DIY and Crafts

How to create a retro-inspired wall mural in your home

Walls looking a bit bare? Take a leaf out of Nikki Kettle’s colourful book and paint a show-stopping mural

Out with the old

The wall in Nikki’s living room has been an ever-evolving project, originally with just the one palm tree painted in the corner. She was inspired by the retro patterns she found on Pinterest to give it a completely new look (above).


You will need

Step-by-step guide

1. Start your mural by measuring and marking the straight lines on the wall. Measure down from the ceiling to get them as straight as you can, or use a level or laser. Mark the lines with a pencil.

2. When you’re satisfied with your first line, run washi or low-tack tape along it. To achieve a really clean, straight line, make sure your surface is nice and dry, press down hard and check that there are no gaps or bubbles.

3. From your first line of tape, use a ruler to measure and mark the bottom line of your mural. When you’re sure it’s straight, mark this line with tape.

4. Repeat this process for the other stripes.

5. To the right-hand side of the mural, you’ll have two curves. To achieve a perfect curve, attach a piece of string to the wall with a pin roughly where the middle of your curve will be, then wrap the string around a pencil (keeping tension on the end). Start sweeping your string and pencil around the pin to form a curve. You may have to play around with the pin position and the length of your string. Once you’ve got your first curve marked out, simply adjust the position of the pencil within the string and repeat the process to form an outer or inner curve.

6. Before painting the mural, first paint along the tape edge with the background colour (I used Resene Double Foundry). This helps to seal the tape and will give a cleaner line.

7. Use a mini roller to paint the first stripe of colour of the mural.

8. When it comes to painting the curve, switch to a paint brush and do it freehand. A good curve requires a reasonably thick brush, I used a 50mm. Have the brush well dampened with paint, but not dripping, then apply it to the wall with reasonable momentum. The slower you go, the harder it will be to keep a perfect arch.

9. Allow to dry, then repeat this process for every second stripe.

10. Peel the tape off when the paint isn’t completely dry so it doesn’t flake everywhere. Allow the paint to dry completely.

11. When the paint is dry, tape over the painted stripes to allow you to paint the alternate lines.

12. Repeat this process with all the stripes in the mural until it is complete.


  • Start the mural with the lighter Resene colours. It is harder to paint over the dark colours if you accidentally paint over the lines.
  • Instead of a brush you could try a mini roller to make light work of the painting. Resene’s Testpot Roller Kit, $5, is the ideal size for its testpots. Resene recommends lightly dampening the roller sleeve before use.
  • Two coats of Resene paint will give a rich coverage.
  • For an extra effect you can use Resene FX Magnetic Magic under the mural to hang family photos and move them around without damaging the wall.
  • Clean paint brushes, rollers and trays in the garden or lawn, not the sink. When you are taking a break wrap your brush in cling wrap – it will save you washing up and keep the paint fresh so you can get straight back into painting.

Project by: Nikki Kettle. Photography by: Anna Briggs.

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