Master Bedroom – $30 Paint Makeover

Our master bedroom has looked the same for over ten years. With so many other more pressing and visible projects going on (and yet, still unfinished) around the house, it seems like our bedroom always has, and will, be last on the priority list. Some time ago, during one of our “one of these days when we have some extra time and money” home improvement/decorating project “wish list” discussions, my husband and I threw around some ideas for our bedroom makeover. Dark gray has always been one of his favorite colors and red is mine, so we came up with a dark gray, deep red (bordeaux) and cream color scheme for our room. We’re envisioning a sultry, glamorous, “boudoir” feel that isn’t too fussy or froo-froo and still has some sleek/strong touches and some ethnic, ornamental influences. I did a sketch of a gray room, with furniture and moulding painted the same color (for a tone-on-tone look), off-white or cream bedding and window treatments, pops of red in pillows and maybe lamp shades…and the two things I’ve always wanted in our bedroom: a Moroccan wedding blanket and carved wooden Indian doors as a headboard.

I had pretty much forgotten about the possibility of a redo (or at least put it at the end of the project priority list) until I was in Home Depot about a month or so ago, picking up supplies for a painting job, and noticed that all the Martha Stewart paints were on clearance for 50% off. I spied a color called Magnetite, a deep warm gray that would be perfect for our bedroom…and figured I should grab some immediately before all the stock was cleared. I couldn’t pass up such a good deal on paint…and the color was perfect! First I bought a tester (which was also on clearance for 50 cents), and after trying it out on the bedroom walls in several spots and realizing that we loved the color…I went back and purchased a couple of gallons for the walls at $12 each and a quart of semi-gloss for the furniture at $6.  Hence, the “$30 paint makeover”. Since I already have all the supplies and tools needed for painting, and we did all the work ourselves in a couple of weekends…the price tag for jump-starting the makeover of our bedroom really comes down to the color change: $30 dollars worth of paint.

The paint sat in the garage for a couple of weeks…we were so busy with deadines, work projects and family activities, that it seemed the project was going to be forgotten…again. And then one weekend, my husband and I actually had a “free” Saturday, plus it was supposed to rain…so we made an impromptu decision to just slap some paint on the walls. We don’t have a lot of furniture or things on the walls, so in no time at all, we had everything moved to the center of the room, drop cloth down and paint brushes/rollers in hand. We tag-teamed the project…I did all the cutting-in and he did all the rolling. With a little help from our five year-old, we completed the room (including a second quick coat of spot touch-ups), in about four hours. Note: all photos in this post were taken with my iphone.

We LOVE how the color looks in our room with the contrasting warm white (Behr Swiss Coffee) baseboards and our dark walnut colored wood floors. But, in the evening, I felt the color looked too bluish-gray. So the next day, I custom mixed a translucent glaze with a few drops of yellow oxide and raw umber and warmed the gray up with a light wash. It was a very subtle glaze, but enough of a tint of color to make the gray look like the intended dark gray and not a slate blue at night. It’s perfect!

Now on to the furniture. Excited about the transformation a simple coat of paint made, we were eager to move onto painting the dresser and nightstands in our bedroom.  The furniture was given to us by my brother-in-law Charlie’s Mom and Aunt. They belonged to his Mema and Grandpa Joe. The pieces are elegantly designed and beautifully made. I really love the style and the color worked well with our room colors and bedding. But now that the colors and design of our room were changing, we felt it was time to give the furniture a new look as well. There were some spots that were water damaged and had been previously painted, plus years of wear and tear were starting to show. We were looking forward to showing these special pieces of furniture some love. So my husband did some light sanding and prep work to prepare the surfaces. He added a little Floetrol (a paint conditioner that I’ve been using forever…which I also use in a pinch for creating faux finishing glazes) to the paint to reduce/eliminate brushmarks, and then he painted all three pieces, including painting Zinsser primer on the tops of each piece. While he base-coated all the furniture, I glazed the walls.

