Custom wall murals for kids rooms

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Today, I’ve got a bit of an unusual post for this blog: a guest contributor! And she’s going to show us how she painted this fun mural for a children’s bedroom.

Ruth Stolerman next to mural

Over the last 7 years of blogging, I have let maybe 3 or 4 contributors come and share something about themselves on the blog. And it’s not because there aren’t other amazing DIYers out there, or that I wouldn’t love to have a regular contributor or two sharing their cool DIY projects with you guys (I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, so more on that later). It’s because working alone on this blog has always been a juggling act — planning and actually doing the projects on my to-do list, writing about them, editing photos, getting the behind-the-blog business to operate smoothly, maintaining the site, managing the finances of it, and of course, dealing with lots of emails — it’s minutes here and minutes there, and then there’s no more time in the day for new stuff (and duh, Charlie needs a walk or two).

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with the behind-the-scenes stuff with blogs, “guest post” requests are WAY TOO OFTEN nothing more than thinly veiled attempts for spamming you guys with marketing content. And since all of us are smarter than that, I got annoyed, frustrated at sorting through them, and just stopped taking guest post requests altogether. But here’s the not-so-fun-part of that: any blogger could easily tell you that my policy has solved nothing, because spammers love to follow up on emails no one wanted to even read the first time. My inbox still stays full, unless I pen a response somewhere along the lines of “to be 100% honest, I would rather eat rusty nails than publish this for you.”

But then, on a very rare day when just the right sunlight comes through the window and I’ve had enough coffee to not hate email, I will find a real post worth sharing. And this is one of those things. A reader-slash-interior-designer named Ruth Stolerman reached out about a recent project she did for a children’s bedroom. She does really fun, custom mural designs for her clients, and offered to share some of her secrets for a DIY tutorial, for no other reason than you guys might enjoy seeing how they’re made! And they are SO cute!

Custom wall murals for kids rooms

It got me thinking that I’d love to see more posts like this from readers who are proud of their work. So, I said yes. And she was super nice and sent me everything in a neat little package, and I managed to still get bogged down for months before getting it onto the blog. So I’m finally sharing it (with apologies to Ruth, of course). I hope you guys enjoy! Take it away, Ruth!


An Interior Designer’s Guide to Painting a Wall Mural

how to paint a mural step by step

I love painting murals for my clients. They’re great above a bed because lots of people worry about heavy artwork falling on them in their 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 kids bedroom and we decided I would paint an inspired scene from the amazing Roald Dahl book, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me.

Materials & Tools Needed:

Palette and paints and brushes

Best choice for type of paint

I think acrylic paints are a good choice 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. Latex house paints are also an option if you’re doing large areas of color (paint samples are inexpensive). Spray paint is commonly used for outdoor murals, but I do NOT recommend it for interior walls.

Preparing the wall surface

When you have finished planning, paint the wall in the color you would like it to be, using the house paint brand of your choice. Alternatively, just work with the wall color 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 to remove dirt, make sure the walls are dry before you begin. Move furniture out of your way and cover anything you might drip paint on with drop cloths.

Blank wall before

Drawing the image onto the wall

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

If you’re nervous or if this is your first mural, 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. Alternately, you can scale a smaller design on paper to a larger section of wall using a “grid method”: make light pencil marks in a grid on the wall. Break down the paper sketch into a grid. Then draw the image, section by section, to transfer it to the wall). It can be time-consuming to do this before painting, but it helps to make sure your mural work is well-balanced. I just dove straight in, but I have done quite a lot of these!

Another option is to use a projector to then trace the projected image onto the wall, but the 1:1 method works well if you don’t have that in your budget.

Pencil sketch of wall mural

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; 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. The goal is to fill the allocated space in the right proportions.

Preparing the paint

Once you have finished drawing, it’s time to get your paint ready. I like to put paper towel on my color palette and wet it slightly with water. This means that the moisture in the acrylic paint doesn’t dry out too quickly. If you want to keep painting the next day, you can cover the palette with clingfilm/plastic wrap and it will stay damp.

Work round the edge of the palette with paints, going from light to dark, leaving as much of the palette untouched as possible. This way you can mix colors 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 colors; 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.

Palette color by color with acrylic paint

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

Ruth painting mural for childrens bedroom

Now it’s just painting by numbers. Pick one mixture to start with and use this color across the painted surface in each area needed until that layer of paint is done. I like picking a light color and gradually getting darker. This way, if your brushes aren’t 100% clean when you switch colors, there is less contamination going from light to dark.

First color on mural

For your second color, just move to the next darkest color 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.

Adding color layer by layer for mural

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

Custom wall murals for a childs bedroom


Blank wall before


Finished mural


Image credits:

Thank you so, so much to Ruth for sharing her amazing work! And if you’d like to follow her, you can check out her work on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

how to paint a wall mural

P.S. If you’re a regular reader of this blog and want to show off your work, feel free to email me. I’m a sucker for a good before and after, and I’d be happy to share your story! (but if you spam me… see the rusty nail thing above…)

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  1. Ruth is a talented lady! Thanks for having her as a guest on your blog. I don’t know if I would ever paint a mural on a wall, but I learned some tips on mixing your paints. On second thought, with Ruth’s tutorial under my belt, I just might attempt to paint a mural on a wall!

  2. Love this. Doing some painting in my son’s room and murals were something we were considering. My wife is a great artist and definitely going to show her this for some inspiration!

  3. What a talented lady. Our children will love what she can bring to their dream. So cute and adorable

  4. I think it is so important to make your bedroom a personal oasis! I always do so by keeping calming things on my bedside table and keeping my bedding fresh. I switch it out for every season!

  5. At first, I thought it is such a cute and easy picture to paint, but then as I read through the blog I was amazed by the fact how Ruth has made this painting look so effortless. Beautiful work by Ruth! And thank you Sarah sharing this.

  6. That’s awesome! Question: If you make correction on your pencil outline, it normally makes the paint lighter (white background becomes whiter). What is the best way to clean it?