The Office Stripes


Posted by Rebecca, February 21st, 2011

If you follow me on Twitter, you know what I was up to this weekend. Never have I thought of an idea on a Wednesday, blogged about it on a Thursday, started it on a Friday and finished it (mostly) on a Saturday.

Needless to say, we were a little spontaneous this weekend and decided to do this…

The temperatures were in the high 60s here on Friday, so Mike and I planned to take the afternoon off from work to do something fun. At 11:50, we still didn’t know what that was and we had an email exchange that went something like this..

Me: What do you want to do today? NYC, beach, stay local, find some waterfalls, Ikea, couch shopping, outlet shopping?

Mike: I don’t care, it’s your choice

Me: You know if it was up to me we’d paint the office

Mike: I’m game.

We did grab some lunch and take our time to relax, but by 4:00, it had begun.

I decided to go with my beloved Smoked Oyster by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic’s no VOC paint. We chose one shade more gray and one shade lighter, Benjamin Moore’s Silver Fox, for our lighter stripe since the colors below Smoked Oyster on the swatch appeared lavender. We also color matched that to Olympic. We brought it home and started putting our “lighter” color on the walls and ceiling…

Holy dark! We also painted the ceiling this “lighter” color and yes for a little bit, we were completely panicked. I think the color match was slightly darker and a little more purple than the Silver Fox appeared on paper. After painting this, I knew we couldn’t go with the darker, even more purple Smoked Oyster for the stripes. Luckily I picked up some testers for our bedroom and tried out Olympic’s Silver Dollar and Gray Ghost on the wall. Silver Dollar was the exact same color as Benjamin Moore’s Silver Fox (funny huh?) so we decided to go with the much lighter Gray Ghost, which was just one color below our darker one on the swatch.

The original, darker Smoked Oyster we were going to do for the stripe is on the right. The Gray Ghost, our new choice, looks white in this picture.

By around 8pm on Friday, our office was all painted, ceilings and walls.

The ceilings actually look higher now that they’re darker! I love a painted ceiling. I know not everyone understands it, but they don’t call it the 5th wall of the room for nothing! 🙂

We loved the way this color looked. We loved the drama of it and were a little nervous going with such a light stripe. But by Saturday morning, we had already gone to Lowe’s to pick up a gallon of our new stripe color and were hard at work taping out some lines.

Our ceilings are 9 feet tall, so to keep things simple, we did twelve 9-inch stripes. We are planning on adding crown molding to this room at some point, so I just measured from floor to ceiling. Our top stripe will eventually be cut in half or so by crown molding and our bottom stripe is currently cut in half by our baseboards. I didn’t want to try to estimate the width of our future crown molding, or have to live with a too large top stripe for years if we don’t install it right away.

As for measuring method, I know there are a lot of tutorials out there. We had a plan, but we didn’t stick to it. In the end we went with what worked for us. Mike ended up doing all of the taping. He said I was too neurotic and taking too long, though he wasn’t much better with the OCD. But thank goodness for him, he did such an amazing job, never once lost his patience and kept at it for hours and hours. Such a keeper!

Here is how we measured:

1. We started at the top and measured 9 inches down from the ceiling and made a mark about every foot or so across.

2. We then took a level, lined up the marks until they were level and drew a line with a pencil to connect them (usually about 3 feet long at a time, see photo above)

3. We lined the tape up to that line and stuck it to the wall

I did a lot of research before striping to make sure we’d get the best result possible. We took every single recommendation and precaution ever listed on the internet.

Extra steps for clean lines:

1. We used Frog Tape (and loads of it, about 50 feet!)

2. We flattened any bubbles in the tape with a credit card

3. We brushed some of the base color over the tape to “seal” any potential bleed through points

One thing we were not prepared for was the amount of time it would take to tape stripes. It took us all day Saturday. And by all day, I mean it took us about 10 hours to do. Granted, every single line in our office is perfectly level and 9 inches wide. At one point Mike told me he wished we weren’t such perfectionists, and he’s right, it would have been much faster to just wing it!

By 10pm Saturday night, we were ready to start painting our stripes.

