What is Colorwashing?

Colorwashing is a decorative wall painting technique that creates a subtle blend of colors.


Colorwashing is a sophisticated painting technique used to add depth, texture, and a harmonious blend of colors to walls. This technique involves applying a thin, transparent glaze of color over a base coat, often of a different hue, to achieve a soft and layered effect. The glaze is gently spread across the surface using a brush or sponge, which allows for the base color to show through, creating a subtle and dynamic interplay of shades.

Originally rooted in historic decorative arts, colorwashing has evolved into a versatile wall treatments and finishes option that adapts well to a range of interior design styles, from rustic to contemporary. It offers an artistic and custom look that can be tailored to the desired mood of a room, enhancing both its aesthetic and emotional appeal.

The beauty of colorwashing lies in its ability to add vibrancy and texture to a space without overwhelming it. It's an excellent choice for those looking to introduce color into their interior in a more nuanced way than solid painting or wallpaper might allow. With the right combination of colors and application technique, colorwashing can transform a plain wall into a visual centerpiece, making it a popular choice among interior design professionals and enthusiasts alike.


In a living room, a colorwashed wall in soft blue and green hues can create a serene and inviting atmosphere, adding visual interest and depth. In a bedroom, warm tones like soft pinks or lavenders can produce a soothing effect, enhancing the room's sense of comfort and relaxation. Commercial spaces, such as cafes and boutiques, often use colorwashing to create distinctive, memorable interiors that reflect their brand identity.


  • How do I choose the right colors for colorwashing?

    When choosing colors for colorwashing, consider the overall atmosphere you want to create in the space. Look for complementary or analogous color schemes that blend well together. Lighter shades tend to produce a more subtle effect, while bolder colors can make a dramatic statement. Test your color choices with swatches on the wall to see how they interact under different lighting conditions.

  • Can colorwashing be applied over existing paint?

    Yes, colorwashing can be applied over existing paint, provided the surface is clean, smooth, and in good condition. However, it's essential to select a base coat that complements the color of the glaze for the best results. Preparing the surface with a primer may also be necessary, depending on the existing paint finish.

  • Is colorwashing a DIY-friendly project?

    Colorwashing can be a DIY-friendly project, especially for those with some painting experience. It requires patience and experimentation to perfect the technique. Using the right tools, such as natural bristle brushes or sea sponges, and following step-by-step tutorials or workshops can greatly help in achieving the desired outcome.

Practical Application

For a successful colorwashing project, start with a solid base coat and allow it to dry completely. Mix your chosen glaze color according to the manufacturer's instructions, keeping it transparent enough to let the base color show through. Apply the glaze in small sections using a brush or sponge, working in a random, crisscross motion to avoid visible brush marks. Blend the edges as you go to ensure a smooth transition between colors. Seal with a clear topcoat for durability if desired. With practice, you'll create beautifully nuanced walls that reflect your unique style.