Last year when local artist Laura Watmough booked a bed and breakfast room online in Portugal, she imagined a huge spacious area complete with chandeliers. Imagine her surprise when she arrived at the place only to find a standard eight by 10-foot room with a bed and a huge mural.
“Behind the bed it looked online as if there was a grand stairway that led to another room. The whole back wall really consisted of a mural, but holy moley, was it dramatic,” said Laura Watmough of Hidden Talent Fine Art School and Gallery.
Watmough didn’t mind the smaller room and in fact once she got over the surprise of the space differential, she enjoyed the illusion provided by the wall-to-wall mural.
“I was fascinated by it,” she said.
Murals are popular in Europe Watmough said, and designers here are using the same effect in show homes to create atmosphere. A mural can open up an area and make a plain wall appear as if it is a window with a beautiful view beyond. Murals can magically make a child’s room into outer space or add a back-drop showing Yankee Stadium to a man-cave. Yankee Stadium will look so real, you can almost smell the popcorn and beer.
Compared to other wallpapers, murals can be expensive with a range anywhere between $100 and $1,000 depending on the photo used, the quality of paper and where it is ordered. Still, compared to other decorative forms, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to instantly change the focus in a room.
“Murals give you something to talk about when you walk into a room. You can easily create a theme and though at first they seem expensive, they probably won’t cost thousands of dollars like other art, and when you are tired of it in five years, you just rip it off and start over,” said Sue Nelson, a sales associate at Dulux Paints.
Check out the Pinterest website and you’ll see everything appears to be coming up roses in the decorating scene, and indeed big florals are the rage.
Some murals, such as those in the Provincial mural book at Dulux, show one big rose or one big peony against a black and white cityscape. It’s a design that can easily and peacefully go in any room, Nelson said.
“It’s not overwhelming and you can go for the effect you want by just adding a few pops of colour to match the flower in the room,” Nelson said, as she suggested using pillows and cushions the same colour as the roses and setting them up on neutral-coloured furniture.
Even noisy-looking murals featuring very colourful jungle scenes could have a place in a child’s room, Nelson said, but in moderation.
“I can see prints like those used on a door panel or perhaps inside the child’s closet, but they could work in other rooms in the house too. For extra drama, bright prints like those could work well on a big wall in a theatre room or perhaps in a sun room,” she said.
Murals can be used to open up a hallway by providing the illusion that there is a path or garden just beyond the wall.
You can also fool the eye completely into thinking there is a brick or stone wall behind the couch or beside the fireplace. Or perhaps you live in the city and wish instead you were in a forest. Simply plant a mural forest.
“It’s as if you had a real forest of birch trees,” said Katie Marshall of Days Paint and Wallpaper.
“The only thing is, you’ll probably feel sad when you go outside, and you’re back in the city,” she said.
Putting a mural up on a wall is not a quick decision. Most murals will be there for at least a few years so you need a picture you can live with and decorate around.
“You need to order murals and they have to be measured exactly. They usually take about six weeks to get here,” said Nelson.