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.


ashley reed
Aug 18, 2010

i love it! i once painted a bedroom a color called blueprint, and we loved it! it was the color of the text on a set of blueprints, and had the most amazing glow when the sun hit it. i love darker for a bedroom. three cheers for you!

Aug 18, 2010

Wow, congrats on picking the color - it's looking great so far! I'll be painting in the next month or so (closing on a house in a week) and might have to check out Valspar's paint.

Aug 18, 2010

Love that color! I can't wait to see how you jazz it up with accent colors! Also, I'm a diehard fan of taping.

Aug 18, 2010

We painted our bedroom a dark shade and I admit I wasn't confident of it. But it turned out great. Had the same thoughts when I saw your dark samples.

Aug 18, 2010

It's gonna be super dramatic. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

Aug 18, 2010

I've chosen the same color for our trim and doors and shelves in our bathroom. Adding an almost white gray to the walls and ceiling and a sage to the back of our built in shelves. I can't wait to get started, or to see yours finished! :)

Aug 18, 2010

I looks great! I would have never thought grey would be so sensual.

Aug 18, 2010

I love it! I've been thinking of doing charcoal walls in my bedroom the next time we repaint; I have all white linens and drapes also and imagine it's going to look great. You're serving as my guinea pig!

Aug 18, 2010

You'll rent out your bedroom for all of us that can't make it to the Paris hotel, right?

Aug 18, 2010

WOW! I painted a grey-blue the other day and thought that was hard. Dark seems so much harder but i LOVE it!

Natalie R.
Aug 18, 2010

It looks great!!

Aug 18, 2010

I love it! I want to move in!

Katie Brown
Aug 18, 2010

Looks great: that would have been my first color choice, as well.

Diana B.
Aug 18, 2010

Those samples are a great idea - I am definitely trying them next time. Our last project was a light brown bedroom that came out with a slightly pinkish hue - blech.

Diana B.
Aug 18, 2010

Those samples are a great idea - I am definitely trying them next time. Our last project was a light brown bedroom that came out with a slightly pinkish hue - blech.

Sarah Pearse
Aug 18, 2010

Love it - will love to see it with the light!

Aug 18, 2010

goes against everything i believe in. But at least its not white which is much worse. And also kudos for going BOLD

Aug 18, 2010

I can't wait to see the final product!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it! I wish my bedroom got some light through the windows so we could go dark. Instead the windows are blocked by the porch and by kudzu (this is Atlanta, after all) and so we went with a much lighter brown than I wanted. Oh well...someday.

Kate in Ohio
Aug 18, 2010

I love that you are so willing to take chances with color. I would never think to do that, but I love it!

Aug 18, 2010

Can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

I can't wait to see the final room! I just painted the ceiling as well as the walls in one of my rooms so I put down that brown paper on the floors. Normally I drag a plastic dropcloth all over the room but this was such a big project (2 story high cathedral ceiling), that I needed a better approach. It made me feel very professional.

Good luck!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks great! I'm not brave enough to try dark colors - maybe one day!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it!

Sara E-G
Aug 18, 2010

Love, love, love!

Aug 18, 2010

Can't wait to see the final results!

The drop clothes we bought 8 years ago when we painted our first house have more than paid for themselves over the years. Though we seem to only paint rooms with carpet, so it's a little harder to clean up spatters!

Aug 18, 2010

It is looking so wonderful! I can't wait to see how you decorate with it!

Aug 18, 2010

It looks good. I scrolled back up and looked at the picture of your sister, and it seems like you are getting the look you were hoping for!

Aug 18, 2010

I love gray!! I have used two versions of it in both my Living Room and Bedroom, but that was back in my old house. I'm currently looking at chalk white walls and DYING to throw some color on them. A Lowe's gift card would suit this mission PERFECTLY!!

Laura S
Aug 18, 2010

It is looking amazing! Cannot wait to see the finished product!

Aug 18, 2010

I'm loving it, can't wait to see how you decorate with accent colors!

Aug 18, 2010

It's interesting to see how different the paint looks in the three pictures! I love the color, though. Can't wait for the big reveal!

Aug 18, 2010

It's interesting to see how different the paint looks in the three pictures! I love the color, though. Can't wait for the big reveal!

Aug 18, 2010

Very cool!

Becca Lynn
Aug 18, 2010

Oh I like it! I was hoping you'd choose one of the darker greys. I'm closing on my first place this week and am dying for a grey bedroom...I can't wait to see how yours turns out!

Aug 18, 2010

Love it! I'm so glad you went with high speed steel. It makes me wish I had gone darker in my bedroom, but I couldn't turn down the name combination of Angel Eyes and Night Dreams.

Aug 18, 2010

I would like to see a lot of yellow in the room. I happen to like yellow and grey. Or should I say, high speed steel?

Like it!

Lauren H.
Aug 18, 2010

I love it! I'm in the midst of choosing colors (gray, no less) and it's haaaard. I'm not quite brave enough to go as dark as you, but thanks for the inspiration!

Aug 18, 2010

My bedroom is painted a nice dark charcoally color too! so dramaticly sexy!

Aug 18, 2010

So dark! But I think it will look so lovely when all your white linen and furniture is set up. Great choice, can't wait to see the end results.

Aug 18, 2010

Looks smashing!!

jennifer m.
Aug 18, 2010

i love it! can't wait to see the finished product!

Betsy Blodgett
Aug 18, 2010

I love the dark color. Sadly, my bedroom is in the basement and I think if I painted it dark like that I might never wake up...

Judy M
Aug 18, 2010

Very nice! I am looking forward to seeing the final coat.

Aug 18, 2010


Aug 18, 2010

can't wait to see the after shots!

