Want to make your walls come alive? A mural will do the trick

By: LUKORITO W JONES

Tired of plain, boring walls?

Perhaps it’s time to bring them to life, suggests Nairobi-based artist and interior designer Sam Esen.

His suggestion?

Murals.

A mural, Mr Esen explains, is an idea conceptualised and drawn on a wall. “A wall mural is a great way to turn a mundane and lifeless home or workspace into a vibrant or serene environment that inspires and awes. Murals add an instant focal point to your premises while accentuating personality and adding value to the space,” he explains.

But while murals make for a truly unique space, Mr Esen notes that Kenyans have not really taken to them.

“The average Kenyan is quite conservative when it comes to interior design options, so very few have been bold enough to incorporate, say, graffiti murals in their living rooms.”

However, the trend is changing in tandem with the fashion industry. The artiste, who has been specialising in graffiti murals since 2000, says that murals are catching on.

Since the mural decide on should please both you and your guests, choosing a design might take a little effort. It might seem like a daunting task, but with a few simple tips, conceptualising a mural can be quite easy.

The first, and perhaps the most crucial step, is to select a qualified mural artist. “This is the person you’ll work closely with during the entire process of turning the idea in your mind into an image on the wall. This might take weeks and involves a lot of communication, so you need an artist or a team that you can relate to well.”

JUVENILE GRAFFITI

Since the trend is relatively new, there aren’t many qualified mural artists; Mr Esen estimates that there are about 30 in the whole county, a fifth of whom are based in Nairobi. So you will have to book a date with the artist days in advance since they have very busy schedules.

To come up with a concept, you can flip through magazines, check out designs at colleagues’ apartments, or browse the Internet for that captivating design. But the easiest way to decide on a mural design, Mr Esen asserts, is to go with what your heart tells you.

“The safest bet is always to pick something you are enthusiastic about. Be it hiking, love, religion, music, photography let your murals speak for you. Your walls should show your — or your organisation’s — passion,” he says, adding that most of his clients go for designs with traditional African themes and cultures.

“While some designs might be seen as hip and cool, they might be construed as juvenile, or even as a sign of rebellion, by others. I have encountered this kind of conflict in ideologies, mostly with graffiti murals,” says the artist.

In order to avoid this, it is important to also consider ideas from all the main users of a room.

For bedrooms, serene and soft designs are more appropriate. Children mostly prefer murals themed on their favourite superheroes. But you can enhance their learning opportunity by including educational diagrams such as the world map.

“Basically, you can place your mural anywhere within the premises, but there are some strategic places where the painting will serve a distinct purpose,” observes Mr Esen.

The foyer or entryway, for instance, provides an opportunity to deliver a great first impression. Here, it easily catches your guests’ eyes and can serve as an ice-breaker for starting conversations. You can also add excitement to an otherwise humdrum staircase by adding a mural on the adjacent wall. The perimeter wall is another great surface that you can turn into a canvas and even use to practice and impart art skills to your children.

REAL ART

When it comes to colour schemes, Mr Esen advises that one consider the existing decor as a guide so that the interiors look cohesive. A home-owner should consider how the existing furniture and fittings will fit into the overall theme. The branches of a tree in the mural, for example, can be drawn so they seem to extend outwards towards a wooden chair in the room.

By: designing the wall murals in line with the existing decor, an artist is also able to create an illusion of bigger space by using landscape or panoramic designs that add depth to a space.

You can also circumvent the intensive weeks of crafting the perfect mural on your wall and have a pre-printed design brought to you by an interior designer.

Notably, while Mr Esen acknowledges the pre-printed murals look neater, he insists that using spray cans, paintbrushes and pencils is the better option. ”People appreciate ‘real’ art more than giant stickers,” he says.

It doesn’t always have to be an image up your wall. “You can strive to make a statement by instead having a cherished quote or scripture verse that inspires both the dwellers and the guests on a daily basis,” he suggests.

“Murals are not only the focal point of your decor and complement your space, but also ensure that you remain trendy while expressing your creative style,” he says.