hand-painted walls

Whenever I have a vision for changing something, I become very impatient to see it completed. This amazing dining room transformation from Ava Roth reminds me how wonderful it can be to tackle slow, epic projects, working bit by bit when you have a spare moment and watching your work grow from one little section into a gorgeous, dreamlike expanse. Truly a labor of love, these illustrations took Ava a little over a year to complete and are all painted freehand. You can read more about Ava’s process, including her paint brands and colors, after the jump. Thank you so much for sharing, Ava! — Kate

Photographs by Brenda Liu

Read the full post after the jump . . .

I first started thinking about painting my dining room years ago when, on a trip to the royal palace in Phnom Phen (Cambodia), I saw that many of the rooms were painted instead of wallpapered. Although the rooms at the palace were repeating patterns, just like standard wallpaper, I was immediately inspired by the idea of meticulously painting an entire room in my own freehand style. I decided to create something that looked at first glance to be wallpaper, but on closer inspection became apparent to be a non-repeating painted design. Like with a wallpapered room, my goal was to be able to hang art on top of the painting, as opposed to having the painting dominate the walls like a mural.

The initial inspiration for the painting itself came from looking at the designer Tord Boontje’s beautiful work. His art has a very whimsical feel to it, and I fell in love with his magical forest motifs. The painting on the dining room walls does not follow any pattern and does not repeat itself. It is painted entirely freehand, using a very small (#02) paint brush. I looked at images of forest foliage and animals on the internet when I needed fresh ideas of what to paint.

The first step was painting the walls dark grey (Benjamin Moore “Cinder” AF-705). I chose this color because I knew I wanted to paint in gold and thought that a sharp contrast between the wall color and the gold would appear very chaotic.

The gold paint is from Sheffield Bronze Paint Corp., and is a water-based paint called “Supertone Golden Touch.” Once the walls were painted grey, I simply picked up the gold paint and began painting freehand in one corner, and slowly worked my way around the entire room. I have three kids and run a business, so painting the walls happened only when I could grab a spare hour — usually in the wee hours of the night. For this reason, the project took well over a year to complete, although I know I could do it in a month or two if I had had the time to paint during the day. The cost for the project was very minimal. The only cost was the paint, and the only tool I used was a small paint brush. I estimate that the entire room cost less than $350. — Ava

  1. paula graham says:

    I am so happy to see your project or actually beautiful work of art ….
    Lately I have felt so uninspired….joining Pinterest has really helped me connect with such lovely ideas such as yours. Thank you so much for creating something so beautiful that it starts the motor of a fellow being and artist.

  2. Renters can do murals with canvas, you can starch them to the walls and peel them off when you leave. This is fabulous and I know the feeling of wanting to do it but can’t because you rent.

  3. Maegan says:

    Freaky! I have in my sketch book right now a dark gray background with a coppery gold trailing celery “rose” stamp with free hand leaves and branches. This was an idea I had for and accent wall in my master bedroom. I haven’.t done anything with it yet but this is defiantly making me want to get it started. I hope my wall turns out this

  4. Andrea Deal says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! What a fantastic job you did Ava!

  5. Allison says:

    Beautiful work & lovely photos!

  6. Brokenglass says:

    Eye Candy! Makes my spirit run free when I see possibilties that can happen from your mind to your hand….ideas fly like sparklers on a 4’th of July.

  7. YOWers!!! The metallic / paint combo is nuts – I <3 it

  8. Galit Barak says:

    Got some silver stenciles all over my bedroom and living room, in a 50’s Israeli home, it’s an amazing effect!

  9. Michelle Yee says:

    Incredible and inspiring! I’m definitely not bold enough to try this on such a grand scale but my tiny powder room could use something magical like this. Thank you for sharing this and yes please, may we see more of Ava’s beautiful home!?

  10. boocat says:

    How long did this take? Stunning work

  11. boocat says:

    Where in the world did you find this paint? I can’t locate a source.

  12. Bonnie says:

    Amazingly beautiful! Lovely!

  13. Meikie says:

    absolutely gorgeous!

  14. A Rogers says:


  15. Joy says:

    I hate it! JUST JOKING, I am totally in love and very envious of your talent because I would never be able to do anything as awesome as that.

