October 21, 2013

Snow Leopard Wallpaper Mural DIY

Holy crap. I have a snow leopard wall mural in my dining room. This, of course, means that my life is finally complete. I’ve been using the super cheap engineer prints you can get at Kinko’s or Staples all over our new house, and it occurred to me one day that since you can make those prints as long as you want, it might be possible to make a wallpaper type mural out of the prints.

Once I decided that the possibility of it working was too cool not to give it a try, all I had to do was decide what the subject of the mural should be. It didn’t take long before the obvious answer of a giant snow leopard came to me. I mean, I shouldn’t even have to explain that one. Whenever people ask those “if you were an animal, what would you be and why” questions, I always say snow leopard; they have the prettiest fur coats in all the animal kingdom AND they can stalk you down and eat you for breakfast. I was pretty sure Todd would love the idea, but just in case, I tried to act casual when I mentioned the idea to Todd over a dinner date one night. His eyes got huge and he said he couldn’t wait to get home and look through photos of leopards. Do I know my guy, or what?

I’ve had this triangle statement wall up for the past year, and as much as I loved it, something had to give to make way for the leopard. We used some leftover primer from our cabinet restyle and painted the wall white again so that the colors wouldn’t bleed through the mural paper. 

Supplies needed: Photo divided into three sections and printed as engineer prints, wallpaper paste, paint roller, small brush, ladder, straight pins, and an X-Acto knife.

1.) First I measured the wall to determine how big my photo would need to be printed.  At Kinko’s, they could only print up to 36 inches wide, so I made sure to keep my strips at around 35 inches wide so I wouldn’t lose any printing on the edges. I was able to cover the wall (and a few inches extra just to be safe) in three strips of wallpaper that were each 35 inches wide, so I knew I had to edit my photo into three strips that matched those dimensions. 2.) I edited my snow leopard photo in Photoshop and cropped it into three parts that matched the dimensions of my wallpaper strips. (Note: Since your file will end up pretty big if you make it the exact dimensions of the wall, you can also make your document a third of the scale you need and ask the printer to blow it up to your dimensions when you go to have it printed). Remember, this photo is going to be blown up pretty big, so try and choose the best quality photo you can find for the least amount of pixelation in your final product. 3.) Have your photo strips printed and ask them to trim off the white edges so your photo will meet together like wallpaper does.

4.)  Pour some wallpaper paste into a paint tray and roll a thin layer of the paste onto the wall where the center panel will be hung. It’s very important to put the paste on the wall instead of on the paper as engineer prints are so much thinner than regular wallpaper and start to warp quickly when wet. Using pencil marks on the wall as a hanging guide, hang your center panel (starting at the top) and smooth out the air bubbles. The smallest bubbles can be smoothed by hand, while the bigger one require a little poke with a straight pin to release the air before it will be smoothed flat. We did have a few bigger wrinkles that ended up making a bit of a crease when smoothed, but that’s one of the reasons we chose a busier photo; it helps to hide imperfections. You can also use a small brush to add more paste under the side seams so they won’t curl up while drying.

I will admit that I totally freaked when I saw the amount of air bubbles that this thin paper produced, but I was able to smooth out a lot of them by hand (or by poking them) and we noticed that the bubbles also started to disappear as the wall dried.

5.) Repeat the process with your two side panels. If you want to make sure that your photo panels will meet in the perfect spot, you can tape the top of your panel in place with painter’s tape to get the placing just right. Paste and smooth the bottom portion on the wall first, and once the bottom is pasted, carefully remove the tape, and finish the top half. Also, while your side panel is taped and before you paste it to the wall, make a crease where the mural is hitting the wall and use an X-Acto knife to trim the extra paper. 6.) Trim any extra paper from the top or bottom of your mural (don’t forget to cut holes for outlets if you have any) and you’re finished!Having this leopard mural is kind of a dream project for us cat lovers, so we were thrilled that it actually worked- and the whole thing only cost about $60 for the size of our wall! You can’t beat that!

If you’re craving a big change for a small price, this leopard wall will definitely hit the spot! Me-OW!


43 thoughts on “Snow Leopard Wallpaper Mural DIY

  1. Miriam

    OMG this is amazing!!!! I was tempted to use all caps to drive my point home, but didn’t want to yell at you. But seriously, this is the best DIY I have EVER seen. Ever. In all the history of DIYs.
    I fricking love it, and I’m more of a dog person. So cool!

  2. Karlee

    This is beautiful Laura! I was a little bummed to see the Triangle statement wall go – but this is pretty freaking stellar!

