How to Paint a Sunset-Inspired Wall Treatment

Bring the outdoors in with this gorgeous (and easy!) ombré wall treatment.

finished painted sunset wall
Jason Donnelly. Photo: Jason Donnelly

Inspired by a photo of a sunset, this wall features several coral shades and a blue finish that represents the sky above the setting sun's reflection.

Choose five paint colors that are similar enough to blend together, yet have enough definition to be distinguishable. If you like, add a sixth color for a pop. Our color pop is the blue that represents the sky above the sunset in our inspiration photo.

We used Sherwin-Williams Ravishing Coral SW6612, Papaya SW6661, Inventive Orange SW6633, Dishy Coral SW6598, Teaberry SW6561, and Interesting Aqua SW6220.

2. Plan the Bands

hanging sunset picture

Divide the wall into five or six horizontal bands. The lowest band should cover about 1/4 to 1/3 of the wall. Subsequent bands above that should be about 12 inches tall. Modify the height of the bands as desired. You may decide to change the heights as you're blending the colors, to create a more organic look.

You may choose to use a pencil to lightly mark where the transitions will be. Because you need to blend the colors before the paint dries, the technique is best suited for a small wall. Our wall was about 6 feet wide.

3. Prepare Room for Painting

sunset wall painting step 1

We used an oval-shaped brush (Pure Bristle Brush from Annie Sloan). It holds a large amount of paint, which makes the blending easier. However, any brush designed for latex paint will work. You can use a roller for the bottom band.

Remove furniture from the area you'll be painting. Tape off the baseboards or window trim with painter's tape. Remove the covers from the electric outlets. Lay a drop cloth, and set up a ladder for the higher areas. Have a rag available to wipe paint from the brush. Note on a piece of paper the color you want for each band. If you like, pour the paints into disposable bowls. You'll need to work quickly after you start painting, so be sure you're properly set up and organized.

4. Start at the Bottom

sunset wall painting step 2

Paint the lower 1/4 to 1/3 of the wall with the darkest color. If desired, use a roller. While the paint is still wet, use the brush to feather out the top, then move on to the next band. Don't dampen the bristles on an oval brush, even if it's recommended, since you want the paint to remain thick so it doesn't drip.

5. Brush on the Bands

sunset wall painting step 3

Wipe the brush on a rag to remove excess paint from the bristles, then dip the brush into the next paint color. Don't worry about removing all of the previous color from the brush. Use long, sweeping strokes to complete the next band, and blend the paint into the previous color while it's still wet until you get the desired look.

Repeat the process, immediately going from one band to the next so you can blend the colors before the paint dries, and continue to use long, sweeping strokes. Work quickly, and don't overthink it. There's a lot of flexibility—as long as you're working fast, you can blend the colors.

6. Step Back and Admire

painting gradient sunset wall

When it's finished, the wall takes on the look of a sunset, with the warm corals giving way to billowy pink and blue at the top. Incorporate the treatment in an office or hobby room that inspires creativity.

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