By Lana Lounsbury
Feature walls are “in”
When it comes to paint and wallpaper, feature walls used to be de rigeur. Not anymore! Feature walls, also known as accent walls, are becoming extinct as designers increasingly opt for optical overload. In other words, don’t be shy — if you love to be bold and want to do it in an updated way, try wrapping all the walls in a small hallway with wallpaper for a big effect. Powder rooms, bedrooms, entrances, dining rooms and ceilings can still be covered in vivid hues; just be sure to do all the walls and all of the woodwork for a jaw-dropping look.
Another way to achieve the power of a feature wall without actually having a feature wall is with tile.
Wallpaper is limiting
Wallpaper is actually very easy to live with and design around. You can even hang busy artworks on busy wallpaper if the pattern and scale of the prints are dissimilar. Mirrors, clocks, black-and-white photos and furniture all look effortlessly appealing against any colour and pattern. And don’t avoid wallpaper because you think it’s difficult — the new wallpapers are strippable, which means you can peel it off without leaving a backing behind.
Large patterns for big rooms, small patterns for tiny rooms
While large-scale patterns look fantastic in rooms with very high ceilings, these patterns can also make smaller rooms appear more expansive. Conversely, using a very small pattern in a large space works as well, because in this case, the pattern tends to act more as a texture, lending the room an intimacy that might otherwise be lacking. This is especially true as we see the return of “ditsy” prints, which look fresh wherever you put them. Ditsy prints may be small in scale, with their design motifs often random or scattered. And because the scale is so small, from a distance ditsy prints can appear as a solid colour.
There are quite a few things you can do to your walls that don’t involve paper and paint. Here are some ways to create a unique focal point.
Living walls are designed as self-sufficient vertical gardens. The plants root in a structure that is fastened to the wall, and they get water and nutrients from within that support instead of the ground. These walls have the highest set-up cost, but they reward you with an ever-changing wall of colour, subtle fragrance and O2. For a current look, try planting yours in colour-blocked sections or stripes.
Antlers and animal skulls dominate wall art in magazines and shops, but they make me cringe. The best thing to come out of this trend is the shift in perception: sculpture doesn’t have to sit on a plinth.
Do this simply with a gallery-style photo wall of family pictures interspersed with familiar objects: your grandmother’s turkey platter, vintage sports equipment or a weird hat can come out of the cupboard and hang on the walls.
Wood-planked walls, concrete panels and even living plants are perfect for creating fantastic feature walls. If you are using wood planking for a single feature wall, do note that the planking looks best when it’s horizontal. Keep to natural or distressed textures. Reclaimed wine barrels, doors and pallets all make great planking. And if you have some experience laying wood floor, then doing a planked wall is definitely DIY.
For an industrial feel, concrete panels can be created with actual concrete. For an easier approach and for a fraction of the cost, opt for the New Mexico-manufactured American Clay’s natural earth plaster products. These non-toxic plasters come in a variety of textures and colours, including custom colours.
I hope these ideas give you the confidence to step away from how you’ve always done walls and try something different. Grab a new colour and a new pattern and dive in, because both fortune and fashion favour the bold!