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Remember back in March when Dad and I spent a weekend putting up drywall in his dining room?

Raw drywall in the dining room

Maybe not, but trust me – it totally happened. And Mom was pretty excited when she got home from her birthday weekend and found that the makeover she’s been waiting nearly twenty years for was finally happening. Get ready for a lot of pictures (seriously- you’re going to suddenly see why I do all of those partway, unfinished reveal posts by the end of this!).

Freshly hung drywall

You see, normally, Dad comes over to my house to help me make a big mess and improve things around the UDH. But this time, Dad was asking for my help in making over a room in his house. Where he borrowed my tools. It was kinda cool, actually. In the first weekend, we placed thin sheets of drywall over the existing wood paneling, which wound up being a pretty dramatic change by itself.

Charlie in front of the patio door

But we also knew that there would be many, many more steps until we got to the finished result. In the weekends that followed, there was also taping, mudding, sanding, more mudding, more sanding, molding installation, caulking, cursing, more sanding, more molding installation, scraping the popcorn ceiling, griping (that the project was, of course, taking a long time to finish), and more.

Patched and taped drywall corner

I may or may not have spent part of my Easter Sunday caulking in a new white dress. As a DIYer does, apparently.

But as time went on, things came together. And finally, the big finish was around the corner:  the weekend where all of our hard work is painted over, and the “after” is realized!

Before paint

Before shot

As it so happened, I was also finishing up a recent trip to New York to take a tour with Olympic paint and Good Housekeeping. After the tour, they asked if there were any room projects coming up where I thought I might be able to try out their Olympic One Interior Paint (since after all, testing in a lab environment differs ever so slightly from a group of DIYers who have tried their fair share of paint). So, naturally, I thought about it for all of three seconds and suggested we use their paint to make Mom’s twenty-year wait a reality. Nothing like putting on the pressure to see how a paint really performs, right?

Olympic One Paint + Primer gallon

They accepted, and I soon found myself at Lowe’s to pick up the paints we would need to get the room finished off:

  • a flat white ceiling paint (since Dad had been scraping off all of the popcorn texture to match the kitchen remodel, he wanted to have the whole room and not just the walls completely done)
  • a semi-gloss white paint (just straight off the shelf, no tint added) for the Shaker-style wainscoting on the bottom half of the walls, and
  • a sage gray-green in an eggshell finish for the upper walls (Olympic’s Misty Lake)

Three cans of Olympic One paint

The plan was to apply each of these paints in exactly this order. The ceiling paint would go up first, then the trim paint (which would let us get a little sloppy with the edges where the green paint would later cover over, such as at the bottom of the crown and top of the wainscoting). Then the green paint would go on to clean everything up and finish off the job.

Ladder against wall

I came over to my parents’ house last Saturday afternoon to get started, but realized that before we could begin painting, we would need to first cover the drywall with some sealing primer designed for newly drywalled surfaces.

Paint tray and roller

You may be wondering why we took this step when Olympic One Interior Paint is already a paint + primer combo, and here’s your answer:  as great as paint and primer combos can be for their time-saving benefits, new drywall is simply not the kind of job that these combo paints are designed to cover. Or, rather, they aren’t designed to seal the joint compound that exists every few feet between panels of new drywall. I’ve tried to skip the priming step with other brands before, but joint compound is simply not a paint-friendly type of material. When you add water to a dry layer of joint compound, it doesn’t stay dry (such as with a water-based latex paint). The top layer gets soft again (which can be a good thing, such as when using a sponge to smooth out a wall surface instead of sandpaper). Or, the paint dries in a nice, smooth layer on top, but any disruption in the surface causes it to peel right back off the wall again (which I’ve experienced before both during a paint job that wasn’t fully dry yet, and a fully cured wall months after it was painted). Which makes it not really the paint’s problem; it’s what’s underneath. So, to ensure a stick-friendly surface, the joint compound has to be sealed with a primer. I prefer and recommend an oil-based primer for this (and in fact, I didn’t even note the name of the primer we grabbed out of the garage), but just keep in mind that oil paints require extra dry time before moving onto the next step.

Prepping the room by covering things

While I was adding primer to the walls, Dad hopped up on the ladder to touch up some of the ceiling paint (he’d already done a coat before I arrived, and it appeared to get the job done enough to not need a full second coat, so it was just a spot job at that point).

