Baby boomer parents with disposable income and a taste for the unique are fueling a new interest in high-style nurseries, a trend that has gained attention in TheNew York Times and furniture trade publications. But schools, day-care centers, churches, camps and other organizations that cater to kids are also potential markets for custom wall murals and painted furniture.
Talent--not necessarily formal training--is an important key to success in this industry. Sue Beaumont, a 47-year-old Loomis, California, housewife and mother of two grown children, dabbled in artistic endeavors for years with no serious notion of starting a custom mural and furniture painting business. But with some time on her hands in 1992, she agreed to help her sister paint murals--a robot design and a Beatrix Potter motif--for her niece's and nephew's rooms. Gradually, family and friends began asking her to paint murals and furniture for them. Before she realized it, Beaumont was in business.
"For years, wallpaper was in, but now parents want something different," she says. Using washable acrylic paint, Beaumont has embellished dressers, headboards and walls. She painted a playroom resembling an attic filled with antique toys for one business to occupy customers' restless children. A church commissioned her to paint its nursery with an angels-and-children theme.
Start-up costs are minimal--$600 to $1,000 or so for paints, brushes and letterhead, according to Beaumont. Depending on location and clientele, muralists can charge between $200 and $1,500 per day, proof that artists don't have to starve.