How to Colorwash a Room
For a casual appearance, nothing beats the look of colorwashing. When you step into a room that has been colorwashed, you can almost feel the past. It has a nostalgic look; comfortable, cozy, lived-in.
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By simply using different color palettes with the colorwashing technique, you can give your room an old world charm. Colorwashing usually starts with a white or very pale base coat, as pastel colors are most popular but strong and even harsh colors have their place.
Preparation: A clean, dry, dull surface is important for painting. Wash your walls with mild soap and then be sure to rinse thoroughly. Scrape off any loose paint; patch up any holes, then and sand smooth the surface. Remove any dust with a vacuum.
Now you're ready to start.
What you'll need:
- 1/4-inch nap roller
- Paint tray
- Latex paint brushes (various sizes)
- Soft terry cloth
- Painter's tape
- Plastic bucket
- Drop cloth
- Latex Satin paint for basecoat
- Matt varnish for a finish coat
How to apply:
- Step 1: Mask ceilings, baseboards and trim with painter's tape. Paint the wall with your desired basecoat color and allow to dry completely. Using a fairly large coarse brush, apply your colorwash to the surface, crisscrossing in every direction. The more overlapped and random your brush marks, the better. Work from top to bottom and left to right moving across the wall. Periodically step back to make sure your paint swirls are similar in size.
- Step 2: Using a softer brush dampened with cold water, go lightly over the painted area before you see it start to dry. This will soften the brush lines.
- Step 3: As the wash begins to dry, go over the surface with firm strokes using a nearly dry brush. This will give the surface an uneven effect.
- Step 4: For a washable finish, apply a coat of matt varnish.
Things to consider:
- Leave yourself enough uninterrupted time per wall so you are sure not to stop once you've started a wall.
- For a soft, feathery effect, use a drier brush.
- After your first success with colorwashing with a brush, try experimenting. Use a cotton rag instead of a brush for a softer look.
- Try colorwashing several layers of color. Be sure to let each layer dry before staring the next color.
- Be sure to work in random sections because the finished look should be splotchy, not perfectly even.
- Select two colors for the washing technique, with the basecoat color being the brighter of the two. This is so that it will be able to be seen through the top-washing coat. The reason we recommend that your paint choice be a satin so that the topcoat is easier to apply. If you choose to use a flat paint, the washing effect will be more of a rubbed appearance.
For best results, select two colors that are similar, like a blue and a lilac. The blue as the basecoat with the lilac swirled over it is a stunning but subtle effect. Both colors need to be about the same lightness or darkness for the technique to be successful. Another attractive technique is to use a white with a soft color. The color can be either the basecoat or the washing coat. The white on top softens and produces a "cloud" effect. When reversed, the color stands out against the white.
— For a copy of "Broken Color Painting", send $3.00 plus a long, self-addressed stamped envelope to L&M Publications, PMB 229, PO Box 413005, Naples, FL. 34103-3005. Be sure to mention the title.
(Rosemary Sadez Friedmann is an interior designer and author based in Naples, Fla.)
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