Why I Painted Over My Bathroom Mural

As all of you know (unless you’re new here), my entire bathroom design has been centered around this beautiful mural of a colorful woodland scene that I purchased and installed to go on the wall where the freestanding bathtub will sit…

So it caused quite a stir when I posted this image of me painting over my beautiful mural on Instagram a couple of days ago.

And yes, I really did cover the whole thing with not just one, but two coats of oil-based primer.

priming over a wallpaper mural

I got quite a few “What the heck?!” responses. 😀 And I said up front that once I was done with this wall (again), the responses would almost all fall into two categories — (1) “I totally understand why you did it. That was a good decision.” Or (2) “That was a whole lot of work for very little benefit.” So you’ll have to let me know which camp you fall into. 🙂

Let me explain to you why I did this. 🙂 I did it because I wanted to reinstall the exact same mural, but this time, I needed to pay more attention to details.

First of all, why didn’t I just install wallpaper over wallpaper? Why the primer?

Well, I held up a piece of the new mural over the old mural, and I could see the old mural design through the new wallpaper in the light areas of the design. Obviously, I didn’t want the old mural showing through. And the reason I used oil-based primer is because I didn’t want to take the chance of the water-based wallpaper paste for the new mural soaking down into the seams of the old mural and lifting the seams. That mural was on there really well, and the seams were lying perfectly flat. I needed them to stay that way so that the new mural could also be perfectly flat on that wall as well without ridges in the seams from the original mural lifting. So I decided to seal the seams with oil-based primer, as well as cover over the old design, all in one step.

And now for the why…

The whole reason I did this is because I installed the original mural too low on the wall, and it bothered me so much that I couldn’t NOT redo it.

I ordered the mural from Photowall, and they suggest that you order the mural with a few extra inches in height and width. That makes perfect sense, so that’s what I did.

The problem is that when I installed the original mural, I lined up the top of the design with the top of the wall, and worked from top to bottom. That also makes sense since that’s how wallpaper is installed — from top to bottom. Right? But the problem is that I was left with a few inches (maybe three inches) of actual printed mural that I cut off of the bottom right next to the floor.

So when I finished the mural, I absolutely loved it. But I was also disappointed at how much of the beautiful design would be covered up by the bathtub at the bottom. I drew a line on this next picture to represent the height of the bathtub.

And while it won’t cover the full 86-inch width of the wall, the bathtub that I have (this is the one I bought) is 67 inches wide. So there will be about 9.5 inches of wall showing on either side, but some of that will have to be covered with trim.

I really wrestled with this decision for a good two weeks. I tried to put it out of my mind, and convince myself that it wasn’t a big deal and I just needed to move on. I tried to tell myself that that $200 would be better spent elsewhere in the room.

But the more I thought about it, the more determined I was to order another mural — the same exact mural in the same exact size — and install it with the design higher on the wall. After all, this bedroom-to-bathroom conversion is a very big and costly project, and I want to get it right. This mural is the centerpiece of the entire design, so it needs to be right. And if I reordered and reinstalled, not only could I regain the few (maybe three) inches of design that I had cut off at the floor, but I could also take into consideration the height of the baseboard and move it up even further to gain a few more inches.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it would definitely be worth the extra time and money to reorder and reinstall.

I figured that I could gain about seven to nine inches of that lower design raised above the height of the bathtub. And while that didn’t seem like much, there’s really quite a lot of detail in those seven to nine inches of mural. There are four birds, some pretty foliage, half of a dragonfly, and so much more. You can see the details that I would gain between the lines on the picture below…

Another thing that bothered me about the original mural was the center section where the tub filler would go. There was virtually no foliage showing above the tub line at all. There were just a couple of wisps, but it was mostly sky and trees.

So I decided to go for it. I paid the $197 for a second mural, and this time I marked where the baseboards would go, and I installed the first piece from the bottom up. It really wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and then after that first piece was in place, I was able to install the rest from the top down by lining up the pattern at the top.

