There's something about limewash paint ideas that have captured our collective imagination at this moment in time. Whereas previous on-trend paint effects for walls have come and gone by means of more maximalist spaces (let's not forget the rag-rolling phenomenon of the early 2000s), limewash has been widely adopted by minimalists as a way to bring texture to a scheme and play with negative space without a room feeling blank and empty.
Traditionally, limewash has been a paint idea chosen for its practical qualities, explains Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene. 'Limewash is a breathable finish making it suitable for old and damp-problematic walls,' she explains. 'Unlike paint, limewash penetrates the surface, and the color is built up by applying successive coats.'
In its modern usage, limewash can be identified by a cloudy, mottled appearance created by the way it's applied. Limewashing walls is a medium that lends itself to experimentation, using different types of limewash, applied in different ways to achieve a multitude of finishes.
With that in mind, we've curated a gallery of limewash paint ideas that showcase the versatility of this type of paint and its uses around the home.
Limewash paint ideas
1. Opt for a neutral color for your limewash
Limewash paint has reinvented itself alongside warm neutrals as a modern home decorating idea. Neutral tones of beige and taupe limewash create a backdrop for a luxurious but tactile scheme including materials such as linen, boucle fabrics, wood, and marble.
In a minimalist scheme that relies on texture over color to make an impact, limewash paint has found a home, allowing walls to be left clear of excess wall decor without feeling stark or bare.
2. Or be bold with a vivid hue
Despite the proclivity for beige limewash paint you'll find on social media, it's available in an array of colors, from pastels to vivid brights and deep rich hues, and limewash offers a unique opportunity for introducing vibrant colors into the home.
For example, introducing a shade this bright into this minimalist pink kitchen created by Daniel Harris Architects may have been jarring when using a standard emulsion, but the softness and depth achieved with this Bauwerk color creates a backdrop that adds warmth and a sunny aspect to the kitchen color scheme.
3. Pick a dark limewash to create a moody atmosphere
While saturated, dark colors can feel flat when using a matt emulsion, sucking in light, limewash paint's cloudy finish is again an asset when using shades such as black and midnight blue as a dark room living room idea. The resulting space captures the moody aesthetic of using dark shades, while still retaining softness and an organic feel.
This shade, Nurture, is the darkest, most saturated color in the Visual Silence collection, a collaboration between London-based salutogenic design practice House of Grey and limewash paint brand Bauwerk, who came together over a mutual appreciation for limewash paint's natural ingredients and no VOC content.
4. 'Drench' your room in limewash paint
The idea of color drenching is a blossoming interior design trend, used to create a room that's bold in nature, without relying on contrast as a tool to achieve this.
'This technique utilizes the same paint shade across every inch of the walls and woodwork,' explains James Greenwood, interiors expert at Graham & Brown, 'while creating a cozy and cocooned atmosphere.'
The idea can be applied using limewash paint too. In this design, Kalklitir limewash paint has been applied to the walls, ceiling and even the coving, turning this decorative element into an interesting design feature in a different way.
5. Create a feature ceiling with limewash
In recent years, ceilings have become the go-to canvas for experimenting with color, pattern and texture in the home. Wallpaper, murals, paneling – we've seen it all, so it's no surprise to see that ceiling decorating ideas make for the perfect medium to explore limewash paint too.
'As color drenching evolves, so does the desire to dowse ceilings in magnificent hues to create a dramatic effect,' says Poppy Pearce, creative director of Milc Interiors, and we have to agree. Waking up to this vibrant limewash ceiling would certainly have us hopping out of bed with a skip in our step.
6. Keep application simple for a nuanced look
As mentioned earlier, the way in which limewash paint is applied will affect the final finish, and even if you're not in the fan club for this textured painting style, limewash can still be used subtly to add richness to your space by simply applying it up and down. 'Limewash has a lovely texture, a velvety appearance and achieves great depth,' says Francesca Wezel, founder of Francesca's Paints.
This space, which uses Francesca's Paints Lime Wash, has hardly a trace of the cloudy finish that limewash is best known for, but both the hallway and bedroom have a real depth of color as the light hits them that makes for wonderfully atmospheric spaces.
7. Or make an impression with a more textured finish
For a more decorative finish, limewash paint can be applied in large criss-cross strokes to create an extra cloudy appearance. While the choice of limewash paint may make a difference, the brush is just as important. Limewash tends to be applied with a large stain brush when painting to create a cloud effect finish.
This kitchen has been painted with dark grey Fresco Lime paint from Pure & Original, combined with warm, earthy tones and touches of wood to warm up this almost concrete-like finish.
8. Recreate the look of tadelakt-style walls in a bathroom
Tadelakt is a traditional method of plastering native to Marrakesh, which requires specialist trades to apply to walls. Thanks to its waterproof nature, it's become a popular wall finish in recent times, but with a complicated and costly installation, plaster walls are not an option for every home.
However, there are limewash paints available on the market that can recreate its decorative patterning, such as Pure & Original's Marrakesh Walls, a lime-based, mineral plaster paint. While it might not have the waterproof nature that allows tadelakt to be used as a shower wall idea naturally, it can be treated with a lime soap to make it water repellent, while lime paint does have natural bacteria and mold resistant properties, which makes it a good fit for a bathroom.
9. Capture the essence of Venetian plaster
Venetian plaster is an easily identifiable wall finishing for its polished sheen, usually containing a fine marble dust. It's a favorite of luxury interior designers and has a price tag to match. However, combining a limewash mineral paint such as Marrakesh Walls with a wax can recreate the sheen of Venetian plaster, while also creating a durable, easy clean wall surface that makes it an ideal staircase wall idea.
In the home of architect Siri Zanelli, a partner at Collective Works, a richly pigmented green limewash paint from Pure & Original has been combined with a wax to create a subtle reflective sheen.
10. Don't limit yourself to walls
Limewash might be most commonly used on plastered walls, but it has other applications too, from wood and brick to concrete and other porous surfaces. This opens up your design possibilities to include using on carpentry such as fitted furniture, whether you're matching cabinetry into a wider scheme or creating a feature of it.
In this limewashed kitchen idea, the paint effect has been continued onto the range hood, both helping to limit its presence, and also making a subtle feature out of its elongated form.
How is limewash paint applied?
Limewash paint is applied in several thin coats, solely with a brush, spreading out the paint as far as it will go in all directions. 'Limewash is generally applied in a criss-cross fashion motion with a brush,' explains Francesca's Paints Francesca Wezel, 'over two or three coats (ours only requires two).'
The criss-cross motion is what creates the eventual cloud effect, so the size of the brush strokes and the positioning of each painted cloud will play a part in the overall look.
For a less cloudy look, limewash paints can be applied up and down, says Audur Skula, CEO of Kalklitir. ‘There are many ways you can apply the paint; we mostly recommend the up and down method, but the more popular X-stroke method will create a more cloudy effect.'
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Hugh is the Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2023.
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