 18, 2010

I LOVE this color....grey with yellow accents is my dream combo!

Lisa S.
Aug 18, 2010

Can't wait to see the end results!

Mary H.
Aug 18, 2010

Wow, you are brave! i can't wait to see the finished product

Aug 18, 2010

Brooding and romantic!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it!

Aug 18, 2010

I see yellow & white accents with this and am getting jealous just thinking about it! Looks good!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks gray. I might have to go with charcoal in my bedroom, too! Can't wait to see the finished product.

Thespian Libby
Aug 18, 2010


Aug 18, 2010

my husband and i painted a bedroom dark gray with a purple accent wall and we loved it! great color choice, i was going to comment on your last post but i had no idea which one you should choose! going with the four options and trying them out was best, i'm sure!

Renee from GA
Aug 18, 2010

So glad you are making your house your own :) Congrats again to the both of you!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! (But are you sure you don't want the Mark Twain SOMEWHERE in your house?) :P

Aug 18, 2010

Very nice - I'm glad the shine went down, I think grey should definitely be a bit matte. Can't wait to see the big reveal (too much HGTV, self!)

Aug 18, 2010

Ooooh! So pretty!

Aug 18, 2010

It's really looking great, and I think you made a good choice with the color.

Aug 18, 2010

I love the dark color. cant wait to see the finished product. An old sheet works great for a drop cloth.

Dawn K.
Aug 18, 2010

Gorgeous! I can't wait to see the finished project and how you accessorize the room!

Aug 18, 2010


Aug 18, 2010

Hurray, my color was chosen. And it looks great!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks fab! I think you'll really love it! :)

Aug 18, 2010

I'd be terrified of the darkness, honestly, but I'm really curious to see how you'll work with it, and maybe you'll change my mind :)

Aug 18, 2010

I love the grey! I painted my bedroom walls Caribbean turquoise, so as you see, I am not afraid of color!

Aug 18, 2010

Looking lovely. I love the little sample pots of paint, too. In fact, our mudroom has been sporting 4 grey squares since March (a project meant for completion before baby was due in May, but then baby came in March!).

Aug 18, 2010

Well my vote was the Mark Twain, so I am feeling a little let down :) But you have excellent styling sense, so I can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

I love it! I would never be as daring and choose such a dark color...but I'm absolutely loving it. Maybe you will give me the courage to try something daring for my next paint project!!

Aug 18, 2010

it's pretty! can't wait to see how it really looks when it is dried.

Aug 18, 2010

Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

looks fabulous! can't wait to see the final pics.

Aug 18, 2010

The prep-work is the worst part about painting, but the ONLY way to get a good look.

My husband bought a big roll of red paper (huge, like four feet wide), that lasted through painting our whole house, and saved hours of scraping paint off the hardwood. I don't think it was expensive.

Camels & Chocolate
Aug 18, 2010

If you couldn't already tell based on my ever-present gray slouch boots, this is my FAVORITE color. I wish it matched my apartment, then I'd copy this color!

Aug 18, 2010

I love it! It ALMOST makes me forget how much I loathe painting. . .

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! Can't wait to see the final result.

Melanie D
Aug 18, 2010

I like it. Can't wait to see the pics of it with your white accents and a punch of color? It will be fun to see the big reveal!

Ariel Cummins
Aug 18, 2010

Gray is definitely one of my favorite neutrals. Not as harsh as black! A little more soothing than navy!

Chocolate brown could give it a run for its money in my book, though.

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! I tend to live dangerously when it comes to properly covering the floor before messy home beautification projects, too. But taping is a must!

Aug 18, 2010

Oooh...good choice! Love that color.

Aug 18, 2010

Holly it looks beautiful! I love how daring and bold it is. Can't wait to see the final product.

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! I can't wait to see everything come together! Are you still thinking about an accent color?

Aug 18, 2010

This is great! It reminds me of my own bedroom, which is painted a very dark grey-blue. It is very soothing!

Aug 18, 2010

I am totally enamored with it. I've had my eye on that abchao bedroom inspiration forever and am dying to do some room in my house gray. This looks awesome so far and I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Aug 18, 2010

Ugh! The taping! We still have areas that need fixing where the tape just didn't do what it was supposed to. I hope you have better luck. I really like the color though! Did it lighten a little when it dried or is that picture when it is dry? Right now we are in heavy flower planting mode. It makes me feel so close to nature to be out in the garden, granted avoiding our 100 degree heat has been a challenge.

