Family Tree Mural

Each time I visit my parents, I love to help my mom decorate her house. She has a ton of decorations, but she’s afraid to do anything with them that might be too permanent, like hanging pictures (nails in the wall terrify her), painting any colors on the walls (the walls have been white since they built their house 10 years ago), or putting up curtains and other window treatments. She wants to decorate, but she’s a little indecisive and needs some direction to help her out. Lucky for her, that’s my expertise.

Aside from finally painting the kitchen and living room (which I’ll post about later), there’s this really prominent wall in the living room that is massive and needs something on it. But since they built the house, nothing has ever been put on it. While visiting this summer, I decided to put an end to the big blank wall behind the couch.

I’ve made a lot of suggestions, and the one the finally stuck is a family tree mural.

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I picked up some sample sizes of paint from the paint store in colors that compliment the walls and current decor: 2 shades of brown and 2 shades of green. The samples cost $3 per color and there is plenty of paint in each.

Since my parents have 4 kids and we’re all married with kids of our own, I decided to make four branches–one for each of our individual families. I sketched the idea on paper first to present it to my mom and get her excited and confident in the idea.

I used a pencil to lightly draw the size and shape of the main parts of the tree onto the wall. Then I used wide paint brushes and the darker brown paint to get the trunk and branches in place. I went back with a finer artistic brush to finish the edges and tips of each branch, as well as paint on the leaves.

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I made sure to use the lighter brown for style and texture, planning where I wanted it to look like some branches were growing out in front of or behind others. I like how it gives an almost 3-dimensional look. I also used the lighter green to paint veins and one edge on the leaves to bring them to life too.

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And I put a little personalized touch on the trunk at my mom’s request.

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My mom and dad’s initials “carved” into the tree trunk.

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My mom has a gazillion picture frames, so we picked the ones we wanted to use and planned to spray paint them all the same color. But we had a hard time choosing a color. We planned on doing black or gray, but when we got to the store to buy the spray paint, we found a gorgeous bronze color that was perfect. So we bought two cans of it and put 2-3 coats on each frame, printed the photos, and put all of the pictures together.

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Before hanging any pictures, I traced each of the frames I wanted to use onto paper, and used painters tape to put them up on the wall so that I could figure out just where I wanted each picture, and also so I could make sure the tree was the right size.

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You can see my sketch and sample-sized paints on the ladder here. Also, my mom asked me to paint a few blades of grass at the base, even though the couch covers them up. It’s like a fun little secret we know about that nobody else does.


Rather than nail holes into the tree, my mom insisted on using some 3M Command strips to hang the pictures up.

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So far, everyone loves the finished product, especially my mom. Weeks after finishing it, she still compliments how much she likes it and how great it looks.

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I’m pretty pleased with it. What do you think?

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