Pretty Painterly DIY Projects

Beautiful things can happen when you combine water and paint with home decor. Bring bland accessories to life with these simple DIY projects featuring painterly patterns.

Whether soft brushstroke across a canvas or a punchy design mixed with metallics, we can't get enough of the light and airy painterly look. That's why we gathered up a few of our favorite DIY projects that mix water, paint, and a casual blend of colors. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to make painterly projects look professionally done; the beauty of watercolor is that it doesn't have to be perfect! Take a look at our projects below for inspiration, then follow along with our step-by-step instructions to copy the look. 

Pretty-in-Pink Chair

To make this vibrant office chair, cut out your choice of fabric in the shape of the chair—don't worry about being too precise just yet.

If you've opted for plain fabric, achieve a watercolor appearance by watering down fabric paint to your desired shade. If you're using more than one color, keep separate brushes for each color or have a cup of water handy for rinsing your brush. Apply the watered-down paint to your fabric and let dry.

Once you're satisfied with your pattern and the paint has dried, lay your cutout on the chair and apply a layer of decoupage. After another round of trimming, add your second coat. Once the fabric is cut perfectly to the chair, seal the edges and seat with one final coat, and enjoy your new chair!

See five more DIY chair makeovers.

Watercolor Wall Treatment

You only need two pretty blue hues to make this ombre wall treatment reminiscent of the ocean. Add a small amount of water to both of your blues and start applying the darker shade from the bottom of your wall with broad, sweeping motions. As you move up the wall, add more water to your colors to achieve an ombre look. Apply and blend the lighter color as desired.

Learn how to make this ombre wall treatment here.

Plain-to-Purple Tablecloth

We recommend fabric paint for this painterly DIY project. Tablecloths often get dirty, and this paint is permanent no matter how many times you run it through the wash. Dampen a cotton tablecloth and secure it on a clothesline. Dilute purple and pink fabric paints to your desired shades in two separate buckets. With a large paintbrush and a small amount of paint, start applying the darkest shade on your tablecloth. You can blend as you work and add more paint to brighten your shades.

Pretty Place Settings

Create these standout dishes using just nail polish and water. Fill a plastic container with water and drizzle a vibrant nail polish color into the water in a zigzag pattern for best results. Quickly dip your dishes into the mixture before it hardens, and be sure to dip only the parts that won't touch food. Hand-wash these DIY dishes—they're not dishwasher-safe. To dress up your napkins, spritz each cloth with water and apply diluted fabric paint using a thin paintbrush.

Learn how to marble with this DIY project.

Primrose Pillows

Spritz a cotton pillow cover until damp, grab your watercolors, and go to work. Watercolors will naturally bleed as they soak into the fabric, giving the same faded, soft look they have on paper. Let the paint dry and spray with a color fixative to prevent fading.

When you're done with this project, check out these additional watercolor crafts.

Brushstroke Pillow Pattern

Create soft stripes on a pillowcase for pretty painterly throw pillows. First lay down strips of painters tape to cover the areas you want to stay blank. Use watered-down fabric paint or watercolors to create stripes. Because the design isn't as delicate as the previous flower pattern, feel free to use a bigger brush and broader strokes. Let dry—and if you opted for watercolors, don't forget to spray with a color fixative.

Marvelous Mantelpiece

Pick up a cheap frame and paint it white, backing included. With big, broad strokes, cover the backing in blue and teal acrylic paint, but leave the top left corner mostly untouched. Add some bright splashes of hot pink paint, then spray the canvas lightly with water for a dripping effect. Use a stencil to apply a postmark, and write a quote of your choice in cursive lettering with a gold paint pen.

See more watercolor-inspired projects.

Cotton Canvas Cutouts

For a fun and easy DIY garland, cut a canvas into desired shapes (we went with a mix of triangles and squares) and secure vinyl letters onto each cutout. For a splattered look, fill spray bottles with purple, teal, and royal blue Rit powder dye and mix as directed. Spritz each cutout with the mixture. Avoid being heavy-handed with dye application to ensure each color stands out. Once dry, peel off letters, punch holes into each panel, and use twine to string the garland together to create your pennant-style banner.

Perfect Painterly Bedroom

Pick a few different shades of your favorite reds and blues to get the creative look of these bedroom surfaces. To revive a tired-looking lampshade, roll it in different colors of bold Rit dyes. To add some color to your curtains, break out your watercolors and a round sponge paintbrush and add as many or as few splotches of color as you want. As you go about adding color to your bedding, stay with the accent colors you have already used elsewhere in the room.

Click here to learn how to make ombre pillow cases.

Cool Doily Pillows

Get the intricate look of lace doilies with a modern appeal on a painted pillow. Before applying Rit dyes, insert a piece of cardboard between the layers of fabric to prevent the color from bleeding through. Using spray adhesive, adhere your chosen stencil to the pillowcase, spritz with water, and apply a darker color with a paintbrush. Remove the stencil and lightly apply a second lighter color, or leave the white background visible to make your chosen color pop.

Colorful Cross-Stitch

Pick two Rit powder dye colors and dip the edge of a white throw into each one, intersecting only at the middle. Then, with thread or floss that matches your two colors, scatter a few cross stitches around the dyed sections. If you like, add in a few stitches at the center that match the color of the two dyes blended together.

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