Before and After: A High-Impact, Paint-Only Bedroom Makeover—for Just $160

published Oct 14, 2019
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Credit: Sarah and Ryan

When Georgia natives Sarah and Ryan moved into their two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, they knew they wanted to give the bare white walls a custom treatment. “I didn’t have the confidence to do anything overly complicated for my first attempt, so I was looking for something achievable that would still look polished,” says Sarah. Inspiration struck as she was browsing—where else?—Reddit. After seeing a few mountain murals, Sarah knew that’s what she and Ryan should take on. “I was instantly reminded of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which felt like the perfect reminder of our Georgia roots,” she says.

Credit: Sarah and Ryan

First, Sarah sketched her a basic design on paper; then, she used a pencil to mark that design on the wall. A Magic Eraser helped the pair change course and correct mistakes as needed. Once they had their final outline and knew how many colors they’d need, they selected their color scheme, opting for gray-blue colors to mimic the look of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

To save money, Sarah and Ryan bought quarts of only the darkest and lightest colors in their five-color gradient and mixed the rest themselves. For the lightest color, they started with Under the Big Top by Benjamin Moore at 100% concentration; the darkest color is Bedford Blue by Benjamin Moore at 100% concentration. To get the shades in between, they mixed the paints at 75% light and 25% dark (for the second lightest); 50% light and 50% dark (for the middle); and 25% light and 75% dark (for the second darkest).

Credit: Sarah and Ryan

Before painting, Sarah and Ryan taped off the trim, outlets, and switch plates and covered the floor with a tarp. Then, they used a paintbrush to trace the outlines and fill in the white gaps, working from top to bottom (lightest to darkest). “The hardest part was drawing the outline. It was so much bigger than anything I’d drawn before, so I struggled to figure out the scale at first and had to revise the lines several times,” says Sarah. “The painting itself only took about an hour and a half—much faster than we expected!”

Credit: Sarah and Ryan

All in—paint, brushes, tape, and other materials—the project cost about $160 and took about a day to finish. “The result was even better than we’d imagined when we started,” says Sarah. “Ryan and I are both our happiest when we’re hiking, so it’s been amazing to bring some semblance of that peacefulness and beauty into our home.”