All the Reasons Why Scenic Murals Should Be in Your Designer Toolkit

December 10, 2020
The tradition of deploying narrative murals to invigorate a space can be traced back at least to the ancient city of Pompeii. More than two thousand years later, interior decorators still turn to this potent medium for everything from bringing tiny powder rooms to life to turning living rooms into sweeping fantastical, escapes. Here, some designers tell us what they love most about scenic wallcoverings, and share tips on how best to use them.

Lathem Gordon and Cate Dunning of GordonDunning in Atlanta, GA

A multipanel screen is covered in Iksel’s Italian Panoramic in this living room by GordonDunning.Courtesy of Gordon Dunning
“We often say that our job is to create a backdrop for memories, and what better place than in a room that truly transports you to France, Italy or a fantasy island! It’s hard to go wrong with a scenic wallcovering because it’s so timeless. It’s like the Meryl Streep of the room, the lead actress that sets the tone for the space. When we are specifying it, we make sure that it’s in a space that can support it. Whether it’s a breakfast room, stairwell, dining room or powder room, the other elements of the room usually have to fall in line as supporting actresses.”

Heather Hilliard of Heather Hilliard Design in San Francisco, CA

Heather Hilliard covered the walls of a Los Altos Hills, California, living room in Iksel’s Hindustan.David Patrick Columbia
“Select a design that resonates with clients or suits the architectural style of the home and decor. For this music room we designed in Los Altos Hills, California, the clients already collected beautiful Indian miniature paintings so we chose this particular scene because it resonated with their heritage and style. And we applied the mural to all walls in the room, so they felt enveloped in the design and there’s a real wow factor.”

Thomas Jayne of Jayne Design Studio in New York City

In this Manhattan living room by Thomas Jayne, a botanical mural by Anne Harris transforms the space into a verdant garden.Pieter Estersohn
“A scenic room is a great way to add a sense of exotic escapism to a house. They can transport your minds eye to a different world…China, India, Paris, anywhere you’d like to go. I use them wall-to-wall with minimal or elaborate architecture. In a space with a rich framework, these wallcoverings can visually unify all of the elements into an artistic whole. They’re typically used in living rooms or bedrooms, but imagine a kitchen with Chinese paper or jungle views with Aztec temples—it’s definitely not as common, but can be surprising and beautiful!”

Miles Redd of Redd Kaihoi in New York City

Iksel’s Eastern Eden enlivens the walls of a living room in Brooklyn, New York by Miles Redd.Frederic LaGrange
“Scenic wallcoverings can take a sheetrock box and make it incredibly architectural without much work! But I believe in not being overly precious with the paper—the more you layer on top the better because the room becomes even more visually interesting.”

Mark D. Sikes in Los Angeles, CA

Mark D. Sikes used Iksel’s Canton Reverie in the powder room of a home in the Pacific Palisades.Amy Neunsinger
“Not only do scenic wallcoverings bring the outdoors in, but they also add a sense of movement and depth as the various narratives allow your eye to travel around the space. I love installing them in entryways and dining rooms, but don’t be afraid to use one in a small space like a powder room. And if you only want a taste, get a panel or two and treat them as beautiful pieces of art!”