Walls That Shine

A color-on-color effect can be created in various ways, each producing a different look. These techniques require two wall paints -- satin and semi-gloss finishes -- in the same color.
By: Shari Hiller


A fresh coat of paint is often the easiest and least expensive way to update a room. My decorating partner, Matt Fox, and I find that even after painting, however, walls can appear flat and uninteresting. They lack texture and depth. A color-on- color technique creates depth and adds a subtle sheen to a painted wall.

A color-on-color effect can be created in various ways, each producing a different look. These techniques require two wall paints -- satin and semi-gloss finishes -- in the same color.

A room is prepped and painted with the satin finish paint. After letting the walls completely dry, ceilings, windows and baseboards are masked off with painter's tape. The semi-gloss paint is then used to add a subtle decorative element.

One popular faux painting technique that works well with a color-on-color project is sponging. This technique uses a sea sponge known as a "paintbrush". A sea sponge is first cut in half. The curved surface of one half is used to apply most of the paint. The other half is cut into smaller pieces for sponging in corners and along edges.

To begin, wet each sponge in water and wring out completely. Pour a small amount of the semi-gloss paint into a tray. Dip the curved surface of a damp sponge into the paint. Blot the sponge on a stack of paper towels so that only a small amount of paint remains.

Begin in an upper corner and press the sponge repeatedly against the wall. Overlap the impressions and be sure to rotate your hand at the wrist with each application. As your sponge dries, reload, blot and repeat the process. If your sponge becomes too saturated, rinse and wring out thoroughly.

Work in small areas until you finish. Then you'll notice a subtle but interesting texture.

Another great look which can be achieved by using color-on-color is striping. In order to create stripes in a room, you will need a long level, a pencil, painter 's tape and paint brushes.

First, measure and mark every six inches across the wall. Make sure there are full six-inch stripes in the conspicuous areas. Make any alterations in size to accommodate wall lengths in corners that aren't as readily seen.

Use the level to lightly pencil in the vertical lines. Then tape off the stripes using the painter's tape. Apply the semi-gloss paint to the striped area. Brush the paint on to help make the stripes look more hand-painted. Remove the tape as you finish each wall to ensure the paint doesn't dry and pull off with the tape.

When you finish, notice that the stripes add a bit of elegance and sophistication to the room. Sponging and striping achieve beautiful results, but if you look for something a less traditional, how about a color-on-color approach with stamping?

First, pour your semi-gloss paint into a paint tray and use a low nap roller to coat the stamp. Load the roller then roll some of the paint off on the slope of the tray before going to your stamp. If you're using a small stamp design, use a small foam brush to coat your stamp.

Begin by either measuring out the placement of your stamps, or simply stamp them randomly on the walls. You may want to practice on some old newspaper until you get the hang of it. Your first stamp will always be heavier than your second, and this slight variation is nice. Even if parts of your stamp don't actually imprint on the wall, it makes for a hand-crafted look. Step back every once in awhile to check your placement. You'll have so much fun, you'll be done before you know it!

To achieve crisp imprints, make sure no paint is pooling in the crevices in your stamp. A small watercolor brush is a great for removing excess paint. Also, if you are a perfectionist, you may want to press your first imprint onto paper, and your second, dryer imprint right onto the wall. Since you can get between two and three imprints every time you load up the stamp, it does give you options!

And options are what decorating is all about. There are so many options when using color-on-color techniques that the hardest part may be deciding which one you like best.

Whichever you choose, this versatile approach will add style and individuality to your home, with very little expense. What could be better?

(Shari Hiller alternates writing this column with Matt Fox. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room By Room.)

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