DIY: Hand Painted Birch Tree on a Bedroom Wall

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Create a full-wall "window" to a birch tree forest in your bedroom.
Create a full-wall "window" to a birch tree forest in your bedroom. (Image: Shunsuke Yamamoto Photography/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

A birch tree mural adds to a romantic, woodsy design in a bedroom. The white, prolific forest trees symbolized young love to the Celts, who would exchange birch during courting rituals. The bright, tall trees also symbolize new growth and hope, making the birch a charming option for a child’s room. If you want to add this image to your bedroom wall, you can hand paint your own bedroom mural instead of paying for high-end birch tree wallpapers.

Supplies

Choose your mural paint carefully. Paints containing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, give off chemicals that affect indoor air quality and sometimes leave a lasting paint “smell.” Easy breathing is required of a restful bedroom atmosphere, so avoid these indoor pollutant-containing paints. Purchase small cans of low- or non-VOC interior paint to use on your hand-painted mural. To get the paint on the wall, you’ll need tools like flat-edge brushes, fine brushes, sponges, a paint tray, a face mask and prep materials such as pencils, levels and drop cloths. Also gather and print out images of birch tree forest images or wall decorations you want to mimic.

Mural Placement

A large-scale, full-wall mural opens up a small bedroom by “removing” that wall visually. Use a whole wall mural instead of a single tree to open up a cramped room. A larger mural also creates a rich, enveloping experience, making it ideal for a focal point behind a bed without a headboard. If you just want to paint one or a handful of trees, place them on the left or right third of the wall instead of in the very center. An offset image is more pleasing to the eye. A couple of carefully positioned and spaced, high-crowned birch trees can flank the head of the bed for a canopy effect.

Painting the Birch Tree Mural

To protect your floors and furniture, put down plastic drop cloths and move your bed away from the wall before you get started. Before you begin to paint your trees, create a light sketch to make sure everything looks even and in proportion. Hand paint uneven, long, thin columns of white paint, and then pull away triangular or squat oval, curved horizontal sections using a dry sponge to imitate birch tree knots. Make these cut-away sections 1- to 2-inches high and a few inches long. You can fill in the cut-away sections with grey, brown or black or leave the negative space intact to serve the same purpose. Paint thin, diagonally upward pointing limbs emerging from the birch trunks. Consult your reference images frequently for other details. For a less permanent wall mural, first paint your trees onto a roll of butcher or contact paper, and then cut them out and attach them to the wall with soluble wallpaper paste.

The Projector Shortcut

If you have access to a projector, you can simplify this project significantly. Connect the projector to computer, and open up a black and white image of the trees you want to mimic. Adjust the projector until the birch image is the correct size and at the right place on the wall, and then paint directly over the projected image. Outline in black or gray first, or fill in the images with only white. Using a projector allows even an inexperienced painter to create a large, realistic image of the iconic white trees. Using a projector also speeds up the process, shortening the time you’ll have to wait before you or your child can return to the bedroom. If you don't have a projector handy, call your local library; some will loan out their projectors.

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