Train Station Mural
A mural integrated with train set.
Time: over one month

This mural was designed for a basement family room and playroom. The father and son are train lovers, and almost the entire basement was taken over by trains. They built the electric train table for their extensive electric train collection and track. Other non-electric train sets occupy another quarter of the basement. Their family room and exercise equipment make up the “grown-up” half of the space.

The mural is my design. (I did not work with a designer on this project.) I created a playground for the imagination, including three distinct areas: a train station interior, the loading platform with a painted shingle roof on the bulkhead, and even the countryside that might be seen from a train window. The mural is integrated into the train table layout, including the water that flows from the distance within the mural wall and out under the real model train bridge.

Going down the basement stairs feels like going down the stairs into a train station. The walls are decorated with trompe l'oeil (French for “fool the eye”)signs including the station name, ticketing booth, and train schedule magnetic blackboard, and a clock.

The trompe l'oeil window view into the train yard shows an almost three-dimensional window-ledge, illusory mullions framing the panes, including shadow and reflected light. The bench inspired me to make this space the interior of a train station. Visible in the trains are the conductors: tiny portraiture of the father, son, mother, and dog.

I wanted the ticketer to be a man with a handlebar mustache. I also wanted his eyes closed; it's potentially less scary that way for a child. The client thought a family friend would be perfect for the job. I had to flip and tilt his face from the reference photograph.

The blackboard is a working blackboard painted onto the wall with magnetic paint covered by chalkboard paint. One day I turned just in time to see their 6 year old son draw tic-tac-toe on the board, then try to set the chalk on the trompe l'oeil ledge. He paused, mid-step, with confusion. He turned to me and said, with irritation in his voice, “Where am I supposed to put my chalk? This looks real!” You can see a similar painted chalkboard in my Pastoral Playroom Mural.

The mural becomes more adult and less train-specific as you move to the adult family area around the corner. The simple molding allowed the landscape painting to wrap directly over the molding and doors to create a seamless feel.

My friend Kelly Walker straight painted this space beautifully with several different golden beiges throughout the basement. She also readied the train station green areas and the white basecoat for the sky. Also I brought in a muraling friend of mine, Rachel Belle, to paint the loading area brick wall and windows. (I had been called out on jury duty!)


The mural included colors from the tabletop, rug, and seat cushions. The ticketer came from a photograph of a friend of theirs. Their kitty is in the cat carrier. The sunset sky is inspired by a painting the mother has over the sofa in the adjoining room.

Click on the pictures below to see details.