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Jill’s Surprise Makeover: Painting + Furniture

How to be the worst person in the world: invite all your friends to a painting party and then not come.

I was all, “Lol, jk guys. I’m sick. You can still come and paint Jill’s living room though.”

I didn’t mean to be a terrible person, but in what was the most awful timing of my life, I got completely laid-out-sick and couldn’t get off the couch the day of the painting party Erin and I had organized for Jill’s surprise makeover. It was awful: flu-like symptoms, topped with massive waves of guilt for being horrible.

I basically called in sick to life. My mom came to take the kids so I could lay around moaning and wishing I was never born, and she snapped this picture of Weston, because when I get sick, the kids start to look a little homeless. (Note the collar tucked inside the shirt, shoes on the wrong feet, solid understanding of color theory and pattern-matching.)
Poor buddy. Why doesn’t he have a mom who will dress him like a proper person? (I do choose my battles carefully on the clothing front though. Mila’s getting really into dressing herself, and also wearing her brother’s clothes, which I think is hilarious and awesome.)
Nice abs, babe. She specializes in creative blends of different styles, unexpected accessories and wearing underpants on top of pants. I would keep my kids at this exact age for all time if I could.

How’d you get me talking about this? Oh yeah — the painting party.

Remember, this is Jill’s dark cave-like living room, with old wallpaper and grolive (new word for gray-olive) trim.
The bookshelves were an orangey-brown pine which Jill hated.
The wallpaper was actually probably really nice originally – it was a diamond-textured grasscloth – but it was old and stained, and just needed a refresh. Jill’s been dying to paint it for a LONG time, but knew it’d be a ton of work.
old stained wallpaper

Yes – we decided to paint right over the wallpaper, with the permission of her mother-in-law who owns the house. We loved the texture and pattern of the grasscloth, plus the wallpaper had been there for a long time and nobody wanted to venture beneath it and open that pandora’s box.

So a bunch of Jill’s friends who love her and were excited to do this for her, came and painted the room one night.
Except me, because unexplainable summertime influenza/black heart.

But look how much brighter already!
The heavens have opened and light is pouring through in rivers of glory!

We used a color called “Daydream Haze” for the walls. It’s a color that Jill used in her master bedroom and LOVES, so it was a safe bet. To lighten it up a little bit, we had it mixed at half-strength. (If you really love the hue of a paint color but wish it was a little lighter, you can ask the person at the paint counter to mix it at half-strength. They basically just put in half the color, so it’s exactly the same, but whiter, if that makes sense.) The trim is called “Ivory Dust.”

In a perfect world, we would’ve painted her ceiling too, but if you started painting it here, you would’ve had to repaint the whole downstairs and we had one week and $500, so it didn’t happen.

Jill had been talking about white-washing the stone on her fireplace because she didn’t like it, but once we painted the bookshelves white, the fireplace turned amazing.
(Sorry for the terrible night-time photo!)

We also got them a new couch!!
sofaAnd not just any couch — the most amazing couch anyone has ever bought on craigslist for under $100. It was listed for $270 and I talked the guy down to $100. (I KNOW.) One hundred tiny dollars for this gorgeous sofa that I kind of wanted to keep for myself – see? Black heart – but am planning to love forever from a distance. Here it is in this messy garage-whose-owner-shall-not-be-named with the pair of chairs we also bought:
The chairs were $70 for the pair. They’re little cane chairs which had really nice light blue upholstery and a medium-toned wood. We didn’t do a thing to them.

I really liked how the arms of the chairs and the arms of the sofa mimic each other’s shape. See that? Fancy, right?

In the last post I showed you the layout we landed on, so we bought the sofa and the chairs intending to face them toward each other:
Okay, so ready to see this all come together?

Next post, should we do a reveal? What do you think?

Let's connect


  1. The power of a fresh coat of white paint. Ahhhhh! So much better and that sofa is fabulous. I never find sofas like that on CL.

  2. New reader, here. Are you always such a tease??? Of course we want to see the reveal. 😎

    I am loving your blog, missy!

  3. Amazing what a can of paint can do! I love those cane chairs and i am in awe of your Craigslist skills! My kids have started dressing themselves and I just love not having to do it so I don’t complain about their “interesting” ensembles!

  4. Wow that couch was a major find! Can’t wait to see the reveal. I’m sure your friends didn’t think you skipped out on purpose!

  5. I love how that stone fireplace looks now with all those lovely white built-ins! It really makes that great timber mantle pop a well. I think it’s fabulous! I never asked a paint store to mix a color at 50%, but I think I’m going to try it now. I’m almost wishing I had done that in my bed room because I love the tone, but at 50% it would probably be even more amazing!

  6. I totally love reading your blog! Maybe sometime you could share your Craigslist negotiating method?! 🙂
    Thanks for always making me laugh in my eaaaaaarly morning mom quiet time!

  7. Do you ever worry about buying cushions and the like used? How do you know they don’t come with bugs?

  8. Just gorgeous…already! The fireplace looks amazing and the craigslist score is leaving us all jealous! Can’t wait to see the room complete. 🙂

  9. I want the world to see this and realize they don’t need to live with less-than-ideal paint colors! The brighter paint is literally a breath of fresh air…she is going to be so thrilled!!

