When a girl hits a certain age, her bedroom becomes an oasis. It might not be a clean oasis, but still. So maybe they don’t lie on their beds and twist the phone cord around their fingers while listening to the New Kids on the Block like I did, but they do find their own ways to unwind and escape into their world, far away from their dorky parents and bothersome little brothers.
Elena picked out her room in our new house right away based on the fact that it had a “secret” hideout in the closet (really just an alcove for attic access). We set out pretty quickly after unpacking boxes to getting her room ready. The first order of business was painting the walls. My co-worker, Thomas, had posted a link to ombré walls on Facebook. Now, a smarter mom would probably have done some research about how one exactly paints ombré walls and what all it will entail, but in a classic, rookie-mom move, I squealed and immediately showed it to Elena. She squealed even louder, and with that, the decision was made to paint her room in this style.
Let me just say, now that we’ve finished and been able to enjoy it for a couple of months, I’m all for the ombré walls. But as we set out to paint the room on a gloomy Sunday morning, paint and various tools spread around us, I was seriously wondering what fresh hell I’d gotten us into. I blamed Thomas. (He should be flattered. I generally blame everything that annoys me on John Mayer.)
The problem is, there are multitudes of tutorials out there that make it seem easy breezy. And for every one of those tutorials, there are twice as many stories of ombré walls gone horribly, horribly wrong. Pinterest walls of shame, if you will. So Mike and I stood there, with over $100 of paint sitting before us, not sure exactly what to do and sick with the thought of messing up. Instead of following one certain tutorial, we put our heads together and came up with a plan. We took into account what the tutorials said to do as well as where others who’d gone before us had failed. In the end, it worked very well, don’t you think?
She loves it, and so do I. While this works really well in a tween bedroom, it would be just as fun in a dining room or a living room. If painting an entire room seems too daunting, an accent wall would be just as cool and easier to manage.
How to Paint Ombré Walls
Materials (For painting 4 walls; adjust paint amounts down for smaller spaces):
- Painter’s tape
- Drop clothes
- 3 gallons of paint in 3 similar shades/color family (We used Benjamin Moore Spectra Blue 2049-50, Forget Me Not 2049-60 and Icing on the Cake 2049-70)
- 1 bucket for color mixing
- 4 rollers
- small paint brush for cutting in edges and trim
- 4″ Color Washing Brush
Divide the wall into 4 equal parts. We lightly drew the dividing lines on the wall in pencil to help us keep the different color sections straight.
Cut in and trim the top section (nearest to the ceiling) with your lightest shade. Fill in the area with the lightest shade using a roller, but leave 3-4 inches above your penciled line unpainted.
Cut in and trim the section below what you just painted with the middle shade. Fill in the area with the middle shade using a roller, but leave 3-4 inches below the top penciled line unpainted. It is okay to roll down to the next penciled line at the bottom of this section.
(I realize in these photos we did not cut in, trim and fill in the two sections before blending the colors. We didn’t do it on the first two sections, then realized it would make more sense. What I really wanted you to see was how I went about blending the two colors together.)
Return to the top section and fill in the unpainted area up to the line with the lightest shade. Immediately fill in the unpainted area below the line with the middle shade. Working quickly, blend the two shades together using the color washing brush. As you blend the colors, concentrate on working the middle shade up into the lighter shade.
Wash and dry the color mixing brush.
Create your third shade by mixing your middle shade with your darkest shade in a seperate bucket or container. Adjust shade as necessary. We ended up with a mix closer to 1 part of the darkest shade and 2 parts of our middle shade to get the color to look more like a shade in between the two.
Cut in and trim the 3rd section with your mixed shade of paint. Fill in the area with the mixed shade of paint using a roller. At this point you can fill in all the way to both the upper and lower pencil line.
Re-roll the area just above the 3rd section with your middle shade. Working quickly, blend the two shades together using the color washing brush as you did in Step 5.
Wash and dry the color washing brush.
Cut in and trim the bottom section with the darkest shade. Fill in the area with the darkest shade of paint using a roller. At this point you can fill in all the way to the upper pencil line.
Re-roll the area just above the 4th section with your mixed shade. Working quickly, blend the two shades together using the color washing brush as you did in Steps 5 and 7.
- If possible, tackle this project with a buddy. Our paint dried very quickly. Mike rolled and I worked immediately behind him to blend the colors.
- If you don’t put drop clothes all around the room, I strongly recommend you at least put one drop cloth under all your various paint cans and trays. Unlike painting a room a single color, you’re working around 4 open containers of pain and 4 paint trays. And you’re working quickly. The liklihood that something will get dripped or spilled at some point is very high.
- Label your trays. The colors are very similar, and in a frenzy you will get confused and wonder if you just accidentally switched shades.
- Only do one wall at a time. Yes, it’s a pain and yes, it will take forever. But again, the paint dries quickly. Most of the problems other people had stemmed from the paint drying out before they could blend the colors.
- We only worked with two sections at a time (for example, top two sections). We’d do one wall with the two paint shades, then move on to the next wall, until all four walls were done, before moving on to the next two paint shades.
If you’re at all interested in seeing the rest of Elena’s room, along with sources, I’d be more than happy to do so in a follow-up post. Just let me know in the comments!