HELP – I CAN’T SEE THE TREES for the forest! In school, my contracts professor always chided our class for not seeing the forest for the trees. He was right. Nowadays I have the complete opposite problem when it comes to our house. I look around and imagine a completely renovated home, with glossy hardwood floors, serene colors awakening every surface and kickass lighting fixtures topping it all off. I can totally see the bigger picture, and that picture is mounted in a glowing neon frame flashing green with dollar signs!
Throughout the winter, I got caught up in the bigger picture and was paralyzed by the enormity and expense of my task ahead. So I pretty much did nothing. I’ll blame it on a lack of Vitamin D. But now that the sun is shining (periodically) and my head has cleared, I’ve started to tackle little projects to slowly chip away at the house’s old personality. Last week’s project was the little eyesore that greeted all of our guests at the curb, giving them a first taste of our home’s true personality:
Our mailbox. Isn’t it sad? All rusty metal and peeling paint and golf cheesy. Even my husband, who is a golf-crazed maniac, did not like this mailbox. Last week I decided to paint it, so I did some shopping in my basement’s paint department to see what I could scavenge from old projects. I never throw away old spray paint because I know it’s likely that I’ll eventually find another project for it down the road. I zeroed in on an old can of Valspar spray paint that was sitting on the shelf. That leftover can of paint, in a color called Exotic Sea, was the seed that hatched the plan for this:
Mmmmmm, ombre (OM-BRAY). I’m sure you’ve all seen ombre before in some variation, whether it was on a skirt at the mall, a pillowcase at Target or on your friend’s hair. Ombre, which comes from the French word for shade or shadow, is the name the fashion and home decor worlds use to describe this look, which is created when similar tones of the same color blend together, typically from lightest to darkest, to create a lovely graduated color statement. My husband, Matt, likes to call this style “gradation”, which is technically correct, but doesn’t sound as pretty as ombre. So, here, we will say ombre. Matt hates ombre. But because I’m home alone during the day, it was I who sealed the fate of our mailbox. Here’s what I used:
As I mentioned above, I started with an old can of Exotic Sea from Valspar paints (left). I also picked up a can of Indigo Streamer by Valspar (right) and a can of Lagoon by RustOleum (center). I’m not loyal to a particular brand of spray paint, although I will say that I do not like the new point-and-shoot lid that is on many of the Valspar cans (on the can at right). I think it makes the nozzle harder to press down than the old style, which is akin to a can of hairspray.
I started out by taking the mailbox down from the wooden stand and removing the flag. I sanded it down a little bit to make sure that the golf course mural wouldn’t stand out through the new paint job. After sanding, I taped up the handle with blue painters’ tape so that I wouldn’t get any paint on it. Then I layered on lots of spray paint:
I sprayed on two thin coats of gray spray primer to make sure I started with an even surface for the blue paints. Between coats of spray primer, I worked on painting the wooden stand. I sanded it down and then sprayed it with a few coats of white spray primer and white spray paint. I also sprayed the flag with two coats of red spray paint to spruce it up and sprayed new house numbers that I bought at Lowes with two coats of the Indigo Streamer.
After the two coats of gray spray primer dried completely, I covered the whole mailbox with a coat of Exotic Sea. Then, before letting the Exotic Sea dry, I sprayed on a thin coat of Lagoon starting about a third of the way down the side of the mailbox. I held the can a bit further away this time so that the coat was thin and the colors blended together rather than coming to an abrupt meeting point. Finally, I did the same thing with the Indigo Streamer at the bottom third of the mailbox. After applying all three paints, I went back and applied very thin coats of each color at the “seams” to make sure that everything blended together nicely. Not letting each coat of paint dry went against every spray painting bone in my body, but I have to say that this method worked perfectly to achieve the ombre effect. To every rule there’s an exception. Check out this video for a visual of the method I’m describing.
I let the blue paint dry overnight. The next morning I sprayed on a thin coat of clear matte exterior sealant to make sure the blue paint would be protected from the elements. Once the clear coat dried completely, I removed the painters’ tape from the handle, reattached the flag and mounted the mailbox back on the wooden stand. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the mailbox before and after its makeover:
Now the mailbox is reminiscent of the Caribbean sea. I LOVE it! It certainly sets the tone for our home better than the old golf course paint job. Guess what? Matt, my ombre-hating husband, loves it, too. He calls it the Rock Star mailbox.
Next up on the curb appeal agenda will be giving the bed surrounding the mailbox a little TLC. With such an eye-catching mailbox, it’s hard to ignore the sad state of the shrubs and flowers down below. But now that I’m focusing on the trees, rather than the forest, I’m sure I’ll have this bed fixed up in no time!
What does everyone think? Are you a fan of the ombre trend or is it something you could live without? Typically, I’m not someone who jumps on a trend bandwagon. Since this effect in these colors reminds me so much of the sea, I see our mailbox as a reflection of our style personality rather than me blindly following a trend. That said, I don’t see anything wrong with a good old trend, especially when it’s used in an unexpected way. Have you used ombre in your home? Do you think you’ll give this method a try on something you’ve got sitting around the house (vase, pencil cup, lamp, dining room chairs) or that you found on the cheap at a yard sale??