If you’re looking to create instant wow factor and breathe new life into a room, you really can’t go past a feature wall.
According to Renovating For Profit’s expert interior designer, James Treble, feature walls are stronger than ever and are useful for defining different areas, such as a meals area or family room, in an open-plan space.
They are also a great way to add contrast and character.
“A feature wall enhances objects and statement pieces, such as furniture and artwork, in front of it by adding that element of contrast,” Mr Treble explained.
Mr Treble added feature walls were an ideal way to add personality, “especially when there’s not a lot of architectural detailing or interest in a space”.
“I use the analogy of a great singer that is amazing, but then you put a strong choir behind them and the singer becomes stronger again,” he said.
He agreed paint was probably the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to create a feature wall.
But, he added, more people were turning to other mediums, too, such as panelling, wallpaper, tiles, stone, brick and floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinetry.
To understand where a feature wall should go in a room, first look at where your furniture is and how you view the room from the doorway.
“You’re looking for where your eye is going to rest naturally,” Mr Treble said.
That might be behind the bed in a bedroom or the facing wall in a living room.
But, Mr Treble pointed out, “in an open-plan living space, it tends to go towards the windows”.
“We are drawn to natural light,” he explained.
The aim with the feature wall in this type of set-up is to create some balance, so he advised looking at the areas to the left and right of a large window to offset the room.
“Look at something that’s a bit stronger to help balance the impact and intensity of that window,” he said.
When deciding on the style and finish of your feature wall, Mr Treble recommended always looking at your flooring first, because that was a fixed feature, then choose something that complemented it.
“Also, look at the colours that have been used around the room and home and work with that,” he said.
“Maybe I’m picking up the colour from an artwork on an adjacent wall, or a colour featured in the sofa design or a cushion I love, that I can then apply to a feature wall opposite to tie the space together and create a soft and comfortable feel.”
He also suggested using the rules of colour theory as a guide. Darker palettes will make a space feel smaller and more intimate, while lighter colours will make an area feel more spacious and open.
“By painting the end wall in a rectangular space, like a hallway, a dark colour, with the walls either side in a lighter tone, you’ll make the room feel square — it’s a clever trick you can achieve with colour and a feature wall.”
Take your pick
Textured wallpapers are proving hugely popular, with natural effects such as seagrass leading the way and removable wallpapers providing greater flexibility to change things with ease.
Large-scale digitally printed images are also in, from oversized nature shots to iconic movie, city or beach scenes.
Other mediums to dress up your walls are also worth considering.
Timber cladding and decorative mouldings can create interest, depth and warmth on a wall’s surface, while tiles and stone can highlight special features such as a fireplace.
“In bathrooms, feature walls are something I quite often use to highlight one or two areas of the room or to play with its shape,” Mr Treble said.
Here is some more advice about feature walls from Mr Treble:
• Make a freestanding bath really pop by continuing the line of the floor tiles up the wall behind the bath.
• Ensure your feature wall complements the home’s architectural style and location. It will date better, add value and be calmer to look at.
• Consider the room’s function. This will help determine the mood you want to create.
• Use strong colours to make a statement, but you can create an equally strong effect with a mid-tone colour that’s a slightly deeper shade to what’s been used on the other walls.
• Add textured wallpaper that is the same colour as the other walls in the room to create subtle variation between the surfaces.