Choosing Mural and Landscape Wallpapers


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In 18th and 19th century America, it was not uncommon for homes to have custom murals painted on the walls. Unfortunately, we don’t have any original murals in our house, which has sent me searching for period-appropriate, yet modern, wallpaper that could duplicate the look. Finding this … is not easy.

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Most murals of the era were landscapes. In New England, the most famous interior muralist was Rufus Porter, who was a scientist, inventor, artist and all-around renaissance man. Above is a beautiful mural in a home with tons of his work (I’m super jealous, see the whole tour on Design*Sponge).


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Porter had a primitive and altogether democratic style. It’s amazing how modern his work can look when it’s in a monochrome scheme, as above. So I might not be able to find a Porter-style mural precisely, but a monochrome landscape would still look historical-house-appropriate!

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Here is Martha Stewart painting a Porter-style mural in her first house. Of COURSE when Martha does this is comes out looking gorgeous. If I tried it would (best case scenario) come out looking like Hi-Ho Cherry-O.


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Apparently Martha’s original work wasn’t up to future-Martha standards because she had her mural replaced with this (beautiful) professionally hand-painted mural.

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Above, another hand-painted mural. Now, some of these lean a little ‘primitive’ for me. I like to have a clean, modern take on antique style. But, searching around, it turns out that the old doesn’t look so old after all …

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Above is a beautiful piece by Claude Lorrain, who died in 1682. It looks like so many of the mural papers you find today!

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And this, by John Constable, was done in the late 18th or early 19th century, and clearly inspires mural wallpapers you see today.

There are a lot of great sources for mural papers, but you have to keep an eye toward measurements and perspective – many (like those available on etsy and from Anthropolgie) are really meant for a statement wall – they’re very difficult to adapt to an entire room with doors, molding, etc. in 360 degrees, like in my buddy (I wish) Martha’s home, because they’re not continuous. Some also can look a little pixelated if done in a small space where you’re only seeing them up close.

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This is a really great example of a creative way to use a mural paper – this homeowner simply hung up a panel like a large-scale painting – makes for both a statement wall and an art piece you can take with you (perfect for renters).

Here are some of my favorite landscape-style mural papers that look fresh and modern, but work even in traditional homes:

  1. A beautiful, painterly landscape.
  2. Watercolor clouds reminiscent of John Constable’s work.
  3. Grisaille landscape mural, which would likely be best in a larger room, since reviews I’ve seen say it can be hard to take in up close.
  4. This looks almost like a pencil sketch!
  5. Lovely trees in gray and black. Also available in pink.
  6. This mural has the look of an oil painting.
  7. Stunning paper by Susan Harter, who has lots of mural papers done to custom sizes that look hand painted.
  8. Clouds mural with a beautiful color.
  9. Love the watercolor look on these trees. And this wallpaper comes removable or classic.

Which is your favorite?

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