When it comes to décor, paintings and photography will always enhance a home. But if you’re looking for an even bigger impact, consider a mural or fresco. These are by no means contemporary art choices—murals have been found in caves as far back as 30,000 BC, and frescoes are credited to ancient Roman, Egyptian, and Minoan civilizations—but they are currently enjoying a renaissance.
Murals, whether sketched, ceramic, or painted, are applied directly to the permanent structural surfaces of a home, and they are known for their ability to conform to fit a given space. While all frescoes are murals, not all murals are frescoes. A fresco—meaning “fresh” in Italian—is traditionally a type of mural created with water-based paints, and the practice was widely popularized in Italy during the 16th century. Regardless of the medium or the method, here are a handful of ways to effectively showcase modern murals and frescoes in your home.
Choose the Right Canvas
A wide, blank wall is the obvious opportunity for a mural or fresco, but these large-scale statement pieces are now being integrated in even more innovative ways. Other options include the blank space on the base of a kitchen island or wet bar, the walls in a stairwell or beside a staircase, or outdoors on a fence or brick wall. There are many potential canvases for these unique pieces of art, and contemporary murals are breaking the bounds of tradition.
Free Your Imagination
Murals and frescoes are the ideal medium for self-expression in design, and they can satisfy the most creative tastes. Ultimately, artwork should inspire joy, so seize the chance to tell a story. Whether you’ve always wanted to bring the outdoors inside with a bold tropical scene, breathe life into a fairy tale on a nursery wall, or dreamt of a classical scene on the ceiling, this is the perfect trend for playing out your wildest flights of fancy at home.
Lean Into Maximalism
Minimalism has been a long-reigning home aesthetic, but maximalism is having a moment in 2021 and colorful, intricate murals and frescoes are right on trend. Paired with ornate fixtures, a combination of other artwork, overlapping pattern and textures, and decorative accents, a bright and dynamic mural can help create a fabulous, maximalist space.
Invite the Abstract
While murals, and frescoes in particular, traditionally portray a specific scene—think of the storytelling found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel—you can put a modern spin on these wall designs and try abstraction to evoke a feeling instead. Dreamy watercolor brushstrokes, Art Deco patterning, large-scale moody florals, or a subtle color gradient add an instant element of interest to any room.
Not only do murals and frescoes add impact, but they can easily add dimension to a room as well. A multitude of textures can be imitated on a blank wall to create a trompé-l’œil—or trick of the eye—such as vintage tile, detailed marble or crystal, brick or weathered concrete, leafy landscapes, and even fur. For true texture, murals can also take a mixed-media approach with hints of different materials throughout.
If a mural or fresco is your next design step, there are a few different ways to begin the design process: commissioning a specialized artist or muralist for custom work ensures a truly one-of-a-kind piece, but for a shorter-term update, murals can be imitated quickly with a variety of high-end wallpapers and decals. No matter the method, murals and frescoes are a striking design element to consider incorporating this year.
Feeling inspired? View more stunning luxury homes featuring impeccable interior design.
Originally published on Sotheby’s International Realty