A painted wall mural can give you the bold look of wallpaper without the high price tag, and you don't need to be a professional artist to create one. Unlike wallpaper—which can be expensive and notoriously difficult to hang—a mural can often be completed in an afternoon. It's an easy way to transform your space without spending a lot of money or committing to a long-term look.
Best of all, you don't have to be an artist to create a gorgeous painted accent wall. Abstract shapes and thick geometric lines are especially trendy right now, which means you don't need Picasso-level art skills to paint your own wall mural. This home decorating trend is low-commitment too—if you don't love how your mural turns out, you can simply paint over it and start again.
We do recommend refreshing your wall with a fresh base coat before you start your mural, but most of our favorite ideas can be completed with just a few quarts of paint. That's quite the bargain when compared to the cost of wallpaper or decals. However, think twice before using paint sample pots—many don't contain all the necessary ingredients that regular paint has for a long-lasting effect.
Wall murals can't help but attract the limelight, so reserve them for places that can handle the attention. You might choose to showcase an existing feature (such as a fireplace mantel), a key furniture piece (think bed, sofa, media cabinet), or a room entrance. On the flip side, a mural can also add much-needed architectural interest. A large expanse of drywall makes an excellent canvas, while an awkward corner could become a pretty focal point.
To help inspire your next oversize work of art, we've rounded up our favorite wall mural ideas to help you get started. All you need is a blank wall, some paint, and your imagination.
A mural doesn't have to cover an entire wall to have a visual effect. Frame a sofa, bed, or another focal furniture piece with supersize blossoms to give your space a pop of color without committing to a wall-size work of art. Use a projector to project our free pattern on the desired spot on the wall, leaving your large furniture in place until you've landed on just the right size for the design. Lightly sketch the outlines with a pencil, then move your furniture out of the way and fill the design with paint. We opted for a subtle, neutral look, but you could use multiple colors for a more vibrant take. Once the painted area is dry, erase the pencil lines with a white eraser.
Editor's Tip: If you don't have a projector, ask your local library if they have one you can check out.
This statement wall with chunky curved lines is simple to create.First, lightly sketch swerving lines across the wall with a pencil. Intersect the lines in several places, keeping in mind doorways, windows, and your furniture layout. Use a 4-inch paint roller to trace the pencil lines, using a contrasting color from your wall paint. Using a small roller ensures all the lines are the same width. You can go back to touch up the edges or any missed spots with a small paintbrush later.
Customize a seating nook with several bands of alternating colors (our palette includes 10) in various lengths.For straight lines, place a level on the wall and trace the long sides, and move it up or down for taller stripes. Select the width and distance between that looks best in your space—ours are 3 inches wide and 7 inches apart. Tape off the vertical and horizontal lines, and apply your base color to prevent bleeding. Let the base color dry completely, then apply every other color in your desired pattern. When those are dry, remove the horizontal tape, and tape off the adjacent, yet-to-be-painted sections in each band. Finish painting.
Perk up mealtime with a look that's a little kitschy, a little retro, and a lot of fun.This pattern of bright oranges is the perfect mural for a kitchen or breakfast nook, and our free pattern makes it easy to get the look. Use a projector to trace the orange outlines on the wall, or enlarge the pattern and print a giant paper orange (ours were 17 inches wide) and use that as a stencil to ensure all the oranges are the same size. For an all-over pattern that more closely resembles wallpaper, cut off some of the oranges at the floor, ceiling, and corners of the wall.
A painted mural offers large-scale art without having to hang a bulky canvas or heavy frame.To make a color wash for the background, mix two parts latex wall paint with one part glaze. Tape off the area using painters tape, then apply the wash by dipping a soft rag into the mixture and rubbing it onto the wall in a light swiping motion until you've filled the taped area. Once it's dry, use a 1-inch brush to paint graphic Xs and Os, a favorite quote, or the alphabet. For a drippy effect, load an artist's brush with paint and swipe back over the letters in select spots.
Turn a blank white wall into the focal point of a room with a few painted shapes. Rather than filling the entire wall with an intricate design, trace and paint 20-30 overlapping hexagon shapes and choose 4-6 different colors to paint them. Use your computer to print out the shape you want, then cut it out to create a template. Trace it onto the wall as many times as you need to create your desired look, then use painters tape to section off each one as you paint.
Editor's Tip: Your paints can dry out if you have them all open at once, so it's helpful to paint all the shapes in one color at a time. Plus, you won't have to repeatedly switch brushes.
Splotches of red, blue, and yellow energize the entryway of a casual living space, playroom, or kid's bedroom.Sketch large splotch shapes with a pencil, wrapping around corners and overlapping doors and molding. Remove or tape the doorknob and middle hinge, and protect your flooring with drop cloths. Use a small roller to fill the open areas (scuff-resistant satin or semigloss paint is ideal for walls, woodwork, and the door) and use a smaller brush for the detail work around the edges. Apply two or three coats as needed. Once dry, use a white artist's eraser (which leaves less residue than a typical pink eraser) to remove any pencil markings. Add dimension by painting freehand graphic black stripes with a 1-inch flat brush.
Elevate the space behind a console with a layered mural.To mark the arch, draw a horizontal line that's the desired width and at the preferred height on your wall. Start by painting a large arch shape in an accent color and let it dry completely. Then, use our free pattern to project the bird design onto the wall at various sizes and angles. Trace the design with a medium-point paint marker, going over each section a second time to thicken the lines if needed. When the outline is dry, paint some sections in a contrasting color and let them dry completely before putting furniture against the wall.
If you want to paint a mural that covers the entire wall but doesn't require a lot of artistic skill, go with a landscape design. Mountain landscape murals are popular right now because they're easy to sketch (the outlines don't have to be precise) and easy to paint. Freehand a few rows of mountain ranges on the wall and fill each section with paint. Start from the top and work your way down, allowing each section to dry before starting the next. To contain the mess, wear gloves and cover the floor, baseboard, and wall under the mural with a drop cloth. We chose muted tones to give the wall some dimension without distracting from the colorful furniture and decor in the room.