How to Paint a Room and Get Professional Results

November 4, 2019

I say this all the time, but paint is so transformative! It can turn a dull and uninviting room into a space that makes you truly feel at home. While paint can drastically improve the look of a space, a messy application or choosing the wrong paint sheen can draw attention for all the wrong reasons.

Today I am sharing my step-by-step process for how to paint a room in your home and get professional results. I recently completed my first One Room Challenge and compiled a full tutorial on painting my dining room. I have spent countless hours painting walls throughout the years and consider myself somewhat of an expert!

With the right materials and the proper painting technique, you too can paint your room like a pro. Let’s get started!

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Paint a Room with Professional Results

Disclosure: I received compensation to complete this project using FrogTape painter’s tape products. All opinions, projects, and ideas are based on my own experience.

Here is the dining room when we first moved into our home.

Before image of our dining room when we first moved into our home | Building Bluebird

My dining room was in dire need of an update and I decided to paint my walls a dark, moody gray to serve as the foundation for the design in the room. For a list of materials used to paint, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting
Dining Room

Step 1 | Prep the Walls

Before I could begin painting, I had to prep the walls. First, I removed the wallpaper using a steamer and a scraper. I filled any holes I saw with spackle and used a sanding block to get the walls as smooth as possible. I used joint compound on areas of the wall that were a little rough and uneven. This is especially important after removing wallpaper to remove any remaining glue left on the walls.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Before you begin painting, protect your floors and furniture with a dropcloth. Remove all switch plates (DON’T paint around the plates) and re-install or replace them once the room has been painted.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Step 2 | Paint the Ceiling

There are two guidelines I follow when I begin painting a room.

  1. Paint the room from top to bottom (or ceiling to floor)
  2. Paint the room from light to dark

I generally buy the standard flat ceiling paint they sell at Home Depot. If your ceiling is in relatively good condition, you may be able to get away with 1 coat, but 2 coats are preferred for complete coverage.

Once you roll the ceiling with paint, you will need to trim around the edges with a paintbrush where the roller could not reach (or vice versa). This is where a handheld paint cup comes in handy – I prefer cups with a magnet on the side to prevent the paintbrush from falling deep in the paint.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Step 3 | Paint Crown Molding

If you do not trust your steady hand, tape off the ceiling before you begin painting with the delicate surface Frogtape. This is a great option for beginner painters. Personally, I like to trim out the ceiling myself, especially when the trim and ceiling paint color are so similar.

I am not as careful as I paint the lower portion of the crown molding because I know I will be painting the wall color over anything that goes on the drywall. For the trim paint color, I like to keep it simple with a standard white so I can reuse any leftover paint in other rooms of my house.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Step 4 | Paint Remaining Trim

If you are painting a darker color than white on the walls, then I would recommend painting the baseboards and trim before you paint the walls. For the dining room, I was able to paint the crown molding, lower half of the chair rail, baseboards and trim at the same time. Because I painted the wall a darker color, I knew that I could paint “outside of the lines” where the dark paint would be applied.

Dining room makeover | Building Bluebird #diningroomtransformation #beforeandafter

I applied 2 coats of white paint and used a combination of the paintbrush and ultra-smooth small roller to apply the paint on the lower half of the wall. Be careful with paint drips when you are painting decorative features and corners.

Step 5 | Cut in the wall color

I let the white trim paint cure overnight and then prepped the room for the dark gray wall color. To achieve a crisp straight line at the chair rail, I applied FrogTape on the painted white trim.

Dining room makeover | Building Bluebird #diningroomtransformation #beforeandafter

I used the angled paintbrush to cut in around the doorways windows and ceiling. For best results, remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

Crisp paint lines in your home | Building Bluebird

Step 6 | Paint the wall

For the wall color, I worked with my Sherwin Williams rep to color match the same dark gray on my kitchen island. I used a satin sheen on the walls but eggshell also works great.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodypaint #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Dip the paint roller in the paint tray and remove excess paint so that the sleeve is covered but not dripping. You want to avoid putting too much paint on the wall at once to avoid drips on the wall. If you find a spot that has a drip, roll over it to smooth out that part of the wall.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodypaint #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

Step 7 | Enjoy Your Beautiful Room!

Give yourself a pat on back and celebrate the transformation of your room! Add your favorite family photos and artwork to the walls and enjoy your beautiful space.

Moody dining room transformation | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodycolors #diningroommakeover #tablesetting
Moody dining room transformation | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodycolors #diningroommakeover #tablesetting
Moody dining room transformation | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodycolors #diningroommakeover #tablesetting
Moody dining room transformation | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodycolors #tablesetting
Moody dining room transformation | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moodycolors #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

To see more exciting One Room Challenge transformations check out my son’s modern bedroom makeover and our master bedroom reveal!


Purchase List

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #tablesetting
  • Paint – Your ceiling, trim, and walls will need different paint sheens. Consult your paint supplier on the appropriate sheen or check out my cheat sheet below*
  • Green FrogTape / Yellow FrogTape – Use this painters tape to achieve crisp paint lines and hassle-free clean-up
  • Paintbrush – Use an angled brush when trimming the room. (I prefer 2″ brush)
  • Paint tray and liner & paint cup & cup liner – using a liner makes for easy cleanup once the paint job is finished
  • Roller sleeve – This will depend on the texture of your wall. For a smoother surface, get a shorter nap (1/2″, 3/8″ or 1″) if your wall has lots of texture, go for a thicker nap for better coverage
  • Paint Roller
  • Extension pole – To paint your ceiling
  • Ultra-smooth roller sleeve & 4″ roller – This is used for tighter spaces, (around the chair rail detailing in my photos)
  • Wet rag – To clean up any drips or smudges
  • Dropcloth – To protect your floors & furniture. You can buy these or use old bed linens
  • Spackle (and/or joint compound) & sanding block – to fill any holes in the wall and sand smooth once it dries
  • Step ladder
  • Wallpaper removal tools

*Paint Sheen Cheat Sheet

  • Ceiling Sheen: Flat (some people go with a higher sheen for ceilings in bathrooms)
  • Trim & Door Sheen: Semi-gloss
  • Wall Sheen: Satin or Eggshell
  • Cabinet Sheen: Satin

Pin the Image Below to Easily Reference Later!

Want to save this tutorial to reference once you start your next project? I’ve got you covered! Use the pin below to easily find your way back to this tutorial.

How to paint a room and achieve professional results | Building Bluebird #tutorial #moody #diningroommakeover #tablesetting

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6 Comments

  • Reply Heather December 18, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Where did you get your kitchen chairs?

    • Reply lindseymahoney December 18, 2019 at 10:31 am

      They are from Arhaus! 🙂

  • Reply Bill June 3, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Looks great. What sheen did you use for the white wall under the chair rail?

    • Reply lindseymahoney June 3, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      Thank you so much! I used semi-gloss but a satin would look nice too if you want a little less shine.

  • Reply Molly February 3, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    What color is the bedroom with the Hemnes dresser, the blue ish gray color? Love love love it

    • Reply lindseymahoney February 4, 2021 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you! The wall color is Outerspace by Sherwin Williams in a satin sheen on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim.

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