Feature Walls

Summary: Find out about feature walls and how you can create one in your home and give each room a decorative focal point

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If you’re thinking of redecorating or want to give a room a new look, creating a feature wall is a really easy way to create a fresh feel without the bother and expense of redecorating the whole room.

What is a Feature Wall and Why Should I Have One?

If all of the walls of a room are decorated in the same colour or pattern, it creates harmony but can be a bit plain. By picking out one wall and giving it a different, bolder colour, you can change the mood of a room or highlight a particular feature.

Feature walls are most often used when the rest of the room is decorated with a fairly neutral colour. You pick a wall in the room and paint it a different colour, or wallpaper it with a bold pattern, creating a feature.

A feature wall can also be used to create a more defined space in an open-plan area. If you have children you might create a play area, or in a living-diner you might highlight the dining area.

Picking a Wall

Deciding on which wall to have as your feature will depend on the room you are decorating. Here are some ideas:

Bedrooms

  • The most common wall to feature in the bedroom is the wall behind the headboard of the bed. This highlights the main function of the room, plus having the feature behind you while you sleep means you won’t be bothered by complex patterns or bright colours.
  • For children’s bedrooms you can buy stick-on characters and pictures to create a fun mural.

Living Rooms

  • If you have a fireplace you can choose this wall to make it stand out more.
  • Alternatively you could choose to highlight alcoves or a chimney breast.
  • A plain wall without windows or doors gives you the best scope, but attention will be drawn to the wall so make sure it can stand the scrutiny.
  • Create a cozy seating area with contrasting warm tones.

Choosing a Colour or Pattern

Knowing you’re only decorating one wall gives you freedom to be a bit more daring. If it doesn’t look right, you can always re-do it without wasting too much time or money. You’ll need to take into account the colours in the rest of the room of course – maybe you’ve always wanted a pink room and think this is your chance, but if the rest of the room is sunshine yellow you’re just going to create a headache!

Using paint is obviously a much easier option than wallpaper – if you’re going to be brave and go for a patterned paper, make sure you’re confident in your papering skills or get a professional in. See our Wallpapering Project for help with hanging wallpaper.

Even if you have plain, pale walls, it is unlikely that everything else in the room is as devoid of colour, so when picking your feature colour it is often a good idea to draw from objects in the room – a painting, an ornament or a rug.

A good way of deciding on a colour if you’re unsure is to buy a match-pot and use it to paint a piece of white A3 paper. You can then hold this up against the wall and against other items in the room to see if it goes. Make sure you try this at different times of the day so you can see how natural and artificial lights affect the colour.

Don’t be fooled into thinking a feature wall has to be a bold, dark colour. You can use a darker colour for your accent, but bear in mind that colours can create optical illusions, and a dark colour will make the wall appear closer. This can be used to your advantage if you have a long, thin wall. Use lighter colours to create a more spacious feeling.

To keep a calm, harmonious feeling, choose a colour that is a similar shade to the rest of the walls – perhaps the same basic colour but a few tones darker or lighter. For a bolder, more energetic feel, try picking a colour which contrasts with existing decor. Use a colour wheel to pick colours that are opposite one another (complimentary colours).

Colour Wheel

Colour Wheel

Feature Wall

Feature Wall

Other Options

If painting or papering your walls is not a viable option, there are other ways of creating a feature. If you like the idea of a bold patterned wallpaper but aren’t sure about using it on a whole wall, you could buy a piece of board and cover it on the paper, then hang it on the wall. This is a good way of creating an instant piece of art to add interest to an otherwise bare wall.

Photo canvases are a great way to create a really personalised feature – get a portrait of your family or a favourite holiday snap blown up to a large size and printed on canvas. Many photo development companies now offer this option.

Lighting is another really easy way to create a feature out of nothing. An unusual lampshade that throws interesting shadows or allows light to reflect off of crystals can give a room a really different feel.

Floral Feature Wallpaper

Floral Feature Wallpaper

Cushions and curtains are also great for creating a different mood. Bold, heavy drapes around a picture window will make it into a real feature, or a collection of colourful cushions in an empty corner can instil sumptuous undertones.

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