  3. Kate

    This is by far the coolest DIY home project I’ve seen. Ever. I’m totally going to try this out in my office with my favorite cats — ocelots! Thanks for the inspiration! It’s so nice to find a blogger with a style similar to mine. You rock, Laura!

  4. Robyn

    Can your house get any more perfect!? Snow Leopards are my favorite of the big cats – I still remember my reaction to an extended trailer for Planet Earth in the movie theatres – and when I saw the footage of the Snow Leopard hunting on the mountain side, I nearly cried. I knew how rare that sight is, and for them to capture it on film and me seeing it on a giant screen – it was pretty emotional.

    Sorry for the tangent, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this! And I love it! Nicely done – oh, and the picture of Todd running away – hysterical. I don’t think my hubby would go for a giant snow leopard in our house… if it was a giant robot, I don’t think he’d mind though.

  5. Kelsi Dean

    This is the singe greatest DIY I have ever seen. O.M.G. I immediately emailed this to my husband and said “we have to do this!!!!” Snow leopards are my favorite animal too! What was the resolution of the photo you used? I am curious what size would be too small. I have been wondering what to do with the wall in our dining room- right now I have it covered with records, which is cool, but I’m ready for a change. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      Hi Kelsi!
      The photo we used was 1920 x 1200 pixels and it seemed to be pretty good once we blew it up :)

      Hope yours works out!


  6. ravenjanedoh

    As I sat squinting and reading; warm mug of tea in hand … hair in the frizzy updo bun of morning apathy, I was almost launched into the hereafter by the decibel level of a scream that erupted just behind my ear. My half stalker, half ninja, seventeen year old daughter had, apparently, snuck up behind me. Lured in like a zombified moth to a Bic lighter, she had caught sight of your FREAKIN AMAZING snow leopard and came in for a closer look. So now I’ve had to make a promise, upon pain of death and tacky mom pants, that as soon as we get a place of our own, we now have to have a tiger wall. Which is fine by me, because we’re going to have a bat wall now too … someplace unexpected … like behind the door in the bathroom. Maybe then, with those bug eyes staring at him, my husband will be able to do his business in under an hour. Life just got infinitely more pleasant, so thanks for the post. ::ImNotWorthy!!::

  7. East Coast Creative Blog

    Hey Laura! I LOVE how you can order your engineer prints in long strips! I’ve never asked our Staples if they can do it! It’s such a great idea! I clicked on your link for “engineer prints” to see where it would take me, and I gasped when I saw it took me to our engineer print project! I’m a big fan of you and the ABM team, so it made my day! I’m definitely going to give a wall mural a try!
    East Coast Creative

  8. Kelly Louise

    omg this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. my boyfriend and I are obsessed with big cats! he’s gonna lose his shit when I show him this! I think I see a lioness on our wall in our future… :)

  9. Christina Lynn

    WOWZERS! I love this idea! A graphic mural like this would take my small dining nook from bland to fab! It looks amazing!! I can’t stop using exclamation points!!

  10. Jeannine D.

    Super! I love it! My favorite animal on the planet. Since holding a baby snow leopard 20 years ago I’ve fallen deeply in love with this cat. I’m trying to figure out where to do this in my home. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Lacey

    I’ve been looking for something great for the room we will be homeschooling in and my daughter would loooove this!! Is there any way I could be totally lazy and use your file?? I would appreciate it so much!!!

  12. Susan T

    INCREDIBLE! Love it! I’ve been wanting to do a statement wall in my apartment, but we are not allowed to paint and I am wondering if I could get away with doing something like this… Would the glue damage the wall or paint at all? What are your thoughts? Thanks!

  13. ruby

    hi laura! love following your projects over at abm. your creativity is inspiring and awesome. just found this site via ur statement wall link. i am so curious how the snow leopard wall has worn now that its been a few months. how does it look closer up? would you do the same process again? do you have any idea how hard or possible it will be to remove the ‘wall paper’ if you ever want to change it in the future? i am excited to try this. thank you!

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      It’s in exactly the same condition as the day we put it up! It’s wearing really well so far but since we haven’t taken it down yet, I’m not sure about that part :)


  14. ashleigh

    Where did you get your strips printed? I’ve been looking at ordering them online from Staples, but it seems like they only come in set sizes. Do you have to go into the store to get them printed at a custom size? (So cool by the way, thanks for posting this!)

    1. thebandwifeblog Post author

      I got them printed at Kinkos, but I’ve done it at Staples too. I don’t know if you can do it online though, I always do it in the store :)



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