Aug 18, 2010

Looks amazing, can't wait to see the finished room.

Aug 18, 2010

It looks so dark and cool! I imagine your bedroom is going to be very chic and relaxing when it's all done.

Aug 18, 2010

Love it Holly.

Aug 18, 2010

Beautiful! Makes me hate my boring renters white walls even more.

Dr. Maureen
Aug 18, 2010

Looks nice!

Aug 18, 2010

I must have no style whatsoever... or be a stick-in-the-mud fuddy-duddy.

The color seems too dark to me. Yes, it's a bedroom, where the main goal is sleeping, so dark walls serve a purpose, but still... If it were MY bedroom, I'd want more light (because we don't have many windows).

It probably would have been more polite to say "It looks great!" but when someone asks "What do you think," it's hard for me to lie. :p

FWIW, that color looks very similar to the trim color on the outside of our house (which is "Silver Sabre" but I forget what brand). :D

Aug 18, 2010

Very dramatic. Thanks for all of the valspar info. We are just finishing kitchen renovations and we are moving onto painting.

Aug 18, 2010

It seems really dark to me, but I'm sure the right fabrics and accessories will lighten things up!

Aug 18, 2010

That color is awesome! I cannot wait to see the finished product...who knows, I may like it so much that I will go with THAT color in my room that desperately needs an update!

Aug 18, 2010

Gonna have to reserve judgment until you put everything in the room. Looks a little dark to me right now.

Aug 18, 2010

love the color!! we recently went dark grey in our bedroom and i can't get over how great it is.

Aug 18, 2010

"High Speed Steel" sounds like it should give the right kind of boom chick-a-boom-boom inspiration when it comes time make some babies.

And looks great, too!

alisa windsor
Aug 18, 2010

I love it. Excited to see how you decorate with it. Makes me want to paint a room now.

Aug 18, 2010

Ah!, I love it! I can't wait to see your bedroom (you're right, it does sound creepy). I wish I could get mine organised, let alone decorated.

Leslie Jill
Aug 18, 2010

Oh Holly,

You make me so jealous...

Aug 18, 2010

What a bold beautiful grey. I can't wait to see the room once you're done!

Meredith Kitts
Aug 18, 2010

Good God I love your hutzpah! It looks great, but I could never pull it off. Currently I'm trying to decide to redo my bedroom in pale grey and yellow, but I really want to do the dark grey, but I know me. I won't. :/

Aug 18, 2010

Can you come paint our place? Our landlords got frisky and painted all the walls pink or dark pink or turquoise. We need help! Love it. Looks great.

Aug 18, 2010

You're right about it capturing the light in very different ways! Your first picture is almost a light gray and your last ones are very dark. I can't wait to see how you accessorize with white and other colors!

FunnyGal KAT
Aug 18, 2010

A very adventurous choice, but I love it! I'm looking forward to seeing how you decorate your room to go with it.

Aug 18, 2010

I cant wait until it comes out great so I can use you as one of the arguments in my "why we should try darker" case the next time paint colors come up. I lost the last round soundly.

Aug 18, 2010

love! it is gorgeous - especially if you pair with white/light colored linens.

Aug 18, 2010

Ooh, it's gorgeous already. It's like a cave, in the best possible way.

Aug 18, 2010

I'm inspired to paint now. Awesome job so far!

Aug 19, 2010

Can't wait to see the final project!

And your new header is great.

Aug 19, 2010

Love it! We just used an old sheet for a drop cloth and it worked well. Can't wait to see the finished room.

Aug 19, 2010

Grey's my favorite color! Excellent choice. Can't wait to see the finished room.

Aug 19, 2010

As one of the Almost Charcoal supporters, I'm only a smidge disappointed. :) Can't wait to see the finished room!

Aug 19, 2010

It's so much darker than i'd ever consider - i can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 19, 2010

Love it! Looking forward to the "after" pics!

Aug 19, 2010

I love it! And I love the new site, too. It all looks great.

Patty V
Aug 19, 2010

Yay! That was my first choice! I painted my sons' bathroom downstairs Baseball Mitt Brown one year. I thought it was perfect for boys...they hated it. It stayed that way until recently i repainted a beautiful Ocean Blue. Everyone loves the new color this time, it's wonderful. I've never done a big room in a bold color, though my bedroom is next. Can't wait to see your finished room!

Aug 19, 2010

Looks fantastic!

Aug 19, 2010

Eager to see the final project! I'm positive it'll look gorgeous!

Aug 19, 2010

i think you made the right decision. can't wait to see it all done!

Aug 19, 2010 is turning out so nicely! A dark colour is always a chance but it looks great so far and I hope you will be very happy with it when everything is all finished!

Aug 19, 2010

Love the color, very you. :)

Aug 19, 2010

Love! I'm going for something similar, with eggplant & lime green as accents to the grey.

Aug 19, 2010

Love it-- I am dying to paint a room that color.

Aug 19, 2010

I love it!!! I can just imagine it with a neutral palette (muted colors on the bed, etc) with a bright POP of color!

Aug 19, 2010

I was certainly a big fan of the lighter colors, but this does look awfully nice. It's so modern and BOLD. I like it!

Aug 19, 2010

I'm debbie downer- It's so dark! My husband would love it, however. I can't wait to see it all done up- then maybe I'll get it.

Aug 19, 2010

It's kind of ridiculous how excited I am to see the finished project! It looks great so far!

Aug 19, 2010

My husband and I are getting ready to paint our bedroom gray also. Only we went with your previous method of buying three gallons of paint on the off-chance that we like it, and it ended up being lilac and NOT sexy gray.

Live and learn, H. Burns.