A Closer Look At Color Drenching

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall
Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

For a long time, all-white rooms seemed to be everywhere in the design world. But what if you prefer a bit of color in your home? Or, in the case of the popular design trend known as color drenching, what if you love a lot of color?

Color drenching is a design trend in which everything from the ceilings to the floor is the same color. The furniture, trim, walls, floor, and ceiling all share shades, tints, and tones of one hue. Using this technique in a space hides imperfections, creates a cozy feel, or makes a small room feel larger.

If you prefer a more neutral or all-white room, go for it. When you’re designing your home, it should be all about you and the style you love. However, if you’re ready to be a bit bolder with your choices, consider if color drenching is the right move.

Color Drenching, In A Nutshell

The origins of color drenching as a design choice are a bit ambiguous. But the words appear to come from the French word “envelopper,” which means “to wrap.”

Some people refer to the trend as color washing. No matter what you decide to call it, it’s when you use one color throughout a space to create a monochromatic look. Therefore, when you look into a color-drenched room, you’ll see primarily one color everywhere.

Do You Paint Everything The Same Color?

When you color drench a space, you can use the exact same color everywhere, but that could get a bit monotonous. Instead, the more accurate concept is to use various shades, tints, and tones of the same color on various surfaces.

To clarify, mixing a color with white gives you a tint. Mixing with black gives you a shade, and mixing with gray gives you a tone of the color.

For example, if you decide to color wash a room with blue, you might use a patterned rug on the floor that has a predominantly blue color scheme. On the walls, you paint a deep navy blue that extends onto the ceiling. For the trim, you use a slightly lighter gray-blue.

A royal blue sofa stands out in the center of the room, flanked by pale blue side chairs and a navy coffee table. Mixing and matching different variations of the same color is a way to add visual interest to the space. However, you still keep your desired monochromatic color scheme.

Why Use Color Drenching In A Space?

Not sure if color drenching is for you and your home? Depending on the color you choose, there are many things you can do with a space through color washing. Consider these benefits of using the same color throughout a room to decide if it’s something you want to do.

1. Mask Imperfections And Unwanted Features

Does your room have unpleasant features in it that you wish would just disappear? Things like radiators, vents, electrical panels, and exposed pipes can significantly detract from a design (unless you’re going for a full-on industrial look).

Painting these items the same color as their background makes them seemingly vanish. And if you choose to color drench an entire room, it appears more purposeful than just hiding ugly features.

2. Make A Small Room Feel Bigger

Opting for lighter, brighter colors in a small space and putting them throughout the room can make it feel larger. Lighter colors with cooler tones reflect more light and bounce it around the space.

Darker colors also have the ability to make a room feel larger when you’re color drenching because of the continuous use of one hue. When you're only using one color, your eye keeps moving, instead of stopping at every color transition. This visual trick makes a room feel and look bigger than it is.

3. Create A Sense Of Calm

Continual color throughout a space also helps a room feel calmer. Once again, it’s the idea of a continuous flow instead of a start and stop effect. Both light and dark colors are capable of creating a calming vibe in a room.

4. Make A Bold Statement In Your Space

If you want to make a dramatic statement in your room, color drenching with bright, vivid colors does the trick. Dark, moody colors also give a room a big impact.

5. No Worrying About Your Colors Working Together

Are you the type of person who can’t make up their mind when it comes to choosing complementary colors? If you have trouble deciding which colors go together, a monochromatic color scheme might be your ideal solution.

Since all the hues are the shades, tones, and tints of one color, they all go together. Although you still have design choices to make in the space, at least you know you’re not pairing up colors that don’t suit each other.

Tips For Successful Color Drenching

Color drenching brings many benefits to your design, but it also has a big downfall. If not done well, color drenching can come across as boring and bland. Slapping the same color on everything and calling it a day isn’t the best approach for this design technique.

Therefore, to successfully pull off the color-drenching look, keep these tips in mind.

1. Add Visual Interest Using Different Paint Finishes

Choose different paint finishes for the various surfaces in your space. For example, use an eggshell or satin finish on the walls and ceiling and a semi-gloss on trim and doors. Then, perhaps put a high-gloss finish on the painted furniture in the room.

These variations allow you to add subtle differences while maintaining the color-drenched effect. Another option is to vary finishes on the same surface to bump up visual appeal. For example, create a striped pattern on the wall by alternating satin and semi-gloss finishes of the same paint color.

2. Use Various Textures And Patterns

Layer in different textures throughout the space to bring interest to the design and elevate the overall look. Using prints and patterns is another way to boost the room’s visual interest.

Easy places to bring in texture and patterns are through the curtains, rugs, throw pillows, blankets, and furniture. Imagine items like a plush velvet sofa, a soft shag rug, and a collection of decorative wicker baskets for storage. A good starting point is to choose approximately three different textures and two to three patterns or prints to use in the space.

3. Don’t Skip The Color Samples

Just because you’re using the same color doesn’t mean you don’t need to test out samples. First, it’s imperative to see how your main color looks in the space. Then you’ll need to get samples of the various tones, shades, and tints you plan to use.

Wherever you buy your paint should offer sample jars for between $4 and $6 a piece. Typically, you can get samples in flat or satin finishes. Check out how the colors look against each other. Also, observe how they look in the room under different types of lighting and during the day and the night.

4. Mix In Neutrals

If you’re not quite ready to go full-force with the color-drenching concept, mix in a few neutrals to ease into the look. Neutral colors go with any hue you choose and are a great way to soften the bold look of a color-drenched space.

Is Color Drenching Right For Your Home?

If you’re looking for an interesting way to make a statement in your home, color drenching is a great place to start. Whether you want to create a calm or cozy room or you need to make a small room look bigger, this design technique delivers.

Using variations of the same color is a great tool to achieve these goals and maintain visual interest. Other ways to make color drenching work for you are to use different paint finishes and layers in textures. If you’re not ready to go 100 percent with one color, add in a few neutrals to soften the look and keep the monochromatic scheme.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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