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My friend Lisa, who helped decorate my summer house, is the principal designer at Abaca Interiors which specializes in designing spaces for families. We are starting a new series called “Play Chic Interiors” to showcase creative home decor ideas that appeal to both kids and grown-ups.

Let’s start with the ombré set of basement stairs (pictured above) Lisa painted in my friend Seri’s house. Aren’t they AWESOME? And such a great way to bring some interest to an area of the house that most people usually don’t think twice about.

I’ll let Lisa take it from here! She’s going to tell you how to pull off the look in you own home.


What is Ombré?

Here’s your design lesson for the day: Ombré originated as a textile treatment in the 19th century. The word ombré is borrowed from the French word for shaded and describes tones of color that shade into each other, graduating from light to dark.

Ombré has been around for a while now (especially for hair and nails), but we’re starting to see more of it pop up in interiors, where it works as a fun and fresh way to add some unexpected color. I find that it complements both modern and traditional interiors well, injecting a touch of whimsy without making a major commitment to full-on COLOR.

Why we chose Ombré for the stairs

The ombré stairs in the top photo were the finishing touch on a basement renovation I recently completed for Seri (aka Little Miss Party). I’d love to say that the stairs were integral to the design plan from the start, but that would be a lie. They were a last minute improvisation to:

1) Save money;

2) Bridge the gap between the traditional design of the main level of the house and the more modern lower level; and

3) Cover up some seriously ugly treads.

How to Achieve the look

To achieve the look, I selected a color strip that captured the teal/turquoise colors we were looking for; chose 4 consecutive colors; and, progressing from lightest at the top to darkest at the bottom, assigned a color to each set of 3 stairs. Since we were painting both the tread and the riser, we counted the tread and the riser as one stair. These are the colors we used:

ombre BM colorsBaby Boy Blue: 2056-20; Cool Aqua: 2056-30; Surf Blue: 2056-40; Jade Garden: 2056-50

If you are doing it yourself, follow these tips:

1) Use painter’s tape to mark each tread and riser with the appropriate color. Before you start painting, it’s a good idea to dab a dot of the color on each piece of tape, to help you keep track as you go.

2) Progress from your lightest color to your darkest, as you move down the stairs. If you have a tall staircase, you may want to use more shades of the same hue and assign fewer stairs to each color.

3) Use floor paint, which is specially formulated to hold up to heavy traffic. If you’re worried about slippage, there are non-slip additives that can be mixed into the paint. However, these will result in a textured finish. We chose to use an eggshell finish with no additive. So far, so good.

So there you have it. Ombré stairs. Fun, simple, functional – and play chic. Want to add a little ombré to your life?

10 Ombré images to get you inspired

Ombré for the shower


Photo source: A Beautiful Mess

Ombré for the kitchen


Photo Source: BuzzFeed

Ombré for your walls


Photo source: Apartment Therapy

Ombré for the inside of a cabinet


Photo source: HOW ARE YOU

Ombré for a row of mason jars


Photo source: It All Started With Paint

Ombré for your chairs


Photo Source: Decor8

Ombré for a filing cabinet


Photo source: City Suburb Sanity

Ombré for some nesting tables


Photo Source: Etsy

What do you think of ombré in interiors? Would you try it?


Lisa Hershman is the Principal Designer for Abaca Interiors, a design firm based in New York focused on creating stylish yet livable spaces. Follow @abacainteriors on Instagram to see her projects as they happen.