Large-format printing calls for a chemical and heat-transfer process that reproduces your favorite images as wallcoverings or murals. (Charlotte Observer/MCT)


Use favorite photos to create custom wallpaper

  • Article by: Michael Solender
  • Charlotte Observer
  • April 19, 2013 - 1:53 PM

Maybe you traveled to Hawaii and vowed to always remember the shimmering sunsets. Turns out that isn’t so hard, as long as you have great pictures.

Custom wallcoverings can put Paris, the Great Pyramids or fall colors of the Great Smoky Mountains on your walls. As a result, large-format digital printing is taking hold as a way to make a generic home more of a personal space.

Who needs floral wallpaper when sports and movies are what matter to you? Smaller images also can become a room’s focal point. Used in multiples, your children’s smiling faces or your cat’s paw prints can make a custom pattern.

Digital images

The technology to turn personal photos into wallcoverings has been available for more than a decade, but residential customers are now discovering its possibilities, said Jackie Just, spokeswoman for Murals Your Way ( in Hopkins. “It’s become more popular — people see a lot of it on design shows and how easily you can customize a space.”

Just about any photo can be converted into a mural or wallcovering, Just said, provided there are no licensing issues. But personal photos of your family’s vacation or your kids at play are at your disposal. It doesn’t even have to be a photo, Just said. “It could be your children’s artwork.”

The company can produce a custom mural in a week or less, at an approximate cost of $300 to $400 for an average mural, Just said, and the image can be sized to fit the dimensions of your wall. Murals Your Way produces custom murals in three formats: peel-and-stick ($10/square foot), vinyl ($9/square foot) or canvas ($11/square foot); the latter two require adhesive, such as wallpaper paste.

Large wall murals of jungle, forest and mountain scenes are also available at retailers such as Lowe’s. Prices start at under $100 for an image that is 100 by 164 inches. These are typically do-it-yourself projects, but a contractor who is well-versed in wallpaper probably could step in if you lack the time or skills.

Wall murals, cutouts

If you’re crazy about the Vikings and want a life-size image of Adrian Peterson exploding off your living room wall, then Fathead wall murals or cutouts might be your scene.

Fathead ( has licenses for peel-and-stick sports and entertainment wall murals and sells them in several sizes. So now there’s one more way for “Star Trek” fans to let Capt. Kirk and his sidekick, Mr. Spock, live long and prosper. The collection also gives Disney fans a cast to choose from.

Custom printing is available to supersize your own superstars or scenes with your personal photographs or images. Prices start at around $25 for an 8-by-10-inch die cut to $140 for a 48-by-78-inch premium-quality image.

Custom wallpaper

Homeowners seeking a more traditional look often choose textures or bold patterns as a way to add accent and focus, according to Brock McLendon, owner of Brock Moran Home, an interior design shop in Charlotte, N.C. Just about any image can be turned into wallpaper, but be advised that some companies set a minimum number of rolls per order, he said.

Greg Walsh of Walsh Design Group (, Minneapolis, recently worked with a local firm, Area Environments (, to create custom wallpaper for Walsh’s room vignette at the American Craft Council show in St. Paul. Walsh chose a pattern that was then “super-sized” to create an image resembling a “cloudy watermark,” he said, in custom colors chosen to match an artisan-made rug.

Wallpaper printed to mimic natural textures, such as grass cloth and hemp, can lend warmth and comfort to a space, McLendon said. Geometric patterns also are increasingly popular — “a great way to add dramatic flair.”


Staff writer Kim Palmer contributed to this report.


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