* Prices may differ from that shown
At the end of last year my family and I finally moved house. It was a huge thing for us as our house had been on the market for 3 years and we were giving up hope. We were desperate to move into a particular village but the houses were so expensive. Then we chance upon what is now our home. Previously owned by a lady who had 'let it go', the state of it put off all other potential buyers, but happily for us, meant the price had been dropped significantly. We were able to look past all the work that needed doing and could see that it would be worth it in the end.
Before we even moved in, we knew our priority would be decorating our 3 year old son's room and making it as homely as possible for him. We knew there was going to be a lot of building work and disturbances in the house over the coming months and we wanted him to have his room as his little escape place. His room in our previous house had been decorated before he was born so this would be his first chance at having a say in what he wanted in his room. We explained to him that we were going to make his room nice and asked what he would like. I was a little worried when he said red walls, blue carpet and green curtains but thankfully he quickly changed his mind! After thinking about it for a few days, he decided he would really like animals on his wall. My son LOVES anything to do with animals so I knew he had made a sensible choice.
I began my quest for the perfect decorations but it was not as easy as I first thought. You would imagine an animal theme would be quite easy to find but almost all the wallpaper or borders I found were too babyish, like they were designed for a nursery. I wanted something that would last him more than a year before he grew out of it. I was beginning to think I may have to have a go at painting animals on his wall but I wasn't too sure how impressed he would be at my attempts at an elephant! With less than a week to go before the move, and with me already practising drawing elephants and other animals, my friend happened to mention something she had seen at her sister's house. She described it as a flowery mural and said it was a whole wall scene that was like wallpaper but made a big picture. She didn't know where she had got it, and had no idea if they did children's versions, but at least I had something to search for on the internet.
That night, after a very quick search on Google, I found exactly what I was looking for. I simply typed in 'wallpaper mural for kids' and up came around 30 designs from a range called Walltastic. The Walltastic range are wallpaper murals designed specifically for children's rooms. Straight away I spotted a jungle animal design, it was just what I wanted so I ordered it straight away. It was priced at £34.99 which I thought was a great price as it would cover the entire main wall in my son's new room. The murals measure 10 feet wide by 8 feet high. Instead of coming on a roll like wallpaper, the mural comes in 12 strips that make up a full scene.
*Putting up the mural*
My husband and I have never attempted wallpapering so I called on my Dad, an expert at wallpapering, to help out. After having a look at the mural, he got rather nervous. The main difference between this mural and regular wallpaper is that there is no room for error. With regular wallpaper you just have to line up the pattern if there is one. Even better if there is no pattern and you've just got to worry about getting the paper straight. However, this mural is made up of 12 separate pieces that all have a different piece of the final picture on. You put them together to make the big picture, kind of like a huge jigsaw. If a piece is put up even slightly too high or low, it could completely ruin the final picture. Added to that, if you place a piece incorrectly and then rip it when peeling it off, you can't just use another piece of wallpaper. You get one shot at putting this mural up so it has to be done carefully.
Having said that. after the initial nerves the mural turned out to be very simple to put up. The sheets don't come ready pasted, so you need to provide your own paste. We decided to start with sheet number 3, which would be one of the middle ones at the top, then to work outwards from there. That seemed the best way to get the mural central in the wall. The first one went up very easily, so all was going well. Then the tricky part started and we had to line up the second sheet perfectly. My expert Dad managed this much better than I ever could have and we found that there is room to move the paper slightly if you don't get it exactly where you want on the first go. My Dad continued papering the wall and actually found it much easier than first anticipated. The process is much slower than papering with normal wallpaper as you have to be so much more careful, but the process isn't that much harder.
Although I was pleased the mural went up so well, I was concerned with the initial appearance of it. There were A LOT of air bubbles under the paper, far more than I have ever seen with normal paper. To be honest I was very worried that the bubbles would stay as it did totally ruin the look of the mural. We smoothed the paper with a damp cloth but that didn't really do much. My Dad suggested that it might improve once it had dried out but I wasn't too hopeful. Thankfully, by the next morning every single air bubble had completely disappeared and the mural looked wonderful. I have no idea why it had so many air bubbles or why they disappeared overnight, I'm just very pleased they did.
The mural has now been up for around 7 months and is doing well. There is no sign of peeling at the edges and it looks in excellent condition.
*My son's reaction*
My son couldn't wait to see his new room (he had slept in our room the night before) and so ran straight in as soon as he woke up. He was absolutely overjoyed with it and kept saying "WOW!" and naming all the animals he could see. As I've said, the mural has been on his wall for around 7 months and he looks at it every day. He often incorporates it in his play and we use it frequently for making up stories about the animals. I feel he has got a lot more benefit from this jungle animal mural than he ever would have from normal wallpaper. I can imagine as he gets older we will be doing activities like drawing the animals. He has already started asking me questions about them and we have even had to do 'research' on the internet to answer the many questions I don't know the answer to! I didn't expect that the mural would end up being so educational but it has certainly been a welcome bonus.
*Styles and availability*
There are over 30 different Walltastic designs including: princess, football, sea adventure, pirates, dinosaurs, fairies, space, mermaids and ponies. There are also murals featuring popular cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig, Thomas, Fireman Sam, Ben 10, Barbie and many more. I really think there would be a style to suit every child as there is such a huge choice of styles to suit a wide variety of age ranges.
The main stockist for Walltastic in the UK seems to be www.101kidsdeco.com. They sell the main murals at £34.89. The character murals are more expensive at £44.89. I think these prices are still very reasonable as the mural really does transform the entire room. I think you could easily pay that for normal wallpaper and it would be nothing like as effective. Some of our friends have asked about the mural and nobody can believe how cheap it was, it certainly looks like it should costs far more.
Because the mural is so detailed, you don't really need to have much on the other walls. We have painted all the other walls a very pale green to complement the jungle theme and this was very cheap as we just used a B+Q own brand paint. We have totally revamped our son's room for about £80 which I think is a fantastic price.
In conclusion, I am very happy that I decided to buy the Walltastic mural for my son's room. It went up more easily than expected, it looks fantastic, has unexpected educational benefits, is great value for money and most importantly my son adores it.