Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

New techniques allow amateurs to be muralists

The concept of a focal wall is not new. We have painted scenes, motifs, diagrams and personal images on interior surfaces for thousands of years.

The concept of a focal wall is not new. We have painted scenes, motifs, diagrams and personal images on interior surfaces for thousands of years.

Employing these decorative features was once the purview of artists, who had the talent to paint and draw and add dimension to images so that they appear lifelike.

Today the keen do-it-your-selfer has the means to replicate any theme in large format on walls, ceilings and floors with only a modicum of artistic ability. Here are options for creating a mural that will enhance any room and lifestyle. You pick the place and the subject, then find the resource that suits your style.

Paint-by-number wall murals are an affordable way to add imagination, colour and fun, or a touch of elegance to any room. The brainchild of Patti Newton, who worked as a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, the company Elephants on the Wall offers all you need to produce a mural, such as the girl on a swing shown at top left.

The kit includes the pattern and transfer paper and instructions. Patterns can be repeated, reversed and reused. The pattern is traced onto the wall using the transfer paper. A number coded diagram indicates where the colours go, and you fill in the transferred picture freehand with paint.

On this nursery wall, the tree without the swing was repeated on either side of the main picture to add dimension. The background wall is pale pink, the side trees are painted a slightly darker pink, and the tree and swing are chocolate brown.

There is a large selection of designs available for kids, but also stunning adult motifs - Mega Fashionistas, Ferns, Bamboo, Zebra stripes and a few funky pics. Visit

For my TV series The Painted House I used another method called Projection Stencilling. Artist Linda Buckingham has produced two books on the subject, showing the endless possibilities for creating murals using a projector to project your choice of images onto a surface. You can get the size and position you want by moving the projector and adjusting the setting. Freezer paper can be used to trace the projected design. Cut out the stencil with an Xacto knife. The stencilled images are then filled in with paint.

If you are interested in injecting the rich and timeless appeal of architectural details, check out the collection of large format architectural stencils through The Stencil Library, and other excellent sources found on the Internet.

Various columns with finely detailed architraves, capitals and bases, pillars and arches, balustrades, pedestals, railings. finials, borders and panels are generally available in three sizes. To replicate the effect of three-dimensional decorative details, two or three stencil overlays per image are required, and can be costly. This type of focal wall suits a grand entrance hall or dining room where a dramatic visual effect is desired.

An altogether different approach to wall murals is the wallpaper mural. Imagine one wall in a bedroom or den that is covered with your favourite serenity scene, it could be a view of a woodland, or a sandy beach at sunset. Find a photo of the scene you want blown up and take it to a printer who can reproduce the image onto adhesive-backed wallpaper measured to fit your space. Vinyl-coated wallcoverings are durable - good for high traffic areas.

Debbie Travis's House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email questions to [email protected]. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie's new website,

[email protected]