Tips and Tricks for Creating Wall Murals in a Kid's Room

Murals are one of the most popular design elements for children’s bedrooms, playrooms and nurseries. Find out what you need to know whether you plan on DIYing or hiring a pro.

By: Brian Patrick Flynn


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Whether a homeowner is looking to add a theme or simply create the look and feel of a favorite place, there are many important factors which go into creating murals, whether it’s a DIY project or being completed by a professional muralist. The first thing to consider is placement. Single-wall murals turn one area of the room into a focal point, while all-encompassing murals can turn the entire room into a visual experience. Single-wall murals are more affordable since the amount of labor and materials are both less in comparison to all-encompassing styles. When it comes to deciding if a mural is a better fit for a DIY application versus hiring it out to a professional muralist, it all comes down to the level of detail.

To DIY or Not?

Simple, graphic designs such as silhouettes or letters and phrases involve fewer steps and less attention to detail and are a great choice for homeowners looking to do the mural application themselves. Heavily detailed styles such as landscapes or illustrations are best left to the professionals, not only for the peace of mind knowing the final product will be more polished, but also for the amount of time they take. Professional muralists are so versed in the preparation and application processes that the disruption is minimal in comparison to entire weekends sacrificed by novice homeowners.


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Pro Advice

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based muralist Michelle Morse was hired by Marco and Elena Ciotti to transform their two children’s rooms into landscapes. While each room took Michelle two full days, it’s likely the projects would have each taken up to one week if Marco and Elena had attempted to do it themselves. As far as what homeowners should know about the process of hiring a professional muralist, Michelle has shared important tips to keep in mind.

The first thing Michelle, the go-to muralist for the Broward County schools, takes into consideration when pricing out murals is time and location. “I relay to the client how many hours I think it will take based on similar projects I’ve done. On top of that, I also have to account for the distance to and from the location, especially since these days gas is such a huge expense. Lastly, I include any specialty materials needed as well as assistants,” Michelle says.


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

What It Takes to Price a Mural

As far as how long proposals take to put together and how they’re presented, Michelle says it depends on the scope and the setting. The expert muralist adds, “Sometimes the proposal happens on-site verbally just minutes after I’ve met with the client, mostly for informal settings such as a small home.” And although small jobs like the two rooms done for the Ciotti family are quick to price out and also to execute, larger jobs are a different story. Michelle notes, “For something with much larger scope, such as a 5,000-square-foot home or a loft-like space with enormous walls, the proposals take way longer due to insurance proofing and tons of red tape, not to mention logistics for getting in and out and abiding by homeowner’s associations rules.”


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Planning and Scheduling

Something Michelle suggests to homeowners either attempting murals themselves or looking to hire a pro is the importance of creating schedules, especially when it comes to children’s rooms. The expert explains, “Since sleep is so important both for young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, and also for their parents, it’s important to decide when the best time to prep and paint is. If you throw off a child’s sleep schedule or render their room inaccessible, the experience can be negative, and murals are supposed to be fun.” By mapping out what task of the project will be done on which day, then allowing a certain amount of hours for each task, it will make the multiple layers involved much less overwhelming.


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Keep Costs Down

As a way to avoid extra costs related to working with a professional muralist, Michelle suggests keeping revisions to custom sketches minimal. Revisions are time-consuming, and to cut down on the number of revisions, Michelle likes to consult in person once during the initial brainstorming process, then revise the design strictly via email, then scan the updated sketches for client approval. Something else to consider is adding change orders. “Be careful when you start to add extra things on additional walls, new characters or special finishes. The muralist will need to recalculate costs since this increases labor and materials,” Michelle says. As far as the normal routine for payment is concerned, aside from change orders, muralists require 50% of the project price up front, plus the addition of any added-on changes upon completion.


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

Save Money by Doing the Prep

Whether a homeowner plans to hire a professional muralist or paint the room themselves, Michelle suggests doing as much preparation as possible, not only to save money if a professional is taking on the job, but also to ensure a better end product. These tasks include the following: painting the walls with the mural’s dominant color first; laying down drop cloths everywhere, even layering several on top of one another; laying all supplies out nearby; taping all baseboards, molding and ceilings; sealing painter’s tape to prevent bleeding; taping off outlets; and having a fan to help circulate air throughout the room.

To see more of Michelle’s work, check out her website and portfolio.


Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Brian Patrick Flynn

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