Somehow with Anna's room we landed on the theme of 'Hawaii'. Tiki huts, grass skirts, palm trees and garish shirts aside, in my mind, this translates into a single image... Volcanos
This stumped me a bit, because what makes a volcano particularly Hawaiian and not Japanese, Russian or Italian? Perhaps its name, a sunset background and the odd silhouette of a palm tree? - I wasn't convinced, that could still be the Canary Islands. This was getting a little too complicated.
Moving on, Johanana identified the Hibiscus as the quintessential Hawaiian flower. It happens also to be quite attractive. But looking online for stencils or vinyl flowers was fruitless... stencils were all too small, and vinyl expensive and came with a color-matching issue. The only option left was to find a design and just paint them onto the wall.
In that search I came across several flowers and an image of a girl who wasn't particularly Hawaiian until I added the hair flower and flattened/minimized her nose. I liked her simplicity.
I needed to get the image onto the wall so I could sketch some guidelines. For this, I either had to borrow a projector from work which was risky from the 'technology and paint don't mix' standpoint, or build something to project the image.
First I tried an old smartphone, the HTC Incredible, which has a fairly bright screen. Put that in a shoebox with a magnifying glass as a lens... and in a really dark room (the garage for example, projecting onto the inside of the garage door) did actually work, but at the size I wanted, 4-5 ft it was getting really hard to see. More importantly, I didn't much like the idea of climbing ladders in a pitch black room.
So, I built this instead:
Both of these are top down views.
The lens is a 35mm projector lens, and was $6 or so on ebay. It came with this awesome USPS box accessory which was structurally and optically critical for holding the heavy lens in place.
Using books, blue tape, a reel of LEDs waiting to be installed in the kitchen for a low-heat bright light source, and a ladder to elevate it (I had built no capabilities for keystone adjustment), I was able to project a good, reasonably bright rectangle of light.
Cleaning up and printing the designs onto transparency sheets was simple, as was tracing the image onto the wall lightly with a pencil. The size of the projection was controlled a combination of ladder distance and size of the image on the transparency. I had printed 3 different sizes of each design, mounted them in a cardboard frame and taped them at approximately the focal point in the box.
Pulling the lens in or out of the box adjusted the focus.
Now I could switch the lights on again, and start painting. Anna's room has a three color scheme. Walls are one of two colors; gold or milkshake. The shelving and ribbon bindings on the blinds are a deep crimson. The latter two colors were used for the flowers and girl onto the gold walls.
Those golden handles and hinges are history now. I replaced them with satin nickel... not because they weren't Hawaiian, but because I find gold shiny things stuck onto doors visually offensive.
I always choose flat/matte paint for walls. Even in areas such as bathrooms where traditionally eggshell or semi-gloss is recommended [Sub-rant: If it's somewhere that gets dirty and needs wiping, or if it gets splashed, touched or rubbed, then it shouldn't be paint; it should be tile or another surface more suitable]. I find that any remotely shiny finish on walls just serves to highlight imperfections in the wall, and these are common. In extreme cases it even shows up issues with the application of the paint. Also, matte paint repairs, which can be made many years after the original job, usually blend seamlessly once dried.
A detailed close up shows it's not as perfect as vinyl, but I had the paint already, the color match therefore is perfect and I had more artistic freedom when setting up the flower sizes, location and quantity than I would have done if I'd chosen to use vinyl. Plus, these flowers won't ever bubble off the wall like stickers can, and Anna now knows the fundamentals of how a projector works.