The Great Wallpaper Mural (In)Decision


Many years ago, when SN and I tackled our first major decorating and remodeling project in our first home, we played it safe. We ended up with a beautiful kitchen and received many compliments. It was great...but also sort of underwhelming. Granite counters? Us and every other kitchen in America.

For future projects, we knew we wanted to amp up the "wow" factor, even if it meant taking on more risk. Go big or go home, right? And we were already at home! A waterfall running directly over our patio. An arched wall with a chandelier over a Jacuzzi. A dramatic stripe of river rock running along the floor. A pitch black painted ceiling. (That last one actually turned out to be the ugliest thing ever. SN is never going to let me forget it.)

One of our favorite dramatic decorating choices in our last house was the wallpaper mural we installed in the dining room, framing each side of the fireplace. It was a single image that we split into two halves. I don't think a visitor ever saw it without saying something along the line of "WOW! That is so cool! How did you do that?" Everyone was drawn to it and most thought it was painted directly onto the wall, even after touching it. Based on this success, we knew we wanted to include another wallpaper mural in our new home.

This is where it gets weird.

I visited the website for Photowall, which has thousands of wallpaper mural choices, including designer options. Actually, I should really say that they have an infinite number of choices, as they can also create a custom mural in any size from any photo you upload. Your wallpaper can look like artwork or like a photograph. And if that's not enough, you can even request that they modify the colors on their standard murals or exclude a part you don't like. I was quickly overwhelmed! 

wallpaper with birds
This wallpaper mural is called Romeo and Juliet and it's from Scandinavian Surface. I thought it would look perfect in our new hallway.

wallpaper with photo flowers
This wallpaper mural is a photo I uploaded. It would also look perfect in our new hallway. See the problem?

It would be nice to walk through a field of flowers every day...

field of flowers wallpaper
...I couldn't possibly choose which field of flowers to walk through though!

wallpaper for girls
At least I knew where I wanted to install our mural, right? Ha! Here's another custom image I fell for. I thought it would be perfect in our laundry room...or my closet...or the mudroom...or the guest bedroom.

owl wallpaper
And then there was this soft-looking owl with the world's cutest eyes. I had to have him! But we're trying to keep the decor in our new home sophisticated. We're getting dangerously close to failing at this already, without any extra help from an owl. (I'm looking at you, crazy bird rocker.) Try as I may, I just couldn't think of anywhere "sophisticated" to place this fellow.

Weeks went by. Trapped in indecisiveness, I shared my top Photowall choices on Facebook and made other people decide for me. Which of these would you have gone with?

trees wallpaper
Quiet Birch Forest 

how to install turquoise on the wall
Multicolor Stones

birch and aspen tree decor
Light Forest

rustic wallpaper
Old Tree Trunk
(Admittedly, a few of these names leave something to be desired.)

On Facebook, many of the people who commented had been the ones who'd actually been to our old house and who'd said they loved our previous wallpaper mural. So, imagine my surprise at the feedback I received.

photorealistic wallpaper options
I wanted to hang this one on all four walls of our dining nook (and on the groin vault ceiling, if we could figure out how to possibly do that), imagining how nice it would feel to be surrounded by flowering trees. The scent of real flowers would waft in from the garden. Bliss, right?

My Nana's response:
One wall is bad enough!
(To be fair, she has a history of trolling me.)
best wallpaper for a man cave
SN and I both really liked this one. It's the most dramatic wall mural ever! And we do live in the mountains, after all. The responses on Facebook?

🤮😭🤮😭🤮😭🤮😭🤮😭

It seemed I would never find a suitable wallpaper mural for our new home. I clicked through image after image on Photowall.com, just as I had every day for weeks. My seemingly fun decorating project was filling me with hopelessness. How would I ever decide? 

All of a sudden, an image appeared that I'd never seen before. It was perfect! Photowall must have just added it to their collection.

(Or, more likely, it must have been there all along and I just ignored it a million times. I like the other scenario better.)

Our order arrived within a week - amazing considering it was custom-printed for our 10' walls and shipped all the way from Sweden. Paste was included, so we (SN) had everything we (he) needed to install it right away.

hallway in our dream home with moravian star lights
He began by double checking that the new wallpaper mural was the correct size - easy peasy since it had been created to our exact specifications.

how to install wallpaper around wood beams
Next, SN applied painter's tape to mask the baseboard and our wooden beams. I'm not certain this step is actually necessary. He's a perfectionist. He also removed the light switch plate and thermostat cover so they wouldn't be in the way.

photowall how to
When installing such a large mural, it would be disastrous to accidentally get your panels mixed up. Photowall has made this almost impossible by numbering each and including a reminder of what the finished project should look like.

step one
Following Photowall's instructions (they have a handy installation video with tips on YouTube), SN applied enough paste directly onto the wall for one panel at a time.

step two
There was a strange mark on the far-left side of our mural. It looked like a ring from someone setting their coffee mug down! We each blamed the other. SN just sliced this part off and discarded it.

bespoke wallpaper design
See how he is holding the mural up while simultaneously installing it? This can be a one-person job, but it's easier with two. I kept offering to help, but SN said the best way for me to help was to stay out of the way. I ate some ice cream and watched The Big Bang Theory, Mom, and Young Sheldon. It was hard work, being so patient, but I managed. Somehow.

We're a good team.

what to do if your wallpaper won't stick
Oh no, SN!

(It's dramatic panickings like this that got me banished to the other room.)

mountain wallpaper style
Installation was a little tricky and time consuming at first, but SN quickly got the hang of it. He covered 12 feet of length (approximately 8 panels) in about 4 hours, including prep and cleanup. This was his third-ever time working with wallpaper and first-ever using one with actual paste.

So, are you ready to see the finished product?

moravian star lights down hallway
BEFORE

moravian star lights hallway with wallpaper
AFTER

hallway with wood beams
This mural is called Trees White and it is from wallpaper designer Lemon.

wallpaper model
We're thrilled with how this turned out!

I love that it looks like it was sketched directly on our wall.

a little wallpaper humor
I also love that ours are not the sort of dogs who piddle on trees.

(I couldn't resist. Sorry.)

wallpaper for a dining room
This portion of the hallway ended up being the perfect place for it. Here is the view when you're sitting inside the dining nook.

wallpaper in the living room
This is what you see when you enter the house from the foyer.

new mexico patio
You can even enjoy the wall mural from outside on the patio!

live edge wood shelf
Prior to installation, I had been concerned about the seams ruining my "hand-sketched on the wall" look, but you don't see them at all unless you're up close and are specifically looking for them. 

Photowall offers their murals in a standard finish or an upgraded finish. After the installation, SN commented to me that the upgrade was worth it because the paper is such high quality. He was shocked when I told him I hadn't gone with the upgraded version.

deer artwork for rustic decor
Next up? Help me convince SN that we (he) should wallpaper the rest of the hallway walls. I want to feel like I am walking through the forest. Our other walls look so naked!

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