Here’s what the new placement looks like…

new mural installed higher on wall so that more detail would show behind bathtub

Can you tell a difference? Let me show you with a line representing the height of the bathtub…

See how there’s actually some foliage showing in this center area now?

There’s not only foliage in that center section, but there are also two birds that show in that section now. And there are two more birds above the bathtub height on the left side of the mural. Plus, the big leaves on the right side of the mural are now above that line as well.

So again, here’s the before…

And now the current mural…

muroal - new with line showing bathtub height

Can you tell the difference? Here’s a side-by-side comparison…

original and current murals side by side

Here are a few closeup views of the detail that I gained above the bathtub height now. Two birds! Plus a pretty purple fern, some other foliage, and a touch of orange.

More pretty foliage, and now the whole dragonfly is visible…

Two more birds!! And more pretty foliage, including some purple flowers. I love how the birds are going to look like they’re admiring my beautiful tub filler. 😀

And I’m very glad that those two big leaves on the right are now visible.

So what do you think? Was it worth the extra $197 and the few hours of work? Or was this a whole lot of trouble for very little payoff? I definitely think it was worth the money and the effort. Design is in the details, and this design seems more balanced to me now. And while seven to nine inches doesn’t sound like much, I gained a whole lot of beautiful details above the tub height now. It was definitely worth it to me.

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  1. I love it! I was always a little put off by how the central bird looked like he was taking a nosedive into your plumbing. He is in a much better place now! I’m always amazed at how you can see so many details and have such a vision for how to make things even better. You’re amazing!

    1. Kristi, you definitely made the right decision. You have a very sharp eye for detail. I also like seeing less tree at the top. Better proportion. And yes, you made me gasp 😂

  2. Totally worth it. It’d be different if it cost $1,000+ but less than $200 for it NOT bugging you every time you sit in that tub? Yeah, worth it. Plus, let’s be honest. There’s no way you wouldn’t have done this SOME time, whether now when it’s easy or later when everything’s installed, you just can’t stand it, and you bite the bullet then.

  3. 100% agree. You will be so happy you did this. This is why I love your blog so much. You show us that sometimes we have a vision and it is worth doing it over if the first try doesn’t give us the exact desired outcome.

  4. Well worth the effort! I would have done the exact same thing. The difference is immediately noticeable to me! I have that same attention to details that you do. It’ll be marvelous!

    1. When I saw the post of you painting over the mural the first thing I thought was “I bet she’s figured out way to raise the mural up” and how ingenious is that!
      100% worth it!

  5. We’ll, you made my mouth drop open! But, You do You! And, IMHO, you made an excellent design decision. I Love the mural!

  6. If it was worth it to you, that’s all that matters. I’m wondering if it would have been possible to cut some of the top off so the bottom would show more.

    1. I installed the very bottom edge of the design as high as I could based on the baseboard height, and then cut several inches off of the top of the mural. This is as high on the wall as the design can go.

  7. I would have done the same thing knowing that if I hadn’t I would have felt sad every time I walked into the bathroom. The extra cost and effort is small considering the expense and time already put into the project. The mural is just lovely!

  8. It was worth it, it was bugging me too when I first saw your plans, but boy did you almost give me a heart attack with that title!!!

    1. Well, I almost fainted when I opened my email & saw the words “Why I painted over my mural…”!
      But reading the post & seeing the results, I totally agree. It looks so much better with even just a few more inches of foliage showing. I too, wished that even more could show but after your explanation, I understand. Besides, there will still be foliage visible on either side of the tub, so you’ll still get a glimpse of the mural all the way down to the baseboard.
      Kudos! Jobe well done & totally worth it!

    2. OMG Me too!!! I was so shocked and upset by the title, and since I don’t use instagram I was horrified that something happened…like Kristi now hated the look of that mural! So happy to see things are the same….only better! I know it would have annoyed Kristi everytime she really looked at it – Now it will be perfect! I am definitely on the Worth it Camp!

