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.


patrick m
Aug 23, 2010

It looks nice but i prefer lighter colors. Good luck!

Nadine Larsen
Aug 23, 2010

Personally, it's too dark for my taste,I like dark ,that color is a little darker than I would go though....but, since it's your house, my opinion doesn't matter,lol. If your happy with it, that's what matters.

Aug 23, 2010

I like all those colors - I'd go with the high speed steel.

Debbie C
Aug 23, 2010

I think when you decorate you have to go with what speaks to you. This would never be my choice but it's not my house. I bet you are going to make it a stunning room.

Aug 23, 2010

looks great, I am contemplating painting our lr and now think I should go darker and richer

Geoff Kaufman
Aug 23, 2010

Love the dark hue and sheen, and I'm curious how you offset the neutral dark color with some pops of light and color - I think it'll turn out chic and modern for sure!

Aug 23, 2010

It looks great so far, can't wait to see the progression.

Aug 23, 2010

It looks wonderful!

Denise S
Aug 23, 2010

I think it looks great. I wish I had the nerve to try painting one of my rooms something new.

Susan Smith
Aug 23, 2010

A little to dark for my taste, but I'd love to see what it looks like with the furniture.

Joanne Schultz
Aug 23, 2010

I really like lighter colors or blue. Black/dark grey not my favorite. But you like it, and that's all that matters!

Thanks for the giveaway!

Lisa G.
Aug 23, 2010

I love bold dark colors and your room is going to look great when finished.
lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

Aug 23, 2010

I like it. I cant wait to see it finished. I think it will help make your room cooler too.

Aug 23, 2010

Very interesting color-I love deep colors on walls! I'm anxious to see what color you add to it as an accent!

Adrienne Gordon
Aug 23, 2010

I like the way the wall looks, dark, but cool looking.

Aug 23, 2010

I love seeing before and afters...Can't wait!!!

Alice C
Aug 23, 2010

i love strong colors, im sure it will look great :0)

Nanette Olson
Aug 23, 2010

It takes a lot of courage to go so dark. Congratulations, it looks great.

Gail Crawford
Aug 23, 2010

I like the egg shell color.

Aug 23, 2010

fun to decorate with that color

Aug 23, 2010

Having moved into a home where three rooms had black walls - I will tell you that it took three coats of primer prior to getting the walls to be painted the color we wanted and we used good primer! Your paint job looks terrific and your accents will look fabulous on the black walls.

Aug 23, 2010

Wow, from one extreme to another. Can't wait to see the finished product.

brian e.
Aug 23, 2010

Thanks for the giveaway... finally, someone who paints a room with a color other than "eggshell" or "sand" !!!

senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

Ellie W
Aug 23, 2010

At first glance I thought it was too dark. But after looking at it for a minute it started growing on me. I like it. Can't wait to see it finished.

Aug 23, 2010

I'd be a little scared, truthfully--but I hope it turns out well!

chris v
Aug 23, 2010

at first glance it seems dark but i think good decorating skills will bring it to life

Katherine M.
Aug 23, 2010

Love the color. I wish I had the guts to add more color to my own walls.

elizabeth p
Aug 24, 2010

Beautiful color, I never would have thought of a grey.

Aug 24, 2010

Looks good - and I see that you have chosen it for your new design, too. Nice!

Aug 24, 2010

I love it, it's so lovely and bold, however I would never be brave enough for a deep color like that.

Aug 24, 2010

I am pretty sure the high speed grey got my vote, so I am very happy to see it was the winner!

Aug 24, 2010

Can't wait to see it decorated with your furnishings!

Aug 24, 2010

I LOVE the color! You chose well! But your mom was right, if only you added a splash of red to that test area.... :)

Aug 24, 2010

I was considering a lighter grey for my room, now the darker is growing on me.....

Aug 24, 2010

It's so dark. You're so brave. I can't wait to see the whole thing come together. I'm sure it will look great.

Aug 24, 2010

I love it! I painted my son's bedroom a lighter grey than that, and it goes with everything. I can hardly wait to see the finished room!

Aug 24, 2010

Eh, I dunno :/ could be better.

Sarah L.
Aug 24, 2010

I think it will be fun to coordinate your furnishings with this. Thanks for the contest.

Aug 25, 2010

I love it! Can't wait for the instructions on the painted sign.

Aug 25, 2010

Love the dark dramatic color

Aug 25, 2010

I love dark colors on walls, nice choice

Sean M
Aug 25, 2010

We just repainted out entire house, every single surface, and it took forever, but we had a good time. Picking paint colors is a fun experience, the actual painting, not so much

blue Girl
Aug 25, 2010

I love interior design and decorating, so I loved this post. Looks great!

Aug 25, 2010

Looking good!

denise griffith
Aug 26, 2010

Love it! grey is one of my new fav colors, for walls and furniture (more of a dove grey) can't wait to see the finished room!


Not brave enough to try a dark color, but every room in my house has been painted a different, bright Valspar color. Love Lowes!

Aug 29, 2010

have had dark walls in the past and love them..just make sure you have plenty of good lighting because it will be dark in the evenings. can't wait to see the final product!