A Whimsical DIY Tree Decal for the Nursery

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When you live in a rental, wall decals are the way to go.  They aren’t permanent but they provide a big impact.  I’ve seen a lot of lovely wall decals online, but their price tags ($60-$150 or more) were not in our budget.  Besides, buying ready-made decals isn’t really our style.  I had a feeling that there was a way to DIY it, and sure enough there was.

I found this tutorial to be indispensable to the process and basically followed the directions exactly.

I’ll summarize the process here, although for more detailed instruction you may want to check out the above mentioned link.

We made the wall decals themselves out of Contact paper.  Contact paper is self adhesive vinyl that is primarily used for shelf liners.  I was a bit skeptical at first that Contact paper would work, because I remembered it being very sticky and I thought it might damage the walls, but after trying out a small sample I realized that it was indeed the perfect material for making wall decals.  The finish on our walls is a semi-gloss, and it is very easy to remove the Contact paper and even reposition it if needed.

When planning our design we started by looking at different wall decals online for inspiration.  I really liked how this image incorporated both a wall decal and an actual tree branch that suspends from the ceiling.  So the first thing that we did was go to our local park to find the perfect branch.  The branch that we found was very light weight; perfect for suspending from a small hook on the ceiling.

Next we went out looking for the perfect colors of Contact paper at Target.  Unfortunately, the selection of contact paper was very limited.  They had a plain white paper, which would have been perfect had our walls been any other color besides white, but for our purposes we had something more like black or brown in mind.  We were able to find a pretty green and white patterned paper, which I thought would work well for making leaves, so we bought a roll of that.

After Target we stopped at Home Depot (I know, I know, I hate Home Depot and vowed never to return after that fiasco with the table legs, but we really wanted to get this project going and not have to order something online).  Though it was a little difficult to locate in the huge expanses of this super sized store, we did locate the Contact paper eventually and found just what we were looking for; a dark brown with a subtle, kitschy, wood veneer pattern.  Perfect!  The two rolls of Contact paper were more than enough to make our tree and cost less than $15 together.

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Now that we had the basic elements it was time to get started!  I sketched out a design in a sketch book then Jon taped up several large sheets of newsprint on the wall to encompass the size tree we wanted to make.  We wanted our tree to be floor to ceiling and incorporate the corner of the room.  After all the paper was in place using painters tape Jon used my sketch to rough out the idea on the wall itself.  Once we had a tree that we were generally happy with, Jon held up the branch to see how we liked how they looked together and  make sure that the base of the branch would intersect with the tree trunk.  Finally, we just cut it out to use as a pattern for the contact paper.  Below are a few pictures of this process.

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Once we had the tree completely cut out we needed to get it traced onto the Contact paper.  We had to make the tree in sections of course so we developed an easy way to divide the tree into different segments then label each section in a way that we’d be able to reconstruct it.  Also, I wanted the branches to follow the “grain” of the printed design on the pattern so we took this into consideration when tracing the pieces.  If your design is not completely symmetrical like ours, you’ll also need to take care that if you trace your pattern on the back of the contact paper, you must also reverse your design, otherwise it will end up being backwards.

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Next came the fun part; sticking cut pieces of Contact paper to the wall.  To do this we started with the bottom most section of the trunk since it was most important that it line up perfectly with the baseboard of the wall.  The rest of the tree then “grew” from that in more or less the way that we had designed it.  There was a bit shifting, but all in all it came out pretty much spot on.  After the “naked” tree was completely on the wall the branch was ready to be installed.  To do this Jon installed a very small hook into the ceiling and used monofilament to hang the branch.  I’m really happy with how well the color of the vinyl matches the color of the branch.

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This was the end of day one.  Luckily, I also had the next day off work so I was able to cut out and stick on the “leaves.”  At first our idea was to make the leaves more “leaf shaped” and kind of floating around the branches, but at the last minute I decided that I liked the more Mid-Century-Modern and “design-y” look of using circles to represent the leaves, kind of like this image.

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After I put the circles on the wall I decided that the actual branch looked too bare, so I sandwiched some of the small branches between more circles.

We wanted to add more elements to our tree with more colors of Contact paper, but since we already knew what was available to us at Target and Home Depot, and since we wouldn’t be needing nearly an entire roll just to make a few birds, butterflies, or flowers, I decided to put a listing up on Freecycle asking if anyone had any leftover Contact paper that they didn’t need.  To my delight I got a reply and was able to make an owl out of some light brown suede contact paper.  A word of caution about the suede material though; it gives a really great texture and is just as easily removed from the wall, but unlike the vinyl kind, this stuff is very flexible and does not hold its shape easily.  I still like the way the owl turned out, though it has more of a “hand drawn” look to it.

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So what do you think of our DIY tree wall decal?  I’d love to hear your comments!  Did you find this post helpful in your own DIY project?  Does this inspire you to make your own wall decals?  If so, please let me know.

Happy crafting!

This post has been linked to;
Show it off party# 21 on Get Outta my Head {Please}
Make Mondays Marvelous on C.R.A.F.T
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays #117 on Coastal Charm
Tutorials & Tips Link party {63} on Home Stories A2Z
Take-A-Look Tuesday on Sugar Bee Crafts
Too Cute Tuesday: Linky Par-Tay #97 on Funky Polkadot Giraffe

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9 Comments

Filed under Home, Tutorials

9 responses to “A Whimsical DIY Tree Decal for the Nursery

  1. Lisa

    Always inspired by what you are creating! 🙂

  2. I love it !!! I use contact paper for the same thing! Great Use
    Hugs

    Thanks for linking up

  3. deedee

    I knew if I googled hand made wall tree I would find some helpful soul that would make my day. Amazing

  4. I love it. My husband and I have been trying for two years to have our first and I’m finally giving up hope and looking at fostering to adopt… so I have to have the nursery set up for fosters! This looks like something we could do!

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