Rub-on Transfers Lend a Hand-Painted Look to Walls, Furniture—at a Fraction of the Price
Deborah Hansen, a mother of three in Irvington, New York, knew she wanted to do something special for her 6- and 7-year-old daughters’ room. She’d painted the walls in wide stripes of pastel blue and green; she’d covered their favorite chair in a delicate pink flower print.
And then she discovered the Wall Dressed Up ornamental butterflies. “They matched the color of the room beautifully,” says Deborah, who applied the series to the girls’ door and wall. “And they look and feel like they were hand-painted. You absolutely cannot tell I rubbed them on.”
The over-sized butterflies are one of nine mural transfer designs that Wall Dressed Up, a web-based company, offers do-it-yourself decorators. Unlike other wall decoration products, however, these are literally as thin as paint, with no vinyl or paper edge to peel up. A special four-color printing process preserves every brushstroke, every nuanced shade of the original artist’s rendering. With nothing more than an applicator stick, home decorators can apply either a series of small decorative elements or an entire trompe l’oeil mural to smooth or textured surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and furnishings.
Wall Dressed Up is the brainchild of Carol Reynolds and Susan Klassen, fine artists with backgrounds in interior design and textiles. Carol, whose “sideline” of painting custom murals turned into a $500-a-day business, kept musing on how to make her art scalable. “Potential clients would look at my portfolio and say, ‘I want that one!’” she recalls. “They’d want what I’d already painted. Every time I’d be airbrushing a ceiling I’d say to myself, ‘There’s got to be a better way!”
There was—although it took two years for Carol and Sue, a textile designer, to find just the right printer to produce their fine-art designs. “We didn’t want anything that looked like a sticker, or those wallpaper cut-outs you can get at craft stores,” Carol explains. “It had to be high-resolution, something that would cure right into your paint, as if a muralist had done it—but at a fraction of the price.”
The team’s initial portfolio comprises a series of design “elements” that can be intermixed and arranged to give an entire room a custom look. Flowering vines, English ivy, Mediterranean tile, and granite molding work as motifs, whereas the Tuscan Window adds a complete trompe l’oeil effect. Many more designs—Tuscan topiaries, dinosaurs breaking through walls, and patterned, graphic elements—are in the works.
“Once you see how to play with these pieces, you feel like the possibilities are endless,” Carol says. “It’s kind of addictive.”
Indeed, Deborah Hansen is so pleased with the butterfly effect she created that she’s contemplating adding Gerber daisies to her daughters’ white bureau. “I’m going to put them on the drawers, and coordinate the look with a few on the wall,” she muses. “I can see how you could become totally hooked on this product.”