Your neighbors might have fairies in their bedroom. Or birds from Connecticut in their dining room. Or a vineyard in their living room.

At least, that’s the impression they want to give you when visiting their house.

Many homeowners are commissioning murals to decorate rooms and create personal scenes. Using imagination and lots of hard work, neighborhood artists can transform a simple room into a different time and place.

“It takes it from a bare space to something enchanting that you love looking at everyday,” says Gwen Bell, a Preston Hollow resident who professionally paints murals. “It’s different than wallpaper … it gives you the feeling of being where the scene is.”

Bell’s firm, Mirage Murals, has painted castles, carousels and vineyards in people’s homes. It’s an affordable alternative, she says — often less expensive than buying a painting and having it framed.

“It’s a unique, one of a kind piece of art for them,” Bell says. “It really is a conversation piece. Not everyone has one.”

Muralist Suzy Moritz- Rawdin, who lives in East Dallas, says a mural is very personal. In one house, she painted fairies in a little girl’s bedroom and a retro rock ‘n’ roll scene in the girl’s brother’s room.

“It really adds a depth, an artistic value to a space,” Moritz-Rawdin says. “It’s very personal. Your space — it makes it your own.”

Chrishana Vaughter, who grew up in Lake Highlands, says a mural creates a trompe l’oeil effect, a French term meaning trick of the eye. It can give the illusion of a bigger space or a different place.

When commissioning a mural, Vaughter says she works with clients to give them pretty much whatever they want. Recently, she painted a dining room with trees and birds. The client was from Connecticut and wanted her native state’s birds included with the mural. Vaughter bought a book and sat with the client to pick which birds would be painted on the wall.

She says most people have an idea of what they want, but if they don’t, she shows them her portfolio. Based on the images they like and their tastes, she’ll custom-design something on her computer.

“Some people are not good at visualizing things,” Vaughter says. “I make sure they see what’s in my brain. They know what they’re going to get. And I know what to provide.”

Moritz-Rawdin says it is important to interview the person whose room she will paint, even a child, since they will be living with it. Based on the information she gets from a client and the colors in the room, Moritz-Rawdin will sketch the mural before she begins working. A mural can make a child’s room fun and bring out their creativity, she says.

“That’s my punch line — wall murals surround your child’s imagination,” Moritz-Rawdin says.

Prices can vary. Vaughter has done murals ranging in price from $450 to $12,000, depending on the size of the space and the detail of the mural.

How long it takes to paint a mural depends on the size of the space and what the mural entails. It takes about a week for Bell to paint a 10-by-12-foot room, and she sometimes works with other muralists to complete the job faster. 

Moritz-Rawdin has painted numerous nurseries and children’s room, from large images that take up the entire room to small details that highlight a certain space. 

Bell says powder rooms also are popular, because it’s a room that most guests go in and many homeowners want to look nice.

No matter what room the mural is in, when it’s done, Vaughter says the reactions are all the same: “’Wow!’ The reason I do this is the wow factor,” she says.

Want To See More?

Visit the featured muralists’ websites:

Gwen Bell, Mirage Murals —

Suzy Moritz-Rauding —

Chrishana Vaughter, Banana Ink —

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.