This took one afternoon.  The next day, I applied the same glaze I used on the walls to antique and warm up the color of the furniture.  After the furniture was completely dry and had a chance to cure for a few days, we put the hardware back on. Originally, I thought we’d paint the hardware a metallic silver or pewter color. But we found that the existing champagne gold looked really good with the warm gray, and the finish was in great condition, so we decided to leave it as is. Mixing Champagne metallic paint by Modern Masters with a little bit of Bronze metal patina glaze by Valspar (available at Lowe’s), created a beautiful champagne-gold accent color for the carved detailing and ornamentation on the drawers and legs, which I lightly brushed on.

The following weekend, I faux marbled the tops of each piece. We both love Carrera marble and thought it would be a nice look to replicate, adding interest to the furniture and breaking up some of the dark gray with a contrasting color. The feasibility of real marble was pretty much out of the question…it would be extremely costly and impractical to have a piece of marble cut and beveled to match the tops of the furniture. I just wanted it to “look” like marble, it didn’t have to “be” marble. Plus with painting, I can control the colors and amount of veining. Real Carrera marble has more bluish-gray tones and we needed a warmer gray. So I worked some of my faux finishing magic and did my thing. They turned out awesome, if I must say so myself! Not bad for a few hours of work one Saturday. At the time, I didn’t think to take step-by-step photos of the process. I work really quickly, and once I’m on a roll (and listening to a good audiobook), I get into my “zone” and can’t be bothered to stop and take photos. Maybe one day if I have some time (haha), I’ll do a sample board detailing the steps and post photos…but in the meantime, I’ve broken it down into a few steps:

1) Primer or base coat with a soft, creamy white. I basically tinted the white Zinsser primer with a few drops of Proline universal colorant yellow oxide and raw umber.

2) Using a custom mixed glaze of raw umber with a tiny bit of Valspar Asphaltum antiquing glaze, I dabbed and sponged on “cloudy” patches spread out throughout the surface and then blended with a badger brush and soft rags.

3) To paint the “veins” in the marble, I used the Magnetite gray paint, darkened with a little bit of Asphaltum. I loosely held a couple of thin diameter detail brushes in my hands like chopsticks and allowed the veining to “happen” as I dragged the brushes lightly across the surface. I blended some areas of veining with the brush while the brushstrokes were still wet.

4) With a single detail brush, I then added some more finer veins and squiggly lines perpendicular to the other veins. I allowed the veining to take on a life of it’s own, trying not to be too consistent with the lines.

5) A cheap china bristle brush was used to add chunky splotches of white paint, and then almond-shaped dots of white were added to the intersecting areas of veining. The blended splotches blur the dark patches of veining and the dots of white highlight and accentuate some of the detail.

6) Once everything was dry, I brushed on a couple of coats of clear polyurethane water-based topcoat in a satin finish.

And here’s the finished paint makeover to the walls and furniture…again, all unedited iphone photos, no filters, special lighting, lenses, settings. Big thanks to my AMAZING husband for his professional paintwork, prep skills and keen eye for design and color. I was so thrilled by how beautifully the paint makeover turned out, that I had to run out and pick up some new sheets ($15.99 for a super soft cal king sheet set in the perfect gray from Ross) and a cream quilted bedspread from Homegoods. I wanted a bunch of differently patterned red accent pillows, but my husband is not a big fan of “useless, decorative pillows that end up on the floor or a bench” and I kinda agree…so I bought just one that had a cutout pattern for $6 at Homegoods.

Motivated by how quickly this room was transformed with just paint, we put up a blank canvas (for placement) on the wall facing our bed, which I plan to paint with a gorgeous sky scene of gray and golden clouds. We still have a long way to go before this is room is “done”…casing the windows, window treatments, crown molding, painting the ceiling, new lighting (I’ve included some ideas below and on my Pinterest board). And of course, I still want that Indian door for a headboard and the Moroccan wedding blanket…but for now, this girl is quite happy with how the color gray has brightened my day (and night).

Punched metal or capiz shell hanging lamps from Cost Plus World Market


  1. This SO rocks!!!!! What a great post — worth all the elbow and typing grease. 🙂

  2. Mom says:

    Katie and Aaron, this really turned out beautifully. Seeing the dressers and night stand partially done and how it looks now is amazing. You two did it again! Love, Mom/Nana You had a very cute helper too!