Kristin Alvarado is an interior designer at CW Design & Decor, serving clients on Bainbridge Island, Seattle, and beyond.
With the blessed return of color and pattern to the design world, wallpaper has made a stunning comeback. I have spent my fair share of time drooling and yearning over the glorious, curious, colorful, and swoony choices available. To wrap a room in repeated visual elements (subtle and tasteful, packed with bright flora and fauna, styled or realistic) evokes child-like wonder in my whimsy-loving soul. Yet, wallpaper is not for every space nor every budget.
I have been painting murals for twenty-five years, hearkening back to the young and penniless years when my babies were small, houses impermanent and paint cheap (ahem, budget-friendly). Because re-creating the Sistine Chapel was never my goal, I had a lot of room for creative license. There were the many birch tree forests that suited childrens’ rooms, pre-schools, and, not one, but two of my living rooms. There were the ever-popular beach scenes: palm trees, sand, and blue skies. Remember the pop of silhouetted kids on skateboards, bouncing balls, and bicycles? This was the nineties, people. Of course, we cannot forget the cherry tree branches, they were absolutely everywhere. One of my favorites was a stylized tree and flower number, a design I borrowed from a car ad and spent a month creating in my brick, Tudor home’s grand living room. Here it is:
At one point, when a client of mine had plans to move in the near future, I hit upon a brilliant idea to create moveable murals. If you are a commitment-phobe, plan to move, or would like the option of relocating the art to another room in the future, what better solution than “mural boards”? I made up the term, but it’s pretty self-explanatory: murals on boards. The cool thing about commissioning a mural on board is that there is absolutely no intrusion into your personal space (in the form of me practically living at your house for days on end with paintbrush in hand) and it also allows for the added creative option of collage (glued-on paper images). Here are two mural board commissions circa the early 2000s:
Right before the holidays, I was thrilled to paint a feature wall for a client as a dramatic backdrop behind her bed. Here is the story in pictures.
I kid you not, the “Making of a Mural” posts of this project received more giddy feedback than anything I have ever put on social media. This tells me that we all yearn for something unexpected. We are delighted to see something that doesn’t fall under the “safe” design category.
My very latest collaboration, finished just a couple weeks ago, was a Scandinavian-inspired wall at Indigo Plum Footwear right downtown in (you guessed it) “little Norway”, aka Poulsbo. I aptly named this one: “Little Mural in Little Norway”. I know – the creativity never ends. My happy shop owner requested iconic Scandi symbols, wooden clogs, and two little boys to represent, not only the heritage of her little town, but also the business itself and her family. We met and chose colors and themes to ensure that she would receive exactly what she desired. We would make room to add more Scandi babies should the future bring that blessing. The mural was completed just in time for her grand re-opening party celebrating her recent acquisition of the company.
This is something I truly love to do: creating out-of-the-ordinary and personal moments of whimsy and beauty in my beloved clients’ homes and businesses. I would love to collaborate on a mural that speaks to your soul. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org