How A Former Art Teacher Makes A Living Painting Murals In Strangers’ Homes In One Of The World’s Most Expensive Cities

How A Former Art Teacher Makes A Living Painting Murals In Strangers' Homes In One Of The World's Most Expensive Cities

  • Geraldine Toh is a Singaporean interior designer specializing in botanical wall art.

  • The former art teacher began designing homes and painting murals for clients during the pandemic.

  • Unlike wallpaper, however, wallpaper can be customized to match the furniture in the room.

Scroll through Geraldine To's Instagram feed and you'll see dozens of photos of cozy interiors and intricate wallpaper in rich fall colors.

And they're all part of her work: To is a 31-year-old interior designer from Singapore who specializes in botanical wallpaper.

Despite her artistic background, she never imagined starting her own interior design and styling business with her husband Vincent. He works in the fintech industry, but comes from a family that runs a roofing and construction company in Malaysia.

Tho was a full-time art teacher at a local high school, but the pandemic finally opened up opportunities for him to venture into a new field.

"While everyone was complaining about not being able to go out, it was great for me because people were staying home and were more concerned with their space," Toh told Insider.

And it all started at home: in his children's room he painted a fresco for the first time.

"It was a botanical painting, it didn't surprise me, and when I got home I said I would definitely do it again, but on a larger scale," To said.

When Toh and her husband moved in together, the time she was forced to spend at home due to the pandemic gave her the opportunity to pick up a brush and decorate the house.

Singapore is, along with New York, on the list of the most expensive cities in the world to live. Singaporean couples like Tho can take advantage of public housing, which is subsidized by the government.

The couple's home in Tampines, an area in eastern Singapore, was also an interior design project they undertook.

"We focused a lot on the furniture. We took a lot of pride in the furniture and the assembly to make sure everything was complete," To said.

Although To creates floor plans and oversees renovations like an interior designer, he sees himself as a stylist.

"I would say that most interior designers in Singapore will hand over the keys to the house once the renovation is complete," Toh said. “But for us, we also help our clients after the move, and that's where we come in to decorate their home.”

Styling involves not only buying new furniture, but also coordinating items customers already own to create a space that reflects them, she said.

"People come with jewelry or souvenirs they've collected from their previous trips or homes, and we strongly encourage our customers to keep wearing them rather than buy new items," he said.

Her husband helps her with special projects and focuses mainly on the accounting, logistics and technical aspects of running her own styling business, Toh added.

After posting photos of her home on Instagram, Toh received requests for interior design and wallpaper.

According to Toh, the original motivation for creating the account was to share photos of her home with other members of the online home and décor community.

"It wasn't even about sharing information or anything like that," he said. But when the pandemic started, people became more interested in home decorating and started looking online for tips.

“We also had more time, so we started giving advice on where to buy things or how to maintain and take care of certain things,” he added.

Before they knew it, brands were arriving at their homes for collaborations and photo shoots, and as a result, the couple was receiving commissions for interior design services and commissions for murals.

"We treat our first project as a service and don't charge for it," Toh said. "We had a few more options from there, and I decided I had to choose between my job as a teacher and this one."

A quote for painting and interior design services is available upon request for any project.

Toh usually charges S$300-400 or S$225-300 per square meter for his murals. It depends on the complexity of the design and how crowded the room is, Toh said.

"If the client is looking for something broader or something simpler with more abstract shapes, it's technically easier to create, so they're on the lower end of the spectrum," he said.

For example, according to the Singapore company's website, a floor-to-ceiling mural two to three meters long can cost between $1,500 and $3,000. Wallpaper of this size takes 10-14 hours (about a day or two).

His murals generally consist of flora and fauna, although he occasionally takes commissions in other styles, such as line drawings.

Each mural begins with a sketch prior to the actual painting day, and the entire ordering process typically takes around a month.

Clients should provide photo references of the type of wallpaper they have in mind, along with photos and wallpaper sizes, Toh said.

"In cases where they're not sure what they want, I make suggestions," Toh said. "Sometimes I try to relate the design to her personal experience, like using flowers from a bridal bouquet."

Unlike murals, which tend to repeat themselves across an entire wall, murals can be customized to complement the placement of furniture in a room.

In fact, Toh recommends that the murals match the furniture.

"For example, if you have a TV on the wall, you can make wallpaper with plants growing behind it," To said.

At home, To has a mural of roses on the hallway wall, perfectly framed by the door seen from the master bedroom.

"Everything on the mural is done on purpose," he added.

If the wallpaper seems too big, Toh suggests using blocks of color to brighten the space and add accents.

Color blocks are an easy way to add splashes of color to a home, Toh said. And it's not just about the color, it's also about the placement.

"If you paint all four walls with colors like electric blue or forest green, it looks a bit heavy," To said. "Geometric, taking up part of the ceiling and going down the wall, really adds visual interest."

But at the end of the day, every home is a work in progress, and you don't have to worry about not being able to undo design decisions, Toh added: "It takes effort, but changes can always be made."

Read the original insider article

ART – Emily's BIG Dragon Painting (Duration: 37:00)

96 thoughts on “How A Former Art Teacher Makes A Living Painting Murals In Strangers’ Homes In One Of The World’s Most Expensive Cities

  1. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  2. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

  3. I do accept as true with all the ideas you have introduced in your post. They are very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for novices. May just you please extend them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  4. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your weblog. You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Many thanks!

  5. Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  6. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  7. I simply could not depart your site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard information a person supply in your visitors? Is going to be back steadily in order to inspect new posts

  8. Your style is really unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.

  9. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  10. This is the right site for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want toHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic that’s been written about for decades. Excellent stuff, just excellent!

  11. Good day! I just would like to give you a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your website for more soon.

  12. fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not realize this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!

  13. Greetings! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My website looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!

  14. This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  15. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s to be exactly what I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content for you personally? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome weblog!

  16. Hi I am so thrilled I found your web site, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Google for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a fantastic post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.

  17. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  18. Howdy! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Wonderful blog and terrific design and style.

  19. What i do not realize is if truth be told how you’re not really a lot more well-favored than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You realize therefore significantly in terms of this topic, produced me for my part consider it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested until it’s something to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs great. Always take care of it up!

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!