Colour blocking and wall murals are a really popular trend with interior designers at the moment. They’re an inexpensive and easy way of playing with colour to achieve a variety of looks within a space.
Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, it can seem daunting to get creative with your walls. Even as someone who spends all day looking through interior design content, my first foray into wall murals was something I definitely felt the need to properly research first. There are a few really important steps that you should take, and once you’ve wrapped your head around your goal, it’s actually incredibly easy to create an eye-catching design.
1. What do you want to achieve?
Wall murals can be used in a variety of different ways, so before you let your imagination loose on the colour and design, consider what you want to achieve.
If you have a multifunctional space, you could use colour-blocking to create zones. For example, in an open plan kitchen and dining room, a mural on a wall in one of these areas is a great way to visually separate them.
Alternatively, some designers like to use colour blocks to frame artwork, furniture or interesting architectural details. For a bedroom, a natural focal point is often the bed, so painting the wall behind the head has the same impact as a headboard, and is really easy to achieve.
2. Choosing your design
Once you have a clear idea of what your mural is going to achieve, you can figure out what kind of style to go for. If your space is fairly minimal, you might opt for a stronger pattern, but air on the side of caution if your room is already quite busy.
A rectangle or square around a cluster of artwork or behind a desk can work nicely as a simple frame. In general, straight lines are always easier to work with as you can use masking tape as your ruler. But, if your heart is set on a softer look, consider using organic curves rather than exact circles; these are much more forgiving!
3. Choosing your colours
Take a look around your room and identify the palette you’re working with. Define the hero tones and accents you want to pick up on. It’s worth noting that murals are also a great way of introducing new colours to a space – if you’re working with a white, minimal area, the world is really your oyster!
For single colour blocks, don’t be afraid to use a strong tone, particularly if the surface area of the design is fairly small. Consider it more like hanging a colourful picture on the wall, it won’t overpower the space but it will add a nice focal point.
If you are using a more detailed pattern you will need to choose at least three colours that can work together. Generally, it’s good to choose two base colours and one accent colour, which could simply be a darker or brighter shade of one of the base colours or something completely contrasting.
4. Prime and prepare
When painting any wall, it’s essential to make sure you properly prime and prep the area. The wall needs to be clean and dry before you start, and no matter how neat of a painter you think you are, always protect your floors!
Not all white walls are equal. If you haven’t touched up the paint in a few years, any new paint will not match so bare this in mind if you’re using white in your design, even if it’s just to neaten up the edges.
Lastly, if you’re painting over an already very dark or bold colour, you should consider doing a base coat of white before applying your new design over the top of it. It’s definitely more time consuming but you’ll wind up using less paint overall.
5. Creating your template
You can’t make a wall mural without a guide so you need to make sure you have the right equipment. While standard masking tape can do the job, I recommend FrogTape as it stops the paint from bleeding so generally creates crisper lines.
If you’re working with a large surface area and your mural will travel a long way, you could invest in a laser ruler to help you keep a straight line. For smaller shapes and areas, using your tape or a ruler as a guide works well.
For more organic shapes and designs, simply free hand draw out your design in pencil. Remember to frequently take a step back and review the overall picture to ensure your proportions look correct.
6. Applying the paint
Everybody’s favourite part – painting! If you’re working with a pencil drawn template, I recommend starting with the outlines so you can get a more immediate glimpse of how the shapes all work together. At this stage you can adjust things more easily by slightly enlarging or refining the shapes as needed.
For designs that you’ve mapped out with tape, it’s worth using a paintbrush to go over the edges first as this will ensure your lines are crisp. Try not to drench your brush in paint as this is more likely to bleed through the tape. For everywhere else, a roller is definitely the way to go.
TIP: Remember that tape will always leave a border, so if you want two colours directly next to each other you may need to do your painting over a few sessions.
7. Retouching and refining
Time for the big reveal! After all the paint is applied and you’re happy with your design, you can carefully remove the tape. The wall doesn’t have to be completely dry when you do this, but definitely check that you haven’t got any very wet paint on the edges as this may bleed when you remove the tape.
Don’t panic if the odd line isn’t quite as crisp as you’d like. It’s easy to fix freehand with a small paint brush or get your tape out again once everything is completely dry.
8. Adding furniture and dressing the space
One of the great things about a wall mural is that it can add a completely new lease of life to your existing artwork and furniture. It’s the interior design equivalent to getting a new haircut.
If you’ve gone for a bold design, it’s a good idea to break it up a little with mirrors, shelving or furniture. In general, you want the mural to complement the existing space rather than dominate it. Softer colour palettes work really well as a backdrop for plants or striking pieces of art.