Before and After: A Primary Bedroom Lacking in 1970s Style Gets It All Back With an Easy-to-Replicate Sunset Mural

published Mar 29, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
White, plain bedroom before redecorating/mural painting

When you’re starting with a blank canvas of a room, it doesn’t take a lot of paint or time to make a huge impact. A mural can turn it into something worthy of a viral TikTok, or it can simply transport you through time and space — no internet posting required. 

Chelsea Manzo (@chelseazoart) faced an empty room when she moved into her 1978 home. The previous owner had held onto it for over four decades, creating a time capsule of that era in all but the primary bedroom. Instead, its popcorn ceilings, plain white walls, and beige carpet were lacking the fun design risks of the 1970s, and just seemed tired and sad. It needed a spark of energy to bring it up to Chelsea’s aesthetic standards, since she happens to be a graphic designer with an eye for groovy lettering and desert-inspired color palettes. 

She knew a mural was the solution, but despite Chelsea’s artistic talents, this wasn’t something she’d tackled before. “I’m a graphic designer, not a muralist or painter,” she says. “The idea of a mural was a little daunting, but I chose something with simple shapes so it felt manageable.”

She came up with an interpretation of a sand dune and sketched it out on the largest wall in the room. “I like color and I want my home to be fun,” she notes.

Once the sketch was in place, Chelsea got to work. She chose a bold palette, and even though she was initially concerned that the shades might be too dark, they ended up creating the perfect deep-hued sunset across an open expanse. Painting the mural took one full day, and if Chelsea were to do it again, she would continue the deep red shadow of the sand onto the wall behind her bed.

As it turns out, the mural was only the beginning of this vibrant project. It took two years of collecting and styling peace signs, macrame, and textiles to arrive at the bohemian dream it is today. 

“I love the eclectic feel of the room,” Chelsea says. “I didn’t run out and furnish and decorate all in one go. I took my time and found things I loved little by little until it all came together.”

And here’s a shopping secret she personally recommends: “The kids’ section is where all the fun stuff is at,” Chelsea notes. 

Looking back on the project, Chelsea’s biggest tip is simple: She advises budding muralists to prepare for two coats of paint in any situation. “Spend money on good brushes,” she adds. “They really make all the difference when you’re trying to do clean lines.”

And if you’re anything like Chelsea, your first mural will only kick start a flurry of painting projects. “I have four murals in my home now,” she says. “I painted a rainbow on my outdoor shed, a super-graphic on a brick wall in my den, and a floral mural in our guest bedroom. I like to make statements that make me smile,” Chelsea says.