Hand-Painted Chinoiserie Bath Mural

Have you seen all the Chinoiserie-style wall coverings in home decor magazines?  Everywhere I look, I spy gorgeous spaces filled with exquisite hand-painted wallpaper by de Gounay or Gracie. I was so excited when a like-minded client had me paint a Chinoiserie-style mural in their guest bathroom.

Chinoiserie ("sheen-wah-zuh-ree") is a French term meaning Chinese-esque or in the Chinese style.  It can apply to any Western decorative object whose style imitates traditional Chinese art (think porcelain, lacquered furniture, foo dogs, bamboo, etc).  The craze originated in Europe in the 17- and 1800s, when people went wild for objects inspired by the "Orient" (also see Japonisme).  

For me, it's all about the walls!  

This bathroom was meant to coordinate with the adjoining guest bedroom.  The bath was previously painted a bright coral red.  You can see that their can of paint matches the bedroom fabrics nicely:

...but the all-over coral semi-gloss paint created a Red Light Special effect when guests looked in the mirror.  Not ideal.  Here is a before-and-after of what a person looks like in the red bath vs. chinoiserie bath:

I started out painting a very light pink base color that has a just a touch of coral.  Thanks to Benjamin Moore's Aura line of paint, this covered the existing bright red in one coat. 

Then I painted a faux linen effect with an almond-colored glaze on the four side walls.  The wallpapers I channeled as inspiration are painted on silk, so I wanted the subtle look of fabric to ground this mural.

Of course, a person wouldn't use silk wall coverings in a small humid bathroom.  Instead, mildew-resistant paint works beautifully!  Here is a branch extending over one side of the shower:

The research for this Chinoiserie project could have gone on forever... there are so many options!  We chose a simple floral motif.  For our palette, we kept small pops of the original coral so the bathroom still coordinates with the bedroom.  

It was especially fun to develop cute little details, like this bird:

And little Chinese-style flat chrysanthemums:

linen flower detail.jpg

Last but not least, we can't forget little details around the toilet.

I can't wait to do another mural in this style!

Oh - and a fun little 2-minute progress video for your viewing pleasure:

Peaceful Nursery Mural: Painting & Process

You've already seen the glittering and beautiful "After" photos of this nursery.  I love them so much that I couldn't withhold them - they had to be the first post!  But this is an artist's website… I'm not a photographer.  Let's talk about that mural!  Who, what, when, where, why, how...

I can't believe I've been sitting on these images for so long.  This was a BIG project for me over the summer.  It became much more complicated and time-consuming than expected, and I had a moving deadline, so I was working at least 12-hour days at my client's home.  (They must have thought I was such a weirdo.)  Since I often wrapped up at night, a lot of my photos have strange lighting, and color was hard to capture… so please forgive the poor photography.

Well, now that I've got you REALLY excited… may I present the makeover of this very special nursery!

My client was starting from a real mess… dark wood paneled walls, little light, and a temporary storage space for family hand-me-downs/clutter.

Luckily, they had a vision.  They began by clearing the room - no small feat!

They'd seen a beautiful nursery on theprettyblog.com and loved the wallpaper… to an extent.  My client wanted a neutral nursery - no pink.  We tried to research the wallpaper in the blog post, but it wasn't cited, and we couldn't find it anywhere else.  So, we decided that I would just paint it myself from scratch!

My client and I pored over paint swatches and selected a nice neutral to cover the room.  Since the walls were originally wood paneling, they would have made a horrible surface for a detailed mural…

Enter Steven Blanchard: he painted the room in our soft neutral color and filled in the cracks on one wall to make a nice, smooth surface for me.  He also painted the baseboard and crown moulding a bright, clean white.  (He was fantastic to work with - I highly recommend him to anyone in the Louisville area!)

Next, I tested lots and lots of paint samples to find the perfect neutral metallic for the room.  As you can imagine, metallics are tricky, and look different in different spaces, at different times of day, etc.  Here you can see just one test, where I was diluting some gold with the brown I was using in the branches.  I ended up using champagne instead of gold but you get the idea!