  16. This is incredible! Very nice combination

  17. Aidel.K says:

    Absolutely amazing & gorgeous! Your cakes are also incredible! (I followed the business link in the post.)

  18. Gladys says:

    Simply WOW!! Inspiring!

  19. This is just *magical*…..wow…..it reminds me of those gorgeous tapestries with oodles of flowers and unicorns on a black background somewhat. Amazing!


  20. Bobbie says:

    that this is one amazing room! It works in a big way not just in how
    much work it took to do it, but in the talent in pulling it off..Managing
    a design on that scale takes a lot and I guess I am even more in awe
    that she did it as she worked along the wall instead of drawing it all
    out at once. I am amazed and inspired and..hm so where could I possible
    start a wall like that???

  21. Gail Randolph says:

    I agree with all these appreciative comments. Stunning, warm, and inviting.

  22. Lisa says:

    Ditto, ditto, ditto!!! Absolutely gorgoeus.

  23. bianca says:

    just. stunning. so jel. :)

  24. Holy gorgeous walls! I absolutely love this. I have been playing with painting on my walls for years- have yet to achieve such stunning results, but I must try harder. Love love love.

  25. -K says:

    Holy cow! I’m in complete awe! Wow wow wow.

  26. megan says:

    I am madly in love with your brain. I just painted my entrance in a geometric pattern, matte on gloss, and now want to do my whole house! You have just given me another form of “wallpaper” to mull about in my brain. Thank yo so much for sharing your work! Simply beautiful.

  27. laura-beth says:

    mesmerizing. your children are lucking to grow up in such a magical place.

  28. laura-beth says:

    oops I meant lucky.

  29. Rachel M says:

    Wow… I am completely inspired to do this in our next home, which will hopefully be in the next several months or so. I love to doodle and draw, and always thought I was strongest with pen and ink. I can completely see this as a feasible project for myself in a half-bath of other smaller room, and a larger room in time. Thank you, Ava!

  30. Yes, seriously I’m obsessed too. Whoa!!!

  31. mike says:

    WOW, this looks amazing! I admire your dedication as I would have designed it and printed custom wallpaper. However, you are correct as the hand painted mural is quite simply stunning!

  32. Lisa says:

    Spectacular doesn’t begin to describe how lovely this is!

  33. eva says:

    wow, what how when? can’t wait to move, then i’ll do this!

  34. Julia Wright says:

    Beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing. Definitely want to hand-paint all my walls now.

  35. bklynebeth says:

    B E A U T I F U L ! ! !

  36. jadekudzuArt says:

    Holy Schnap!! This is FAN-tastic. The wolf reminds me of a mysterious old Europe. The possibilities of hidden treasures are endless. Thanks for sharing, it’s very inspiring. I hope one day I make the time for a project like this.

  37. Lorine says:

    beautiful motif! I love the colors.

  38. Ellie says:

    Masterful, magical, & magnificant!!! Thanks for your gift of example & inspiration.

  39. finette says:

    You make it sound so easy, but I’m sure it wasn’t! It reminds me a little of the pope’s bedroom in Avignon: http://www.palais-des-papes.com/chambrepape.html

  40. Amanda says:

    Absolutely amazing work! And I can imagine how much dedication it takes to come back to a project that goes on for a year. Way to go!

  41. Heather says:

    This is absolutely gorgeous! I can’t imagine the kind of patience it took to complete this but it was definitely worth it. The room itself, has become a work of art. Simply amazing!

  42. Tash says:

    I do love this so much , so inspiring…but I’m sorry, the face pictures really detract from the look!!

  43. Marc Draper says:

    I agree with everything everyone said

  44. Susan says:

    WOW! Congratulations on this accomplishment!

  45. Edina says:


  46. @coffeefilter says:

    The price you quoted is just the material. The cost of your commitment and the result is at least tenfold.

    1. Kate Pruitt says:

      I don’t know what you mean exactly by the “cost” of your commitment, but I would wager that somebody would not undertake such a project unless they enjoyed the process at least in some part. Still, it is quite a commitment of time, but in my mind well worth it!

  47. annwatson says:


  48. yati says:


  49. citywall says:

    This is a great job, design wallpaper is cool and charming


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