Painting a Tree for the Nursery

When we found out we were pregnant, one of the first things I knew was that I wanted a mural of some kind in the nursery.  Something soft and calming, and – most importantly – something I could do myself.  Given that the carpeting in the room is green and still in great condition, warm blue walls and a tree seemed like a reasonable choice (even before we knew we were having a girl). 

That said, once we knew our little one was a girl, I wanted something a little more floral, particularly since the nursery prints we chose focused around gender neutral images of animals native to our area: foxes and skunks and squirrels.  I’ll have a more complete nursery post up once we hang the curtains later today, but I thought starting with the tree would be a good idea.  Now, in order to paint the tree where I wanted it, Jason and his dad had to do quite a bit of work preparing the room and sheet-rocking the north wall, which I hoped would make the room cozier and more complete. 

The former guest room, when we were using it as a guest room.

The former guest room, when we were using it as a guest room.

Cleaned out for baby...

Cleaned out for baby…


It took about one day for Jason and his dad to install the sheet rock, and during that time, his mom put down a coat of primer over the existing teal-green paint.  We decided to paint the room with Benjamin Moore’s Riviera Azure 822, which has soft lavender undertones, particularly in the late afternoon.  While I had thought about buying their Aura paint, we went with the Regal Select Interior paint in eggshell and were perfectly happy with its coverage and low VOC status.  My doctor had already nixed my helping with the painting, anyway, so it wasn’t as though I was being exposed.  I was surprised how little the paint smelled (they did keep the windows open) and how quickly any remaining smell dissipated. 

Sheet Rocking: Day 1

Sheet Rocking: Day 1

It took almost a week for the sheet rock mud to dry and be sanded away properly before Jason and his mom could complete a second coat of primer and paint the room (they did two coats, just to be sure of coverage).

Benjamin Moore Riviera Azure 822

Benjamin Moore Riviera Azure 822


Once the paint dried, I started working on the tree.  Now, I’d looked at TONS of trees (you can see evidence of this over on my Pinterest site), but I’d fallen in love with the “Tree of Life” print from Ruth Baker.  The problem was that with humidity fluctuations here in the summer and winter, I didn’t want to be constantly replacing bits and pieces of a tree on the north wall of my nursery.  Add in toddler hands that might want to peel it off, and I knew I had to paint it, myself. 

Ruth Baker Tree Decal

In addition to this, there were parts of the design that didn’t really fit with my image of the nursery.  I didn’t love the roots at the bottom, the birds were a bit cartoonish for my taste , and the colors didn’t quite match our palette.

So I got to work on creating my own using a few simple tools.  I purchased a Bohin Mechanical Chalk Pencil from Amazon, knowing that I needed it for a quilting project I was already working on.  This tool was invaluable, as it allowed me to sketch my tree trunk before I painted it; and as soon as I was done and the paint was dry, the chalk came right off with a dry rag.  I also purchased two stencils, one of birch leavesand another of flowers.  You could freehand these if you wanted, but I found a stencil much easier to use. 

I started by sketching my tree in chalk on the north wall of the bedroom.


I know it’s difficult to see, but there is a tree sketched here.

Using simple, matte acrylic paints from Walmart and Michaels, I created a base coat on the entire tree and then mixed in some black and started shading around the edges to give the tree some depth using a few paint brushes that we’d picked up at a craft store.

Shading for Depth

Shading for Depth

DSC_0294This process took an afternoon.  Notice that I didn’t add every little branch.  I painted most of the smaller bits in after I started stenciling on the leaves and flowers.  The problem I encountered stenciling (using a variety of small stencil brushes) was that I was trying to do WAY too much at once.  I had all of my lighter flower colors out; I was trying to switch back and forth between flowers and leaves, and I was up and down over and over again, which is not so much fun at 26 weeks pregnant. 

Initial Stenciling

Initial Stenciling

So I quickly changed tactics and painted all the leaves, followed by all of the flowers, which gave me better control over where colors were being distributed.


Completed Tree

After two days of work, I was left with a floral tree that matched the other colors in the nursery and completely fulfilled my vision.

Coming soon… adding the trim to frame and finish the room!




2 thoughts on “Painting a Tree for the Nursery

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