How to Use Colored Paint to Create the Ombre Effect in Your Home

Ombre is the French word for shade or shadow. The ombre look has gained popularity in both home design and fashion. The ombre definition in art, design, and fashion means the gradual change from a dark to a light shade of a color or the gradual transition from one color to the next. Ombre colors create a soothing yet dramatic effect and provide a striking backdrop for wall art. But these walls are decorative enough to need no embellishments if you want a more minimal aesthetic.

Development of Ombre Effects in Home Design

Ombre chair

Ombre, or shading techniques, have been popular throughout time in textiles, ceramics, and block printing. Interior designers have been incorporating ombre options into home design in the form of wall shading, glassware, tilework, and soft furnishings like throw pillows and curtains.

Ombre wall effects are only limited by your imagination. Traditional ombre wall effects blend color from light to dark from either the bottom or the top. Designers have also created vertical ombre effects, blending colors from one side to another. You can also vary the look depending on how much you blend the colors. A bolder ombre look will not blend the sections as much. This creates more distinct color variations between the sections. You can also use ombre ideas to create wall murals like mountains and forest.

Steps for Painting Ombre Walls

This article will take you through the steps to create the ombre effect on your walls and provide some color palettes that you can use to create this look.

Gather Your Materials/Tools

  • Painter’s tape
  • Tape measure/yard stick
  • Pencil or chalk
  • Drop-cloth
  • Stepladder
  • 2-3 Paint rollers
  • 2-3 Paint trays
  • 2-3 Shades of paint
  • 2 Medium paint brushes
  • 2 sponges (optional)
  • Primer
  • Stir stick
  • Measuring cup
  • One extra bucket or container

Step One: Think About the Colors

The first step is to choose a color palette for your ombre effect walls. You can choose two colors and then mix them to create a third, or choose three colors that you want to blend. Many of the ombre effect walls use tints of the same color, but you can also choose analogous tones that work well together.

Next, decide the direction you want to blend your color. Beginning with darker colors at the top will make the ceiling appear closer and give the room a cozy look. Starting with a dark color at the bottom and transitioning to a light color at the top will make your ceilings appear taller.

Step Two: Prep the Walls

Look over your walls to determine if you need to make any necessary repairs before you begin painting. This might include patching cracks or picture holes to make sure that the walls are smooth and even. Lay down the drop cloth as you prepare to paint the walls.

Prime the walls to create a better surface for the paint. Use a paint roller to give the walls an even coat of primer. Tape off the baseboards, crown molding, and window trim with painter’s tape before you begin to paint. Allow the primer to dry before you begin the next step.

Step Three: Divide the Walls

Using your measuring tape, measure the wall vertically to divide each wall into three equal horizontal sections. Make two horizontal lines across the wall to create a guide. Don’t worry if your lines aren’t exactly even across the wall; these are just guides to help you roughly separate each section for the different gradations of paint.

Step Four: Preparing the Paint

Open and stir the paint. Divide your paint into three separate trays if you are using three colors. You will have to create the third color if you are using the two color option. Open each separate color. Take a measuring cup and the extra bucket and mix the third color by using equal amounts of the other two colors. This will create a pure blend of the two colors that you will use in the middle to transition between the colors.

Step Five: Painting the Top and Bottom

Using a paintbrush, paint the upper and lower areas of the wall that meet the trim before you begin rolling the big sections. Use the darkest or lightest color on the lower or upper section, depending on which direction you are painting the color tones. Use painter’s tape to protect the molding if you are a beginner painter.

Step Six: Painting the Sections

Begin painting the lower section first. Take your darkest or lightest paint color and paint the lower section stopping one inch below your penciled horizontal line. Working quickly, take the next color and paint the middle section beginning one inch above the horizontal line and ending just an inch below the top horizontal line. Paint the last section on the top. When you finish, you should have three distinct sections of paint with a band of two inches between them of the bare primed wall.

Tip: You can paint the ombre effect on multiple walls, but it is best to work one wall at a time, as this effect is best created with paint that is not fully dry.

Step Seven: Blending the Sections

Working quickly while the sections are still wet, use a paintbrush or sponge to blend the area between each section. Use a dry paintbrush to create “X” marks by drawing the paint from the different toned sections to cover the pencil line. Keep making marks to blend the sections together. Continue to work with each section to blend them as much or as little as you like.

You can also use a sponge to blend the sections together. Take one sponge and begin with the lighter section dabbing toward the middle to blend the sections together. Begin to work toward the dark section and begin blending this toward the lighter section. Add a slight amount of water to the sponge if you feel like the sections are drying before you can blend them well enough. Repeat the blending of the other sections with a new sponge.

With both methods, step back to examine your progress from afar. This will allow you to see how the blending looks overall. You might need to blend one area to match better with the blending of another area.

Remove any painter’s tape and let the whole wall dry.

Ombre Color Palettes

Ombre wall
Jessica Locas Design

For the most subtle ombre effect, use colors with a similar hue but varying tints. Using colors with different hues also creates a striking but more distinct look.

Misty Blue Ombre Palette

This blue palette is serene and quiet. It has ample gray undertones to mute the overt blue color. This palette includes Benjamin Moore’s:

  • Mount Saint Anne (1565)
  • Beach Glass (1564)
  • Quiet Moments (1563)

Blush Pink Ombre Palette

This blush pink palette from Benjamin Moore contains balanced and subtle shades of pink.

  • Conch Shell (052)
  • Precocious (051)
  • Pink Moire (050)

Forest and Sky Ombre Palette

This ombre palette is slightly more daring as it blends hues of green and blue. These colors come from Benjamin Moore.

  • October Mist (1495)
  • Quiet Moments (1563)
  • Morning Dew (OC-140)

Sunrise Ombre Palette

This palette contains subtle tones of peach with yellow undertones. The brown undertones that are present help to mute the color to provide a more nuanced orange hue. These colors are also from Benjamin Moore.

  • Orange Appeal (124)
  • Citrus Blossom (123)
  • Orange Sherbert (122)

Dusk Ombre Palette

This palette features a deep violet that transitions into a pinky mauve. This is a more daring ombre palette because the colors vary more in terms of saturation. You can mix to create a transition color between each hue if you want to create a more subtle blended look. This palette was also created using Benjamin Moore colors.

  • Mink Violet (1252)
  • Sequoia (1245)
  • Sonoma Clay (1242)

Subtle Ombre Palette

Ombre walls give your walls texture and nuance. Even if you aren’t ready for this dramatic effect, you can use ombre techniques to give your walls some depth by just using shaded neutrals. Use these subtle gray/greige paint colors from Benjamin Moore to give your walls subtle depth.

  • Baltic Gray (1467)
  • Smoke Embers (1466)
  • Nimbus (1465)