DIY: How to paint murals for your home

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I originally wrote this as a guest post on the amazing DIY blog The Ugly Duckling House – thank you Sarah for featuring me!

How to paint a mural at home

I love painting murals for my clients – they’re great above a bed because lots of people worry about heavy artwork falling on them while they sleep. The key to a successful mural is planning. Before you get started, make sure you have a clear vision in your mind. Even if you would like to freestyle it, look at images that will help formulate an idea. I will walk you through a mural I just finished (see above) where we had a clear vision from the start. This mural is in a children’s bedroom and we decided I would paint a scene from the amazing Roald Dahl book ‘The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.’

You will need:

  • A pencil
  • Paint brushes of various sizes
  • A water glass to clean your brushes
  • A pallet or makeshift pallet (plate, etc.)
  • Kitchen towel
  • Acrylic paint; I like to use acrylic paints because they dry quickly and are water resistant. If you make a mistake before the paint has dried, you can dab it with a damp towel and completely remove the error

Sketch it

If you’re nervous then I would recommend sketching your ideas on pieces of paper in the size you want – which you can then use as a 1:1 guide. I just dove straight in but I have done quite a lot of these!

When you have finished planning, start off by painting your wall in the colour you would like it to be, using the paint brand of your choice. Alternatively, just work with the wall colour you’ve got!

Let any paint dry and wipe down the wall thoroughly so that you have a clean surface. If you have to use a little water for this, make sure the walls are dry before you begin. Don’t forget to move any furniture out of your way, or cover anything you might drip paint on.

Now, using a light pencil, mark out the rough area you would like to paint within to make sure your drawing doesn’t get too large or small. If you have done sketches, stick them on the wall using masking tape in the position that you would like them to be in, to make sure you like the layout. Copy or trace them on to the wall.

If you are copying an image, have it in front of you and start drawing. I started this mural in the bottom left hand corner because I wanted to be sure the image sat just above the duvet. Keep stepping back from your drawing throughout to make sure your dimensions are correct and that you are filling the allocated space in the right proportions.

Prepare your palette

Once you have finished drawing, it’s time to get your paint ready. I like to put kitchen towel on my pallet and wet it slightly with water. This means that the acrylic paint doesn’t dry out too quickly and if you want to keep painting the next day you can Clingfilm the pallet and it will stay damp.

I then work round the edge of the pallet with paints, going from light to dark, leaving as much of the pallet untouched as possible. This way you can mix colours below easily to get the perfect shade. Don’t have your paints too close to each other or they will inevitably get muddled together as you go. Try to use a good range of colours; I decided I wanted a bit of blue in my painting so instead of using black to make the grey areas, I mixed blue and a little brown with some white.

Paint it

It’s time to paint! If your image suits an outline, paint it in your colour of choice using a thin brush. I like to paint from left to right as I use the wall to steady my painting hand and this avoids smudging.

Now it’s just painting by numbers. Pick one colour to start with, I like picking a light colour here because if your brushes aren’t 100% clean when you switch colours, there is less contamination going from light to dark. Paint all the areas in your colour of choice first.

For your second colour, just move to the next darkest colour and do the same as you go on. If there are small details in your painting, wait until the paint is dry and add these last.

Keep adding colours one by one until your image is complete. Good luck and happy painting!

If you’d like me to paint a mural or do anything else for your home (I’m an interior designer), you can find my contact details here

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