Dad painting the ceiling with Olympic One paint

The bottom half of the walls had pre-primed molding, so they were ready as well for a few coats of the white semi-gloss paint. Mom stepped in on this part and helped me get the first coat done before finally calling it a night on Saturday evening. The next morning, I finished up a second coat. Two coats seems almost enough for the wainscoting, so a third was required for the bottom (the crown only needed two).

White wainscotting painted

Finished painting the white

And then came the best part: adding color!

Rolling gray paint onto small wall

Mom is a fan of green (nearly every other room in the house has some variant of it), but chose to go a little more muted in the dining room by picking out a color with lots of gray in it. Depending on how the light hit the room (or if the yellow-hued bulbs in the light fixture were turned on), the room’s color varied from very sagey-green to almost completely gray.

Cutting in paint

I did all of the cutting in, but since I’m no good at taking pictures of my own hands while painting, I had Mom stand in as my hand model while I got a few shots in place ;)

Trimming out the paint along wainscotting

Dad also began rolling, but it took about fifteen minutes after this photograph for me to kick everyone out of the room. I am Sarah, and I am a perfectionist on little sleep. Please GTHO. But bring coffee.

Mom's cup of coffee
Tip: Mom likes adding malted milk to her coffee for extra flavor… first time I’ve tried it, and I’m a fan!

The work was coming along, and Mom and Dad got to head off to lunch while my grandmother (who also lives with my parents) and I spent some time chatting in the dining room. We both found the event pretty soothing to just sit around and let the sage color sink into our psyches. Gran’s health has been a bit of a roller coaster recently, which has been really hard on both of my parents, so I was pretty pleased to be able to give them all an afternoon where things felt more like they were starting to come back together again.

Paint roller applying new color to wall

I took a break mid-afternoon on Sunday to let the first coat finish drying and snapped a few shots to show you how the coverage was looking. It’s typical to need a second coat at the wall’s edge, but since the consistency of the paint was somewhat thick (which is not all that common for a budget paint brand), there were virtually no drips, no extra-thick globs of areas needing to be smoothed out, and very few areas on the rest of the walls with white splotches peeking through. Some of that can be attributed to painting ability (I don’t call myself an expert on much, but I’ve painted a lot of friggin’ walls), but the paint was also keeping up with the expectations I have for the more expensive brands I typically use. I knew I would be doing a full second coat on the walls regardless (again, perfectionist), but I’m betting that on walls where the color change isn’t very drastic, a single coat would probably be all I’d need.

Close-up of trim needing paint

Ok, so this post has rambled on long enough, and I’ve been waiting several days worth of post-editing to show you what things look like now (I have absolutely zero patience when a room is actually finished!). Imagine for me quickly, movie-montage-style:  one more coat, some additional dry time, and moving things back into place. Passage of time… me buzzing around the room time-lapse style… and climbing up the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. And scene.

In progress

Charlie leaving dining room
No post is complete without a little puppy butt ;)

It’s time for the big reveal! For your viewing pleasure, here’s the before… complete with me around age 16, bad jeans, bleached hair, and ugly wood paneling in the dining room:

Original dining room with wood panel

The paneling was painted over a few times in the last couple of years, which is how it became yellow:

Dining room before drywall

And then Dad and I covered everything in 1/4″ drywall earlier this year:

Drywall mud

And after some elbow grease and a few coats of paint, it now looks like this!

Dining room

Gray painted wall and wainscotting

Mom and Dad’s soothing new dining room is now a reality, but there is still more to do. Mom has plans to add some new window treatments to the patio door and a huge genealogy-based gallery wall to the longest part of the room (kind of like this), but I’m sure that will take a little bit of time for her to get all of those together.

Dining room befores and after

And then, of course, there’s the everyday wear and tear to see if this paint really is #UpToTheTest (Mom has waited long enough, so part of this little review is going to include some follow-up to see if the paint meets my expectations for endurance). Until then, we’ll all just relax and have our family cookout on the 4th in the room as it was meant to be!

Dining room "after"

There are some other bloggers testing out Olympic’s products, so feel free to check out these guys as well to catch a glimpse at how they plan to put Olympic paints and stains to the DIY test (and you can catch sneak peeks with the hashtag #UpToTheTest on Instagram & Twitter).

Dio Home Improvements

The DIY Village

Making a House a Home

Have a happy 4th of July, everyone!

Huge thanks to Olympic paint for sponsoring this post, providing the materials to get the room finished, and for letting me use their product as the vehicle for giving my parents the means to get this job finally taken care of. While this may have been done in partnership with Olympic and Good Housekeeping, all opinions expressed here are, as always, 100% my own.

