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.


Erica B
Aug 19, 2010

I'm sure you'll have it styled very nicely and I will love it. With just that taste it seems a tad dark but I'm scared of dark rooms.

Aug 19, 2010

oooo nice and shiny. I dig. Will look fantastic with white or silver square frames and whatnot.

Aug 19, 2010

I like it! It looks very high-end and hotel-esque, as well as being a soothing, relaxing color.

Aug 19, 2010

Looks grand. And I take exception to the fact that it's not a good bedroom paint name...high speed steel? Come on! ;-p

Aug 19, 2010

I love it already. Can't wait to see the final outcome!

Aug 19, 2010

I was thinking about doing grey in my bedroom but was unsure about how it might look. Can't wait to see the after pics to get a better sense.

Aug 19, 2010

Excellent choice-- thanks for the tips on proper painting on the Valspar website, I'll definitely check them out next time before I paint a room.

Kate (and Ben)
Aug 19, 2010

LOVE the grey!! BEAUTIFUL!!!
good luck!

Aug 19, 2010

Our living room paint color was truly named "Whispering Wheat" so I think maybe you should look into that career...

Can't wait to see the room finished...and furnished!

Funnelcloud Rachel
Aug 19, 2010

Looks great! I am a HUGE fan of dark walls. We painted our dining room a color called "Soot" and whenever I tell people, they give me a weird look..." black?" Yup, it's pretty close to black and it looks fantastic!

Aug 19, 2010

i'm w/ the folks that say "it looks dark" but i'm interested to see how you furnish the room--maybe i'll steal some ideas, as i would love to paint our room a similar color!

Aug 19, 2010

I was a fan of the Mark Twain Ombra gray, but when I saw them all on your walls then I liked Almost Charcoal (which I would use with Lavender) but I think your choice will look great with crisp white bedding.

Rachel K
Aug 19, 2010

Love the gray!

Aug 19, 2010

Dark Arts, baby

Jeni G
Aug 20, 2010

I love the color! Can't wait to see two coats!

Maria B
Aug 20, 2010

Oooo, I like! I've been thinking of going gray in my bedroom, but have such a hard time deciding on a shade. Thanks for sharing your choices, I think it looks awesome!

Aug 20, 2010

I never thought of gray for walls but I see how regal it looks and I like it! I have a terrible time choosing colors and tend to stick with neutrals which are boring with a capital "B". We're getting prepared to put our house on the market and buy our "forever" home and I intend to have zero neutrals in that new house. Gray is now on the list!

Aug 20, 2010

Looks amazing! I've lived in my place for 2 years and only just now got samples on the walls...painting is so scary, so kudos to you for jumping in and doing it! Love it! And am loving the website remodel. Very clean and sophisticated!

Aug 20, 2010

It is hard to go dark. However, i think it will look great when it is all finished.

Aug 20, 2010

Oh I LOVE this color. Looks great!

Aug 20, 2010

Ooh, very pretty, can't wait to see how it all comes out.

Aug 20, 2010

wow! Very dramatic-I can't wait to see the finished product!

Aug 20, 2010

I'm definitely not brave enough to go that dark but it looks great.

Aug 20, 2010

excited to see what type of lamps etc. you use. orange accents would look nice in the room

Aug 20, 2010

We bought a can of mauve-ish paint that turned into Pepto Pink when it dried. We said,"Screw it" and lived with it for eight years. We painted over it when we put the house up for sale because, really, who wants a Pepto Pink family room?

Aug 20, 2010

Exciting! Waiting with bated breath.....

Aug 20, 2010

Ohhh love love love. I have been on the dark grey bedroom train for a long time now. Might be about time to actually make it happen.

Aug 21, 2010

It's SPLENDID!!! :)

Aug 21, 2010

ooh, I can't wait to see the finished look and how you decorate the room.

Aug 21, 2010

will look great with your white linens.

Aug 21, 2010

I have a tiny niggling voice inside me that says, "It looks like a Navy ship." And I say, "Shh, voice. If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Besides, your "paint" decor is exploded blender contents on the ceiling." But the name also makes me think the same thing. High speed steel? How about "Squared Away Steel?" Or "Sailor Steel?" It would remind me too much of work at home.

Aug 21, 2010

I love it! High speed steel was one of my top two, now I'm coveting for my bedroom. I can't wait to see the finished room!

Aug 21, 2010

Wow! That's really dark. I can't wait to see how that turns out and what you will use as accessory colors

Bloom Creatives
Aug 21, 2010

Love it! I saw a gorgeous model home a couple of weeks ago that was done all in charcoal walls with white wainscoating, black wood furniture with white upholstery. Absolutely stunning.

Aug 22, 2010

Great color! It looks very sophisticated. Enjoy it!

Katie Tulloss
Aug 22, 2010

I've never heard that W painting tip before. (Or M...whatever it is!) We need to do some painting in our house, so I'll have to try that out! Thanks for the giveaway!

frankandkatie at gmail dot com

Katie Tulloss
Aug 22, 2010

I've never heard that W painting tip before. (Or M...whatever it is!) We need to do some painting in our house, so I'll have to try that out! Thanks for the giveaway!

frankandkatie at gmail dot com

Aug 22, 2010

Oh, I love that. Even more than I thought I would.

Aug 22, 2010

I love the color! I am going to live vicariously through you since a) I cannot paint on my rented walls and b) my husband would NEVER go for that color either! Can't wait to see the room reveal. :)

Aug 22, 2010

very brave. i love it!

