A $400 DIY Mural Is the Star of This LA Kid’s Room

published May 22, 2023
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When designing your kid’s bedroom, there are a couple of ways to add color, texture, and personality to the space. You can add bright-colored furniture, hang peel-and-stick wallpaper, or let your children choose their paint color. But another way to personalize their bedroom while adding vibrancy is to hand-paint wall murals.

That’s what Emily Wassall, creative director of fashion and interiors at EW Studios, did in her kids’ bedrooms in their Los Angeles home. As a self-proclaimed “sucker for anything that creates a tropical feel,” Wassall wanted to infuse that spirit into her kids’ (Aura, Zephyr, and Jade) bedrooms. But it was more sentimental than simply making their spaces flow with the rest of the home’s aesthetic. 

“When I was growing up, my dad had always painted murals for me in my bedroom, and I love and cherish that memory so much. I always wanted to pass on that creativity and sentiment to my kids, but up until we moved into our remodeled home, we had moved too frequently to paint,” Wassall writes. “I have painted murals for clients, but I had always dreamt of the creativity and freedom of painting my own kids’ bedrooms, with no limits on color or design.”

With the freedom to design their bedrooms however she wanted, Wassall set out to paint unique murals — and the result is stunning.

1. Start with a moodboard.

As a creative director, it might not be surprising to learn that Wassall believes in the value of a good mood board. So, when dreaming up the murals for her kids’ bedrooms, she put some together before starting to paint. 

“I always start by creating visual mood boards for my murals, and then sketch out various designs in [Adobe] Illustrator until I find the one that works the best for the theme, room shape, and furniture,” Wassall shares. 

For Jade’s nursery, Wassall found inspiration in the surrounding Los Angeles landscapes. “I love the idea that you can be playing by the ocean and skiing in the mountains all in one day. But I also wanted the mural to feel graphic and a little Memphis (my favorite design movement).” Zephyr and Aura’s shared bedroom walls are white, so Wassall wanted to paint “random and fluid shapes.”

Next, using her mood boards and sketches, Wassall created a color palette for each space to ensure that the shades she (along with Zephyr and Aura!) selected align with her vision, complement each other, and look great in the rooms’ natural light. She landed on Benjamin Moore’s “Teal Blast,” “Fresh Green,” “Bahaman Sea Blue,” “California Blue,” and “Yellow Flash” for Jade’s nursery and “Teal Blast,” “Jet Black,” “Purple Lace,” and “Melon Popsicle” for Zephyr and Aura’s room. 

2. Map out the design on the wall before you begin painting.

After the sketches were complete, she gathered the necessary tools. Wassall says that she used brushes, rollers, Frog Tape, a pencil, a ruler, and stencils for the murals. All together, the materials and paint for both rooms only cost her around $400. Once Wassall started painting, she says that it took only four or five days (because she was working around naps and early bedtimes!) to complete Jade’s nursery and only a day for Zephyr and Aura’s room. And if you want to create your own DIY wall mural, Wassall has some tips. 

“Go for it, don’t hold back, and don’t be afraid, as it’s only paint! It can easily be changed,” Wassall writes. “Expect it will take longer than you imagined, take the time to map it out properly and be patient; two to three layers of paint with drying time can really eat into your day. Color is key, play around with various palates and shades before you jump into painting the walls.”

And when the rooms were finally done — their reactions were priceless. Wassall shares that Aura and Zephyr loved having a say in the colors and being able to help paint. Because she painted Jade’s nursery when he was a baby, his reaction was slightly delayed. “The other day, he was curious to know why I painted his room to feel like the ocean,” Wassall writes. “I love that he has been pondering this thought to himself as he wakes up surrounded by so much color each morning.”

Even though Wassall’s children’s initial reactions were great, she felt that the murals continue to leave an even bigger impact on their everyday lives. “To see their bedrooms come to life with color and shape, and for the kids to start each day with so much joy and inspiration is pretty special to see,” she shares. 

Resource List

Jade’s Nursery

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