  10. Wow,wow wow to the being walls painted alone!
    Yes please, we NEED to see the full reveal.
    #waiting with bated breath
    Also ,next please come and do my house but get better before you come. Don’t want to catch your flu:)

  11. WOW – what a difference painting the bookcases made!! I can’t wait to see the room all put together!!

  12. Your germs have such great timing! 🙂 For some reason, I can’t see the picture of Mila but I am betting her sense of style is even better than her brother’s from your description. 🙂 Intrredtjngbidea to keep the wallpaper’s texture and paint over, can’t wait to see the final reveal!

  13. Kelly– I am so in awe of you. Not only do you totally rock out amazing projects on a budget, your posts make me feel like I “know” you. I love the way you write, I am always cracking up hundreds of miles away. The living room is coming together really well and I cannot wait to see the final result!

  14. GET OUT with that sofa! After this reveal, you need to write a post about your magical negotiation powers.

  15. OOOH! That new sofa is gold! I am surprise you didn’t keep it; I may have and would have claimed flu-brain black heart. Paint on!

  16. So Jill is on vacation and her great friends broke into her house for a fabulous makeoever? 🙂 This must be the friendliest breaking-and-entering case ever – robbing Jill of a room she didn’t like, and replacing it with something she’ll loove. No black hearts in sight.

  17. Aw. how awful to get sick when you have something planned like that! I’m cracking up over the black heart references, but it is a loving BIG black heart. 🙂 It looks so great in there. It’s amazing what a paint job can do for a room. Love the sofa and chairs, what an awesome deal! Craigslist is my idol! I can’t wait for the reveal and I want to hear all about Jill’s reaction. Exciting!

  18. $100!? I’m taking you with me next time I go to buy something off Craigslist! And those chairs! My favorite things are vintage chairs that don’t need to be reupholstered, because I have no idea how to do that.

  19. Reveal next post please! I can’t wait to see it all come together.

  20. Tana Ryan says:

    OK this is getting to be torture! #Ihatewaiting #danglingcarrots

  21. Paint continues to blow my mind. All the time. And You talked him down almost 200?!?! What? Im going to have you do all my bidding you little black hearted soul ;p

    Glad youre feeling better. Now show me some afters baby!

  22. I am dying for the reveal! Such a good deal on that couch. And the painting turned out amazing. If you are bored and looking for more surprise reno candidates, let me know! I have a whole house that could use this kind of makeover 🙂

  23. Lookin’ good Kelly! Sorry you got so sick! 🙁

  24. AGH! Cliff hanger! I’m loving where this is headed, Kelly! Can’t wait to see the final reveal! Also I’m calling you next time I find something I like on Craigslist so you can negotiate for me. What an awesome deal! Hopefully I will be SEEING you later today at Haven! *SQUEAL* Talk to you soon!

    ~Abby =)

  25. Diana Walters says:

    Would like to thank you for several things, first among them showing the power of paint. Running a close second in the thank you category is for appreciating creative clothing choices! One time many years ago I had my niece (about 4yrs old at the time) strapped into a car seat in my car. My sister came home and had a complete conniption FIT because of the way she was dressed! I was all like… “WHAT??? She is fully clothed and HAPPY!!! What exactly is the issue here?”

    Apparently the issue was that she was afraid of a home visit by DHR because of MK’s clothing choices. She was wearing orange & green plaid shorts with a tank top that had purple stripes of tulips. Because it was December, she opted to stay warm with her pink quilted bathrobe and opted for a tiara and white go-go boots (complete with tassels) to finish off her ensemble! Instead of a purse she opted to carry a baton that has glitter streamers on each end.

    I felt she was covered, shod and accessorized…. and I didn’t have to fight to get her there! Plus I loved the fashion forwardness of it all!!! My sister did NOT appreciate my outlook! LOL

  26. Those chairs. I have one. It’s comfortable, and a great size for a smaller room. I need to make new covers for the cushions, though.

  27. The Craigslist furniture is so great. Question, though- how do you inspect it before purchase and or clean it before you bring it into your home? I worry about funky odors, lingering smoke smells, pet odors or the worst case-bugs! I’d love a great deal on furniture but Craigslist is very scary for me.

    • Yes, we are very weird about cigarette smoke and other odd smells. I always ask before I go whether it’s in a smoking household, and if we arrive and find any sort of smell – whether in the furniture or just in the whole house – we politely decline and go home without it.

  28. Wha What?!?! Amazing transformation so far. Can’t wait to see the finished look!

  29. Okay Kelly! Just read your layout post (the one before this). Please can you address the dreaded corner fireplace layout for furniture??? I have one and my tv is on the wall next to it and thus our sofa points to the tv not the fireplace (hey we live in Arkansas. It’s not going much). But I still struggle as to weather this is the best arrangement design wise. Do you have any thoughts?? I’d love to hear them!!

    • It definitely depends on the room, but if it was a standard room with a corner fireplace and a TV on the adjoining wall, I think what you have is a great option!

  30. It was so lovely to meet you at Haven! Love the paint color!!

  31. Just painting makes such a HUGE difference! Can’t wait to see the reveal 🙂 xo Kristin

  32. Ah, cliff-hanger! Love how much paint can change a room! P.S. Your kids are ADORABLE! Hope you are feeling much better now! 🙂

  33. What a fun thing to do for a friend. And that paint made it instantly better. I also say that paint is the great-cheap-transformer!

  34. That new sofa is gold! I’m surprise you didn’t maintain it; I’ll have and would have claimed flu-brain black heart.



  1. […] Jill and her family were finally out of the house, we invaded! All that grolive trim and wallpaper got painted – and it felt like SUCH a breath of fresh air! The sofa and chairs came from craigslist, the rug came from Erin’s house and the coffee […]

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