Aug 22, 2010

For some reason I always feel like the change is startling, when a white wall gets painted any color. The change, even if it's a lighter color, just seems SO dramatic. I love the color you've painted, and I can't wait to see more pictures!

Aug 23, 2010

I love this. I am currently trying to convince my husband that grays look good on walls! He is not convinced...yet! i am hoping your before and afters will help the cause.

Aug 23, 2010

It looks amazing!

Aug 23, 2010

Love it!

Aug 23, 2010

This is getting exciting - can't wait to see the next step.

Aug 23, 2010

i actually hate it! maybe it's just not coming across well in the photos, but it reminds me of a chalkboard.
but really, does my opinion count? of course not! as long as you & your beloved like it, it matters not what the internet thinks. :)

Aug 23, 2010

Looking forward to the big reveal!!!

Theresa Dell
Aug 23, 2010

Love that color, it's similar to the color I want to do my family room.

Peter G
Aug 23, 2010

I was curious about using a dark color in my house. I think this looks pretty good, will check the final outcome.

Marilyn Wons
Aug 23, 2010

This looks lovely!

Pat Ramey
Aug 23, 2010

Love it and I like the choice

Aug 23, 2010

I love the color itself, but I think I'll reserve judgement until I see the finished product!

Terri L
Aug 23, 2010

I would never have thought to go with a dark gray but it works!

Nita B
Aug 23, 2010

It looks like a beautiful rich gray color.

Aug 23, 2010

I love that Valspar offers the mini-paints for only $2.50!

Janice Whitaker
Aug 23, 2010

I really like the darker colors for walls. I really need to take a few days off and paint.

Crystal F
Aug 23, 2010

Love it! Can't wait to see if all finished.

Aug 23, 2010

It's a little too dark for my taste but can't wait to see how you decorate it up.

Sunshyn Vanderheiden
Aug 23, 2010

Wonderful! I wouldn't have thought that dark a color would come out looking so good.

Rebecca Graham
Aug 23, 2010

It looks good! Looking forward to seeing the finished pictures.

Aug 23, 2010

I think the dark wall is very dramatic and makes a strong statement.

Aug 23, 2010

Wow thats a very dramatic look! Will be very romantic.

Annette D
Aug 23, 2010

Looks great! I painted my son's room a dark green and it turned out great!

Kerrie Mayans
Aug 23, 2010

That looks great. I always paint in W's too.

Tricia Andrews
Aug 23, 2010

LOVE the color! I prefer dark colors on bedroom walls myself!

Aug 23, 2010

I am a fan of dark colors on walls and this is fabulous!

Debra Ford
Aug 23, 2010

I really like it a lot....very chic and sexy.

Aug 23, 2010

I'd never have thought of doing gray walls, but it looks really dramatic and restful at the same time.

brenda helgeson
Aug 23, 2010

You did good. Dark colors are so tricky they can come out all splotchy if bot done right, but you did a great job!

Betty C
Aug 23, 2010

Wow! I'd never have the nerve to go with such a dark color. I can't wait to see the final result.

Aug 23, 2010

I love that color. Now I want to paint my room gray!

Aug 23, 2010

I love it! I'm thinking about painting my bedroom a dark color because it is way too light in there.

Aaron B from IL
Aug 23, 2010

I am not sure how much I like that dark of a color on a wall, but then again I don't have the slightest clue about anything to do with decorating. That is probably the cool thing now and I wouldn't know it.

Diane Baum
Aug 23, 2010

Looks great . can't wait to see

Stephanie V.
Aug 23, 2010

I like it but I like darker rooms. Hubby likes light rooms though.
tvollowitz at aol dot com

Aug 23, 2010

I'm sure it will look fabulous when you add the furniture, fabrics, and accessories. Right now it's a bit dark.

Aug 23, 2010

Looks amazing! Love it!

Paula Hafner
Aug 23, 2010

It looks good. I want to repaint the kids' rooms

Leigh Nichols
Aug 23, 2010

Wow- I need this color for my bedroom since I work 3rd shift hours!
It's very dark and soothing.

Tesa S.
Aug 23, 2010

I'm getting ready to paint my bedroom, and I already have the Valspar paint, but thinking about doing different walls different colors, for contrast. That color would be too dark for me!
tesashel225 (@) aol (dotcom)

Aug 23, 2010

I don't think I've ever seen a room painted gray. I am intrigued!

Linda Lansford
Aug 23, 2010

This is really different

Aug 23, 2010

That color is fabulous! I used to paint all my walls an ivory color, but I have found the color wheel and my rooms are all different and I love it. What are going to be your accent colors? I would go with yellow and white. Please post a pic of the finished room.

Aug 23, 2010

I think it came out dark! I look forward to seeing the final product. Our walls were all white and I experimented by painting one of the kids' bedrooms. Loved it!! Tried again by painting the kitchen... oh no, I hate it. But it'll have to stay for awhile, it's too much work to do it again and I don't have any time now that school's back in session for all of us! Good luck w/your painting endeavors. I hope it turns out to be everything you want it to be!!

Penny Snyder
Aug 23, 2010

Love it - could see some blue & gray accents!! Very cool!!

Aug 23, 2010

Oooh, I like it. I think so many people are afraid of any kind of color and definitely dark colors and usually they look awesome!

Daniel M
Aug 23, 2010

always love seeing how projects turn out

R Hicks
Aug 23, 2010

It looks very nice. I just finished painting a ceiling. What fun I had!

ardy22 at earthlink dot net

Charity S.
Aug 23, 2010

I can't wait till the big reveal.

Lisa Foster
Aug 23, 2010

I painted my bedroom with Valspar this spring and I love it--used complementing tones on different walls.