Many people living in Arizona today grew up with the “fenceless” neighborhoods in other parts of the country, where one could look out their kitchen window and see acres of green grass or wooded hillsides. In Phoenix and its surrounding cities, the norm is to have a fence surrounding your property. These fences are usually constructed of grey cinderblocks and are unattractive, to say the least.
Luckily, there is a solution to your ugly walls. Enter Alan Gellman, owner of Wall Sensations. He worked for six years to develop a material that will transform your block walls from an eyesore to an oasis with images of deserts, mountains, golf courses, lush gardens, beaches, waterfalls, and more.
“The material that we use is called super mesh, it is a very high density, flame retardant, fire-resistant material,” explains Alan. “We print the digital photograph directly onto the material –the colors are absolutely brilliant – and then it rolls out like a very thin piece of carpet, and we attach it to the wall.” When you move, you can even take it with you.
They can attach the photographic mural by either drilling it into the block or wood, or in the instance of chain link, using grommets and twist ties. The screw heads are colored to match the design, so they become invisible. There are also not many visible seams because they purchase the material in 10-foot tall by 150-foot long rolls.
“It’s a very lightweight but porous material, so airflow goes through tiny holes,” says Alan. If the mural gets dirty, just rinse it off with a garden hose. If installed in full sun, the murals last a minimum of three years, if there’s partial shade they can last five to seven years. “We’re using UV inks, which harden over time, so that’s why we’re the only company in the country that can warranty an outdoor mural.”
Ready to transform your backyard? The hardest part of the process is deciding on an image.
“We’ve partnered with most of the stock photography sites in the country, and we buy those images copyright-free, so we can reproduce them and the client doesn’t have to pay (for the image),” says Alan. They also work with professional photographers, including Kathleen Croft, who worked for National Geographic.
Wall Sensations has more than 300 photographs to choose from. You can also use your own, if the resolution is high enough, or they can Photoshop a child or pet into an existing photo.
Once the client chooses a photograph, they will do a free mock-up and show them what it will look like on their wall.
“They get a quick visual and then they say, ‘OK, come on out and measure,’ and then we can proportion the mock-up to the wall, so that looks much more natural,” says Alan. “We’ve done a little bit of everything – we’ve wrapped buildings in this; we’ve done huge wall murals in all kinds of locations.”
One of their more unusual requests came from the Orthodox community at New York City College. They asked Alan to create a background for a sukkah. Now, on Sukkot, all they have to do is put up the mural instead of having to add all the trimmings.
With offices in New York, Florida, California, Las Vegas and Phoenix, the images used on the murals vary widely.
“Saguaro Lake is a big one here, desert landscape is a huge one in Las Vegas,” says Alan. “A lot of people want to keep with the theme; you don’t want a ski resort in your backyard if you live in AZ.” However, ski resorts are a favorite pick for New York clients.
“A lot of the homes that we do have putting greens, behind the putting green we will do a golf course scene,” he says. “We can make it look just fabulous.”
A popular scene behind pools are waterfalls and Asian gardens. At Alan’s home, he has an Asian garden and a koi pond scene. Another plus is that you get the benefit of having a beautiful garden without the work – or the water.
They have also begun to wrap above ground hot tubs. “People will spend between $3,000-$4,000 on having actual brick put around it,” says Alan. “We can do that for a tenth of the cost and give it a very similar textured look.”
You also don’t need to limit your mural creations to the outside. Wall Sensations can create murals for any room inside the home or commercial applications. Murals can be adhered with adhesive or a peel-and-stick backing so that you can also take it with you if you move.
Alan loves the positive feedback he receives from his clients. “One woman called me and said, ‘I’ve always kept my kitchen blinds closed because I hated those walls so much.’ ” Since the installation, she’s always kept them open.
“The limitation is your creativity,” says Alan. “That’s the most fun, I get up in the morning and every job is different – it’s awesome!”
To view more amazing backyard transformations, or to find out more information, visit wallsensations.com.