We were nervous about painting over such a dark color. Mike thought we needed primer, but I was worried that multiple coats of paint wouldn’t allow for us to pull of the tape while the paint was still wet. So we took a risk and just put a very thick coat of the Olympic Gray Ghost. We worked fast, doing just one stripe at a time then removing the tape. The reveal part was extremely nerve wrecking.

See that line??? Clean as a whistle!! We were estatic at this point and quickly finished painting the stripes and removing the tape, probably in just a little more than an hour.

We had just a few touch up areas and we’re not sure why. In about 3 spots, the tape actually removed the drywall paper.

Maybe we used a little too much muscle with that credit card method! But these were much easier to fix than bleed through on every line. We just put a layer of spackle on them and sanded them down.

We painted them with a coat of the lighter color yesterday. Today we just re-taped the small area along the line, painted the darker color again and it was good as new!

And now for the before and after shots!



Tonight we shampooed the carpet and brought our Expedit bookcase back into the room. We are definitely looking forward to some organizing and accessorizing this room this week! We’re so excited about how this turned out and we’re back on an office kick now 🙂

I’m sharing this little how-to at the Lettered Cottage’s link party. They also have awesome horizontal stripes so check them out!

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116 Responses to “The Office Stripes”

  1. Rebecca and Mike, it looks amazing! I love the colors you chose, and believe me, I know all about neurotic taping. Excellent job!

  2. Allison says:

    Oh my gosh! You two have way more patience than I do! It looks great though. Nice job!
    Dropping by from How To’s Day. Hope you’ll come see the informal picture wall How To I did for DD2.


  3. Hi, I’m linking over from The Lettered Cottage. This turned out great. Such patience! Thanks for showing us how it’s done.

    Warmly, Michelle

  4. Beautiful. I want a striped room so bad but the crazy amount of time getting the stripes just right makes me cringe to think about!

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks Kelly! Luckily we had no clue it would take so long, otherwise we would have hestitated or spread out the project over a few weekends. But it feels good to have it done, though we may be sleep deprived! 🙂

  5. Wow, that looks GREAT! And talk about a walkthrough, you guys did a great job. When the picture came up of Mike taking the tape off, I was a bit squeemish because I wanted it to look grand~!

    The darkness of the paint actually looks really good! Were you worried it was going to make the room really dark?

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks! Yes, the removing of the tape was very scary. I may have threatened body harm if they did not come off clean…. 🙂

      We ended up loving the dark paint after seeing it during the day. Though it made the office look more like a theater room (Mike even proposed changing it into one) but I loved the drama of it. After I fell in love with the dark paint, I was more nervous about making it too light with the stripe! But I think the high contrast of the 2 stripes keeps that level of drama, and I love the dark ceiling

  6. It looks great!

    Looking at this really makes me want stripes somewhere, but I don’t have the patience for it… Maybe if we ever enclose the porch into a sunroom and add a halfbath…

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks! I think a small room would be much easier to do! Our office is about 11’x11′ with the french doors and bay windows, so it was a lot of work. But seeing the end result made us all giddy!

  7. alison says:

    Well done – this room looks great!
    We’ve haven’t had luck with frog tape and had to make several repairs when we worked with it.

    • Mike says:

      We had a handful of areas that needed to be repaired, but nothing too crazy. I think had we used the typical blue tape, we would have ran into more problems.

  8. Kelli says:

    Love it! (I’m here from the Lettered Cottage) We did stripes in our office/guest room too. Except we didn’t do the ‘lighter color first trick’ we did the glaze trick and it didn’t really work as well.

    • Mike says:

      Haha, well, we _thought_ we were doing the ‘lighter color first trick’ until we were halfway done and realized our light color was actually too dark. So mid-painting we switched it up a bit.

  9. Robin says:


  10. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by True Value Hardware and Rebecca, Rebecca. Rebecca said: All about our new painted stripes in the office! […]

  11. Hi Rebecca,

    What a fabulous job! It looks amazing, great color selection. We did this to our guest room in November with the same technique.

    I especially love the painted ceiling, it brings the look all together.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks Jessica! Your stripes are awesome and I wish I read about your measuring method before we started! We originally attempted a laser level and wasted some time fiddling with it before we realized it wasn’t going to work.