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  1. I LOVE THIS DINING ROOM! I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful job and all the hard work you and Dad put into this project. Every time I walk into it, I am blown away at the transformation. Now I am eyeing the living room and all the possibilities that holds for the next project. You are the greatest! Oh, thanks to Olympic Paints too, the color looks great.

  2. It is so great you got to help your parents out. It does seem they have been there for you so often in your DIY’ing. I just feel bad for your mom that she had to wait 20 years! She is onto you now–watch out! The room looks SOOOO MUCH better!! Not just up to date, but really, really nice. I am so happy for your mom! We all know how awesome having a home that we are proud of and happy in feels. :) And the really cool thing–the furniture looks even nicer in the fresh new space.

    1. Haha, well that’s the story according to Mom! She’s been wanting the drywall thing to happen for a really long time, but it’s just one of those rooms that stayed “livable” while other rooms got made over more than once. The most recent big stuff (other than this room) is her new kitchen (which you can see in some of these shots) and the garage that was converted to an additional living space a few years ago (after Dad built his 3-car workshop in the back yard). I guess some rooms just take a little while longer to get shown a little love!

      1. Ah ha! The truth comes out. I did notice the kitchen cabinets thinking that looked up to date and really nice. A family of DIY’ers. :) I think the most waited on room is the bedroom. At 19 years of marriage (last year) we finally bought a beautiful bedframe. No more looking like we are still in college. Hope you are having a good 4th. I happen to be in on a break from my husband’s childlike behavior with fireworks. :)

    1. Haha, they are on their own with that project! At least, until I get a few more rooms of my own house finished (my own dining room is next!).

  3. It looks fresh and airy. That green shade is the color I convinced my mom to use in her new condo instead of the brownish-taupe she was wanting. yeah for green!

    1. Yeah, when Mom picked it out, I kind of assumed it would be too green for me. But when the bluer hues of light hit the room (like morning light), it seems almost completely gray. It definitely lends a cool & clean vibe to the room!

  4. How many coats??? Why would anybody want to work that hard? I understand that the larger companies are tring to promote their products through bloggers and the big box, but I personally just painted using our 4th line of paint and it covered with one good coat and with a color change. So paint is definitely something that you” get what you pay for,” personally my time is way more valuable..

    1. Sorry if it wasn’t clear! 1 coat on the ceiling (plus some touch-ups), 2 coats on the walls and on the crown, and three coats on the wainscoting. I’ve never really seen a paint that doesn’t require 2 when it comes to fresh drywall, so it’s about what I expected. I’m starting to think it’s also based on sheen; trim seems to always need more coats than I want to do!

    2. Unfortunately for most, all they have and can afford is their own time. Paying (what most consider) high dollars for a gallon of paint is just not an option. I for one am glad to see companies trying their best to produce quality products at an affordable price.

  5. Sarah this came out Amazing! I love the gray/green wall color and that wainscot made such a huge dramatic difference. You and your dad did a fantastic job!

  6. What an awesome change, I am so happy for your mom! Do you think you could talk a little bit about scraping the popcorn ceilings? I am trying to work up the courage to try this in my house and I would love to hear about it.

    1. It’s like you read minds ;) My Dad and I are working on a post about the tools he’s using and whether or not he thinks they’re good for the job (spoiler alert: most of them are kinda meh).

  7. I love the transformation of this room! Wow what a ton of work you all did before the paint even hit the wall! Great work! (FYI – I love your “Friends” jeans).

  8. Hi Sarah, I’m a painter (and Lowe’s employee) and follow this blog trying to pick up tips and design stuff for my own home, and I just wanted to leave a note I feel may be helpful for future painting endeavors. I noticed that y’all painted the trim first, then cut in with the wall paint. The semigloss of the trim paint is notoriously hard to cover, which resulted in the splotchiness of your first wall coat near the areas where that trim paint had lapped up on the walls. I find it easier to paint the wall color first, which is usually a flatter sheen, and therefore easier to recoat, and then paint the trim. If you’re worried about getting trim paint on the wall, a wet rag is your best friend, and it’s always a good idea to keep a brush in the wall color for small touch ups if needed.

    Hope this is helpful.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I wasn’t too worried about the streakiness of the first cut-in, I knew the second coat would finish everything off nicely. I get that even when I’m painting over flat paint (I guess I’m just light-handed with the first coat so I can be careful about my line?). But you’ve got a good point about the sheen impacting the coverage. Note to self for next time!