How to Design Your Own Watercolor Wallpaper

JUN 18, 2019

If you’re looking for an easy way to revamp your space without all the heavy lifting, removable wallpaper is the way to go. The ease of install paired with one-of-a-kind design options in the Spoonflower Marketplace makes this project a DIY dream. But what if you want to design your own custom wallpaper to level-up the look? Stefanie of The Style Safari will show you how with a step-by-step Photoshop tutorial, inspired by her recent powder room makeover featuring custom modern, watercolor wallpaper. 

Stefanie: Whew! This post has been a long time coming, but BOY, IS THE REVEAL WORTH IT. Our powder room has been a project that Mr. R and I wanted to complete since the second we saw this home, but it just kept falling to the wayside with a baby and other more pressing projects to complete. All that waiting was worth it though because this modern watercolor powder room is what my dreams are made of and literally my FAVORITE room in the entire house!

Create walls that wow with custom wallpaper!

I could not have put together this bathroom without the help of Spoonflower, so huge thank you to them for partnering with me on this bathroom redecoration!

In case you need a refresher on what this room looked like before (all ’80s everywhere) here is a post highlighting the before of the bathroom as well as the inspiration for the finished project. I could never have mocked it up as well as it turned out, so I’m thrilled that the final result is even better than my original project idea!

Before it became a reality, Stefanie’s powder room makeover started as an inspirational mood board.

I absolutely love the large scale watercolor wallpaper, and taking that risk is what absolutely makes this room. Looking at the wallpaper alone without all of the modern and textural elements, I think it’s easy to write it off as too crazy and too bold. But remember this is a powder room, and the first room my guests see when entering my home. I wanted it to be clean, modern and FUN, and this large scale print tells that story completely. The best part is that with Spoonflower’s wallpaper options, you can install them yourself or with a friend/partner saving precious money on install. Plus, if you’re a commitment phobe – Spoonflower’s wallpaper options are easily removable and relatively mess free, meaning you don’t have to worry if you change your mind in a year or so!

People ask me all the time how to create their own wallpaper, so I figured I would also make this video showing you how to design your own Spoonflower wallpaper, including how to paint watercolor shapes like mine and turn them into a repeat pattern. It’s so easy to change the scale and colors, so you can really customize your wallpaper to your tastes without being an “artist” (trust me, I’m not).

If you’re more of a step by step learner, here are the steps to creating your wallpaper as well:

How to Design Watercolor Wallpaper

Materials

  • Watercolor paper (it’s thicker so it doesn’t buckle with water absorption)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Water!
  • Adobe® Photoshop® or other image-editing software

Step 1. Mix your paints until you find the closest shade you are trying to reach. It doesn’t have to be exact because you can color correct in Photoshop, but it’s helpful to get as close as you can to start off.

Step 2. Using just water to start, paint some shapes on the paper, focusing on the outline of each shape. Have fun! Experiment with geometric shapes, lines, flowers, leaves or words.

Step 3. Lightly add watercolor paint to the pre-watered shapes, and blend using more water. I like to dab paint in one area and then move the paper around to let the paint naturally move around the border of the shapes. You will probably need to create several of these to experiment and practice with the way the water moves. If the paint goes beyond the shape border, use more water to clean it up and create a new border. Remember we can always change the size of the shapes in Photoshop later!

Step 4. Once everything has dried, scan your watercolor paintings into Photoshop. Then open up a separate file which we will use to create our repeat pattern. Spoonflower’s wallpaper prints in 2′ rolls, so it’s a good idea to think about how big or small you are trying to create your pattern, and what size file to open. A safe bet is 12″ (half of the repeat) and then we can scale from there. Click the box for ‘transparent background’ and make sure the file is no smaller than 150 DPI.

Step 5. Go back to your imported watercolor painting. Use the Quick Selection Tool (W) to click around on one of the shapes until you have the entire shape highlighted. If you accidentally select too much, you can hold down the Option button while clicking to deselect.

Step 6.Once your shape is selected, Click Layer > New > Layer via Copy to create a separate, new layer of this shape, that you will see in the Layers menu on the right hand side

Step 7. Repeat for all of your shapes.

Step 8. Now we will bring our shapes into the other file we have opened for our repeat pattern. Select the Move Tool (V) and then click one of the shapes, and drag it over to the other file name at the top of your screen. You will see that the screen changes to the other file, and you can release your mouse and see the shape appear on the translucent background.

Step 9. Use the Move Tool (V) and the Free Transform Tool (T) to change the size, orientation and location of the shape until it works for you. You may want to move all the shapes over first one in order to see placement, before you start resizing and moving them.

Step 10. In order to change the hue or saturation of your colors, utilize the Adjustments Menu on the right hand side. I recommend playing around with the Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation and Color Balance adjustments until you get the color you love. For mine, I desaturated the blue to make it a little more grey, and changed the hue to more of an indigo blue than an aquamarine.

Step 11. In your Layers menu, add a New Layer, and using the Paint Bucket Tool (G) fill the background with whatever color you would like. I recommend a lighter color or white as it is often hard to put a dark color underneath a watercolor painting and have it look right (unless you painted on colored paper to begin with!).

Step 12. Crop Your File. Remember that Spoonflower creates the horizontal repeat for you every 24″, so try to think about something that you would like to repeat every 2″/3″/6″/12″/24″ when placing your shapes. You can work with whatever length you would like to repeat to however, so if it’s a floor to ceiling design or anything else large scale, you can make that work, just make sure your file is long/tall enough.

Step 13. Upload your design onto Spoonflower and decide what type of repeat you would like as well as the scale of your repeat, and then save the layout. Order a swatch to confirm if you like the color and size of your wallpaper before ordering full length rolls for your space. That’s it!

Enjoy your beautifully custom designed watercolor wallpaper and don’t forget to share with everyone that YOU MADE IT!

No time to DIY? Shop Stefanie’s abstract watercolor print on fabric and wallpaper in her Spoonflower shop.

Want even more watercolor inspiration? See how Katie Kortman turned her hand-painted dress into a repeating pattern on Spoonflower!


About the Author

Stefanie Schoen is a blogger, designer and avid sewist who loves mixing prints and playing with color. She lives outside of San Francisco, where she enjoys wine tasting with her husband, playing tennis and snowboarding, and making the perfect matcha latte. Stefanie blogs about her latest travels, fashions and DIY projects weekly and can be found over at TheStyleSafari.com


Recommended Posts

Upholstered chair with butterflies

Upholstery 101: How to Repurpose Old Furniture

1 comments

Toddler sitting on a pink playmat in playroom

How to Make a Round Velvet Playmat

Our Top Sewing Pattern Picks for Handmade Apparel

9 comments

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *