Interior designer Janie Molster’s clients wanted to change the look of their dining room, but they couldn’t find a wallpaper that ticked all the boxes: motif, style, color palette. The solution: a custom mural by the H.J. Holtz & Son decorative arts team.

“The room is a pass-through to other areas, so we wanted to give it its own sense of place,” says Molster, principal of Janie Molster Designs. “A wall mural creates a wonderful environment, and we knew the Holtz team could create anything we wanted.”

Molster and the homeowner supplied the Holtz & Son decorative arts team – Brian Smith, Logan Porter and Eli Smith – with a wish list of ideas to be used in creating a woodland scene. The team responded with samples that showed the background color, trees and leaves, and birds.

“The trees were from the previous paper, but we needed to tweak the color,” says Brian Smith. “For the birds, they sent us the color scheme, and we had to do some research to find birds that had those colors.”

After some back-and-forth, the plan was set, and work began.

Molster says the biggest challenge of a custom mural from a designer’s perspective is that the homeowner can’t really see the image until it’s on the wall.

“When we were working with our client, we said we’ll get the sample as close to perfect as possible, but we’ve worked with [Holtz & Son] for 25 years, and we know they’re going to stay with us until we nail it,” she says.

And the biggest advantage of a custom mural?

“The benefit is the infinite customization that’s available; it can be tweaked as it’s being created,” Molster says. “Once the team got the structure of it up, we could see if we needed to add a branch or a bird.”

In this case, adjustments included altering the intensity of color on a bird’s breast and the whimsical addition of a bird not originally in the plans.

“The clients’ adult sons came home as the mural was being painted and weighed in,” Molster laughs. “They wanted a red cardinal, as an inside family joke.”

The cardinal was a surprise, Smith says, given that the male’s vivid scarlet feathers didn’t fit with the established color scheme. In the end, the decorative arts team worked with the homeowner to find a suitable spot for the bird – tucked into a corner. “I let her point exactly where she wanted it, so that’s where we put it,” Smith says.

To create the muted palette of ivories and sandy beiges, the Holtz team applied layer upon layer of color, creating depth and movement that would be found in nature. “We started with a greenish-gray and applied four different layers, plus a step of distressing, to make it look old,” Smith says.

The client could not be happier, Molster says. “It’s simple and elegant, which is exactly what she wanted. And it was executed flawlessly.”

Molster is also pleased with the outcome.

“We always feel like we’re in extremely competent hands when we work with H.J. Holtz & Son; we always walk away feeling better than we ever imagined,” she says. “It’s the beauty of having true artisans on the job.”