  9. Honestly I thought it was unfortunately low when you first installed it, but did not want to be negative. So worth it!!

  10. I’m totally with you! It’s terrible to walk into a room and be smacked in the face by something you don’t like and have to keep talking yourself out of feeling that way. Good for you!

  11. Kristy, I was vey annoyed with you for a very brief moment, as this mural makes my heart sing and I feared that you meant to get rid of it for good. As I’ve already said on similar issues, for me it is always just a question of going back to older posts with beloved details to admire them again (e.g. the pony walls), but in this case I was really shocked for a moment as the entire bathroom design focuses on this wonderful mural. Thus, after reading for a bit, I was very relieved – and totally convinced! That anyhow, because I was with you on the placement needing to be higher from the first time you mentioned it. I have a design bugging me every.single.time I’m in that rom, so I applaud you for not going down that route and accepting it, but change it now when it is not a massive endeavour. Well done you!!!

  12. Yes. It’s worth it because it would have continued to bother you. I don’t know that I would have redone the work and the money, but I’m so proud of you for choosing what is best for you in your home. Bravo!

  13. So glad you went for it! It would have always nagged at you if you didn’t. I think it was a great decision. It is such a beautiful mural, now you can see so much more of what makes it so lovely.

  14. It looks great! Out of curiosity and for educational purposes, why did you not remove the original mural instead of painting over it?

    1. The mural has only been on there for a short while, and I used very quality, high tack wallpaper paste to install it. Had I tried to remove it, it would have been an absolute mess. The paper would have come off in little pieces. I would have had to either use a steamer or chemicals to remove. And most of all, I’d probably end up damaging the drywall in the process. Since it was so newly installed with such high tack paste, and it was perfectly smooth with no ridges or any other defects at all, it made more sense to install the new one right over the old.

    2. Wondering if you could have just started the mural at tub height and lost more of the airy stuff at the top ? I am sure you made the right choice for your peace of mind, but to me the best part of the mural is behind the tub.

  15. Now that it’s explained it all makes sense. I understand the turmoil in your mind at the first placement. Totally worth it for aesthetics and peace of mind. You are going to LOVE taking a bath. Looking forward to the finished room and the trip to getting there. All the best!

  16. Totally worth it! I’m so glad you’re so talented and able to do it yourself. I agree that the new placement is much improved!

  17. I suppose I’m the odd one out. Much as I love the mural, FOR ME, I would have either tiled the wall or maybe done a grasscloth or other more subdued wall treatment. But that’s just because I know me, and me gets bored with busier walls than with more calm ones. That being said, I’m glad you moved it up, and I think I would have done a chair rail or wainscoting to the tub height, so I would see the entire mural. Seems a shame to block any of the scene. As I said, I’m the odd one out!

  18. For how well the details line up with IRL features yes. *Overthinking with unicorns* I’m curious if you get a blanket hanger wide enough so you can play with it. I got a suggestion for you if you have breaks from physically exhausting projects. Create a wallpaper pattern or two from your projects on spoonflower for others to purchase. Repeatable simple large scale geometric patterns, with a ton of color that could be cheaper printed on paper than buying so many colors to paint. I’d say the designs you’ve used for the tracing murals but, you got copyright and licenses to bother with for those.

  19. I certainly gasped at that first photo. Calmed down and decided maybe it was a sealer of some kind. Then gasped again at the second photo I totally agree with what you did. It would have bugged you every single day

  20. What you have just gone through is so true to life! Those little (not) decisions really make a difference when you are going to look at something for years that you really don’t like .
    The reason I enjoy your blog so much is that your mistakes/revisions are not glossed over. It’s what I have dealt with in 50 years of home owning.
    You’re fearless and not afraid of work. You go girl.

  21. Wow! I went on a roller coaster ride of thought on this. Bottom line is, you knew it didn’t feel right. You researched, figured out what was not sitting right with you and you fixed it. Good for you! I would’ve done the same thing!

