One color mixed with varying amounts of white creates an ombre effect.

How to Ombre the Walls

by Kathy Adams

Ombre -- no, it's not the Spanish word for "man" -- instead, it's a fading color technique used for everything from painting walls to dyeing fabrics and hair. To achieve an ombre or fade effect on the walls, begin with only two colors: the darkest shade and some white of the same paint type. Blending the colors yourself allows you to come up with as many shade variations as you want, but before you begin blending, ensure that you have enough empty containers to house every color you whip up.

Place newspaper on the floor in front of each project wall to protect the flooring. Cover the baseboards or areas you don't want to paint with painter's tape and newspaper for protection.

Remove dust or cobwebs from the wall or walls with a duster. Wipe down the walls with a mild household cleaner and damp rag. Allow walls to dry completely.

Pour some of the primer into a paint tray. Apply primer to the walls with a paint roller, or a brush if you prefer, covering all areas that will receive paint. Allow primer to dry completely.

Determine the direction of the fade or ombre effect, for instance, if you want the darkest shade on top or darkest on the left, as well as how many color variations you want on the wall.

Measure the width of the wall if the fade goes from left to right or right to left, or the height of the wall if the fade is from top to bottom or bottom to top. Repeat the process for each wall you plan to paint.

Divide the width (or height) of the wall by the number of color variations planned. For a 10-foot wall with five color variations, for example, each variation is 2 feet wide or tall, depending on the ombre direction. Mark the wall at the determined increments using chalk and a straight-edge to create temporary lines between each section, indicating where to stop painting.

Open and stir the non-white paint using a stir stick. Pour some of this paint into each container using one container per shade variation on the wall. Pour enough paint into each one to paint one section.

Open and stir the white paint using a stir stick. Pour a small amount of the white into the second container, stirring and adding more until you get a shade you like for your second darkest color. Repeat for each of the additional containers, making each paint mixture successively lighter.

Paint the first ombre section using the darkest paint shade, as purchased. Paint up to the chalk line you drew that marks the end of one section.

Paint the second section using the second darkest color while the first shade is still wet. Blend the colors together slightly with the brush to create a gradual gradation between shades.

Repeat Step 10 in the third section with the third color, again blending between shades. Continue painting each section until you have painted the entire wall.

Items you will need

  • Newspaper
  • Painter's tape
  • Duster
  • Mild household cleaner
  • Damp rag
  • Latex primer
  • Paint tray
  • Paint roller
  • Paintbrushes
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk
  • Straight-edge ruler
  • Latex paint, darkest ombre shade
  • Paint stir sticks
  • White latex paint
  • One resealable container for each shade variation


  • To create an abrupt line between paint shades rather than a gradual blending, place a line of painter's tape at the end of each section; then remove the tape and paint over the area that the tape covered with one of the colors bordering it.
  • If you're concerned about mixing paint colors yourself, opt instead to purchase as many shade variations as you'd like, using a paint sample chip as a guide.

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images