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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!

{Kitchen Update} Beadboard Sent Me to the Brink

We’re about halfway through the kitchen update … wahoo!! The painting is done and now we just need to figure out the lighting situation and how much of the dividing wall we’re going to take out. I know – I just painted the wall and now I’m ripping it out?? #thatshowIroll Oh. And the hearts still have to come down. Those suckers are really secured up there.


Thank goodness for a weeklong holiday between Christmas and New Year’s – this project would have taken a FOR-EV-HER (say that in your best Sandlot voice) if I’d had to cram it into evenings and weekends. I wore this outfit for a week straight. I know what you’re thinking – TimTheFarmer is a lucky guy #youshouldhaveseenmyhair.


When we left the kitchen last week, we were picking paint for the cabinets and beadboard. TimTheFarmer and I both thought we’d pick the lighter grey, but once we saw them both on the wall and cabinets, we loved the darker grey – Cordite. It had an unexpected green tint to it that looked really cool. So, it was back to Home Depot to get a gallon of the Behr Marquee to put to the one-coat test.

Paint Sample2

We prepped all the surfaces by scrubbing the cabinet doors, the cabinet frames, and beadboard using TCP as the wash. Not eco-friendly, but gives a good clean of surfaces that get dirtier than you’d like to admit. While we waited to close on the house, I was redecorating the entire house in my head, which meant painting the cabinets. I spent a fair amount of time researching how to paint cabinets. There are some great posts out there on how to do it, but I learned it can be a super involved process.  Depending on the surface, it can involve sanding, removing the finish, prepping, priming, painting, sealing….eeeekk! I wanted to do it right, but I don’t have that kind of time. Once we finally moved in , I started really examining the cabinet and beadboard surfaces. They’re not a fancy hardwood (they might be plywood…classy, I know), they don’t have a shiny stain, and they’re a little rough. So, after consulting a few people and lots of justification in my head, I decided to wash them really well and just paint them. In other words, this not a post on how to paint cabinets. I’m hoping this method will work for our basic cabinets, but probably not what should be done for most other types of cabinets.

First, we pulled the cabinet doors off (using my new hot pink drill – thanks Dad!) and painted them and the cabinets. We didn’t paint inside the cabinets #notthatOCD but we did paint under them, which made more of a difference than I expected.


To keep it real, it looked like a bomb exploded in our kitchen. And, having all the cabinet doors off confirmed my hunch that I can not hop onboard the open shelving trend.


While the cabinets were drying, I started in on the beadboard. Oh. My. Word. I thought painting trim was awful. Painting beadboard must seriously be the most tedious thing you can paint in an existing home. Which is saying a lot, because painting the trim around windows or trying not get paint on the floor when painting baseboard trim is pretty flippin’ annoying. Between trying to get a straight line where the wall meets the beadboard and making sure all the little grooves are filled, it took as long to paint the beadboard as it did the rest of the kitchen (cabinets, trim, and walls combined). My cousin wrote to say she has 7 ft tall beadboard throughout her New Zealand home they’ve been slowly painting. Lilly, I would LOSE my mind.


I think there is going to be a whole post dedicated to my straight-line odyssey. I know – try to contain your excitement. 


Second only to the beadboard in frustrating projects, was re-hanging the cabinets. They still don’t shut quite right, but for the sake of our sanity, and marriage, we agreed to give it a week before we tried to fix them.

While I was painting the cabinets, TimTheFarmer painted the walls and ceiling with the light grey. It was SUCH a help #teamwork. After how long the dang beadboard took, if I’d have had to paint the walls too, this project would be finished in April.

Behr Marquee Paint Review 

So…the big question…did the Behr Marquee cover in one coat?

Paint Sample

Drumroll please…yes!! 

And thank goodness for that, because, as we’ve been discussing, the beadboard was close to sending me to the brink. It worked so well that I tried to get the Home Depot man to mix me up my wall color in the paint, but because it’s not a Behr Marquee color, it turns out it wouldn’t be guaranteed. Since I still had a gallon of the original wall paint, I figured I’d use that up and then try to find a super similar light grey for the rest of the house. It’s double the price of our other paint, but if I could only do one coat, the time and money savings would definitely make it worth it. Although, I did learn that one coat coverage is harder to achieve in light colored paint than it is with dark. Any ideas on why that is? I have my theories… Anyway, here’s a tiny, messy preview of the cabinets.


I can’t wait to show you how all the paint turned out! As soon as I’m home when it’s light out, I’ll get some pictures. Stay tuned.

{Kitchen Update} Clean Up at the Cash Register

Thanks for all your feedback on our kitchen update plans! We made some good progress over the holidays, but stalled out when we went back to work…and the house wasn’t warm enough to paint. Good news is that the oil man arrived yesterday morning, so we’re warm! And, there will be lots more painting this weekend.

On Monday, I mentioned that we decided to go with dark grey cabinets, primarily to avoid all the fingerprint smudges that come from living with boys. To answer the question that I know is going through your head: yes, I am perfect and would never contribute to our dirty cabinets.

Since we put the offer in on the house, I’ve been trying to sort of what shade of grey we should go with. Should it be medium grey (shark grey, I call it) or more of blue-grey or a medium-dark-grey or a dark-dark grey. Ugh. So many options. I found myself looking for inspiration on my fall travels … from taxi cabs in Philly or Chicago, to a bathroom in Decatur, to the streets of DC, to Lowes.

GreyCollageThrifty Decor Chick and I totally speak the same language when it comes to paint colors and I love the greys she used on both her fireplace and kitchen island. She *even* replied to me on Instagram to tell me the color she used on fireplace! 



Ultimately, my biggest concern was making our kitchen too dark by combining dark cabinets with a black countertop. But, like I said, finger smudges. So, I figured we’d make up for it with good lighting and bright, crisp walls and trim. Our countertop also has some greens and blues and browns in it which I thought could be fun to play off of. I finally bit the bullet and went and picked up a few paint samples.


Once I got to Home Depot (because we had gift cards), I was intrigued by Behr’s Marquee collection which guaranteed one-coat coverage, and had some cool dark grey colors. The sales rep and the Behr rep who happened to be there, both reassured me that if I used the proper spread rate and surface prep, I’d get my money back if it didn’t do the job in one coat. I HATE two coats of paint … once one’s up, my impatient self wants to be done, so I gave it a go. I picked up samples of Behr Cordite and Antique Tin.

Paint Sample

I also picked up a bright kelly green sample to try on the island. Because I am all eco-friendly like that, I didn’t take a plastic bag and attempted to balance all the paint samples and roller refills and (not eco-friendly) TCP powder and promptly dropped the green paint sample, which shattered and sprayed bright green paint ALL over the exit area, and my new Chucks, and a little on my jeans. Jeez! So embarrassing. They were very nice and made me another sample, and as I was leaving twenty minutes later, they were still cleaning up a huge paint spill. I couldn’t believe a little sample can of paint could make such a mess. #onecoatcoverage If you’re in the Kingston Home Depot and you see a green paint stain when you’re leaving…that was me.


I got home, washed the beadboard and cabinets down with the TCP, and immediately got my two samples on three places in my kitchen. I also painted the walls near the samples the new grey wall color. I wanted to see how the colors would look on the beadboard against the wall, on the lower cabinets against the countertops, and on the upper cabinets. TimTheFarmer and I both guessed we’d choose the Antique Tin (on the right in the first pic, top in second pic, left in third pic) before I started painting. Here’s how it looked, sort of … the camera doesn’t quite capture how it looks in real life.

Paint Sample2Paint Sample1Paint Sample3

So, which one would you choose?? Stay tuned to see what direction we went!