After testing my paint and creating the perfect shades, I started by free handing the dark brown branches.

I had planned to freehand the entire mural because I freehanded the pink floral mural, which was totally awesome.  However, I didn't account for the fact that this new mural had a much more precise style.  I finished half of one brown branch in one day.

!!!  I'll repeat… I finished half of one brown branch in one day.

There are five brown branches, four and two halves of the metallic branches, and then blossoms.  So that meant I was… 1/22 done? And I had allotted myself four days for this?  Nuh-uh.  Something had to change.  So I finagled a pattern for myself:

This was messy and complicated but it got the job done.  With pencil lines in place, I was able to bust through the brown branches much faster:

Then I came in between with metallic branches.  These are meant to be very subtle - you only notice them when the light catches them just right.

Finally, I added little white and tan blossoms to the brown branches.  So sweet!


Love that soft metallic sheen:

Here's the future grandma holding up the new bedding against the mural-in-progress:

We were getting so excited!!

Here is the nursery as I left it that summer:

Along with a little purse-sized sample board with her paint colors on it, so she could take it to stores and match it to any new baby things she might need to buy.  :)

And a fun little before-and-after to remind us of how far we've come!

Peaceful Nursery Mural: Bringing Home Baby

What better way to kick off blog posts in 2015 than with one of my all-time favorite projects from last year?

I'm doing this a little backwards, because I can't hold back on these new pictures...

I painted this custom nursery mural in the late summer of 2014.  It's embarrassing that I haven't posted the pictures from that yet!  I was waiting until I could snap a few photos with some furniture, and maybe some family members.  Boy, am I glad that I waited...

It was such a joy to see this mama and her baby girl enjoying the nursery together!  I love the way the metallic details catch the light ever-so-subtly… I wonder if a baby's vision can appreciate that, too?

The entire room is full of soft, cozy, neutrals, just like my client envisioned.  

They have a beautiful home with stunning architectural details, but this room underwent a MAJOR transformation… it started out pretty rough.  Fear not: the most challenging projects end up being the ones we're most proud of!  Check back tomorrow to see the before and after!

P.S. Does this mama look familiar to you?  

She's the eldest daughter in the "Towheaded Trio" portrait from last summer!  

I have to tell you, it gave me goosebumps to work on a portrait of Toddler Annie while planning her own daughter's future nursery.  (Cue the "Circle of Life" theme music…)  I'm so grateful to have been able to work on both projects… so VERY different, but I absolutely adore them both!  

Thanks for sharing your nursery with us, Annie, and congratulations on your newest addition!

Floral Nursery Mural

painterly floral mural title

I just completed my favorite project ever.

painterly floral mural

Our darling friends Tom and Sarah recently had the most precious baby girl, Eliza.  You may remember them from this Stork post.


Sarah and I collaborated on a Pinterest board to collect images of painterly flowers that we liked.  Our favorite was a beautiful illustration by artist Laura Dro.  Below, you can see how we manipulated the inspiration image.  I'm a real Photoshop novice, so forgive me if these look crude, but the graphic below shows how I colorized the image into monochrome pinks and then changed the scale until Sarah and I liked the size of the flowers.

Original inspiration image from artist  Laura Dro .

Original inspiration image from artist Laura Dro.

Then I got to work!

So grateful for painter's tape!

So grateful for painter's tape!

I tried to balance the white and pink flowers, and round and spiky shapes.

I tried to balance the white and pink flowers, and round and spiky shapes.

I loved adding the abstract leaves to the background space… it really unified the mural and gave it a human touch.

I loved adding the abstract leaves to the background space… it really unified the mural and gave it a human touch.

Peeling off tape is the best!!

Peeling off tape is the best!!

nursery mural with furniture

And you know how I love detail shots...

mural detail ferns
mural detail outlet
mural detail bird

I am so happy to provide a soft, sweet space for this baby girl.  

sarah and eliza

They have the most darling family.  I hope this mural helps their new house feel even more like a home.

roeske family mural