10 sweet nursery mural ideas that are playful and practical

The right backdrop can turn a little one's room into a paradise for play and the setting for sweet dreams, as these pretty nursery murals prove

Rebel Walls wall mural with cot and canopy
(Image credit: Future PLC/Julien Fernandez/Amandine et Jules)

Creating a nursery mural can be as involved or straightforward as you'd like it to be. But however you do it, it's a wonderful way to add charm and character to a little one's room. And, before they become obsessed with Hello Kitty or Pokemon, the Marvel Universe or Disney princesses, you get to put your unique stamp on their space, in a way they'll appreciate – and even maybe add to – as they grow. 

'You don't need to be an artist to be able to create great mural feature walls for your kids,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown. 'There are many easy ways to do it. Work out a design on paper then scale up for the walls, using good masking tape to create crisp lines. Kids’ rooms have a license to be fun. Therefore, why not add a bit of playfulness by painting furniture to match or contrast with the walls.'

Cost needn't be a factor either. You could choose to splash out on a full-scale wallpaper mural that covers one or more walls, or you could pick a smaller peel-and-stick design that you can remove without causing damage. 

Or why not pick up a few pots of leftover paint and have a go at designing your own mural? You can paint freehand or grab some tape and mask out a geometric design. It really is a nursery decorating idea that anyone can try. Just don't be afraid to make mistakes – you can always paint over them! 

Amy Cutmore headshot
Amy Cutmore

A  big fan of pattern and bold colour, Amy Cutmore has been part of the Ideal Home editorial team for 12 years and has taken on more than her fair share of paint-based makeovers. In researching this article, she spoke to decorating experts at Crown, COAT Paints and Dunelm to get their expert take on the best approach for adding a mural to a nursery, including the right paints to use and best approaches to design. 

10 nursery wall mural ideas to try

1. Calm the mood with delicate pastels

Child's bedroom with pastel pink mountains, nursing chair and canopy

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

You may be tempted to channel your local soft play centre and go big and bold with primary colours in your nursery mural. However, that could prove counterproductive, particularly when you are trying to get baby settled for the night.  

'Paler colours work well in a children’s room as they tend to be more relaxing and soothing – both for the child and parents,' says Justyna Korczynska. 'A background of soft blues and greens or warm pinky greys can be a good basis from which to add more colour.'

2. Create a magical backdrop for play

Attic bedroom nursery with forest wall mural and rocking horse

(Image credit: Future PLC/Julien Fernandez/Amandine et Jules)

A full-scale wallpaper mural is more of an investment, but pick the right design and it can continue to spark the imagination long after your little one is out of nappies. 

An enchanted forest has fairytale charm - the mural above can add atmosphere to bedtime stories from The Gruffalo to Goldilocks

Alternatively, consider a space theme, a jungle, or boats on the high seas. 

3. Mirror your mural theme with artwork

Nursery with white cot and mountains mural

(Image credit: Future PLC/Photoword LTD)

This is a great idea if you think a mural might otherwise appear too 'random'. Take a simple motif such as triangular 'mountains' above, trees or scalloped waves, and paint your mural. Then either buy or create bedroom wall art that features the same motif and hang it around the room to consolidate the theme. 

You could do the same with curtains, a rug or your choice of bedding. 

4. Set the tone for sleep

Clouds and moon mural with cot and chair

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Who needs lullabies when you can get in the mood for sleep with your nursery mural? This Goodnight Moon inspired wallpaper design by Dunelm will have everyone yawning and is a quick and affordable way to add character to an entire wall.

It would work really well with grey or white walls – so if you're reinventing a neutral guest bedroom as a nursery, it's. great pick. 

Shop now: Floating Clouds mural, from £50, Dunelm

5. Get big into nature

Rebel Walls wall mural with cot and canopy

(Image credit: Rebel Walls)

Be inspired by the new life you've brought into the world with a mural of spring flowers growing tall on your wall. This large-format design by Rebel Walls will cover a large area quickly, so if you've left decorating to the last minute, it's a quick and super stylish option. 

It's also not too 'babyish', so if you aren't a fan of cutesy designs, are toying with switching bedrooms around, or don't plan to stay in the house for years to come, choosing this design means you won't need to redecorate. 

