A mural (or a “muriel” if you’re Hilda Ogden from Coronation Street in the ’80s – just a little pop culture reference for you there), is a whacking great piece of wall art. Ever since the dwellers of the Chauvet Cave got busy 30,000 years ago with their primitive paintbrushes, giving their walls an ancient glow-up with pictures of lions, leopards and bears, murals have been making a statement on walls across the globe.
The good news for us in 2021AD is that we don’t need to pick up a paintbrush, or pay an artist to do so, to incorporate a mural into our homes. In fact, it’s dead easy. There is a wide world of wallpaper murals out there, with all the hard work done for you. All you need to do is choose your favourite, pop your wall measurements in to the website, and they’ll tailor the mural exactly to your space. It arrives in numbered strips, and you pop it up with normal wallpaper paste, like a massive jigsaw. In’t modern life brilliant?
I have three murals in my house and, whilst I endlessly champion the transformative power of wallpaper, there’s something about a wall mural which I find particularly special.
My most recent mural addition is in the spare room, a room unloved and untouched since we moved in, 9 years ago. I had a new chaise longue I wanted to put in there, and it needed a decent backdrop. Because I was only in a position to decorate one corner (there is a long list of boring things the room needs doing to it before the rest can be finalised), I wanted to make a statement, and I quite fancied a mural. So, I had a hunt around the world wide web and was hugely impressed with the choice out there. Huge! I’ve come to the conclusion that the murals I like best fall into four categories, so let’s have a canter through each one.
1. Art. Actual Art.
I spent a long time on the Photowall Sweden website, in my recent search (I ended up collaborating with them on Instagram, but this blog isn’t part of it, I just rate their murals highly). A long, long time. They have over 20,000 murals on there. Mercifully, you can search by category. The ones that really caught my heart for the spare room were pieces of art, actual famous paintings, blown up to wall-size. The supersized effect when used in a room is like sitting inside the painting itself, a bit like when Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews jump into the chalk painting in Mary Poppins. Without the dodgy Cockney accent. And dancing penguins.
I ended up with a rather massive shortlist, but eventually whittled it down to Klimt’s “Italian Garden Landscape”, based on how well it went with the dark green colour of the chaise longue, but I’d have loved to try so many of them. Here’s how the corner started, and where it ended up (I had a play around with the bed in that corner too, just for fun).
I just love it. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s immersive. It makes me happy. I would have happily used any of the ones below, too. I’d particularly love to use one of Klimt’s paintings of figures – Retrato de Maria Munk, or Water Serpents – somewhere. I need more walls. I’ll buy a lottery ticket.
2. Trompe L’Oeil
Which translates as “to deceive the eye”. Using photo-realistic detail in a mural is a brilliant way to liven up a flat, featureless wall, adding detail which simply isn’t there. A little bit of decor magic. I’ve seen three particularly memorable examples of this on Instagram, which perfectly illustrate the point.
First up, my good pal Anna @annas_attic_interiors_shop did an incredible utility room renovation, using what used to be her garage space. The first picture, below, is what Anna had to work with – an absolute blank canvas of breeze blocks and concrete, not a feature in sight, and no natural light. Just look at how it ended up!! I think the windows in the Rebel Walls “Perspective Manoir” mural Anna chose are a stroke of genius, it adds the illusion of light, space and depth, and this, along with the aged effect on the walls, makes it look like a completely different room. Seriously impressive. You can read more about Anna’s utility room transformation on her blog here.
Secondly, let’s join hands and gasp in wonder at Gareth’s (@gareth_at_31) landing space (the top of his staircase, not where he parks his private jet). This is a classic space for being devoid of features in many houses, a blank wall where you might pop a mirror or a picture, and not think much about it ever again. But, LOOK! The pictures show what Gareth initially started out with (another featureless wall), how he initially decorated it (absolutely lovely, very pretty), and, finally, how it looks with the addition of a mural (sound of wild applause and much whooping). It’s the same Rebel Walls design that Anna used, and it’s added that light and depth again, you feel you could open up the window, inhale the fresh air and and reach out to the trees beyond, where a little songbird would jump on to your outstretched finger. I am such a fan of this mural.
And finally, last but by no means least, the beautiful Sofie’s (@threeboysandapinkbath) old house (she’s now busy knocking down walls and making all kinds of magic in her epic new project). Sofie used another Rebel Walls mural, “Factory Window”, on a blank wall behind her sofa, transforming it from pleasantly minimalist to absolute knockout. It’s those windows again, the depth, the light, the bringing in of the outdoors. Suddenly you’re amongst the treetops, looking out over the rolling hills.
