I wanted it to have trees and birds – two things we don’t see much of in our proximity to shops and cafes (but that was our trade-off) – so our future child could feel like he or she has their own little bedroom forest.
When we bought the house, we painted the room on three sides in Hog’s Bristle (beige), with our ‘feature’ wall a lovely warm Carmen Miranda (maroon). I definitely wasn’t up for repainting the whole room, or even redoing the feature wall in a more baby-friendly colour, even though the internet told me that ‘red walls will overstimulate an infant’. That was just going to be too much work and expense – and besides, my womb probably looks pretty red from the inside, so surely my baby will feel right at home!
So I faced the problem of finding a mural design that wouldn’t clash with our existing colour scheme. Painting a DIY nursery mural seemed to promise the best results, but, ever the practical thinker, my partner quickly diverted my attention to the numerous pre-made wall decal stickers available all over the web. We even visited Masters, Bunnings and Lincraft to see their ranges, and while there were indeed some very impressive decals out there, it was going to cost us several hundred dollars to achieve the look I was after. Well, that was the end of the discussion. DIY it was (and he even volunteered to help)!
On my first week of maternity leave, happy to have a distraction from my ever-expanding belly, I found half a tin of house paint in Ceiling White, along with leftover painters’ tape, in the shed. I picked up some drop sheets ($5), new brushes in two different sizes ($6), and a mini paint roller and paint tray ($8). I was also going to need chalk, which was surprisingly hard to find (kids still use chalk, right? Clearly there were still alarming gaps in my knowledge of children!), but I eventually found some in one of the ‘two-dollar’ shops (for, believe it or not, $2 a packet) in Nicholson Street Mall, Footscray.
Step 1: Cleaning
Like most exciting household projects, the first step was, unfortunately, cleaning. I taped down the drop sheet beneath the feature wall in the nursery and we wiped the whole thing down with Sugar Soap (I recommend being 8 months’ pregnant at this point, as you’ll have a good excuse for delegating the task!)
Step 2: Design
The next step was to draw up a design. I used a roll of plain paper to sketch out the template for the trees.
I went with a birch tree design, as the natural splits and patterns on the bark would translate well on the wall, without me adding too much detail.
I cut the paper tree shapes out and, with some help from my partner on a ladder, used a glue stick to paste each one to the feature wall (hoping that the glue wouldn’t mark the wall when it was time to peel off).
I used the paper cut-outs as a template to trace around with white chalk, then peeled them all off. Of course, the quickest way to do it would’ve been to draw freehand straight onto the wall, but I wasn’t confident that my trees would be straight. The other benefit of using paper templates was that I got a really good idea of how it was going to look when it was finished.
Step 3: Marking out
The painter’s tape went on next. We had to outline the chalk lines (including all the bark detail) with the tape so it formed a kind of stencil that we could just paint over with the mini paint roller, rather than laboriously freehand painting with the brushes.
Applying the tape was the most time-consuming stage, but when it was complete (finally), the fun part could begin!
Step 4: Painting
Out came the white paint and the rollers and we set to work rolling over our tape stencil.
I drew a handful of leaves on – freehand with the chalk – along with a bird swooping down between the trees.
We required three coats of the white, as the maroon base still showed through after the second coat. When that third and final coat has been applied, I tentatively peeled off the painter’s tape, hoping the white hadn’t seeped underneath. Lo and behold, for the most part, I had clean, white lines.
Step 5: Touching up
I used the small detail paintbrush I had bought to tidy up the splodges and fuzzy edges.
The finishing touch was to add a string of colourful paper bunting that I had saved from my baby shower – and Voilà: a homemade nursery mural, which was exactly what I wanted, and cost less than $25!
Here’s what you’ll need to create your very own DIY nursery mural:
Sugar soap (or similar) and a sponge
A roll of plain paper and a pencil
Mini paint roller and paint tray
Fine brush for touch-ups
Lots of time and patience!