Shop now: Bumblebee wall mural in Sand, £38 per sq m, Rebel Walls

6. Pick a peel and stick for rentals

Child's nursery with hillside arched wall mural and low bookcase

(Image credit: Sir Face Murals at Etsy)

If you're decorating a rental property, it's unlikely you'll be able to daub your own hand-painted mural on the walls without risking the wrath of your landlord. That's where peel-and-stick designs come to the rescue.

This design is made of self-adhesive wall fabric, which is more eco-friendly and resilient than vinyl, and it's printed with non-toxic, kid-safe inks. Best of all, it can be removed and repositioned easily, so you can move it to another wall or room, and it won't leave a single mark behind. 

We love the idea of this relaxing view, which might take the edge off those early morning feeds. 

Shop now: Large Boho Nursery Arch, from £55.58, Sir Face Graphics at Etsy

7. Stick with simplicity

Nursery with cot, yellow chair and yellow pink painted walls

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A mural doesn't have to be complicated – it can be as simple as a few diagonal lines. You could use these to zone a twin nursery or shared bedroom (yellow side for one sibling, pink for the other) or to demarcate different areas for sleep and play. 

To create a sharp and neat line, we like to use Frog tape for masking.

Shop now: FrogTape Green Multi Surface Masking Tape, £6.99, Amazon

8. Frame a piece of furniture

Child's bed with semi circle mural above headboard

(Image credit: Crown)

Sometimes, all it takes is a simple shape or series of shapes to create the basis of a mural. A semi circle behind a cot or bed, or a series of triangular 'peaks' can form the basis of a mural that you can have fun embellishing over time.  

‘One of my favourite murals for a client was a mountain around the bottom half of her son's bedroom walls,' says Aaron Markwell, COAT’s Colour Curator. 'This made for a great gender-neutral mural that can be complemented with stickers or stencils of your child's favourite things when they are younger and "grows-up" with them.'

It's also a good way to highlight a piece of furniture, such as a changing station, cot, or nursing chair. 

9. Introduce cute characters with stickers

Childrens room with wooden crib

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby/25 Beautiful Homes)

Sure you could go for one big peel-and-stick mural. But you can have just as much fun with a series of smaller stickers. Play with scale and cleverly position your stickers around furniture – an empty wall can host a larger tree, while a cot or shelf can double as a perch for animal friends. 

10. Dare to embrace a dark backdrop

dark painted mural wall in kids bedroom

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

A black wall can provide the backdrop for a truly fantastical nursery mural. Artist and interior designer Lucy Tiffney created this design using Annie Sloan paints. You could have a go at hand-painting your own masterpiece, or simply dare to paint your walls dark and embellish them with adhesive mofits. 

'Children respond to colour,' says Annie. 'Their instinctive attraction towards brighter shades isn’t hampered by a learned fear of standing out, and we should capitalise on that! Bright shades inspire, build future confidence with experimentation, and activate fertile imaginations.' 

Annie goes on to explain that 'as with white, all colours go with black; but they pop against black rather than sitting more gently alongside a blank canvas of white'.

Lucy has used Annie's Athenian Black here, but Farrow & Ball's Railings is another equally dark and dramatic option.

Shop now: Athenian Black wall paint, £55.95, Annie Sloan
Shop now: Railings Modern emulsion, £56 for 2.5ltrs, Farrow & Ball at B&Q  

What paint should I use to create a nursery mural

Our tips on how to paint a wall will help you apply your chosen colours with a professional finish. But before you start, take care to pick the right paint for your project. 

If there's one place not to skimp on cheap paint, it's the nursery. It could start to flake, and it could contain a higher level of VOCs – volatile organic compounds that are given off by the paint. These pollute the air and are known to be harmful to the environment and can trigger asthma and allergies. 

Look for paint low in VOCs, such as Crown Breatheasy, or Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, which is made entirely from raw plant and mineral materials. Graphenstone makes paint that goes one stage further – not only does it not emit harmful VOCs but it actually cleans your air by absorbing CO2 as it dries. 

Another important consideration when choosing paint for a nursery paint is wipe-ability – whether you're dealing with sticky fingerprints or crayon marks. Again, most paint brands offer paints robust enough to deal with multiple clean downs. Crown has its stain- and scrub-resistant Easyclean, while Dulux offers an Easycare range on similar lines. 

Aaron Markwell, COAT’s Colour Curator recommends COAT's soft sheen finish in bedrooms for young children. 'Any crayon can easily be washed off,' he explains.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.