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Ombré: Colorful, Fashionable Fade

Spring is officially upon us–what better time to bring a little color into your life? And what better way to do it than with the distinctive gradient fade of the ombré style? It isn’t just for cakes and red carpet hair hairstyles! Ombré doesn’t belong to any one type of decor, and it isn’t limited to strict patterns or colors. It can freshen up any look, add visual interest to any corner of your home. Here are just a couple of ways to incorporate this great and versatile look.

Not Just For Dessert

Not a cake, but definitely leaning toward the cake aesthetic! by PBteen.
Not a cake, but definitely leaning toward the cake aesthetic! by PBteen.

When I see the word ombré my mind immediately goes to cake–those terrific multi-tiered confections that look delicious but also frighteningly time-consuming to construct. I also imagine the multicolored hairstyles of the last few years. But the word actually refers to anything that fades from one color hue to another. It can be a fade between different colors, such as from black to blue, or a gradual fade through different tints, like a cake that starts a pale lavender and ends a deep violet. I also assumed it was a recent design style, but I was also wrong about that. Ombré came into fashion for textiles in the mid 1800’s, and remained popular for the whole of the nineteenth century.

A Natural Selection 

Ombré Fire Hurricane--Lg, 876019 by Dimond Home
Ombré Fire Hurricane–Lg, 876019 by Dimond Home

You may never have considered the ombré look before, because although it’s literally everywhere, it’s stealthy. Everything in nature involves a color fade to a certain extent–the sky, the ocean, the leaves on the trees, even plain old dirt. Uniform blocks of color are a purely human creation. Gradual fades are just very comfortable to look at, harmonious to our senses, to the point that it can almost be invisible. This is especially true if you go with a natural, earthy color like the one in the picture above. Bright colors are great too, if you’re trying to go a little more high-key.

Pattern Recognition 

Stencil Art Blue Ombré Stencil, 34420 by Uttermost
Stencil Art Blue Ombré Stencil, 34420 by Uttermost

Ombré effects also pair exceedingly well with patterns. Whether intricate damask or just something simple like stripes or chessboard, a fade effect can keep a pattern from becoming too busy or intense. Especially for a piece that covers a large area like curtains or a rug. Along with this comes the added bonus of a vintage or antique feel, since a natural fade will happen with sun exposure over time.

Do-It-Yourself Design 

 

 

You can get this effect in a bunch of interesting ways! by The Land of Nod
You can get this effect in a bunch of interesting ways! by The Land of Nod

To get the ombré effect you technically don’t have to keep the color fade confined to one particular item. It could be a line of jars in the kitchen that go from a deep hue to a light one (and it doesn’t have to be the glass, it could be the contents) or an artful arrangement of differently colored throw pillows on a sofa. It could be something like the dresser above, with each drawer tinted differently. You could buy something like this, I’m sure, or you could start with a white base and make it a DIY project, painting each successive drawer a different shade to match the rest of your decor.

Wall to Wall 

An ombré fade creates variety and depth. by Margot Hartford Photography
An ombré fade creates variety and depth. by Margot Hartford Photography

When it comes to this style, don’t be afraid to think grand and different! Ombré design isn’t just for accents and art–it would look great on the walls themselves too. I love this idea because it gives the illusion of depth, making a smaller room look bigger, and also creates a natural focal point. A gradient-painted wall is a great way to draw the eye to a certain part of the room. If you aren’t willing to commit to a whole new coat of paint, a similar effect could be achieved with wall hangings or curtains.

With ombré design, the possibilities are pretty much endless. There is no right or wrong way to go about implementing this style. Colors can be faded and combined in all sorts of ways, whether you’re going for bright and ostentatious or something more natural that can fade into your home’s background. Don’t be afraid of color!