before & after, decorating, DIY

Before & After: Lighten Up, Little Hallway



It has been many, many years since either of us have lived in a house. One of things I had forgotten about houses — especially houses in small towns — is that no one uses the front door. Whether it’s a neighbor, the UPS delivery person or me and Mr. Blandings, we always use the side entrance, which opens into this little hallway. It’s partly because it’s the first thing people see when they enter the house and partly because it’s a tiny little space that wouldn’t require a lot of work that made me decide to give it a makeover now rather than later. 


I just want to say right off that I love wainscoting. In fact, I had toyed with installing wainscoting in our city apartment but there really isn’t a space that’s suitable for it. So when we walked in and saw the wainscoting in the Dream House, I was thrilled. What didn’t thrill me, however, was the black paint. In this tiny little hallway, the black trim darkened the space and made it feel even smaller. White paint to the rescue!


Now, some folks would agonize over which white paint to use to cover the black. They would get swatches and maybe even apply a few sample swipes on the wainscoting before diving into the project. Not me. I went to my local hardware/farm store, picked up a small can of basic white paint in semi-gloss and got to work. I used a small paint brush to paint the cracks and then used a small roller to paint the wainscoting itself.


After the first coat went up, I stood back and started to worry that I had a made a mistake. With the black paint still visible through that first coat, it looked like a mess. I wouldn’t say I became despondent exactly but I was definitely not loving it. In all my years of creative projects, whether making over a room or designing a handbag, I should know that this reaction is absolutely normal. Getting over self doubt is one of the biggest struggles when it comes to finishing DIY projects. I decided to call it a day, thinking that the light of the morning might make it look better.


Well, I was right. I woke the next morning, went downstairs and thought, “Wow, that looks incredible!” I think I even said it out loud … to myself. It took two coats to get really good coverage and I also had to go back and do some touching up in a few places. The hallway now looks brighter, bigger and more modern. I switched out the mirror that I had placed at the top of the landing with a painting by M’s brother. I then moved the mirror down to the bottom landing. Positioned next to the door, it’s in the perfect location for last minute hair and face checks before heading out or greeting guests.


I’m on the the hunt for a light to replace the black light that’s currently installed in this hallway. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, we’re planning to paint the flooring white to finish off the space. I may also paint the heat vent white but I’m waiting until we paint the flooring to see whether it would be okay as is.

— J. Blandings

Images: Mr. and Mr. Blandings


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  • Reply Sarah @ 702 Park Project 02/14/2014 at 3:12 pm

    Wow, that looks so great! I love wainscoting! What is the paint color on the walls?

    • Reply Jason 02/14/2014 at 4:06 pm

      Thanks Sarah! The wall color is called Campfire Smoke. I think the brand is Valspar but now I can’t quite remember.

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