Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to (Accidentally) Paint an Ombré Wall

So, remember that time I said I was really good at picking paint colors? Turns out I’m also really good at jinxing myself. 


I spent the first month we were in this home picking up paint chips and trying to figure out which light grey would be our all-over grey. My vision for our house was to paint all the dingy white walls to a crisp light grey, paint all the orangey wood trim a shiny white, paint the ceilings the same light grey, and paint a few accent walls here and there. I picked a medium dark grey to go behind our pipe bookshelves in the loft and what I thought was a nice light grey for our “main” wall color that would go throughout the house. I was ready with all the painting supplies when my parents showed up in November and asked “what can we help you with.” 


As the darker grey went on the wall where the bookshelves would go, I was loving it. Then, as the “main” grey went up on the stairwell wall, I was starting to worry it was too dark to be our all-over grey. We painted the entire stairwell and the upper half of opposite wall that goes all the way down into the entry/living room. After two coats, I knew it was too dark and went back to the paint chip pile. We tried out three colors and went with Icy Avalanche. 


Because tall stairwell walls are so hard to paint, we decided to leave that wall the darker light grey and pondered what to do with the opposite wall that connected to every wall on the main floor. While sitting on the couch with our glasses of wine looking at all our hard work and trying to decide how to do redo what we’d already done up top, my mom suggested we ombré (I think you can use that as a verb??) the wall, blending from dark to light. I called her crazy. We had another glass of wine. She suggested it again. I rolled my eyes. There was NO way we could do that and make it look seamless. I figured we’d have to repaint. I should define ombré – I know my dad will ask what that means. I gotcha Dad. 

Ombré: Gradual blending of one color hue to another. It’s often done on hair, clothes, cakes. It’s not so often done on walls.


The next morning, I had a brilliant idea. Let’s ombré the wall! Not really…but we all know those people who say no to an idea and then “come up” with it a couple days later. I will totally give this one to my mom. I had no interest in repainting, so I ombréd ( I think you can also used it as a past tense verb?). To be clear, I totally winged this. Also to be clear, I did not want this wall to look super ombré, meaning I didn’t want an obvious dark upper area and light lower area; I was hoping that with the height of the room and a smooth enough color transition, you wouldn’t know I started significantly darker at the top.  To give you an idea of the transition we had to make, here’s a corner at the bottom of the stairs (on the opposite wall) where the light grey meets the darker light grey.


Here’s how I painted an ombré wall, with some tips on what I’d do different:

Prep: have both colors of paint on hand, two roller refills, a paint tray for each section of color (see point 2), and plastic wrap. You may also need a hairdryer. Obviously. And, patience – there will be lots of mixing, touching up, waiting for paint to dry etc. And faith, this will work if you are willing to work it out. 

1. Accidentally pick (or intentionally start) with a darker color in the shade you want to end up with at the bottom and paint an upper section of the wall.

2. Break you wall into sections (either mentally or with tape/pencil lines) to gauge how many chances you have for a color transitions. In my case I had 5 color zones.

3. Paint the section at the top a second coat. 

4. As you start to blend the colors, you want to enable a transition to the next section without being so light that it’s obviously your lightening the wall. For my first next section (that makes sense right?), I mixed at about a 7/8ths dark – 1/8th light ratio. Put this color into a new paint tray. **this is a lesson learned, I just kept lightening what was in the tray, and didn’t have any of each shade left to go back for touchups**

5. Roll your lighter color onto the wall below your dark color. Blend up into the dark color about a half a roll stroke. When you’re painting over the dark color, don’t push hard on the roller – this helps to blend it a bit.

6. Lighten up your paint again (I went to a 3/4:1/4 ratio) and put into a new paint tray. Again, blend about a half a roll stroke (that’s definitely a new phrase I’ve coined) up into the darker color.

7. Repeat these steps until you reach the bottom section – by that point you should be using mostly, or all, the light color. I learned that color transitions are hard to tell between walls, so even though the bottom of my ombré still contains a little darker paint, you can’t tell it’s different that the adjacent walls. See?


8. Wrap up each paint tray with plastic wrap as well as the roller. Number the paints in the order you used them so you know which belongs to which section. Let the paint dry on the walls and look for points that need retouching. Use the fresh roller refill for the darker areas up top and the old roller for the lighter areas at the bottom.

