After returning from a mini-vacation in Miami with my mom and sisters, I’m back to work on the music room! I want the vibe of this room to be cozy but also sophisticated so I thought I would try hanging wallpapering since there are so many cool options out there. But, after looking at a bunch of samples and not being able to decide on one, I felt like it wasn’t meant to be.
I really didn’t want to just paint the walls so, I did some research on what other wall treatment I could use and settled on lime washing the walls. I wanted a neutral background for the artwork that I’m eventually going to hang. But, I also want dimension to the walls and after looking at inspiration photos of lime washing, I thought, YES, that’s what I had envisioned.
From the above photo, you can see why I was so drawn to lime washing. The variation in colors is just so beautiful. But before I describe how I lime washed my walls, let’s get into exactly what lime washing is because honestly, before researching it, I had no idea what it was.
Mineral-based, natural limewash has a chalky, nuanced texture that only gets better with age. The paint contains lime which creates the white streaking and variation in the paint color. The lime is crushed, burned, and mixed with water to create a lime slurry that is mixed in with paint that is naturally tinted. Once the paint dries, it looks molted and matte with an almost chalk-like appearance. It really is a beautiful alternative to latex paint!
There are a slew of videos that you can view on how to apply the lime wash and I initially followed the general techniques described by the experts, but… it left my walls looking like a chalkboard(!). Like seriously, I felt like I was in a classroom when I walked into the space.
I followed all the directions and also applied 3 coats just in case it was an issue with opacity, but NOPE! It just didn’t look right.
So, I improvised and came up with my own technique that gave me the dimension I wanted. I figured if what I tried didn’t work out, I’d just paint over the lime wash with latex paint. No harm, no foul. Well, except that I’d be out the cost of the lime wash and a few hours, but hey, what’s DIYing without those potential risks?
All the videos show painting the lime wash onto the walls in these jagged clouds all over the wall that you eventually link together to create a beautiful masterpiece of texture and dimension. Again, I just got streaks on a chalkboard. So, instead I painted in swirls and circles and that seemed to work. After 2 more coats and some touchup work, I had this!
It was exactly what I wanted!
How to Lime Wash
Okay, so let’s get into the nitty gritty on how I painted the walls. First up, the paint. It is a bear to work with because when you initially open the container, the paint is very runny at the top with a thick coat of hard lime at the bottom that must be mixed thoroughly.
After a bunch of trial and error that created a big ole mess, I poured the entire paint can into a 5 gallon bucket. You’ll have to then get something hard (I used a flat head screwdriver) to get the chunks of lime out of the bottom of the can and into the bucket. I suggest doing this outside and wearing old clothes because it is messy!
I then tried to get a long paint stick to mix everything together, but I’m telling you… The lime is rock hard and will not move! So, I used a drill with a mixing bit to mix everything and that worked like a charm. If you don’t have a mixing drill bit, you could also use an immersion blender in a pinch.
Okay, so after everything is mixed and hopefully all your surfaces are covered and protected, it’s time to paint! For lime washing, you don’t use a roller, you use a huge paintbrush. (See below for my Source List).
I would (and did) start painting the wall that will be hidden from view the most. I started with a wall that is next to the entrance into the room that I knew would be covered in art. I’ve learned my lesson over the years to always start in an inconspicuous spot because your last wall will always look much better than your first one.
As far as the painting technique goes, initially I used the “cloud” method of painting espoused by experts by painting streaks of jagged clouds all over the walls and then joining each individual cloud.
But again, that technique made my wall look like a chalkboard so I don’t recommend doing that.
Instead, I painted swirls and circles all over the wall and then joined those shapes together. You do this joining of individual shapes so that you get as much texture and variation in the paint as possible. You’ll see that sometimes when you load your brush with paint, you’ll have a lot of lime mixed in the paint so the paint will be lighter in color and then sometimes you’ll only have a little lime so the paint will be darker. You want to join those lighter and darker shapes to create uniform variation.
As for cutting in and the corners, I used the same brush and was just careful on the parts that I knew were not going to be repainted.
And that’s it. There’s not much to it!
Now that the entire upper portion of the walls are done, I’ve painted a couple swatches to decide the color that I’ll be using for the fluting underneath the chair rail. I know my choices seem like black and more black but one has a bit more green and the other has a bit more blue. The one I chose is the left hand side swatch. It’s Black Iron by Benjamin Moore and I’ll be painting the entire bottom part of the wall that color this week then it’s on to fluting!
If you’re thinking of tackling this project, YOU CAN DO IT!!! Here’s the source list I used to get you started (affiliate links):
Happy lime washing!