Published on October 10, 2022 by Ryan Castillo, in this original article
Whether you just moved into an apartment in Chicago, IL, or bought a brownstone home in Brooklyn, NY, you may be itching to decorate your space and transform your home into something you’ve always dreamed of. However, cramped apartments or awkward spaces can oftentimes make it hard to design based on your vision. Luckily, a great workaround that not many people consider is creating a mural to help those spaces work better with your overall aesthetic.
Murals can transform an odd or small space in your apartment into an eye-catching statement piece. Whether it’s a nature mural or a geometric mural, there are many designs for you to choose from that will fit the style you’re going for. If you’re considering putting up a mural and don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. We reached out to artists and muralists across the country for their favorite mural ideas. Keep reading to see what mural designs they had to share.
1. Spruce up your kid’s room with a nature mural
One of the best places to have a mural installed is a kid’s room. A nature design can help bring cohesion by introducing an overall theme to the room.
“A perfect spot to have some fun with painting walls in your house is in a kid’s room or playroom,” shares Haley Badenhop, an artist and muralist based in Jackson Hole. “I just finished up painting a colorful mountain mural to cover the entire wall of a girl’s room that three sisters share, and it brought a new sense of joy to the space.”
Her recommendation for something unique when painting nature murals is to use an uncommon color palette or incorporate geometric lines and patterns.
2. Decorate your staircase with a floral mural
If you love flowers, why not decorate your staircase with a floral mural comprised of your favorites?
Megan Jefferson of Jefferson Art Studio based in Indianapolis notes, “A floral mural that winds up a staircase is a beautiful addition to any home. The mural helps the space remain light and airy but adds some whimsy and beauty as you climb or descend the stairs.”
Some flowers that make beautiful murals include roses, daisies, carnations, and peonies.
Photo courtesy of Jefferson Art Studio
3. Go bold with checkerboard print in the bathrooms and kitchen
Whether it reminds you of an old-school diner or a game of chess, checkerboard print can bring a sense of timelessness into your home. “Checkerboard print is great because it adds a splash of color while remaining clean and modern. With just a ruler, masking tape, and an accent color, you can add checkerboard print to any room. This print is especially cute in bathrooms and kitchens,” remarks Amy Lewis of Amy Lewis Fine Art.
4. Select your favorite plants and flowers for your bathroom
Joanna Perry, an experienced muralist based out of Cheshire recommends, “Paint a rainforest jungle wall mural. It’s a great way to bring in nature, and you can pick your favorite plants and flowers. It can go perfectly in a large family bathroom.” Painting a rainforest is a great way to bring the feeling you are under a canopy in your home.
5. You could also create a bouquet of flowers for your headboard
If you’re looking for a way to bring art in a subtle way into your bedroom, consider a floral headboard.
“A floral-inspired mural at the headboard of your bed can be a really beautiful and unique way to transform your space,” shares Emma Daisy, a Milwaukee-based artist. “Keep the design simple and organic in shape, even spilling the design onto the ceiling can create a dynamic canopy effect. Whether it be a more sophisticated muted palette or more youthful bold pops of color, it can instantly elevate your bedroom.”
6. Bring the outside into your kitchen and dining room
Looking for a way to merge your indoor and outdoor spaces? Here’s how.
“My clients usually have me paint in their interior kitchen or dining room spaces to bring the outside in,” shares Jenny Leonard, a muralist based in the UK. “During the cold winter months, having naturally painted trees or plants in bloom brightens up the space and brings light and color even to dark corners.”
Photo courtesy of Jenny Leonard
7. Seascape your bedroom for a calm feeling
Painting a seascape in your bedroom is a great way to bring a sense of peace and calm into your space. Sojourn Artist, a San Diego artist who focuses on unique, dream-based art raves, “An ambient deep-seascape, as an accent wall or wrap-around mural in the bedroom will submerge you in serenity as you sleep or rest. The color blue is known to evoke calmness, peace, and boost creative thoughts. Forget all your stresses, take a dive with the fishes.”
8. Look up and paint a zodiac mural
Walls aren’t the only place you can install a mural. Robin Slonina, a multi-disciplinary artist recommends you look up.
“The ceiling is an often overlooked area that can provide unexpected beauty and can open up a dark or cramped space. Ceiling murals have been popular since the Renaissance. You can update the concept, like with this Zodiac mural I created for a client, or create a swirling galaxy with day-glo stars for a child’s room.”
Photo courtesy of Robin Slonina
9. Paint an alternate reality on a large exterior wall
The Delusional Artist shares, “Do you have a random giant wall coming into the entrance of your home that you can’t fill with any artwork sufficiently? Or an equally random ugly outdoor wall or object that you can’t hide? How about a mural that pictures your home and family in an alternate reality, where any creature or world is possible; your own fantasy realm.” Painting an alternate reality is a great way to showcase something unique in your apartment.
10 Bring peace into your entryway with a Koi mural
“Consider painting a koi mural. It would make the perfect mural for an entryway and will bring peace and good vibes into your home,” says Jeremy Novy Stencils.
