The ins and outs of ombre

The ombre trend made its way into both our hairstyles and homes in 2012, yet while our hair preferences have changed in the last 6 months, there’s no sign of the trend working its way out of our interiors any time soon. No doubt you can picture the look already but simply put, the word, ‘ombre’ is derived from the French word, ‘ombrer’ which means to shade or shadow. Colours shade into each other as they graduate from light to dark.

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Ombre is the result of a weaving process that originated in Europe. It may seem contemporary but it’s had a long life, making itself useful within pre-Civil War quilts, Victorian ribbons and clothing from the 1970s disco era. Within the home, there are endless possibilities. You might want to take a subtle approach and line up three graduating shades of flowers in a vase or invest in a new bedsheet.

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Then again, you could also swap your bathroom tiles, paint a feature wall or hang curtains in your living room. The wooden walls of this Parisian apartment have been handpainted in white custom epoxy paint to give a ghostly, misty effect and the finished job is nothing other than stunning.

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Besides walls, applying the treatment to curtains is my favourite option since the overall effect is heightened when sun streams through the window and hits the gradient colour. You’ll also find that the technique can vary as colours can be separated in different ways. Most ombre adopters choose to blur them, letting them slowly fade into each other whereas others might prefer to make the distinction more severe by choosing a solid line.

Back in May last year, I spoke to Chloe Bawden, Press Officer at wallpaper and paint company, Designers Guild. We discussed the latest must-have (ombre of course) and she explained how it’s “a really good alternative (to an all-over bright colour) because it’s not as busy.” The impact of bolder shades is lessened, allowing you to be braver with the shades that you choose.

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This plays a big part in my belief that the blurring technique is the better of the two options – at least where fabric and walls are concerned. Where solid lines really work is on furniture – since the traditional dividing lines between drawers are respected and you don’t run the risk of creating a large, focal point that looks tired and dated.

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Horizontal stripes have been around for longer than I can remember so recreating that look on your wall can easily date your property and produce the opposite effect that you’ve been aiming for by investing in a fresh new trend.

Tips and tricks

Buying a ready dyed home accessory such as a vase or a pillow or two won’t require you to brush up on your painting skills but should you want to try out the look on a wall or an item of furniture, these tips and tricks will help you pull it off:

1. Start off by dividing the wall into equal sections using a pencil.

2.  Don’t forget to sand wood and wipe down walls before you start to paint. You need a smooth surface to work on.

3. Don’t jump between too many colour shades. Start with one shade then pick a slightly darker one and so on.

4. Start with the lightest colour at the top and gradually get darker towards the bottom.

5. Don’t fade the colours to the centre of your chosen area. It will reduce the space, making your room look much smaller than it is. Fade from the top or bottom instead.

6. Make up two new colours that are an even mix of your lightest and middle and middle and darkest shades. It might look like you only need three colours but you actually need five.

7. Leave 6” gaps between your middle and bottom colours when you first paint them, then blend with the darkest of the two newly mixed colours at a 45 degree angle. You’ll need to do the same with the lighter of the two newly mixed colours between the lightest and middle section of your wall.

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If you need help from a painter/decorator to achieve that perfectly imperfect finish, post your job and up to three tradesmen will get in touch with you to quote. You’ll be able to consult their profile pages which come complete with ratings, to help you decide who to hire!

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