  22. Abso-freaking-lutely worth it… but I must insist, never, ever, ever leave us hanging like that… you painting over your entire jumping off point. I can’t have been alone losing sleep over “what in the world has Kristi done now”!! HAHAHAHAHA Completely worth it, the level of effort you put into everything this is without a doubt worth the effort, time and money. Again, your eye is phenomenal and your talent knows no limits!! Great job, thanks for bringing us along on your ride.

  23. Yep, you did good! I’d have tried to raise it even more, [by leaving the old one and going/starting the new one over it, two base boards high, just so more showed above the tub. Losing the sky/top is no biggy. Could they have printed it more horizontal, than verticle, or would it have amounted to the same thing you did?

  24. Definitely right choice. You would have regretted it and what’s worse than realizing you could have corrected something but chose not to. Money well spent, even though painful. You could even put a higher baseboard and raise it a couple more inches, though as is, it’s wonderful. I love this mural so much, such a stunning feature. I gasped when I saw you painting over it… now I understand. Keep up the great work!

  25. Yes it was worth it. I can breather easier now…My mind had wandered and thought maybe you’d put some kind of waterproof stuff on..Ha!

    1. PS – You could ask the wallpaper company to reimburse you for all of the positive feedback you’ve gotten from your faithful readers.

  26. That was a lot of money and work to do it over , but if you were willing to do it and it makes you happy, that is all that matters. And it looks beautiful!

  27. At first, I was really sad when I read your title. (“Oh no, I loved that mural! I wonder what she decided to do instead?”) Everything you shared makes SO much sense, and I so admire your attention to detail and commitment to making your space exactly what you want it to be, even if it means adding a little extra work, time, and resources to make it so. I LOVE how you’ve changed this and I’m so excited for you to enjoy your beautiful space!

  28. It’s not just above the top detail – it’s what’s happened at ceiling level as well. It’s darker and seems more ‘finished’ Good call 😉

  29. I’m just glad you did it now, before the tub went in. You’re the best judge of its worth. It’s definitely prettier with the sky and tree higher up. I would have liked even more foliage were it in my bathroom.

  30. I get it, yet in your shoes I think I’d have gone further- moved it up but also increased the scale of the wallpaper so not quite as much showed width-wise, and a few inches more of the bottom section showed height-wise (cutting off more sky at the top edge obviously)

    1. That would have been nice, but I don’t think that was an option. This company gives you more control over cropping and sizing than most, but once I selected my size (90w x 100h) it sets the parameters so that the entire height of the mural is selected, and then I get to slide the selection area to the left or right to select the area I want. But I didn’t have to option to scale down the selection and then enlarge it. Not sure if that makes sense.

  31. Kristi, you were smart to re-do it. What a difference! This is my favorite room I have seen you decorate. Cant wait to see it finished!

  32. I almost cried when I saw the headline that you painted over the mural! I get it now and it was the right decision. Your additional $197 spent was a lesson for us all. I love it and can’t wait to see the finished room!

  33. When I read “ Why I Painted Over My Bathroom Mural,” I actually gasped out loud and grabbed my face like the kid from “Home Alone!
    I couldn’t imagine why you would do that, but the mural is back!!
    And you’re so much happier now with the placement of the design. Good for you!!
    It would have always bugged you!!

  34. Ahh, yes! Makes total sense! I’m definitely in the “good decision” camp. Love your eye for detail. Those are the things that really make a space!

  35. I have been a bit “sad” that the prettiest part of the design ( in my opinion) was completely hidden by the tub. BUT what matters most is that YOU think it was worth it!! it’s your (& Matt’s 😉 ) bathroom!

  36. Definitely worth it! You don’t miss the extra tree stuff removed from the top at all! Looks in much better proportion, plus you get more of the pretty showing above the tub. Good move!

  37. at first I gasped. but totally the right decision, once you explained it I couldn’t unsee it and it was too top heavy with sky and tree.

