Not Just a Modern Trend: Wall Mural Ideas Throughout History
Egyptian Tomb Paintings. In ancient Egypt, tombs were elaborately decorated to usher the dead comfortably into the afterlife. Featuring deities that offer protection, elaborate funerary rituals, and portrayals of a blissful existence on the other side, the murals were created to comfort and celebrate the individual who had already passed.
Ndebele House Painting. In the Ndebele tribe of South Africa, the women create elaborate geometric designs to adorn their homes. Dating back to the 18th century, the tradition was born after a war was lost with a neighboring tribe, bringing hard times and harsher punishments to the Ndebele people. It is thought that these expressive symbols were born from an expression of grief, quickly evolving into a more sophisticated system of communicating cultural resistance, prayer, marriage announcements, and more.
Scandinavian Painted Decor. Dating back to the time of the Vikings, Scandinavian-painted decor remained popular and in fashion until the late 19th century. The striking motifs were created to provide cheer and can be seen on furniture, ceilings, and even structural beams— as well as in churches and larger public institutions.
Saturn Devouring His Son. Even for its time, Francisco Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son” was an unlikely choice in home decor. But we love it all the same! One of the 14 so-called “Black Paintings”, the mythological masterpiece was a personal work created for private display, possibly reflecting the artist’s mindset after witnessing the violence and terror that was initiated by the Spanish Inquisition.
Trompe L’oeil. Although the term itself first appeared in the salons of 19th-century Paris, this illusionistic technique dates back thousands of years. In Ancient Greece and Rome, murals might depict a window, door, or hallway with the intention of suggesting a grander space while opulent materials such as marble and glass might be represented to further the impression of one’s wealth during the Renaissance.
Wall Mural Ideas for Contemporary Homes
Customized Landscapes. Is there a special place in nature that has significance to you? Why not bring it home! Artists like Charlotte Terrell specialize in creating custom wall murals to your specifications, allowing you to pick a specific landscape and immortalize it in the room of your choice.
Aquatic Whimsy. Looking to embrace your inner-mermaid? Consider transforming your space into an underwater palace with these mural ideas. Bold blue walls can mimic the ocean, and seashells can serve as adornment, allowing this concept to range from campy and childlike to playful and sophisticated. We also love how recreating natural environments allows us to play with textural elements like sand and surf.
Unique Abstractions. Sometimes, we know distinctly what we like but can’t put a finger on what we want. When you look around your home, do you notice that certain colors and palettes seem to repeat themselves? Then a beautiful abstract mural may be just the thing you’re looking for. Be brave: the showstopping piece will be sure to bring the room together.
Street Art and Graffiti. So popular that it’s become an undeniable part of the pop culture canon, graffiti art can be brought in from the streets to decorate your home. Customized stencils, colorful freeform abstracts, and bespoke murals can make even the most suburban home feel edgy and cool.
Where the Wild Things Are. Once again inspired by nature, an elaborate jungle theme can enliven a space and even lend an opulent, Great Gatsby-esque elegance to your home. Imagine the Tea Room in New York’s famed Plaza hotel, but kicked up a notch.
Homage to the Past. Are you mesmerized by the traditional frescos from the Old World? Great news: with modern technology and specialized artists, you don’t have the bank account of a Countess to recreate the look for yourself. From large scale narrative scenes to playful trompe l’oeil detailing, there are tons of ways to adapt this concept to your particular tastes.
Chinoiserie. Originating in 17th-century Europe, “Chinoiserie” was the western interpretation (and, ultimately, imitation) of predominantly Chinese artistic traditions. Although it reached its popularity during the 18th century, it remains a beacon of sophistication and elegance. Do you dream of escaping into your own secret garden? This mural would be a true work of art unto itself.
Golden Hours. When creating work on such a large scale, you also have an opportunity to put an emphasis on the background color. So why not let it shine – quite literally? Gold is synonymous with divinity and power and screams of luxury and success. Want to have a home fit for a king? Gold is a fabulous go-to.
Modern Stencils. Interested in a contemporary approach? Bold, geometric stencils are both refined while offering a whimsical, hand-painted touch. You can keep it simple by relying on a mere 2 or 3 colors, or go all-out psychedelic. The important thing is that your wall mural reflects your tastes, making it all about you.
Don’t Forget the Ceiling. Why stop with the walls when you can give the entire space the full treatment? You’re already going large, so dream big! Most mural designs can easily be extended along your ceiling, making a bold statement even bolder.
How to Find a Mural Artist
Look Around Your Own Neighborhood. Have you noticed that most cities and towns have an extra pop of color these days? Public art is on the rise, and our streets are becoming stunning galleries in their own right. Take yourself on a tour to see what’s new, and take note if anything feels like you’d love to bring it home. Oftentimes, the murals you’ll see are created by local artists: which means you can easily hire them to enliven your home. Just look for their names, or increasingly even their Instagram handles, to reach out directly and start a conversation. Even if the project doesn’t move forward, they’re sure to be touched by your appreciation of their work.
Know What You Want, but Trust the Artist. When you’re truly in love with what an artist does, it can be easy to say, “Just do what you want.” But unfortunately, this rarely works out because you likely have a vision or idea you’re eager to see play out. Before a conversation, think about what you want your space to say. How is this reflected in the artist’s work? You can even go through their portfolio and select pieces that feel especially resonant: this will give them a more precise idea of how to create the perfect piece, especially for you.
Talk Openly About Costs. Unfortunately, there’s no set price when it comes to art, and costs will vary wildly from artist to artist. Another thing you’ll need to consider? The amount of time it’ll take to make your vision come to life – from start to finish. That means everything from sketches to creating the final piece itself, a number of hours that, with straightforward and thorough communication, the artist should be able to establish to give you a quote fairly.
Do it Yourself. Do you pride yourself on your DIY skills? Why not really put them to the test! Even those of us that don’t have a gift for painting can make some exciting embellishments with a bit of thought and patience. Consider using cardboard to create stencils of simple organic shapes or use painter’s tape to create bold lines across your walls. You’d be amazed at what a few simple adornments can do to transform a space.
Feeling inspired and thinking about taking the plunge? What mural ideas draw you in? Scribble on our comment wall to let us know.