DIY: Birch tree wall decals

So one of the first projects for the nursery was figuring out wall decor — we painted the walls two shades of grey and I wanted a cool mural or motif on one feature wall. I really liked the idea of bare birch trees since she’s a winter baby and there are some really pretty ones out there but I didn’t want to fork out the $70 for them in case I put them on the wall and decided I hated them. Turns out that making them yourself was a) not terribly hard to do and b) very very inexpensive (like, six bucks)!

I have to admit I’m not the first person to have thought of this — there are some great tutorials out there (like here, and here). Here’s my stab at how to DIY birch tree decals.

Materials:

1 roll of adhesive contact paper/shelf liner (I went with basic white from Target, an 18” by 24’ roll was just $6)

Scissors

Masking tape / painters tape

How to do this yourself:

1. Measure the height of your room (mine was about 8 feet) and cut out two lengths of contact paper that are the height plus 3-4 inches — since your trees will be slightly slanted from the vertical.

2. On the back of your contact paper, sketch out your tree trunks roughly according to the pattern below, where for the first sheet, you have Trunk #1 that has a 6” wide base, and grows to have a fork in it that is 12” wide, and Trunk #2 which starts off 6” wide at the base and tapers to 4” wide at the top. And leave the section in the middle for later to cut out some extra branches. The second sheet just has 4 trunks, each has a 5” base tapering to 4” (but two are upside down, so they fit nicely on one sheet).

3. Cut out your 6 tree trunks, taking the liberty not to cut exact straight lines but curving them slightly to give your trees a more realistic and organic look.

4. Use masking tape to start laying them out on your wall and get a sense for how you’d like them to look. Trim the ends to be level with the ceiling and base. As you lay them out, cut out a couple extra branches from the leftover piece from the first sheet to add to the tree trunks. The extra branches don’t need to fit exactly at this point, you can experiment with how it looks and trim them to fit later.

5. Now we turn these regular tree trunks into birch trees by adding the little cut outs to the trunks. It’s probably easier to make these cuts before you have them up on the wall, but I liked seeing it up so I could decide the cuts looked best based on the overall layout. Make little V-shape cuts into the trunks (two side by side ones look more birch-like), alternating the left and right sides of the trunk, and use masking tape to prevent the contact paper from pulling the cuts wider.

6. Now the fun part — actually getting the trunks stuck onto the wall! Starting at the top, peel down the backing paper and slowly press the contact paper to the wall, being sure to smooth out any bubbles. Be extra careful around the v-cuts.

7. With the tree trunks stuck on the wall, adjust and trim the extra branches and then similarly peel off the backing paper to get them stuck onto the wall. I made the branches look as if they were completely connected to the tree trunks by trimming them in a straight line along the edge adjoining the trunks so you could barely see a gap.

8. All done! This project took me a couple of hours to pull off but it was extremely rewarding. I kept it spartan but you could also think about adding leaves, birds, owls.. have fun!