Just as retro interior colours and styles have found their way back into our hearts and our homes, so too are paint effects having a moment.
Paint effects hit the heights of popularity during the 1980s as we fell in love with the casual charm of the Mediterranean look and sought to replicate in in some way in our homes.
In a nation of young housing stock, there is something about the rustic, slightly wonky and uneven nature of the ancient stone, stucco and plaster walls so commonly found in Italy, France and Greece.
So we ragrolled and sponged our way around our walls, welding paint colours that ranged from dusky honey to deep terracotta.
Well, it’s back. Just as retro interior colours and styles have found their way back into our hearts and our homes, so too are paint effects having a moment.
In a world that has become somewhat homogenised, paint effects are a way of personalising our homes. Who wants to look just like the house next door? These styles also look quite organic which is a look that bumps shoulders with the current desire for handmade ceramics and freestyle patterns on fabrics. Paint effects are great disguise artists and can be used to detract from walls that are less-than-perfect. No need for precise plastering; use paint effects to cover over dinged and battered walls.
These looks offer a respite from just plain coloured walls and allow us to flex our artistic muscles without having to turn out gallery-quality paintings.
Paint effects such as ragrolling and sponging are relatively forgiving – meaning that you can hide your mistakes fairly easily. They are also easily modified for a greater range of looks. For example, you can create an ombre effect by making the ragrolling darker and denser near the base of the wall and increasingly lighter towards the ceiling. Choose two quite light creams or greys and create a cloud-like effect.
There are no hard and fast rules about what you should do. Spend time getting the effect right by trialling different colours and application techniques until you are happy with the finished look. Then use your trial area as a reference board for the whole project.
This room uses two wall colours, Resene Athena and Resene Salted Caramel, that could both be loosely described as biscuity in colour but which are quite different in tone – one’s quite light, the other dark. This makes for a very distinctive effect whereas if the colours chosen are closer in tone, a much more subtle mottled look can be achieved.
Resene Salted Caramel is a delicious ginger gold. Other colours to try for a warm stone-like appeal are Resene Kombucha for a rusty terracotta or Resene Sunbeam for a more mellow golden hue.
The trick to getting paint effects to work is to use a product that allow you the time to work with the paint without drying too quickly. Resene FX Paint Effects Medium is a tintable acrylic medium that allows you to easily create unique paint effects. Often it only takes one Resene testpot of colour added to the medium to tint it to the right shade. If you are after a stone effect and want to amp it up even further, you could also use textured products like Resene Resitex or Resene Sandtex as basecoats for extra dimension.
Adding to the whimsical organic look of this room is the use of rounded shapes – there’s the tubular legs and pedestal of the desk, a rounded floor vase, a drum-shaped lamp shade atop a rounded base and even a round cushion on the bench seat to one side.
To create the quintessential mottled Mediterranean-style effect on the walls, we started with two coats of Resene Salted Caramel, the darker shade. Once dry, we applied Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Athena with a rag then buffed the wet medium slightly. The choice to apply a lighter colour over a darker colour rather than the other way around is an important one, too, when you’re looking to create this kind of finish, and the key to making it look great is by working up multiple thin layers rather than trying to get it all done in one go. It’s easy to ramp up the look by applying subsequent layers of Resene FX Paint Effects Medium mixed with Resene Athena or scale it back by using another rag to buff on small amounts of Resene Salted Caramel where the effect has gone on too strong.
Project by Melle Van Sambeek. Photography by Bryce Carleton. May 2022
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