Koi are a type of carp that come in a variety of different colors. Their intricate designs can add the perfect splash of color to any room.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Novy Stencils
11. Showcase your culture in your small space
Murals by Becka, an Austin-based muralist says, “A mural highlighting your specific personal culture in a hallway can transform a small space, make it your own, and create creative drama in an unexpected place. I have helped collaborate with clients to bring what they love most about their beloved culture to their space – from the lush jungles of India to the deeply personal symbolisms of west Africa.”
12. Show off your studio apartment with a graffiti mural
If you’re looking for a unique mural idea for your home, consider a graffiti mural.
“I get asked to create unique graffiti murals for homes all the time since it’s a great way to make a space more colorful and fun. The great thing about spray can murals is that they can be sprayed directly onto uneven or unexpected surfaces like furniture or doors and help hide them in plain sight. From playful kids’ rooms to an edgy young professionals studio apartment, graffiti art is a great way to show off your creative side and wow your guests,” raves Los Angeles-based artist Man One Art.
Photo courtesy of Man One Art
13. Create a collaborative community mural
If community is a big part of your life, consider bringing your community into your home. “Consider creating a ‘commUnity’ mural in the living room,” suggests Kyle Holbrook of MLK Mural. “When you move in, have everyone (who helped you move or at a housewarming party) paint positive messages. It is important to dedicate one wall or tap off a 4′ x 8′ area. Then after everyone writes their messages, you can tape shapes over them and use transparent or watered-down colors on top of the messages. Simply take off all the tape, and you have your own community mural.”
14. Bring in a tropical vibe as an office backdrop
Wishing you were in the tropics? Bring the beach into your office.
“A homeowner can paint a tropical mural in their home or as an office as a backdrop. Simply create a sketch that includes your favorite tropical palms and leaves, add an accent color and throw in some floating shapes. You can trace or project it on your accent wall and feel free to paint the leaves as one flat color or add depth by using light and shadow,” shares The International Muralist.
Photo courtesy of The International Muralist
15. Escape to the beach with a mural in your bedroom
Whether you’re missing the sand of Oahu or the shores of Seaside, you can bring a little piece of the beach to your home through a mural.
“A fun way to spruce up your bedroom with a fun mural is one that takes you to the beach. Creating a mural on your bedroom wall that looks like you’re stepping out of French doors into paradise is a great way to bring the beauty of the beach, bedside. Make sure you’re colors are bright gradients leading into the water, then sand, and add in a few palm trees for depth,” recommends Stina Aleah, an oil painter.
Tips for selecting the right mural for a small apartment
Geometric murals are more friendly toward rooms
Beautify Earth, a non-profit that paints murals in various communities notes, “In general, geometric murals are more likely to work in more rooms than any other style because they can be considerate to the angles, and degree of complexity of the room in strategic ways. While this can give a balanced feeling and sense of flow throughout the apartment, hallways work great because they connect corridors between the architectural geometry of your home.”
Studio Haydon, a private art and design firm adds, “A great way to add a pop of color to your space, without being too committed, is a fun geometric/linework design as an accent wall in your restroom or entryway. Something that will draw the eye either to your design or additional artwork is always a plus. Even the most simple murals can add dimension to your space – don’t feel the need to overcomplicate it.”
Don’t forget a mural changes the look and feel of a room
“Add some space, drama, and fun to your small space with a mural. Did you know a mural actually adds the look and feel of space to your room? Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you have to have white boring walls,” shares The Bay Area Muralist.
Photo courtesy of The Bay Area Muralist
Go with bright, saturated colors
“It’s well known that bright, saturated colors may enhance a person’s mood,” shares Golden Paint Works. “Used in small spaces like a kitchen, work-study, under a stairway, or on a piece of furniture, fun, bright colors may encourage positive energy, harmony, creativity, and serenity. Try a solid color to turn an area under a staircase into a reading nook, or let your creativity flow by creating a checkerboard “frame” or “quilt” art to define a work area in a kitchen.”
Create a mural board on Pinterest
UXD Murals recommends, “Before going straight painting, we’d suggest jumping on Pinterest, searching home murals, and pinning a few you like. Then try to replicate a few of them on paper.”
Use different art styles in your murals
“I created this mural using an abstract, geometric design. I wanted the colors to dance with each other to enhance the space and bring this living section back to life. The blank wall was transformed through spray paint, stencils, tape, and markers to unite different art styles. It’s important that murals speak to the surrounding space while conveying its purpose,” says Marco Santini.
Photo courtesy of Marco Santini
Go with a high-impact location
“As an artist who has done countless art installations in residences, having a mural in a high-impact location is always the best way to go. Having an artist hand-paint inside your home is a very unique and personalized accent. Ideally, the mural will be installed in a location visible to most guests. The only downside is you can’t take the art with you when you move,” notes artist Pedro Amos. Stay practical, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box “When you’re thinking of a location for a mural in your home, don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to every element: colors, size and design. However, stay practical. Is this something you’ll want to see every day, or would you rather have a pleasant ‘surprise’ every now and then,” shares Keyonna ‘KAYEMJAY6‘ Jones, a creative. And when in doubt, don’t worry about perfect lines “Perfect lines are overrated,” notes Debbie Clapper of gneural, a surface design studio. “Ditch the masking tape and freehand perfectly imperfect, oversized, two-tone geometric patterns on the living room wall. Bring the urban art indoors with natural, human-quality lines creating a mix of museum and street.”