Painting an ombre wall is a great way to add a touch of personality to any room and it’s easier than you might think. We’ll show you how to use a watercolor wall paint technique to create a nature-inspired ombre wall that will make your room look beautiful.
This DIY watercolor wall paint technique combines colorful paint with glaze over a pastel base to create ombre stripes.
The watercolor-like effect means the stripes do not have definite edges.
Which makes this technique much easier to paint than regular stripes! No messing around with painter’s tape, worrying about paint bleeding under the tape, and making sure that everything is perfectly straight.
It’s also much faster:
- You don’t have to wait for the paint to dry to do the next stripe (we want the colors to blend).
- It only takes one coat of paint and it doesn’t matter if the color is even (it actually looks more like a watercolor painting if it isn’t).
- And you don’t even have to wash the brush between colors. Leaving the old color on the brush helps with blending the layers together.
What is Ombre?
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For anyone who isn’t sure, ombre is a French term meaning “shaded” and usually implies shades of a color that changes from dark to light.
In our case, we actually used 2 dark colors (green and blue) since we wanted to create a feeling of being out in nature.
So we started with green (like the grass) turning to darker blue (like a lake) leading up to a medium blue (like the horizon) and finally a light blue (like the sky) at the top of the wall and on the ceiling.
- (Optional) Latex paint in a pastel color and satin finish for the base coat. This is only necessary if the current wall color is a darker color.
- Latex paints in dark green and three shades of blue (1 lighter, 1 medium intensity and 1 darker). Use 3 colors of blue from the same paint color if you want to be sure that they will go together.
- Clear glaze – Mixing the paint with glaze is how we’ll get the watercolor effect.
- Measuring tape
- Chalk line
- 4 plastic containers with lids
- Measuring cup that you don’t mind getting paint in
- Good quality 3-4 inch wide paintbrush
How to paint an ombre wall with a watercolor Technique
1 | Prep the wall
If the current paint color on your wall is a darker color, paint a base coat of ivory or beige-colored paint.
Avoid using a flat finish because it soaks up too much of the glaze that is applied in the next coats and makes it more difficult to apply. A satin finish works well.
If you have builder’s paint on your walls, you will also probably want to do this step. The paint they use is usually pretty porous and makes applying the glaze much harder.
2 | Measure for the stripes
Once the base coat is dry, measure and mark three horizontal lines which will separate each color section.
Mark dots on each corner of the wall at the 3 foot, 5 foot, and 7 foot points up from the baseboard.
Then join the markings by snapping a chalk line between them.
This is easy to do with a helper.
But if you don’t have someone to hold the other end, put a small nail where you want the chalk line to start. Hook the end of the chalk line over the nail, then pull it across the wall to the mark at the same height on the opposite corner and snap it.
The wall is now divided horizontally into four sections. These lines will act as guides to keep your brush strokes level.
3 | Paint the green stripe
In one of the plastic containers, mix the green paint with the glaze in the ratio of 1 part paint to 3 parts glaze (eg. 1 cup green paint with 3 cups glaze).
You can put the glaze and paint mix into a paint tray if you like. But I just use the plastic container.
Start at the baseboard with the dark green glaze and brush it horizontally, using long stokes.
Don’t be too worried if the paint color is uneven…this adds to the watercolor effect.
Keep doing this until you reach the 3’ line.
You don’t have to worry about making a perfectly straight horizontal line since it will be blended with the next layer of paint anyway.
4 | Paint the dark blue stripe
In the second plastic container, mix the darkest color of blue paint with the glaze in the ratio of 1 part paint to 3 parts glaze.
Do not clean your brush between colors. This will help the colors blend together.
Start applying the darkest blue glaze, using long application strokes and blending the green and blue.
Continue until you reach the line at the 5′ mark.
Again, you do not need to make the line perfectly straight. The 5′ mark is just a guideline for where the stripe should end.
5 | Paint the medium blue stripe
In the third plastic container, mix the medium blue shade of paint with the clear glaze in the ratio of 1 part paint to 3 parts glaze.
Now dip your brush into the medium blue glaze and blend the medium blue with the darker blue in the same elongated stoke manner. Again, you don’t need to clean your brush between colors.
Continue until you reach the 7’ line.
6 | Paint the light blue stripe
Now we’re ready to paint the top section.
In the last plastic container, mix the lightest color of blue paint with the clear glaze in the ratio of 1 part paint to 3 parts glaze.
Using the same brush, dip into the lightest blue glaze and continue painting with long stokes until you reach the ceiling.
If you really want it to look like the sky, paint the ceiling the same color (which is what I did).
7 | Add watercolor details
To further the watercolor blended effect, apply some of the darkest blue glaze to the green and medium blue bands at random using an almost dry brush and short horizontal stokes.
Then do the same with some of the medium blue glaze, applying it to the light blue and dark blue bands at random.
The finished wall
The original beige walls in this guest room cried out for something interesting and different.
And this water color technique definitely provided that!
I love the nature-inspired wall colors.
They go so well with my furnishings. And make my paintings pop.
Hopefully, you love it as much as I do.
Other wall painting ideas you might like
- Wall paint designs made with tape
- Creative ways to paint your walls
- Why you should paint your walls and ceiling the same color
Or browse all of our DIY wall decor ideas.
Have comments or questions on how to paint an ombre wall? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on October 19, 2015 but was updated with new content on August 19, 2022.