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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.

{Living Room} – Accent Walls Solve All the Problems

We are still buried in boxes around here and it turns out my natural response to needing to unpack is to decorate #obviously. Right now our living room (I think that’s what you call an awkward room that serves as your main entry and primary living space??) is primarily serving as a staging area for decor, which may or may not be driving TimTheFarmer crazy. Honeeyyyy, I can’t hang the pictures until you tear down that wall and I paint all the other walls and I find the perfect wingback chairs at the flea market. 


I We have plans to tear down the wall between the living room and the kitchen to create one open and flowing space that will function as a living room, dining and entertaining room, and kitchen. I’m super excited about this, but it also seems to mean that I can’t decorate a space we’re going to destroy. So, for now, the room is a staging area. But I put some pumpkins out, which means my Halloween decor is totally taken care of, right??

Like my first vignette, I like small wins that make me feel like we’re making progress. No, unpacking doesn’t give me the same feeling (reference the first paragraph). There might actually be something to this…I never unpack after trips either. If I had a therapist, I would probably ask him what that means. #butIdont. Aaannnnywayy, during that quick stop at home a couple weeks ago where I dominated entered that pie competition and my FIL’s dog ran away, I quickly painted the guest bath and an accent wall in the living room – because that absolutely makes the rest of the chaos less noticeable.

Picking a Paint

I take picking a paint color very seriously. I go to every hardware store and grab every.single.paint-chip in my desired shad and have no brand loyalty when it comes to paint. I narrow it down (t00 brown, too blue etc.) and then hmm and haw a bit longer and then ask designers on Instagram and then I jump in with both feet. This time was especially challenging because in my head I was picking the entire palette for the whole house #nopressure. Once the first coat goes on, I doubt my choice and decide how I’m going to have the store adjust it; then I do the second coat (because let’s be honest, one coat NEVER cuts it, no matter what the can says) and think it might be ok. Then I sleep on it and realize it was the right choice.


Our entire house is currently a yellowy off-white with wood trim. It’s not pretty wood trim; it’s wood trim that they put some weird orangey stain on. My plan is to paint all the walls and ceilings a light grey, paint all the trim and bead board white, and paint a couple accent walls and the kitchen cabinets a dark grey. I should be done with this project in…2020? See why I can’t hang the pictures yet?

Accent Wall with “Wallpaper”

I love all the funky wallpaper out there these days, but having suffered through more wallpaper removal than I care to remember, I knew I wouldn’t do that here. Although, I hear there are peel and stick wallpapers these days…hmm, tempted. I randomly checked HauteLook the day we moved in and found these amazing wall decals and planned to put them on the wall under the stairs. Actually, first I wanted to put them in the guest bath, but the kiddo vetoed that.


The final paint choice was Smooth Slate by Clark + Kensington. After painting the bathroom, I quickly threw a coat of the same paint on the wall under the stairs and finished painting it the next day while the pie was cooking and the dog was running away.

That night, I stuck all the fabulous feather decals on the wall in a repeating pattern. I absolutely did not plan out the widths or lines or draw a grid. I am the opposite of OCD – it would make me crazy to try to plan out a grid. I went the technical route of using my hand for a ruler. Halfway through hanging them, the kiddo asked if there’d be extras for his room…ummmm. Anyway, here it is!


The stair risers and trim will be white, so this is just a first step. But, the living room is totally pulled together now. Have you used wall decals anywhere in your house?