$2 ombré makeover

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in case you felt like i left you hanging (because, well, i did), our utterly unplanned kitchen makeover is still in progress. we definitely have gotten the big beasts out of the way (cabinets, countertops, painting, backsplash) but have a few more things to do (light fixtures, ceiling panels, barstools, decor).

we pretty much do what we want when it comes to these things. that is, we follow where inspiration takes us and not an inch further (the 84 unfinished projects can attest to this). hence the one week sprint that consumed us and then the 2 month hiatus wherein we havent furthered the kitchen at all.

well, one tiny portion of the kitchen caught my eye last week and i decided that i wouldnt be doing anything (eat/sleeping/showering) until it was transformed. obviously this all-or-nothing attitude is super healthy.

but my stalwart dedication to this little transformation paid off in the end:

BEFORE: our countertop canisters:
we received these at a wedding shower back in 2006. we had happily registered for these little black ceramic beauties and they have been charming us from waist-height ever since--keeping our flour, sugar, popcorn and coffee nestled and snug and spoil-free.

but, CATASTROPHE! when we changed the color of the countertops to black they kind of just...disappeared:

unlike the white detritus on the counter tops which i didnt bother to wipe up and which certainly do not blend in or disappear.

so i researched ways to change the color of ceramic. turns out it's pretty easy.

and instead of just painting all of the canisters the same color, i decided i wanted to dip my toes into the trendy pool of ombré and paint the canisters in a graduated color scheme.

besides being utterly a la mode (and sounding like "hombre," which joey's department store cologne-spraying nemesis could sell like none other...friends anyone?), ombré also satisfies my inner schizoid, whose preference is always to HAVE ONE OF THE SAME THING IN MANY COLORS! without being crazy rainbow lady, and while being somewhat on-trend (if late).

here's how i did it. this process would work on ANY ceramic (but dont use it on things that you put in direct contact with food...i didnt paint the inside of the canisters).

what you'll need:

-cotton balls
-rubbing alcohol
-paint brushes
-pliers (i needed these to take my canisters apart)
-gloss enamel paints ($1 each at joann or michaels...with coupon. $2 reg)

these were the two colors i settled on. my main blue, which would be my darkest color and then white to get the 3 lighter stepped-down tones of blue.

FIRST: remove all the non-ceramic hardware from your project (these will eventually go in the oven, so, besides making it easier to paint, you are taking off all the stuff that cant survive high temps)

wipe down all of the surface you are going to paint with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls and be grossed out by the funk that has gathered on your canisters in 6 years:

plan out your colors. make a little sample palate of the tones of each color you want to have so you can see if they are balanced from shade to shade (so they step down evenly) and have are sort of color roadmap to shoot for when you are mixing up the big batches for painting. (this step isnt pictured, but it would look like 4 little brushstrokes on a piece of paper. :)

mix your lightest color. i knew my darkest shade was going to be what came in the bottle so i mixed my lightest shade with enough white that 2 middle shades would fit in between nicely.

get your paint on:

(i stupidly didnt take off my hardward here until a few minutes later.)

it might take a few coats to completely cover your project. keep your brushstrokes neat and tidy (you could use a sponge brush too) and dont apply it too thick because this stuff will gunk up on you if you do.

repeat for your remaining pieces, saving leftover paint so you can go back and touch up or recolor once you see them all side-by-side.

then you need to wait 48 hours. this was the hardest part for a freak like me who wants it all DONENOW! but the bottle is the boss, so i followed its instructions.

pop everything into a cold oven and crank that baby to 325.

DONT open the oven during the process. it is going to stink to high heaven, but thats okay, we arent eating these things, we are basically making our oven a kiln for a moment. its not going to smell like delicious cake.

once the temp hits 325, bake those puppies for 30 minutes and then turn the oven off. when the oven is cool again, pull the project out.

wait until they are cool to the touch and then reassemble. maybe it was my oven, but my canisters had some dirty smears on them after baking and i had to wipe them off with a wet paper towel. no biggie though.

then you line up your little soldiers on the counter in descending size and color order and you become happier than any person should be over a $2 DIY project involving canisters.

i love these hard. and i would normally show you a zoomed-out shot here, but i dont want to jump the gun and pull a veritable nip-slip of the wall color we chose until everything is nice and sparkly.

turning these blue actually enabled us to see that the spoon lengths are kind of wonky (we never noticed when the spoon handles hid in the shadows of the black finish) and it was making my an insane person to see them dangling there all devil-may-care with their varying lengths rubbing it in my face and i just couldnt cope, so we said, "about face!" and made the spoons all face the side instead forward. it worked out nicely because the handles are more grabbable from this angle now.

are you on board the ombre train? whats your favorite application of this trend. (note: its possible that this train has already left the cool station, but i dont care. if it was on pinterest today, it has to be cool. these are my rules).

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  1. you are invited to follow my blog

    1. oh steve, i love your persistent, quarterly invitations.

  2. This is all vey impressive, but it is your unmarred manicure I admire the most.

  3. This from a person that has never painted her fingernails. I feel like I am in a position to judge (you).

  4. Ahhh!! These are amazing! LOVE. Also, I am so relieved that I am not the only person who thinks of Joey dressed as a cowboy and spraying cologne EVERY SINGLE TIME I see something about ombre.

  5. you are also invited to follow my blog

  6. BTW - steve's posts on infant baptism and the myths of water baptism would be great to cross post -i'm here to give content ideas! (

    1. i cant dog on steve's methods too hard; he has more followers than me. and he is a keyboard evangelist, whereas i am a humble spacebar jockey.

  7. Kate! These are so great! I love them. And I think it is totally an appropriate time to jump on the ombre bandwagon... unless you are trying to jump on the Hombre bandwagon, in which case you might get cologne in your eye. Never good. xoxo

    1. hahahahah well played. i almost had to frown on you for spelling me "kate," but you won me over with the hombre in the face!

  8. You are invited to follow my blog.

    BUT relevancy: Well done! I'm kind of jealous that you like your canisters enough to paint them and use them happily. I like their little built-in scoopies. And the color change is so perfectly gradual--really well done.

    Wait, what does Steve have to say about infant baptism? Will it make my blood boil? I'm just not up to that this morning.

    1. the invitations are pouring in! what a windfall. the color stepping down was something i was psychotic about achieving. it became mathematical for me. i am at peace with the perfection i reached.

      i am not sure where steve stand on infant baptism, but i think he is reasonable enough to not condemn on the basis of it...alone.

      steve seems to be a pretty good guy-interesting blog commenting aside. but you blood might come to a gentle simmer. maybe? i dont know. i cant read that much arial bold.

  9. Nicely done. In the best way, the color serves as an homage to your previous kitchen color scheme (not counting the cabinets and counters). I was hesitant about the ombre trend, and to be honest, I'm still not in love with it in most clothing iterations. I'm a much bigger fan of it in home decor. So, your canisters are a winner for me. I predict many pins in your future.

  10. Yours look great I'm having a hard time painting mine I've been letting it dry in between coats but it doesn't look smooth like yours I'm afraid to put it in the oven

    1. be not afraid! mine A: arent that smooth, but you cant tell unless you put your face right up to them. and B: mine had lots of visible brush strokes in between coats and i think cooking them mellowed the texture out a bit so it's hardly noticeable now.

  11. How have they held up? I can not find any I like and this would be perfect!

    1. it's been a year and a half and i havent noticed a single chip or scratch or had to make any touch ups! ours are still going strong.