  12. Nice job. I painted stripes in my son’s room, and I learned the hard way about “sealing” your tape with paint. I had so much touch up to do! (I also used Frog Tape, but that didn’t help a bit.)

    You’re lucky to have such a helpful husband. My husband is super handy and skilled with DIY, but he doesn’t have ANY patience for projects like painting stripes. The entire job falls to me. : (

    • Michael says:

      Well, to be honest, it really depends on the project for me. If I can “see” the final project before being finished, I’ll have patience. But if it’s something I’m unsure about or not understand, forget about it! 🙂

    • Rebecca says:

      That’s interesting and good to know! Since we used every single tip, we really didn’t know what the “secret” was! Sorry you had to do all of that touch up work though 🙁

      My husband is a creative soul at heart. He just pretends he has no patience, so I had to squeeze it out of him by providing snacks 🙂

  13. It looks beautiful!!! The lines look perfect and I love that you have french doors, it makes the entire space even more dramatic and polished.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks Lauren! The french doors are probably my favorite part of the house 🙂 We’re looking forward to finally getting rid of the gold knobs on them so they will look so much classier!

  14. Kerry says:

    Love, love, love them! You guys did an awesome job. I honestly have no idea if B and I would have the patience to tackle a project like that together… but you know, we do tear down rooms and rip holes in walls together, but painting stripes, don’t count on it! 😉 haha

    • Rebecca says:

      Haha! I was nervous, but we were fine. I think if it was 10pm and those stripes didn’t come off clean we’d be singing a different tune right now!

  15. LOVE the stripes!!! What a fabulous job – so inspiring! And I agree, painted ceilings make such a difference. If I didn’t have the crappy popcorn stuff – I’d be painting mine too! Kudos on a job well done!

  16. ooh ooh! me next me next! come paint my imaginary house that I don’t have yet =)


    are you obsessed? I so am!

  17. Girl! Those look AMAZING!!! I am super impressed. I wish you could come do some stripes for me. 🙂 Great colors too!

  18. Looks great–love the gray and white! I’ve had stripes on my mind, too, since buying our house. Gray is my color of choice, as well!

  19. Love wall stripes and that color is awesome! Such a good job!

  20. Mitzi says:

    Love the stripes! I’m inspired to paint my soon-to-be-office. The room currently has a chair molding about half way up the wall. What do you think about painting the stripes above the molding and the darker color below? Or, should the lighter color be below? It’s a small room with only one window.

    • Rebecca says:

      Hm I’m personally a fan of a darker color under the chair rail, I think it’s heavier and therefore looks better on the bottom, but that’s just my opinion! I just saw another blogger link up to The Lettered Cottage’s link party, who did stripes combined with a chair rail…
      Check it out to see the finished product! 🙂

      • Sydnei says:

        I think you should paint the strips vertically since you have the chair rail it would look just great as long and the color under the chair rail remains a solid color. Good luck with your project, I would love to know how it turned out.

  21. Joon says:

    OMG! I am the SAME WAY!!! I got the urge on a Thursday and Ordy and I taped it up on a Friday (also perfectionists, but the room wasn’t nearly as large!!) and finished it on Saturday!! Same stripes (and bookshelves!) in my office! Love the space you have and the colors you chose!

    you can see the similarities here:

  22. Oh I like your stripes and that sure is a gorgeous shade of grey! I linked this to my stripes project post too today, for inspiration!
    Inspire Me Heather recently posted..project- stripes

  23. Pasc says:

    I’m a little confused, can you tell me the colors you finally picked? I also was going to go for Silver Fox but read about it first and lots of people were saying the same thing: “looks purple” bummer…
    Went with Valspar “Woodlawn Colonial Gray” looks awesome.

    • Rebecca says:

      We ended up going with Benjamin Moore’s Silver Fox (color matched to Olympic’s no-VOC paint) for the darker color and Olympic’s Gray Ghost for the lighter color. I wouldn’t say it’s purple, but a pretty dark gray!

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  88. smokeapuff says:

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