x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ombre: from Hollywood hair salons to a home near you

Ombre, or the art of blending colours, is no longer restricted to fashionable Hollywood hairdos, writes Pallavi Dean. Here are some simple ways to introduce the trendy gradient effect in your own home.

Try the ombre effect with a covering such as Digitex Home's Purple Ombre Wallpaper. Courtesy of Digitex Home
Try the ombre effect with a covering such as Digitex Home's Purple Ombre Wallpaper. Courtesy of Digitex Home

Interior designers have a long track record of being inspired by trends from the catwalk. Now they're taking it a step further, raiding Hollywood hair salons for inspiration in the form of the latest trend: ombre.

Think JLo, Jessica Alba and Glee star Lea Michele with their dip-dye curls - dark at the roots, getting gradually lighter through to golden, highlighted tips cascading down their shoulders. From fashion to product design, ombre is a trend that the creative minds just can't get enough of.

Ombre comes from the French word "ombrer", meaning "shade". If that doesn't help, try this dictionary definition: "Having colours or tones that blend into each other." I like to refer to it as the colour gradient effect.

The style gurus at Vogue trace its roots back to a dyeing technique developed in France in the 1840s, which enjoyed a resurgence during the 1920s jazz scene. This year's Gatsby movie has doubtless done its bit to fuel the current ombre revival.

So how do you give your interiors the ombre treatment? Here are five top tips for bringing ombre into your home.


Creating the gradient paint effect isn't as tricky as you might think. All you need is two rollers and a bit of imagination. Most of the big paint manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon, with "how to" guides on their websites and - if you're lucky - a well-trained salesperson who can offer advice when you buy the stuff.

Dulux creative director Marianne Shillingford suggests using two different shades of blue to create the effect of the ocean blending into the horizon. Keeping with context, try a desert look, taking a blood-red sky setting into rolling sand dunes. The trick, says Shillingford, is to "choose colours of a similar hue that differ slightly in tone".

If you don't believe her, try blending deep purple with lime green in your lounge, and see how long you can live with it. While blending two hues creates a dramatic effect, fading from one colour to white is a tried-and-tested ploy for creating the ombre effect with subtlety.

Wallpaper is another great option to get this colour wash effect. Plenty of suppliers in the UAE should be able to help you. Have a look at the Saraille range by Designers Guild, available at Maison d'Art in Dubai.



Stairways in most homes are a missed design opportunity; it still shocks me every time that I walk into a high-end villa on the Palm Jumeirah or in Emirates Hills and find staircases covered in the cheap ceramic tiles that I would expect to find in a school or hospital. It doesn't have to be this way. Strip them away and paint each riser in ascending shades of your home's accent colour. Done well, it can add a real sense of depth and height. Make a bold statement with strong hues to grab attention, or use a more delicate palette for an understated effect. Another idea is to paint the individual posts of your handrail in hues of the same colour. My advice is to keep your darker hues at the bottom of the stairs; this creates an illusion of volume.



For soft furnishings, such as cushions, throws and duvet covers, browse the big-name stores in the malls - those that follow fashion have plenty of ombre options. Failing that, find an ombre fabric and get them made. Curtains are another option, but remember: less is more when it comes to ombre. If you buy a couple of scatter pillows and find that they make you dizzy, it's no great hardship. But if you've had the entire living room decked out in floor-to-ceiling dip-dye drapes and find it a bit overbearing, you've made an expensive mistake.

For those who like to get their hands dirty, go back to basics and make your own fabric. The original dyeing technique still works: you need two pots of boiling water, two different shades of fabric dye, a piece of plain white cloth, industrial-strength rubber gloves and an iron will. YouTube has plenty of videos showing you how to do it. Rather you than me.

You could also consider commissioning some artwork, or if you are the creative type: buy a blank canvas, a couple of paint cans and spend an afternoon at thejamjar (a public DIY painting studio) in Dubai. Or else a quick search of the word "ombre" on Pinterest lifts the lid on a whole world of ideas.



If you can't get enough of this trend, and decide to invest in ombre-effect furniture, have a look at the Blur sofa and Bikini Chair by furniture supplier Moroso (available at Obegi Home in Dubai). Remember, with ombre, less is more. If you are going with the gradient effect on your walls, pare it with block-coloured furniture. Likewise, if you are using this colour-wash effect in your furniture pieces, keep the backdrop patterned or in colour blocks. Be sure to choose your accessories wisely to complement this look and keep the room in balance.



Lightbulbs are perhaps the "killer app" of interior ombre, because they're cheap, versatile and stunningly effective. Instead of painting the walls with blue at the bottom fading to white at the top, try a white wall with concealed blue lights along the floor, throwing blue light upwards. The light will naturally dissipate, giving you the perfect ombre effect. And if the next night you fancy a different look, simply switch the bulbs for a low-cost, pain-free change. Admittedly, it won't work so well for lunch parties when natural sunlight drowns out the bulbs, but think of this as a bonus, because it lets your room take on a different personality at different times of the day.