Before and After: $100 and a Weekend Give a Dull Gray Office Some Rainbow Cheer

published Jul 7, 2020
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About this before & after
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Before: office with gray walls

When my partner and I moved into our dream house, I knew that the builder-selected gray paint in the room that was going to be my home office just wasn’t going to cut it. I’m pretty unconventional, covered in tattoos and drawn to loud patterns and bright colors. I’m also an author, so I spend my days making stories come alive on the page. In order to do my best work, I need to be surrounded by whimsical things. When we moved in, my office already had a lot going for it:  a huge window that looks out into the backyard, a built-in shelf on another wall perfect for my massive My Little Pony collection, and another wall that would become home to my big bulletin boards and dozens of framed bits of ephemera from book tours and projects I’m working on. This left one large wall to fulfill my dream of having… a rainbow accent wall.

My home office in NYC was painted bubble gum pink, but the temporary office I had between that house and this one had white walls. In their blandness, they felt like they were closing in on me and did not inspire me to write. So once we bought our house, and before I even fully unpacked my new office, I knew I had to get painting. 

I’m a firm believer that you should surround yourself with everything that brings you joy, and for me that’s bright colors. For three of the walls, I ended up selecting the same bright bubblegum pink (Benjamin Moore’s Easter Pink) I had used in my old home office. I wanted the rainbow wall to tie in with that candy-colored hue, so I took a piece of my Care Bear art to the hardware store to help me pick complementary colors.

I purchased five quarts of paint, one in each of my chosen colors: lavender (Behr’s Amethyst Cream), blue (Benjamin Moore’s Fairy Tale Blue), green (Glidden’s Sweet Pea), yellow (Benjamin Moore’s Yellow Rain Coat), and tangerine (Benjamin Moore’s Mandarin Orange). Paint and supplies for the room cost me about $100.

I am not a very detail-oriented person, so I enlisted my partner to help me with measuring and mapping out the stripes. Because I have a door at the far end of my accent wall, I left that out of my calculations. I measured from the edge of the doorway molding to the corner of my room, then divided by six to find the width of my chose to stripes (16 inches). My partner and I used a ruler and a steady hand to draw the stripes’ borders before adding tape to guide my paint.

Because I needed to paint colors right next to each other, I alternated while taping. After painting my first batch of stripes, I peeled off the tape and let the paint completely dry before re-taping over the sides of those stripes to paint the remaining sections. Once the full rainbow was painted, I carefully peeled back the paint over the last stripes. It was extremely satisfying pulling back the tape and seeing the rainbow stripes next to each other!

I was able to finish this project over the course of a weekend, and it’s now the focal point of my office. It also makes an excellent background for video meetings! I’ve filled my office with framed art but have left the rainbow wall mostly bare so I can show it off. Rainbows feature prominently in the rest of the room—from the framed art to brightly colored toys that fill shelves—which helps to tie the playful look together, and inspires me each day when I sit down to write.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.