Painting pictures on your walls is such a forbidden delight.  I have such strong memories of parental wrath at the very idea of taking pen or crayon to a wall or furniture, that murals for me, hold an extra thrill.  Not only can you create something truly unique for your home.  You can also mess with those old parental messages.  Even now, the first brush stroke on a pristine wall feels naughty….

Which of course, is part of the fun.

Murals and stencils can look tacky.  Be warned.  And be prepared to paint over them if you don’t like them.  If I start with this in mind, things usually work out OK.

Stencils can look particularly home-grown unless they are either for children (see the tiger below in progress, who was an illustration of Tyger Tyger burning bright) or in an old house where they are a good replica of period decor.  Greek revival, art deco, these are the themes that respond well to stencils.

Tiger stencil for a child

Murals work best if they are rarely seen - a room that is used occasionally or perhaps only glimpsed, otherwise they have a tendency to grow tiresome.  I really enjoy trompe l’oeil, as I love that momentary deception, that first double take.

Here, the wall of a dull, rendered balcony was brought to life with fake sandstone blocks, and a fake niche filled with leather volumes.  This witty addition transformed a dull area into somewhere fun to sit.

Trompe L'oeil mural in a toilet

This mural is in a downstairs bathroom.  When the door is shut, there are no windows and no features.  At first glance, it appears as though the room is opening onto a garden.  Even when the illusion has faded, the mural means that the space doesn’t feel closed in or windowless.

The tiles are continued into the mural to blur the edges of reality.  The owner’s cat can be seen just peeking into the pool.

As this room is rarely used, it is a fun way to liven it up.  Such a mural in a main living area would soon lose its effect.

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