What does the drummer for the Beatles and the animal best known for prompting the “white on black vs. black on white” debate have to do with redesign? The answer to the this mystery began almost six years ago, the first time I did a walk-through of the condo we bought as our new home in San Diego - and it resulted in one of the strangest design dilemmas I've ever faced. My husband and I fell in love with the condo for its nice roomy feel, vaulted ceilings, big windows, lots of light and other great features. However, a couple items failed to make our “love” list. On one wall of the master bedroom, big as the African Sahara, was a mural of three zebras in stride. On the adjacent wall, big as the Ed Sullivan Show performance, were four floating heads of the guys credited with bringing rock music to America. Yep, John, Paul, George and Ringo were in my bedroom. Oversize and on my wall. Relentlessly watching me. Even in my sleep. It was the British Invasion part two!

Design Dillemas

Seems that some creative college students had lived in the space previously and one had artistic talent.  And while both murals were very nicely done, I most definitely DON’T invite Beatles or zebras into my living space. Now if I had walked into a room to find Jon Bon Jovi on my wall, watching me, staring at me—that might be a different story. But not for a second did I entertain any other notion than, “these guys must go!”

Simple task, right? In our household, we are exceedingly familiar with the power of primer and paint (my husband and kids can attest to that). If there’s a 12-step program for people addicted to painting rooms, I may need some help. So soon after we signed the papers and moved in, we hit the home store to get supplies for the great cover up. Not for long would John, Paul or George be allowed to see me in my jammies. And especially not Ringo!

Thrilled to be rid of our homage to the animal kingdom and the mop tops, we went to work covering the walls. Up went the primer—the good stuff.  What we couldn’t have known and were not pleased to find out was that the mural artist had used oil-based paint. You probably know what that means. Yes indeed, the images bled right through the primer. All right, so we had a challenge on our hands. Up went the second coat of a primer—even better stuff that was guaranteed to cover all paint types. Overall, we were seeing some good progress, but oddly enough, Ringo just didn’t want to stay covered. It was simultaneously funny and creepy. Were we somehow being pranked? After weeks of frustration would we notice a microscopic camera that had been feeding footage of our Ringo ”haunting” to our twisted friends? Up went coat number three, most of it slathered on Ringo.  Why won’t you go away?! 


To say Ringo was a stubborn was an understatement. As soon as you thought you had him concealed, he would start to appear. Is Ringo magic? Is he a prophet who has selected us as his messengers?What’s going on? Through the whole ordeal, I couldn’t help thinking that if it had been another drummer, my husband might have tried to talk me out of covering him up. He’s not a Ringo fan, but let’s say the persistent image would have been Stewart Copeland from the Police, then I can just hear my husband’s plea, “Please, please, please, can we keep Stewart on the wall? It’s obviously an omen! He’s meant to watch over us and bless the rhythms of our life. Plus he’s mostly faded now, so you probably won’t even notice unless you look real hard. You can put up a Donny Osmond poster if you want (Yes, when I was young I had a huge Donny crush. It was puppy love, and I’ve never completely healed).

Redone master

Eventually, I’m pleased to report that we achieved a Ringo-free wall, but only after four coats of primer and two coats of paint. What’s the lesson learned here? First, if you have talent and want to paint murals on your walls—regardless of how creepy they may be—go for it. It’s your space to enjoy; your life to enjoy, and ya gotta do what ya gotta do! But please, for the sake of any future occupants, don’t use an oil based paint! Second, if you’re looking for a home to buy or a place to rent, don’t let stuff like gaudy colors on your walls, or even odd or disturbing murals, drive you away. Painting is cheap and easy, and it’s usually a quick solution to erase any trace of the previous person’s design choices. Don’t let and someone else’s taste stop you from buying the home you love. Just remember, where there’s a Ringo, there’s a way!

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?