TIP: This is where I learned what NOT to do. I didn’t have these handy paint trays on hand and when the top section needed retouching, I tried to guess at the blend, and got it REALLY wrong. It was waaaaay lighter than the upper section paint. If you get into this situation or need to match the color for some other reason, I recommend making a paint blend in a small container and then painting a small section of the wall with it. Act like you work in the paint department at at Ace (which I used to, sort of) and use a hair dryer to dry that section of paint. This will tell you if you need to go lighter or darker. I did this about 6 times to find the right shade for the upper section I botched.





RESULT: It totally worked! You really can’t tell that the upper section is MUCH darker than the lower section (the darkness in the picture below actually comes from shadows, it’s lighter in person), nor can you tell that the adjacent walls are slightly lighter. Mom, you were right. Nice work. Also, a thanks to Larry for moving the ladder over and over for me. And, if you missed the post on how to hang antique wooden skis, check it out here.


Have you every attempted an ombré wall?

p.s. It turns out it’s really hard to take pictures of paint on walls – apologies for the ever changing photo quality!

{Friday Favorites} It’s You Who Put You Here

Hey guys. It’s Friday. You know what that means? In 5 more days I’ll get a day off, wahoo! And, it means a trip to Costco, which will include buying 8 lbs of Kerry Gold butter and 6 lbs of uncured bacon to get us through the month #allthefat. With that vision in your minds, let’s get to right to what I was loving this week.

1. Undisclosed/Serial

Where are my Serial junkies out there?! If you didn’t listen to the first season of Serial, do it now. Then, listen to UndisclosedUndisclosed is a little hard to get through as it’s super dense and full of a lot of legal technicalities and I admittedly zoned out during at least 30% of it, but it’s still super interesting, and convincing, and scary. The last couple weeks have been cool because Adnan Syed’s post-conviction relief hearing took place and was covered by both podcasts. It was really interesting to hear the pro-Adnan camp cover the hearing and Sarah Koenig cover it with her “unbiased” journalist approach (unbiased is in quotes because I’m not sure she is). I’ll say I find Susan Simpson a bit glib which I don’t think does Adnan any favors and I also find Sarah Koenig a bit of a wet noodle (commit already), but still, I really appreciated the chance to compare the two versions of the hearing, rather than only hearing from one party, and I’m still convinced of his innocence. #freeadnan

2. Water bottle

I’m Katie and I have a water bottle addiction. It started in 3rd grade when I would freeze a plastic bottle full (but not all the way full) of water overnight and take it to class with me the next day. Not to toot my own horn, but I was an early adopter of Nalgenes in the late 90s and to this day, have a water bottle with me everywhere I go (and probably a good build up of BPA). I’m always trying to find the perfect water bottle – I pick up free ones at conferences and try all the different kinds I find (on sale). I really wanted to like Liberty bottles because they have a social responsibility component, but they leak and dent. I’ve developed a preference for bottles with straws, but learned the hard way, that most of them leak when air pressure or air temperature changes. I’ve had an entire bottle slowly leak all over my carry-on on the airplane because of the pressure change … ackkk! My sister swears by Contigo bottles and promised me they wouldn’t leak, so I picked one up before I went to Colorado and gave it a try. And, it rocked!! It didn’t leak and it turned out to have a handy clip so I could hang it from the seat pocket. After years of searching for the perfect, non-leaking, straw water bottle, I may have found it. I know…nerd alert! Can you really believe I just devoted 200 words to a water bottle??IMG_4561

3. Taylor Swift

I was horrified last week when Kanye West’s song came out about Taylor Swift – the continued misogyny and narcissism in his music grosses me out more than most other musicians and the arrogance associated with claiming he made Taylor Swift famous is absurd. I was never a T Swift fan during her country days because her voice grates on me, but her new album is ok with me, since it’s so engineered that her voice isn’t front and center. #thecritichasspoken Anyway, all this is to say, I’m not a fan of either of these two, but I LOVED Taylor Swift’s Grammy Speech. Despite her pitchy voice (in my expert opinion), she continues to be one of the better celebrity role models for young girls (even with her thigh gap) and I am stoked that she called Kanye out.

