Trompe l’oeil is a unique type of art that creates an illusion. The French translation of trompe l’oeil is “to deceive the eye” and is a technique using realistic imagery. This imagery technique creates an optical illusion that looks as though it is three dimensional. You may have seen examples of this art type on sidewalks, where people have drawn an image to resemble the ground missing or cracks spreading across the cement and revealing something in the ground.

Trompe l’oeil is used to paint buildings, ceilings, the grounds, and easel paintings to create optical illusions that are interesting to observe and extremely creative. This painting style was used frequently in the Renaissance period to trick the viewers into thinking what the paintings were real. These optical illusions could create the look of an opening in a wall or the ceiling, appearing to be a window or a hole in the room. Trompe l’oeil has been used throughout history to create beautiful and unique masterpieces.

You have most likely seen some type of trompe l’oeil painting, whether it was in a restaurant to create the image of an Italian countryside awaiting you just on the other side of the wall, or sidewalk art creating a hole to another universe in the ground. But with the help of JC Toland Painting, you can have a trompe l’oeil optical illusion in your own home. Wow your guests with a peek into another world in your dining room, at the end of a hallway, or in a bathroom.

At JC Toland Painting, we have a team of artistic and talented decorative painters who can create many different looks and styles in your home, including faux finishes, murals, textures, venetian plaster, and of course, trompe l’oeil. If you are hoping to add a unique touch of style to your home’s interior, we can help.

In this blog, we are going to go over the history of trompe l’oeil and some ideas that you can use in your home.

A Brief History

During the Medieval period, the earliest known use of this artistic style was used for architectural structures. Columns were painted on church walls to give the look of support. An architect named Donato Bramante actually was hired to paint additional space in churches, making them appear bigger. Baccio Pontelli was hired to paint shelves and open cabinets and an artist named Andrea Pozzo was asked to paint a ceiling to give it the illusion of being vaulted.

As mentioned above, trompe l’oeil was popular during the Renaissance, when mathematically correct perspectives were discovered. The art style was advanced further to the point of actually confusing viewers when the Netherlands started a rise of still-life painting during the 17th century.

According to Art History News, a trompe l’oeil painting called Staircase Group, which features a young man walking up a curved staircase and another peeking around the corner, actually fooled George Washington. The painting was done by Charles Willson Peale’s in 1795.

Trompe l’oeil has made its way through history and in the ‘60s “optical art” or “retinal art” began, branching off from the traditional trompe l’oeil style. Optical art used geometric shapes to create designs that give the feel of movement and vibrations. In more recent years, most of the trompe l’oeil artwork we have seen involves street art, making the sidewalk appear as though it falls off into an unknown land.

Trompe L’oeil Ideas

The best part about trompe l’oeil is that you can get as creative as you want and create unusual and unpredictable paintings in just about any space. If you are looking for a creative way to spruce up the look of your home, a trompe l’oeil could help give you the look you want. Here are some ideas for this style of painting that you could use in your home.

Depending on the style of your home, different looks may work better, but our expert team at JC Toland Painting can help you decide the right look and style for your home.


If you have a giant wall in your home office or an indent in your wall where most would hang a picture, a trompe l’oeil painting of a bookcase could really add a unique touch to your home. Book shelves are a fun thing to have in your home and they can add a lot of style, but we do not always have enough books to fill them up. So why not create the illusion of a bookshelf? We could paint a bookshelf that is floor to ceiling and contains realistic looking books, giving your space a homey and creative touch. This would be a really cool trompe l’oeil style to have in your office, giving your the old timey library feel. While this realistic bookshelf may disappoint many of your guests, it will create a unique look that is a great conversation starter.

Outdoor Scenes

Beautiful landscapes can give your home a touch of the outdoor world and transport your to a different space. There are many different styles of outdoor scenes that you can have painted on your wall.

Have a Tuscan winery painted in your dining room to give your guests the feel of being in a beautiful place with an exquisite cuisine. This type of trompe l’oeil is popular in restaurants and you have probably seen it done in a few Italian restaurants. This could be a great way to give your dining room more style than many dining rooms have, which can improve the look of your home and create a great area for eating.

Open up your living room with a beautiful and detailed trompe l’oeil painting of a serene forest. A wall to wall painting of a misty forest could open up your home and allow it to feel like a bigger room. It can also helps you bring some of the outside in, adding a touch of nature to your home and filling in a boring wall.

Bedrooms are another great place for trompe l’oeil paintings of the great outdoors. One one of your blank walls, add an interesting look with a ceiling to floor painting of a tropical beach, New York skyline, or a mountain retreat. Not only could this add color, beauty, and style to your bedroom, but it could also allow you to escape into the one place you truly belong. Just imagine a poster of your favorite space but spread across an entire wall.

There are many different ways to add trompe l’oeil painting style to your home and have it work with the rest of your decor. If you think your home could be enhanced with this unique painting style, let the expert and artistic staff at JC Toland Painting help create your vision. Contact us today to learn more and get a free estimate!