In my world, painters tape and imagination are practically superpowers. (Even stencils if you’re looking to do a more intricate design but didn’t exactly excel in art class.) The number one tip I have is to have fun with it, and really consider how to introduce a bit of color and fun to a kid's bedroom or playroom without getting gaudy about it. But if you’re about to embark on your own DIY mural, here are a few essential tips I picked up along the way:
- Use high-quality painter’s tape, also called masking tape. It will remove cleanly, allowing you to mess around with your design, and ensuring minimal bleed.
- Samples! Samples! Samples! When choosing colors, you’ll want to see them on the wall before you make a final call.
- Another advantage of samples: if your mural is small enough and you are using multiple colors, you may well get away with using the samples for the full job - this cuts costs significantly!
- Also make sure to match your base color and get a sample of this, you will use this to paint your first coat, or at least over the edge between tape and wall so that it doesn’t bleed. (Especially when you are dealing with textured walls.)
- Rough estimates make for a more organic feel + your design will be stark enough with the tape lines.
- When choosing your sheen, note that satin is typically the easiest to clean and is as such recommended for use in kid’s rooms.
- Oh and note, this doesn’t have to be for kids only. This approach can work just as well for creating a low-cost accent wall in your living space!
When moving our family out west, I was excited to get another crack at getting my girls settled and comfortable in each of their bedrooms. We, of course, brought a lot of their furniture with us from Brooklyn, but this was an opportunity to reconfigure and rethink what pieces work for which girl, not to mention the fact that last time I decorated Isa’s room it was a nursery, and now she’s a full-fledged little lady, with attitude and opinions to match. (Note that she is not even two yet, who else is excited for the teen years? HELP!!)
I’ve previously dabbled in decals, which I would still highly recommend. As long as you have a partner you’re willing to hand the removal job over to, that is. But this time around I wanted to explore more with creating my own designs using painter’s tape and a selection of sample paints.
Isa’s room is still a WIP. While we made quick work of putting together her mountainscape – color selection was the bulk of the challenge here – I still intend on complementing this with hot air balloons, using stencils like these ones I found on Etsy. I’ve taken inspiration from the balloon races typically held in Reno every year. It’s one of my favorite things to do with the girls, despite having to get up before the crack of dawn to catch the show.
No need for strict measuring here, use strips of painters tape to map out your horizon line and peaks, somewhere midway up the wall. Make sure to first paint over the tape with a shade that matches the original wall color. This will ensure minimal bleed, especially if you are working with textured walls (insert tears of despair here). Then apply your first coat of color. This will serve as your upper mountain range.
(Note that I’ve typically been able to get away with a single coat when doing projects like this, but you’ll have to make your own assessment. It depends both on the paint quality you choose, and the original color of your walls.)
Now, to add depth to your mural, we’ll wait for the first layer to dry, and repeat the process further down the wall. Again, there is really no need for measuring here. Tape up your peaks and valleys, but make sure to take a step back to make you’re happy with your full design before you apply your second color. (Note that the bottom of the tape will be the outline of your lower mountain range, so this is what you’ll need to keep an eye on.)
With our mountain-scape done and dusted, it was time to move on to Sofie’s room. And she was very clear, insisting she needed a rainbow on her wall.
I spent my fair share of time perusing decals, of which there is an amazing, high-quality selection online. But given the layout of her new bedroom, and the size of her not-so-tiny house bed (can I just say how much I LOVE this bed frame)
I felt I wanted her design to span more than one wall. So I took my inspiration from this amazing DIY from A Beautiful Mess and got to work choosing colors. (Let’s not even talk about how long it took me to select the right shade of yellow!)
This one requires a tinge more precision on the measurements. Based on the available space, I decided that 6 inches (15 cm) per arch would work well (remember to account for the height of the bottom arch as well as the space between when marking your apex), and roughly 2 inches (5 cm) between. I started by drawing the top outline of the first arch, and then used the ingenious cardboard pencil tool described in the DIY guide above to roughly measure from there.
Rather than drawing and taping up the full outline at the outset, I found that the best way to do this was to complete each arch individually, working my way from top to bottom. With painters tape, creating straight lines is easy as pie, but in order to bend it, you’ll need to make small cuts along the full strip, cutting roughly halfway through the tape. Also note that you’ll want to cover those incisions with additional strips of tape after, to make sure you don’t get paint in unwanted spots.
This is not a job for the faint of heart. It is meticulous work that can take several days to complete, a process of cutting and bending tape, painting and waiting impatiently for said paint to dry, all while trying to accommodate a three-year-old that, you know, kind of needs to sleep and play in her room. However, I have to say I am pretty proud of how it came out.
Over the years, I have found I LOVE taking on a kid’s bedroom. Mostly because it’s an opportunity to take a very playful approach to design, and because there really is a whole lot you can do with a bucket of paint, some painter’s tape and a bit of imagination. (Not to mention the treasure trove of functional and fabulous furniture for kids out there today!)
And while I definitely encourage you to have fun with it, note that it is important to still exercise a bit of restraint when it comes to your theme (and colors for that matter). Kids change, just as their interests and obsessions ebb and flow. I’d hate to go ham on dinosaurs, only to find that the “client” no longer thinks T-Rex is top dog.
As some of you may know, Sofie and I are spending the summer in Norway and I am excited to say I have been recruited to help update my niece Ella’s nursery. She asked for giraffes, but like I said, that could quickly change. But no fear, Tante Liv has some ideas.