Feature Walls - Why do them?

Interior design presentation work in progress at Smartstyle Interiors

The Feature Wall has been a design statement for a long time, but is it always the right statement to be making in your space?

To make any design decision you should always start by asking yourself, “Why?!!”

Why it should be “Yes!”

When I design I look at the space I have been given as a whole, not just collection of features.  I consider how I want people to use the space and how they should feel when they are in it. There are often very strong reasons why I will decide to use a feature wall to fulfil those goals. It is a great way to create impact and pull the eye to the area of a room you want to people to flock to, like behind bedheads or dining areas in family kitchens. It says a lot about the space you want people to be focusing on. And it says it loudly.

Both images curtsy of Jenny Kakoudakis from  Seasons in Colour

A feature wall is also an amazing tool for manipulating a space visually.  This works especially well in spaces with lots of chopping and changing in wall levels so you draw the eye away from the weird bits and onto the good bits.  By creating a feature in one part of the room it actually calms down whole room – stopping the entire space from being too busy. A bit like wearing a flattering frock, drawing the eyes to what you want people to see.

Left Hand Image curtsy of Murals Wallpaper Jessica Jung as photographer. Right hand Image curtsy of Studio McGee

To do a Feature Wall right I say the clue is in the name. Don’t be timid about it - make it a showpiece. I’ll push for bold colour which really contrasts with the remaining walls especially when trying to trick the eye away from other areas of the room. I have seen a slightly dark wall with mouldings by Studio McGee on it work really well for adding interesting texture details.  If you are a bit more of a pattern person then there are some amazing wallpapers out there and they are getting bigger and bolder with every season. For the very brave (I put myself in this happy camp) I’d suggest a look at Surface View  or Murals Wallpaper who have many breath-taking images which can be produced as custom sized mural wallpaper, turning a plain old wall into a work of art.

Amazing Feature wall in the Henry Holland suite in  decked out in Habitat's House of Holland bedding!

Why it should be “No!”

Well… apart from the two very simple reasons stated above, I say “no” to any other reasons for picking a feature wall. The “I saw one on Pinterest”, “I just fancied it”, “I like the wallpaper but can’t afford any more” or the classic “I’m a little worried I’m not brave enough to do more”.  None of these reasons consider the room as a whole and all of them run the risk of getting a little bit messy.

As I originally said, a feature wall manipulates a space visually, so guess what happens if you add it to a space that is beautiful proportioned.   Now the feature wall is pushing itself forward of all the other walls and throwing the proportions that you loved about the room out.  I think it always look particularly odd when you have a feature like a fire place or French windows on one wall a “feature wall” on another.  The two features are now fighting for your attention and it’s all getting a little Great Interior Design Challenge.

Left hand image shows a fully papered Bedroom by Smartstyle Interiors -  Photo byPaul Winch Furness. Right hand image shows fully papered Dining Room from Jenny Kakoudakis  from Seasons in Colour

Love a wallpaper? Then be bold and do the whole room - that’s a better design statement than just one wall.

Can’t afford four walls of paper? Select key images from the paper, frame them up and create a gallery wall.  Clever and cost conscious!

Finally, your walls don’t need to be the focus of the room, so don’t do it for the sake of it. Play with your features in other ways; large scale light fittings, art or bright textiles on the sofa bring impact to the centre of a space. If you are inviting people into your lounge to sit together in the central space then that’s what these design choices gravity towards.

So if you are in the middle of considering that feature wall design decision, I bring you back to the first question of every design choice we ever make – “Why?”  Answer that question and you’re ready to create an amazing space not just one great wall. 

Thank you to Seasons in Colour, Mural Wallpaper and Studio McGee for kindly giving us permission to us their images to support this post.


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