Murals Bring New Moods To The Home


Human beings have always been artists. Cave inhabitants dabbed the first murals on their walls many centuries ago. Many, many centuries. In fact, the carbon dating of cave drawings found in France puts the time back at least 30,000 years! When ancient civilizations began building walls, it wasn’t long before people began decorating them, too. Some ancient Egyptian murals survive to this day. In medieval times, murals were often religious such as Michelangelo’s revered paintings in the Sistine Chapel created in the early 1500s. In Colonial America, murals were popular for enlivening the décor, but were usually something only the wealthy could afford.

Murals are still being painted on interior walls and ceilings as well as outdoor walls and even the sides of entire buildings. Today they are available in a variety of methods and media. 
Murals Many Ways
Murals are popular for the way they can personalize the home and there are several ways to create a mural. First, of course, is painting directly on the wall. One talented Mom painted Winnie-the-Pooh characters around her daughter’s bedroom walls, later replacing them with dancing pixies when her daughter grew older and began dancing lessons. Other people, like Dell Erwin who lives in Albemarle County, turn to a professional.
“I love original art—in almost any form,” Erwin declares as she happily shows off her home’s special enhancements. “Instead of using wallpaper, I hired a local muralist to paint a bathroom area, matching the flowers on my towels.” In addition, muralist Wendy Custer ( painted ceiling medallions around light fixtures in the foyer and dining room as well as designs around all the light switches. “She also did a mural under a window seat, again matching flowers in the fabric I decorated with,” Erwin explains. “I love admiring this art that is totally unique to my house.”
“My greatest reward is in seeing the joy people receive in my creations,” says Custer who recently painted the murals for Charlottesville’s new Martha Jefferson Hospital Nursery and Chapel. She had previously created murals in the old hospital’s nursery and was tickled when a nurse said that having Custer’s artwork at the new hospital was like bringing a piece of home with them when they moved.
Working with a local artist has several advantages. You can plan your one-of-a-kind mural together and changes can be made during the process. Says Custer, “I enjoy the creative experience of working with my clients from concept to completion.” 
On the other hand, custom work is generally more expensive than do-it-yourself projects. Still, you don’t need to be an artist to create mural-like effects in your home. For example, some wallpaper is manufactured in panels, often appearing hand painted. The designs can be classic, whimsical or contemporary.
An Internet search reveals many websites with pre-fabricated murals in a variety of themes, styles, sizes and shapes. Usually digitally reproduced on vinyl, high-quality photographic paper or canvas, they are relatively easy to install. Another advantage is that they generally can be removed intact and repositioned should you move or decide to replace one mural with another. The variety of images is virtually endless—one site brags that it stocks 60,000 different images, but we didn’t count them. Prices range from modest to hundreds of dollars depending on the mural’s size and material. 
Themes include scenes with a hand-painted appearance as well as photographs ranging from the subtle to the spectacular. It’s even possible to have your own photograph reproduced as a mural if the resolution is sufficiently high. The designers at websites offering this service will review your photo to be sure it will print clearly at the size you desire.
One intriguing mural application is to mount a “window” or even a door in a windowless room. This sort of mural comes in a variety of shapes, sometimes with the door or window frame seeming to open out into the scene. Some websites, such as, offer the opportunity for you to view such a mural using one of your own photos. 
Stencils are another artful way to create interest on walls. Some—such as a Colonial American scene, for instance—may cover an entire wall while others provide accents around windows and doorways, above a chair rail (or in place of one) or along the ceiling. Stencils are available at many paint and building supply stores and the Internet reveals a variety of stencils in many price ranges with themes ranging from historically accurate Pennsylvania Dutch motifs to flowers and elves. With only a little practice, most people are able to effectively apply the paints.
So when you’re ready to give your home a cosmetic boost, consider murals to deliver a new mood to your room—from the whimsical to serene to dynamic. 
Charlottesville writer Marilyn Pribus once decorated the family bathroom by painting an abstract mural that met a mirrored wall, thus doubling the impact.