Pastoral Spring mural.
Before Susan Harter Muralpapers, interior designers who wanted a mural had two options. They could hire an artist, or buy imported mural wallpapers.
Hiring an artist made designers nervous. What if the artist doesn’t finish on time? On budget? What if the client doesn’t like the end result? Once, a designer told Susan about a muralist who decided, on a whim, to paint a very realistic mouse onto the wall – for a client who was terrified of them. “Guess who got the 4am phone call?” the designer asked.
Because of this, designers often felt safer buying mural wallpaper from companies like de Gournay, Gracie Studios, Paul Montgomery, and Zuber. These imported papers are gorgeous, but they also have complications. They are hand-painted on handmade papers overseas, and can be costly and slow to arrive.
They can also be tricky to install. Susan once watched a paperhanger, a “big burly man”, reduced to tears trying to install a fragile imported wallpaper. “I just ruined eight-thousand dollars in paper!” he cried, “The designer’s gonna to kill me!” He knew the replacement rolls could take weeks to arrive and then not match.
Witnessing designer’s struggles, Susan wondered, What if there was a way to make wallpaper that looked just like my hand-painted murals?
She turned to her tech-genius husband, Matt. He developed a trade-secret method to copy Susan’s work. Starting with life-size murals, he made one-to-one replicas, like they do in museums, and printed them with archival inks on artist’s canvas. When he handed the first one to Susan, she was puzzled. “Why are you showing me my original painting?” she asked. “I’m not,” he answered, “that’s the copy.” Even Susan couldn’t tell them apart.
Now, Susan is thrilled to have a wallpaper that answers all the designer’s concerns. It looks hand-painted, but is easier than working with an artist on-site. It is subtle and pretty like the imported papers, but it ships faster. Installers say it goes up “like a dream.” If they do happen to make a mistake, a new, matching roll can be rushed out right away.
Designers love it. “I thought the concept was pretty genius!” says one. “It’s so gorgeous! A real work of art,” says another. Susan’s muralpapers have appeared in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and the Washington Post, and homes throughout the world.
But what makes Susan happiest are comments like these: “It makes me happy every time I see it. Thank you for making my house a home!”
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I’m happiest when people don’t even notice the mural right away. I don’t want them to say “What a pretty mural.” I want them to say, “What a pretty room!”