4. Uggs

So, I never thought I would own Uggs. After the Britney Spears-fueled obsession of the mid-2000s, I wanted nothing to do with them. But…I’d seen this pair on a friend and they didn’t really look like Uggs, they looked like sweaters on your feet. This was in 2010. It took another 6 years (10-15 years post Britney) for me for me to seriously consider them. I saw they were on sale recently (because we never pay full price), so my mom got them for me as an early birthday gift. Now, I get it. They are so comfortable and cozy and this pair, that can be tall or short, are totally like sweaters for your feet/legs. It’s taking all my willpower not to wear them to work.  Orrrrrrr…since I wrote the dress code, perhaps I should rewrite it??


5. Homes with views

I was lucky enough to grow up in two homes with amazing views in Colorado. Check these out. This is my dad and stepmom’s house with a stunning view of Pikes Peak – from my bed (evening light and morning light).



This is from my mom and stepdad’s deck overlooking a frigid Horsetooth Reservoir.


And now, we have a view of our own. It’s not the open view I’m used to in Colorado, but every night we get amazing sunsets through the trees. Love!IMG_4466

Have a great weekend everyone!!

This and That

No, I didn’t fall in. I know you were wondering.

To provide some context to this, my parents are a little sassy, and apparently when I was little, if someone was gone a long time, they’d say “I wonder if they fell in.” (referring to the commode, of course). Apparently I picked up on the phrase—when I was 3 or 4—and more than once, asked if an adult had fallen in, in front of a bunch of people, which was simultaneously hilarious and embarrassing for all involved, particularly if said adult had been in the lavatory.

Aaaaannnyway, no I didn’t fall in, but I’ve missed you! I had a fantastic trip home to Colorado and then came down with the cold that my sister and her kiddos had and have been running on fumes the last week. So, I thought I’d do a quick and easy reentry to the blog today to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you.

First, not sure if you heard, but the Broncos won the Super Bowl!! It was fun to be in Colorado in the lead up to the game, except for the nasty guy in the grocery store who mocked me for looking at Broncos t-shirts. Apparently he didn’t think we stood a chance, along with the rest of the country…ha! People who talk smack to strangers always baffle me. I’m simultaneously highly offended and slightly impressed with their chutzpa, but mostly offended. It was hilarious (and noisy) watching the game with my nephews because they mostly were trying to get us to do anything other than watch the game, but Benjamin had an amazing moment of loyalty:


Nobody can stop our team. #gobroncos

A video posted by Katie@Isn’tThatGrand? (@kt_co) on

His hand gestures are AWESOME. #thatkid #wheredoeshegetthisstuff

Eighteenth, in the middle of all that, we found out Otis had a couple infections (roundworms and giardia (I know, dogs get giardia?? I thought that was a backpacking parasite for silly people who drink unfiltered water??)) that we’ve treated. I guess they’re super common in kennel dogs, but I’m posting here as an FYI. They can spread to your other pets, so when you adopt (because I know you won’t shop) your next pet, make sure to get them to your vet right away to be tested. Seems like we’re all healthy around here now (except for me), but this is today’s PSA. You’re welcome.


Sixth, it got REALLY cold this weekend. Then it got REALLY warm this week. We had windchill temps in the -20º range over the weekend, a snowstorm turned icestorm turned rainstorm over the last 48 hours, and temperatures in the 50s yesterday. Moral of this random story, weather is weird everywhere. Everywhere I’ve lived (and on all the blogs I read), people always say how they have wild weather there, which is a unique feature of their region. Nope, we’ve all got wacky weather folks. Except maybe if you live in the tropics, things are a bit less wild there, until hurricane season comes.


Finally, it turns out the kiddo is a big HGTV fan. All the sudden he started watching The Property Brothers and Flip or Flop. I’m stoked! A) there is now TV on that I approve of and don’t mind listening to, B) he’s picking up info on remodeling houses and real estate which is interesting to see him apply to our home (he might start reading this blog yet), and C) we are totally spending our weekend nights binge watching home improvement shows, which is really cute and fun (don’t tell him I said he was cute…he is 13). I introduced him to my favorite, Fixer Upper, and he loved all of Chip’s antics. He’ll rock a “I can’t believe that house would go for $350K in that market.” or a “I would really move that wall and add some recessed lights.” Oh, and a hot tub and pool; to him, every house needs a hot tub and pool…which I guess he’s not wrong about. Also, can we talk about how old (or how much like my mother) I sound when I talk about approving of TV shows??


Happy hump day friends!