No Thanks
Keep In Touch With

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.


Make Your Own Murals




A mural can solve a number of decorating quandaries: It can make a cramped interior feel more expansive or give a large, stark room a sense of intimacy. And where windows are lacking, it can present a fanciful view of the outdoors. With imagination, a few easy-to-find materials, and a little bit of courage, you can use basic techniques to transform rooms of your own.




  • Paper and pencil
  • Acrylic latex house paint in a dark, neutral color (we used a brownish gray)
  • Flat-bristle paintbrushes in various sizes
  • Chalk
  • Water
  • Painter's palette
  • Clean, wet rags
  • A variety of natural sponges
  • Stencil templates, optional (cypress leaves, houses, cows, and sailboats)


  1. Step 1

    Sketch the mural on paper as a guide. Choose an imaginary light source -- the direction from which it shines will determine placement of highlights and shadows.

  2. Step 2

    Prepare the wall, painting it with a very pale shade to color the lightest areas (highlights and sky) of your mural. When the paint is dry, use chalk to outline the mountains, water, and other background features. With a very thin dilution of paint (test the color on your palette), fill in those shapes. Represent water by leaving areas unpainted and then going over them with a faint wash of paint for a hint of reflection. Increase paint concentration as you move to the foreground.

  3. Step 3


    Using a clean, wet rag, remove paint to make highlights and blend transitions between shades of paint. If desired, darken shadows with brush.

  4. Step 4


    Next, use chalk to draw trees over background. Trace chalk lines with a dark solution of paint, using a medium-tip brush for foreground trees and a small-tip brush for those in the background. Then, with your fingertip and a wet rag, wipe away highlights along branches.

  5. Step 5


    Create middle-ground foliage by bushing: Dip the tip of a dry, flat-bristle brush in a light concentration of paint, then jab it on palette until bristles separate. Repeat jabbing motion against wall to create foliage. Continue (jab brush on palette each time you dip), layering with darker paint to add depth.

  6. Step 6


    For larger, foreground foliage, dab a natural sponge dipped in a 50 percent concentration of paint on wall around branches. Alternate sponges to vary texture; use darker paint for shadows and denser areas.

  7. Step 7


    Create shadows beneath trees by dry-brushing: Dip a small, dry brush in a dark paint, then wipe it on palette to remove most of the paint. Cast fading shadows by using a quick, scrubbing motion against the wall.

  8. Step 8


    Draw foreground fern and grass shapes with chalk. Go over lines with a round-tip brush and dark (undiluted) paint. Use short, simple strokes for leaves.

  9. Step 9

    Finish by using stencil templates to add small details, such as cypress leaves, houses, cows, or sailboats, if desired.

Martha Stewart Living, September 2002



Reviews (2)

  • JayneLynn 27 Sep, 2014

    I tackled this project in 2003 when I moved into our new home. The article's directions were easy, and I loved that it was monochromatic: perfect for someone with limited artistic experience. I chalked in major outlines first in my stairwell, then just followed the article's clear directions. It is one of the first things that guests see, and they often ask whom I hired to do it. Now I would love a simple technique for how to easily paint tree ROOTS for the basement stairwell!

  • Angela Shiraishi 24 Jul, 2014

    I've saved this issue specifically for the mural article for 12 years and I think I'm ready to try it in my dining room! The one I want to create is the stamped trees and foliage mural designed by Thomas Eberharter but I can't find any pictures of the complete room anywhere. Does anyone know what home the Japanese screen mural was painted in and where I can see photos of the finished project? The magazine only show one wall segment and I would love to see it all. Wish me luck!!