Color Block your walls like a Boss

My little Color Blocked living room

Hey Brujas! I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in New York City. And any New Yorker will tell you there’s a certain color pallet we wear out in public: 

Black on Black everything. 

It’s a thing.

I’m no exception. Give me a black cut off Band T, a black snap-back cap and throw in some black denim shorts and that basically encapsulates my everyday look. 

But, when it comes to my space I’m not afraid of color! Bold and bright, I’m a big fan of making your space a cheerful and happy environment. 

I’m basically a walking exclamation point in my colorful apartment (! = Me) 

Our new apartment is a rebuild in the frame of an old school house. It used to be a “finishing school” for girls where Grace Kelly attended. So we essentially live in the building where the former Princess of Monaco was taught the arts of her namesake. (I know, weird brag) 

The entire building has been transformed into modern apartment units, but they still kept the original exterior frame of the school house. We are the first people to ever move into these units which is kind of cool. 

Being such a new apartment, everything was painted white, but like REALLY white. That is until we touched a wall and instantly there were fingerprints and smudges. Within just a few hours after the move, the walls were already looking dingy and grey, especially near doors and the hallway. 

I knew I needed to paint right away. Once we got the go ahead from the building manager (Her words were “Do whatever you want!”) I got to work planning out how I wanted to tackle this. 

A few quick searches through Pinterest (My happy place) and I knew I definitely wanted to color block these walls. I’m a big fan of old school wainscoting. It’s a goal for the future home of my dreams. I love how it breaks up the walls and gives a room a classic timeless feeling. 

My apartment does not have wainscoting (sad), but this color blocking idea gives a similar feeling by dividing the walls horizontally. 

I’m super happy with the way it turned out! 

Making it happen was a learning curve for sure, so here are some tips to color block your walls like a boss

You’ll need some basic materials:

  • Two cans of paint in the colors of your choice. 

Choosing paint can be really stressful. It’s a commitment and despite paint being one of the cheaper options to transform a room, it can get pricey real quick. I love the BEHR paint and primer combo. The coverage is amazing, especially over dark colors and you get to skip the priming step! 

Hardware stores, especially the big chain ones, have terrible fluorescent lighting which is not great for selecting colors. Something that seems like a light color will inevitably look a little darker in your space. Because of this, I always recommend using paint samples first to see what the color looks like as the light changes in your room throughout the day. But if you’re looking to make less trips to the hardware store, the colors I used for this particular look were Pink Proposal & Little Sun Dress, both in Flat Matte. I almost always use Flat Matte colors for interior walls. Anything with a sheen to it will show imperfections on your walls, even if the drywall is seamless you’ll notice something. A seam, a small crack, a bit of an uneven surface all become very noticable. Flat Matte helps you avoid this. BEHR paint is also stain resistant so if any regular smudges happen after its been painted a simple magic eraser will work great to wipe it clean. 

  • Scotch Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape I wish I knew about this stuff before I started this project! I used regular blue painter’s tape here, but discovered the Delicate Surface tape while painting my hallway. It was a GAME CHANGER. It comes in a fun lavender color and is slightly translucent which is extremely helpful when you’re trying to make straight lines (More on this later).
  • At least 2 smooth surface rollers and a good detailing paintbrush. I love the Purdy brand brushes. You can go cheap here if you like, but I hate a brush that molts leaving stray brush hairs on your beautiful new paint job. True Blue Professional rollers are great for a project like this.
  • 2 Painting trays, a Drop Cloth, Measuring Tape, a Step Stool really helps (or get a tall friend to help)
  • LOTS of patience!

First remove all outlet and light switch covers, then mask off all the edges of the room to avoid painting on baseboards and window sills. This part is not fun, but crucial to a good paint. Wynona was very confused watching me step on and off the food stool caressing the walls. 

She wants to paint too

Next you’ll need a measuring tape to figure out where you want the color-split on the walls. Mine are 42” from the baseboard toward the center of the wall. I chose to go a little bit higher than half way up my wall. The wall heights in this particular room are different on the south facing side from the north. The south facing walls hold the HVAC system encased in drywall making the walls shorter here, so I decided to start on this side to see where I wanted the division. I wanted the couch to look good against this wall when it finally arrives (Still waiting! Come on West Elm!). 

Measure where you want the division and make a small mark in pencil.

You’ll be painting the top side of the wall first to avoid dripping on the bottom side of the wall. So when you’re placing the tape be sure to place the top side of your painters tape BELOW your marking line. 

See my terrible reference below:

 Ugh my handwriting is so bad

Now the hard part. Making straight lines. There’s probably a professional way to do this, but I’m not that person. So I started from the edge of the wall making my way across.

Cutting small strips about 8”-10” long carefully press the tape horizontally under your marking line. The next piece will slightly overlap the last piece. This is where that Delicate Surface tape comes in handy as you’ll be able to better align the tape to the last piece due to it’s translucence. Keep aligning the top and bottom pieces of the tape as seamlessly as possible and continue this across the wall. 

Clearly I didn’t use a level, but I didn’t have one and I had already started (It’s on my shopping list). After the first few pieces I stepped back to see if my line was looking straight. If it was I kept going. If it wasn’t, I identified where it started to angle upward or downward and peeled it back and started again from that point. 

I’m not gonna lie, this step is very annoying but necessary. 

See my previous paint sample swatches? I ended up using the lighter gray in the bedroom

If you’re doing just the one wall then you’re smarter than I am and you’ll paint this portion. For me, I wanted the look to wrap all the way around the space on both sides of the room (Apparently I like a challenge). So I encountered a few obstacles, mainly the windows! How do you continue a straight line on the other side of the window? I chose to just go straight across the window with the tape as if the window wasn’t there. I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, but this is what I did.

Once you reach the other side of the window continue placing the tape down the way you already have been. Again, take a step back and see if the line looks straight and continuous. Maybe get another pair of eyes on it to be sure, and try not to get defensive if they point out your imperfections (Sorry Kyle). 

Now we paint! Again you’re painting the top portion of the wall first. Get the largest portions of the wall fully covered then go in with your detailing brush and get into the edges and around outlets. 

When painting over the dividing tape line, paint away from the tape seam to avoid bleeding underneath. It’s GOING TO HAPPEN. Don’t freak out, that’s what touch-ups are for later. 

You’ll be pulling off the painters tape when the paint is about half-dry to avoid pulling up the paint. I learned this a few years ago after a different project that left me frustrated with little Chibos everywhere (Chibos is a Puerto Rican “Spanish” word specifically used for painting flaws, or it might be made up by my Mom. Who knows? It’s still fun.)

Once you’re done painting and have pulled up all the tape take a step back and admire your work!

Gorge!

See how I left the edges masked off where I still haven’t painted?

By this point, the sun went down and I had broken out the wine (Note the bottle). Feel free to call it a night at this point and start fresh in the morning. But, if you’re a little insane like me and want to keep going grab that tape again. 

This time you’ll be placing the tape above your current painted line. 

I forgot to take pics of this part of the process so please enjoy this lovely artistic reference below.

Aren’t you glad I drew this? I am. 

Now just as you did before, paint the largest portion of the walls and then with your detailing brush go in and get those corners and edges. 

Remember to carefully peel the tape off when it’s about half dry (Half wet?). You’re almost done! Are you excited!? I am! 

Peel off all the masked off areas and throw it all away. If there are any chibos, get at them very carefully with your detailer brush, it’s ok to be a perfectionist. 

Now step away. 

Take a moment. 

Marvel at your new beautifully color blocked walls!

Gorgeous!

Spectacular!

You are now a color blocking boss!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next wall project. DIY Painted wallpaper! 

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