*Today’s post was made possible by James Alexander Limewash, and features gifted product for the purposes of a candid review. All opinions are my own.
Do you recall how I’ve been a little on the fence about the vintage wallpaper we inherited from the previous homeowners of the house we moved into last fall? To be completely blunt, I know that I would not have picked it on my own, but I genuinely don’t dislike it. I’m just a bit of a control freak, and don’t like other people making decisions for me. That said, I have neither the time nor energy right now to remove a rather large room’s worth of wallpaper, and I also don’t have the heart to peel off a vintage pattern that so many of you seem to love.
Well, anyway, it took almost eight months of living here and brainstorming, but I finally came up with what I feel like is the perfect solution in order to make the room feel officially like ours: new green-toned limewash from James Alexander Paint! I thought maybe adding some textural speciality paint below the chair rail might help balance the bold, busy 1960s wallpaper, and, happily, it did exactly that. Keep scrolling to read the full story, and learn how to refresh your own space with gorgeous textural limewash.
Those photos above are a reminder of what the room looked like before. We didn’t change anything at all for eight months. All we did was move our furniture in. I definitely expected to have the wallpaper torn down within a couple of months of living here, but other projects took priority, and I also was surprised to find out that I actually liked the wallpaper. Again, it’s not what I would have picked, but it somehow worked really well with our bedroom furniture, so I let it be.
I liked the wallpaper, sure, but I never could shake the gut instinct that something wasn’t quite right. The room was nice, but didn’t have the “Waller touch,” if you will. It needed a little more green, which is sort of a signature color when it comes to our family homes, and it occurred to me that maybe I could incorporate green paint under the chair rail to complement the orange tones in the 1960s wallpaper that we inherited.
It was around this time that I caught wind of James Alexander Paint. Forgive the presumptuous statement, but I’m pretty sure you’d have to be living under a rock not to have picked up on the fact that limewash is having a huge resurgence in the interior design world. My fellow home décor lovers know that you simply can’t hop on Instagram without spotting a DIY blogger (or five) who has limewashed some room in their house. It’s definitely a very trendy wall treatment right now, but I understand why. It’s a classic way of adding tons of style and sophistication to a room that people have been doing for centuries (no, really—we’re talking ancient Egypt!).
I’ve always been really drawn to the look, but wasn’t sure that it was the right style for us. Limewash seems to lean pretty traditional, and our personal aesthetic is very modern with clean lines. Could our space handle this kind of wall treatment? When paired with earth-toned vintage wallpaper in our now-much-more-traditional home, yes, it could! It was the perfect place to try my hand at this speciality painting technique, so I went ahead and ordered swatches from James Alexander Paint, and we ultimately chose to order a full gallon of their limewash in the color “Celadon.”
The first step in this process is to prime your drywall. The rest of my tutorial is going to focus on drywall application, but don’t worry if you have a different type of wall surface to cover. You’ll find tons of information and helpful hints on the James Alexander Paint website to help guide you through what you’ll need to pull off this project, no matter what type of wallboard you have. At any rate, the first step for us drywall folks is to prime the wall using their specialty lime-prep primer.
I started by taping off all of the edges that were surrounding the areas I planned to limewash, and then I stirred up my lime-prep primer, and used a traditional paint roller and brush to cover the drywall with it. Don’t worry if the primer looks a little watery or if it runs when you’re painting it on the wall. This type of consistency is normal when limewashing, so you’re doing everything just right.
Let the primer dry completely, and then you can start in on the main limewashing. Again, don’t be alarmed if the consistency of the limewash in the can looks watery, and if it looks runny (or actually is runny) when you put it up on the wall. This is completely normal, and just generally is the case with true limewash products.
Another thing to prepare yourself for is how much darker and inconsistent the limewash looks on the wall in comparison to your swatch. This is completely normal, and the finish will lighten and even out as it dries. I filmed this entire process in a YouTube video, which is embedded at the end of today’s post. Watch that to get a better idea of just how much the limewash changes in appearance from that first application to its final dried look.
I brushed two coats of limewash on our wall over top of the primer using the block brush recommended by James Alexander Paint. This hardwood bristle brush is made specifically for applying limewash in a classic X-shaped brush stroke, so make sure you get one of these for your limewashing project. A regular paint brush just won’t do—trust me. I painted on giant X shapes all across the wall, including around the edges, so that I could achieve the variation needed and that you’d expect from a limewashed wall.
Finally, comes the densifier layer. This additive is manually mixed in with the limewash for your final coats (follow the instructions on your can of densifier to know how much to use based on the size of your space), and helps add durability to your finish. Densifier also reduces the amount of chalkiness that so often comes with limewashing. Before I brushed this layer on, my hand would come away from the wall with a layer of fine Celadon-colored dust, but after the densifier layer went on, my hand came away cleanly from the wall. I ended up doing two coats of the densifier layer in order to completely remove all traces of the original cream-colored drywall, and then I removed the painter’s tape to finish.
The new green-tinted limewash under the chair rail in our main bedroom has completely changed the way I feel about our inherited wallpaper. I think it was the perfect thing to balance that bold pattern because of how much texture and variation you can see in the limewash itself. The walls look even better in person! I don’t think you can fully appreciate just how textural the limewash is through photos (although maybe you can tell a little better in the YouTube video I just published). I think it’s one of those things you just have to try for yourself.
Curious to know if limewash from James Alexander Paint is right for you? Leave any questions you might have in the comments. I’m happy to share all about my experience and will plan to update the post above in case I get repeat questions in the comments section. I was a little worried about how hard this process would be going into it since I had never done it before, but it was actually very straight-forward. Turns out I was anxious for no reason! I hope you’ll try it for yourself and let me know how it goes.