United Kingdom

The women using lockdown to paint beautiful wall designs to give families a whole new world

Driven up the wall on lockdown? These women painted them instead – and gave their families a whole new world.

Our little girl is charmed by this farm

Bea Harford, 37, runs a B&B and lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire, with her husband, Harry, 40, a surveyor, and their daughter Poppy, two. They are expecting another baby this spring. Bea says

When we bought our home in 2017, I was pregnant, but we didn’t know the sex of the baby. 

Bea Harford wanted something that was unisex, and not too babyish so that it would continue to remain interesting as her children grew up

So when it came to decorating the nursery, we wanted something that was unisex, and not too babyish so that it would remain interesting to our little one as they grew up. I decided a farmyard would be lovely. 

But when I couldn’t find appropriate wallpapers, it got me thinking about having a bespoke mural. 

Trying to find someone to paint one proved challenging but, eventually, I found local artist Holly English. She took photos of our dogs, sheep and alpacas, and I gave her some of the horse and tractor. 

Poppy used to lay in her cot chatting to the horse, and now says ‘bye bye’ to the dogs when she leaves the room

Then she mocked up a design. It cost £600 and took Holly four days to complete the mural. 

She drew the scene freehand on to the wall in pencil, painted it and, finally, sealed it with a top coat that we can wipe clean. 

We were bowled over by the finished mural, which has so much detail, including ladybirds, snails, and squirrels, our five dogs and horse Betty — and even my husband Harry at the wheel of the tractor in the distance. 

It has brought the room to life. Poppy used to lay in her cot chatting to the horse, and now says ‘bye bye’ to the dogs when she leaves the room. 

She’ll share her bedroom with the new baby when he or she arrives.

I love my special seascape that seizes the senses

Natasha Durgan, 42, is a teacher and lives in Milton Keynes with her husband, Daniel, who works for a construction consultancy, and their two sons aged 19 and 11. Natasha says: 

During gloomy weather or tough times, looking out of the window can sometimes be a bit depressing. But I only have to gaze at the huge seascape mural that I hand-painted in my conservatory and I’m transported back to happy holidays abroad. 

The 5m-wide mural is inspired by photos I took on breaks in Italy, Ibiza and Croatia. I had never been any good at drawing or painting, but three years ago I decided I’d like to improve as a bit of a hobby. 

Natasha Durgan was determined to try her hand at painting, and told the bold move in creating a stunning sea scape in the family conservatory, inspired by holidays to Croatia and Italy

I ended up devouring library books in a bid to teach myself. I had noticed the wallpaper in the conservatory of our four-bedroom home was starting to peel off. So, feeling brave, I ripped it all off and put my newly learned skills to the test by painting a mural. 

There was no question that I’d paint the sea and mountains because I miss both. But rather than risk making a mess, first I practised on a canvas measuring 60cm by 60cm. That’s when I realised I also wanted to add in 3D Roman-style columns. 

After sketching the scene on the walls, I ­created them using huge amounts of plaster of Paris, which I applied directly to the walls using a trowel and palette knives to shape it. You have to work quickly because it dries extremely fast. 

I used household emulsion mixed with water-soluble oil paints for the rest of the mural. In all it cost around £200. For six weeks, I painted whenever I had a spare moment, often working on it from 9am to 6pm at the weekend. 

I’m quite proud of the result. Friends and family imagine they are standing somewhere sunny with a cocktail in their hand. My husband and sons love it, but tease me that our house is starting to feel like an art museum. 

This enchanted forest is straight out of a fairytale

Paulette Hookins, 34, is a learning support worker and lives in Gillingham, Dorset, with her husband Graham, 35, a broadcast engineer, and their daughter Indie, eight. Paulette says: 

When we moved into our four bedroom house, we asked Indie what she’d like the decor of her new bedroom to be and she told me: ‘Mummy, I want to open my eyes every morning and wake up in a fairy-tale forest.’ 

She loves being outdoors, and adores dinosaurs and climbing trees as much as she loves fairies, so we needed to capture this. I found local artist Justyna Birk, who specialises in beautiful paintings of trees. 

Paulette Hookins followed up on her daughter Indie's wishes and commissioned an enchanted forest, spanning all four walls of the bedroom and showcasing stunning imagination

Fake grass was also placed down in the room to help set the scene. The entire design cost £400 and took local artist Justyna Birk six weeks to complete

She talked me through her ideas, then, without so much as a sketch, she painted freehand onto the walls using acrylic paints. It cost about £400 and took six weeks for her to complete the room. It just blew me away. There were gorgeous trees, a secret fairy house inside a tree and even a waterfall! 

My husband Graham suggested we put down fake grass. We chose one that looks like meadow grass and is easy to vacuum. We also bought Indie a cabin-style bed to resemble a woodland den, and accessorised the room with glow-in-the-dark mushrooms and fairy lights. 

Indie’s reaction was magical. She stood there with her mouth wide open. We’re now decorating the rest of the house and are tempted to have murals in other rooms, too.

Flower scene is growing on my family

Lucy Tiffney, 52, is an artist and wallpaper designer (lucytiffneyshop. com) and lives in Colchester, Essex, with her husband and their two children aged 21 and 17. Lucy says: 

Every day, when I walk into my home office, I feel uplifted by the gorgeous, brightly coloured mural I hand-painted on the large wall behind my desk. 

With ferns and flowers in shades of pink, green and blue, it reminds me of holidays in warmer climes and is a wonderful way to bring the outdoors in — never more so than in these challenging times. 

Lucy Tiffney loves to experiment with gorgeous, brightly coloured designs and created this botanical mural to bring an uplifting experience to the room

As a child, I painted a mural of Snoopy on the interior wall of a friend’s garage, and while studying art A-level, my parents allowed me to paint a David Hockney-esque swimming pool mural on the wall of their home studio, so I’ve never been afraid of painting big. 

Three years ago I was inspired to paint my own wall mural in my office. I’m drawn to plants and bright colours so knew that’s what I wanted to paint — but I didn’t sketch out my design on a notepad or canvas first. 

I just painted freehand straight on to the wall using household emulsion paint and acrylic paints. Giving myself free rein over the wall was an incredibly liberating experience. If I made a mistake, I simply painted over it in white emulsion and started again, so it was enormous fun. 

The mural wall measures 4m wide by 3m high and took me a day-and-a-half to complete. I have since been commissioned to paint murals in restaurants and garden centres, and have developed some of them into a range of homeware for Debenhams. 

The mural wall measures 4m wide by 3m high and took a day-and-a-half to complete

At home, I’ve got another mural in an archway in my kitchen that’s a similar botanical design to the one in my office, and I’ve painted them on my kitchen cupboard doors too. 

My husband and kids often joke: ‘Don’t leave her in the house alone with a paint brush and a blank surface!’ 

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