Aug 18, 2010

That looks wonderful! I'm itching to see the final product!!

Aug 18, 2010

hi-speed steel was my favorite from the beginning! beautiful!

Aug 18, 2010

Wow, it's darker than I imagined but I think you could pull it off. You have such great taste in home decor!

Aug 18, 2010

It's very pretty and very dramatic. Can't wait to see the finished room!

Aug 18, 2010

It looks great! I'm glad you went for it with the real dark color you liked rather than a "safer" lighter color. My living room is Mudslide from Valspar and I've loved it for 5 years. Though part of that might be that my hubby adamently refuses to repaint it. If we win a giftcard maybe I can convince him to repaint the orange bedroom...

Aug 18, 2010

So there will be turquoise accents, right? :) looks great and OY to taping!

Aug 18, 2010

Oh yes, it's perfect. Can't wait to see the finished room! I too love those tiny paint can samples. Genius!

Aug 18, 2010

I'm delighted that you like it. I'm a fan of those little paint pots, too. I wish they had existed years ago, when I was painting my first home.

Aug 18, 2010

Love the High-Speed Steel! Looks fabulous!

Aug 18, 2010

I love it! It will so nice when you get all your furniture and linens in there. Can't wait to see it!

Aug 18, 2010

can't wait to see what you hang on the walls!

Aug 18, 2010

Love the color.

Aug 18, 2010

The picture of your sister looks so wonderful and moody!

Aug 18, 2010

I was skeptical, but it looks great!

Aug 18, 2010

AWESOME! i feel the need to immediately redo my bedroom now.

Stephanie Swalley
Aug 18, 2010

Very interested to see the end result! Happy painting!

Aug 18, 2010

I say good for you for being so daring! I could never use this color living in Alaska where it's so dark already for half the year.

Aug 18, 2010

I like the color-but it seems dark. I"m not that brave! Can't wait to see it finished and accented to see how it all comes together. Seeing the picture of the hotel room in Paris gave me a much better idea of what you were going for. Very cool and modern.

Aug 18, 2010

It looks pretty good. We went with a dark gray for our guest room recently. And then I put black curtains up. Combine that with low lighting and roman shades... let's just say our house is now vampire friendly. It looks good though!

Aug 18, 2010

It's amazing you have started to work on your house so quickly and efficiently! My bf and I just moved to our house over a year and it still... kinda... looks like we just moved in. I'm trying to organize/decorate a room at a time. Love the "High Speed Steel," it looks sooo luxe.

Aug 18, 2010

Ooh, that looks amazing! I can't wait to see it with all the white furniture!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it! Great choice!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! Can't wait to see it finished.

Aug 18, 2010

That looks so great all alone. Can't wait to see the total package. Also, I always use the W method as well!

Aug 18, 2010

Congrats on the great color choice, Holly! Sadly, my apartment has dark brown carpet (it's a rental), so as much as I want to make my bedroom HIGH SPEED STEEL, I feel like it would turn into a cave reminiscent of basements in the 1970's.
Your bedroom is going to be a beautiful finished product!!

Aug 18, 2010

love the color! Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

It looks amazing! My boyfriend and I are moving in together so I was thinking of doing something similar. Cant wait to see the results!

Aug 18, 2010

The quality of paintbrushes DOES make a difference in my opinion - it makes the texture a little different on the walls, and good ones help distribute paint more evenly.

It's lookin' good!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great so far. Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

I love it so far. It's going to look perfect with your white linens.

Aug 18, 2010

You are definitely brave, but it looks great! Speedy! High Steely! Steely Danny!

Erin @ Fierce Beagle
Aug 18, 2010

Very daring.

Aug 18, 2010

It looks awesome! It almost makes me want to paint again, but then I remember how much I hate to paint.

Aug 18, 2010

My boyfriend and I painted his bedroom a similar charcoal grey, with one wall a little darker... at first, I was a little scared about it being so dark, but in the end, it turned out great. Good luck!

Aug 18, 2010

Cool! I've never painted a dark color like that. I like it!!

Aug 18, 2010

It seems like BRAVE is the familiar word here. . .It looks great, however I don't know if I could have talked my husband into it!

Can't wait to see the finished product!!!!

Aug 18, 2010

Oooooh! Very sexy and luxe. Can't wait to see the end product!