It doesn’t have to be windows you play a bit of eye-trickery with. How about a bit of panelling? Wooden boards? Tin tiles? A wall of books? It’s all there to have fun with. Here are a few more of my favourites from Rebel Walls:
I also want to give a stand-alone shout out to this “Azure” tile-effect mural from Mind The Gap. I can’t stop looking at it. I covet it with every fibre of my being.
So far, I’ve talked about the high-drama effects a mural can bring to a scheme. I’m a big fan of the razzle-dazzle, the crash-bang-wallop, the big reveal. Not everyone is this way inclined, and that includes Kitty, my eldest daughter. She is very much not in favour of the blousy florals that I love to plaster the house in. This is confusing to me. I’m going to have her DNA-tested to check she’s actually mine.
We were planning a bedroom revamp for her a couple of years ago, when she was 10. She needed something a little more grown-up, something to take her into her teenage years, somewhere cool to hang out. I think Kitty would have been happy with plain white walls and a Beano poster at that stage but, by way of compromise, I thought we could add a little gentle texture to her walls with a mural. A mural she could choose! From a pre-selected range by me, of course (come on, it’s a question of balance!). She likes cool colours, particularly blues, and I happened upon the very lovely “Torano” marble-effect mural from Hovia. I did a little jump for joy when Kitty also liked it and the deal was done. Here it is in her room, and we both rather love it:
Other outstanding examples of the genre on Instagram are, firstly, this lovely “Oh La La!” mural by Feathr in Sharon’s (@hornsby_style) lovely home. It really adds something special to that wall, a warmth, a point of extra visual interest in an already lovely room. Beautifully done.
Secondly, Nicola (@the_girl_with_the_green_sofa) used a textural mural in her son’s bedroom, which really changes the whole feel of the room and gives it a whole lot of character which would be missing if it was a plain, white wall.
And finally, we’re back to Anna’s (@annas_attic_interiors_shop), this time to her bathroom, which I adore. She’s used a mural here with an aged, crumbling plaster effect and, once again, aced it.
Here are a few other examples of textural murals I like, a world of marble-y, terrazzo-y, watercolour-y, inkblot-y loveliness:
Basically, anything resembling a landscape, or with trees, plants or flowers. Nature always reels me in. When I was redecorating my youngest daughter, Polly’s, room a couple of years ago, she asked for a ‘forest’ theme. I nearly danced a little jig, as I’d loved a forest mural, with huge, painterly strokes, by the amazing Lucy Tiffney, forever. I ordered it before she could change her mind (small children can be very flighty). Here it is, looking all kinds of awesome, in her bedroom.
Three more of my Instagram favourites sprang to mind when I was pondering nature-inspired murals. First up, the excellent Theresa (@theresa_gromski), with not one, but two glorious bedroom murals. I love the delicacy of the Rebel Walls “Lush Foliage” mural in the bedroom with the dark ceiling, and the fact the vines and leaves are designed to trail down the wall, meaning the furniture beneath doesn’t interfere with it. The Rebel Walls “Jungle Land” mural in Theresa’s master bedroom is a long term favourite of mine. A masterpiece.
Secondly, we’re off to the recently-sold home of my beloved Robyn (@around.robyn). Robyn added the Oasis Wall mural from Woodchip & Magnolia, a tree-filled wonderland, behind her bed, and I’d imagine she’s pretty narked she couldn’t peel it off and take it with her to her new place. I would have been.
And finally, we’re off to Brighton, to the lovely Mel’s (@melaniejadedesign) old gaff (I’m sensing a theme here, everyone seems to have recently moved!). I’m cramming in a couple of beauties from Mel: a wintry forest scene from her kitchen from Photowall Sweden, and a dramatic explosion of florals in her bedroom, using “Honey Bloom” by A New Wall.
Before I put a sock in it, I want to include a sub-set of the ‘nature’ genre, in the form of ‘Chinoiserie’, purely because I’m always drawn to its elegance and timelessness. We’ll go back to Anna’s (@annas_attic_interiors_shop) for one final time, and while we’re there, I shall hand her the ‘Idle Hands Trophy for Excellence in the Application of Murals’. She has a stunner of a Chinoiserie mural behind her bed, in my favourite green:
Here are loads of others that I’d happily give wallspace to:
Where to buy?
I’ve used examples from most of my favourite mural purveyors throughout the blog, but thought it might be handy to make a list too. Hit up these guys for all your mural requirements:
Have you got any good sources to add to this list? Have you used a mural in your home? Are you tempted? Let me know in the comments!