  38. Absolutely worth it! That would have driven you crazy if you’d left it alone. For $200 and a little work, the mural is even more beautiful than before because more of it will be seen and the lower half is gorgeous!! Good idea!!

  39. I can’t help but think that if you swung the tub around 90 degrees, so it protrudes into the bathroom, there’d be even more mural to see. Having said that, I don’t remember how large the room itself is, so maybe that’s a totally useless suggestion.

  40. Let me just say that I’ve never clicked on an email as quickly as I did for this! 0.0 And it turns out I totally understand your choice.

  41. Yes you did the right thing! You would have hated it every time you walked in there with your tub sitting in front of the most beautiful part! I don’t have Instagram so I didn’t see that. But the headline today was almost heart stopping. I so agree with your decision!

  42. I totally understand …. it would have driven you nuts to settle! $ well spent on your beautiful bath to get to to your vision ….. no question you did the right thing

  43. You scared me! I saw the picture of the painted over mural and I though for a second you had decided to scrap it. Thank goodness you just moved it – and yes I totally agree it was worth the extra money and effort. So gorgeous, love watching your progress!!

  44. I’m 100% with you on the change! I always wondered why the ground foliage was so low since a bathtub was going in front of it. Good job and good tip on using an oil primer to cover wallpaper. Since I’ve never wallpapered anything, I would not have thought of that. I once lived where somebody had painted over wallpaper and I found myself carefully gluing seams down.

  45. You made the right decision!! It’s beautiful and the bottom of the mural, in my humble opinion, is where “all the action is” and I suppose the very reason you fell in love with the mural in the first place!! Can’t wait to see the finished project. Hope there’s a video!

  46. Girl, you gave me a heart attack. I saw the title and literally almost started crying. I still have trauma from the loss of the stenciled branches mural, and I was legit terrified this one was gone too. I think I like the new version, but my adrenaline is still pumping too much to be sure….

  47. Definitely worth it in my opinion! It’s going to look fabulous! I cannot wait to see that gorgeous bathroom finished! I have to admit, when I saw the title of your post, I think my jaw literally dropped! Nice job, Kristi! xo

  48. I would have taken the cheap, practical route and always have regretted it. Worth it! And with inflation these days, $200 is turning into a drop in the bucket 😂

  49. I think you did the right thing! I had also wondered how much of the design wouldn’t show, so I think all the work (and re-work) will be worth it for more visual impact.

  50. Beautiful! It looks better this way. Curious to know how much more of the blue you will lose off the top and sides when you put the trim on.

  51. I’m so glad you did this. It looks 100% better! When you first mentioned how much of the prettiest part was hidden I wondered if it could have been raised and your artist mother could have painted muted grasses and a few extra plants to blend between the baseboard and the higher hung mural bottom. Probably a really dumb idea from someone who can barely draw a stick figure.

  52. Honestly it was bothering my ocd also but i wouldn’t tell you. I’m So glad you fixed it.
    The bathroom is going to be beautiful even if you had left it as is.

  53. Sometimes you just have to right the wrong! You’ll be living with this for years and no matter, it was worth the time and expense! It doesn’t matter what others think- it’s your space! Looks fantastic!

  54. At first, I thought this was unnecessary. But I thought back to all those little details I missed or should have changed when u built our home, and biw I’m on board with your decision! Worth it!

  55. Yes, I totally agree with you, when the tub goes in, you will not see that beautifull scenery. And of course it is your house, and you have to live with it. P.S. You dont want to be looking over the tub everytime to see that artwork. You go girl!

  56. OMG! I saw the first photo of the roller painting over the mural and my jaw dropped, thinking “NO, Kristi!” because that mural is so gorgeous, and I thought you had decided against it entirely. My relief was profound to read the rest of your post. It makes complete sense. I think a very wise choice. Those 7 to 9 inches have a TON of detail.
    Who could blame those birds for admiring the bath filler? 🙂

  57. Kristi I absolutely would have redone the mural. It looks so very nice. None of us are perfect, but we can make things better and enjoy our version on design