Watercolor-Inspired Projects

Painted Glass Vases
What isn't to like about the ethereal, washed-and-worn appearance of watercolors? They're versatile, veering from sweet and pretty to modern and mischievous with ease. Give these projects a whirl!

Bubbly Art

This colorful, abstract painting only looks like something you could spend big bucks on -- it's actually a snap to make yourself with tempera paint, dish soap, and drinking straws. The best part? The size and color scheme are completely up to you.

Colorful Curtains

A technique that combines watercolors and sponging yields a bold color-block effect on what were once plain white curtains. Gather them around the bed for a cozy effect, or hang them from the windows to let the sun shine through.

Turn plain curtains into one-of-a-kind beauties with this easy painting technique, which yields a gorgeous watercolor effect.

How to Sponge-Paint Curtains

Looking for a simple DIY project with big impact? See how to make these pretty curtains to add a splash of color to your bedroom.

Simple Stripes

​​This color-blocked canvas requires only watercolors, a brush, and a steady hand. Dip the brush in water, then in the paint. Drag the brush from top to bottom without lifting it, and repeat with additional colors. Switch up the width of the brush for both skinny and stout stripes, or stick with a single size. The color scheme -- varied and vibrant or tame and tone-on-tone -- is completely up to you.

Living on the Edge

Dabbing a few different watercolor paints onto the bottom edge of a lampshade is a brilliant way to customize a lamp without a huge outlay of cash. We chose three analogous hues (blue, green, and yellow, which sit alongside each other on the color wheel) and blotted each one along the shade. Don't worry if the colors spread and run together -- the washy, watery quality is one thing we love most about these paints.

Table Topper

If you're planning any sort of party, put your painting prowess to work by crafting a custom runner for the buffet table. (Don't worry if your artistic skills are less than sharp -- this runner is simple enough for beginners.) We made this one out of cotton canvas, dabbing on watercolors in various shades of blue with a few streaks of red and yellow for contrast. This happy fusion of colors is sure to delight guests -- and as a bonus, it will hide any stains and spills from the party.

Hanging by a String

If you're lucky enough to know any artists (even pint-size ones), here's a simple but stunning way to keep beloved correspondence and paintings within easy view. Two twists of twine are clipped with postcards, notes, watercolors, and drawings, showcasing an array of papers of on a single wall. (You could even commission artwork of a particular color scheme from the kids if you'd like a carefully curated display.) They all differ in color scheme and style, but their handmade quality links them together for a striking showcase.

Painted Pillow

DecoArt Ink Effects is a paint product that allows you to transfer a design of your own onto a fabric. Here, we whipped up a few happy, freehanded flowers, adding vertical strips of tape to the paper to give the scene a more abstract look. A hot iron transfers the finished design onto a pillow, napkin, or whatever fabric you choose.

Color-Washed Walls

Watercolor effects can work on a large surface, too -- like this bedroom wall. It rolls from pale to medium to deep turquoise, all within the span of several feet. This color wash is especially appealing for the depth it imparts without overwhelming a room with zany pattern or clashing colors.

Fade to Blue

Ombre is an age-old technique for dyeing fabric -- though lately it's caught on for hair and fingernail trends, too. Its signature appearance, where one color gradually blends into another, is subtle, stylish, and surprisingly easy to re-create at home. For this duvet, we chose a white, cotton duvet cover (cotton takes dye well) and two shades of liquid dye that we mixed for that just-right shade of blue.

Hand-Painted Name Tags

For your next dinner party, welcome guests to the table with these adorable place markers. The bottom edge of a name card is daubed with blue and green watercolors to mimic waves or grass. (We love that when these paints dry, they pucker the paper.) Fancy script completes the handmade creations, and slits were sliced into birch rounds to hold the paper aloft.

Freestyle Flower Vases

Plain white vases (available on the cheap at discount stores or even for free with a bouquet of flowers) transform into custom creations with some strokes of glass paint diluted with paint thinner. Experiment with different viscosities of paint to achieve more opaque or more translucent designs, and don't be afraid of drips or runs -- that's all part of the personalized charm.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.