One Room Challenge

Before and After: A $100 Paint Project Gives This Plain Guest Room the Look of Pricey Wallpaper

published Dec 12, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: a white room with a room and painters tape along the edges of the walls and windows
Credit: Lianne Luce

Whether a junk drawer, a closet or a spare bedroom, everyone has a spot in their house where excess clutter collects. For DIYer Lianne Luce, that’s exactly the purpose her spare guest room served. The plain, all-white space was home to all of the items Lianne wanted to keep, but didn’t know where to put.

Credit: Lianne Luce

But eventually she grew tired of looking at all of that stuff and decided to transform the room into what she’d always envisioned it as: the perfect nursery. “It’s the perfect size to become a nursery/playroom down the road,” says Lianne. “But for now, I just wanted to clean it out and paint a forest and sky mural.”

It was an idea she had been mulling around for years. “I’d been wanting to paint a forest mural in this room since we bought the house a few years ago.” The plan was to paint a sky mural on all four walls and a forest mural on two of the walls.

Lianne took on the project as part of the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, using her eight weeks to transform the room from blank to breathtaking.

Credit: Lianne Luce

To execute, Lianne scoured Pinterest for inspiration, came up with a color palette and Photoshopped a mockup of the sky and forest mural she wanted to paint. Then came the hard part: cleaning out the room and prepping it for painting.

Credit: Lianne Luce

Once it was time to paint, Lianne first outlined the cloud shapes for the background of the mural, then blended the sky blue colors with the lighter, white clouds. “It took quite a bit of time, as well as some trial and error to figure out the best method to paint the sky,” she says. “So I came up with a paint by letter/number system for the forest mural overlay for the two walls I was painting it on.” The light blue sky and clouds appear on all the walls, while the forest is denser on two walls and tapers off on the others.

Over her sky, Lianne penciled the tree shapes and tree trunks with their respective labels and started painting the various base green colors for the foliage. “This took a bit of time, but definitely helped in the long run,” she explains. Finally, she finished painting all the base foliage colors and the tree trunks, then added the foliage and leaf patterns, as well as the details to the tree canopies.

Credit: Lianne Luce

The result is a room that’s equal parts cozy and whimsical, all for about $100 worth of paint. “It’s definitely a room I would have loved to have growing up,” says Lianne. “Each wall and corner is different, and that’s what keeps this room fun and interesting!”

While the space is not yet a nursery, it’s perfectly primed for the role — and in the meantime, the forest-and-sky design makes for a welcoming backdrop for adult visitors.

Credit: Lianne Luce

Although art skills are undeniably helpful to create this kind of masterpiece, Lianne says the key is really patience and planning. “Take your time to plan your design upfront — create a framework to work within,” she explains. “It wasn’t fun to pencil out all the foliage on the walls when all I wanted to do was start painting, but it definitely helped in the long run.”

This project was completed for the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.