Apparently the media and everyone else out there would like you believe the feature wall is dead. Buried, done, finito. Well, I’m here to tell you that they are wrong. Yep, standing on my little internet-style platform to say absolutely that you can still do a feature wall and it can still look amazing and current and trendy and whatever other word you want to attach to it that tells you, yes, you’re okay, you’re allowed to decorate in the way the masses approve of.

Obviously, I stand by the old adage that says, “It’s your home, decorate it the way you damn well please.” because that’s just how I feel. Unless of course you are renter then fair enough, you won’t quite have that freedom but you know what I mean anyway. Your house, your rules. And in my house, I do love a good feature wall.

botanical feature wall with olive velvet chesterfield sofa and pink accents - see more at www.swoonworthy.co.uk

Now, there’s the crux. I specifically said a GOOD feature wall.* What does that mean? You know where I’m going with this, right? Because that is exactly why the media is telling us not to do feature walls. To embrace wallpapering all four walls and make a huge statement in your interiors. And sure, I think certain rooms look really good for using wallpaper on all four walls (in fact, my dressing room is fully wallpapered all on all 4 walls) but that’s not what this is about. This is about using wallpaper on only one wall – thus making it a feature and something eye-catching in your space.

*Obviously, this is just my opinion and opinions are like — okay, I won’t go there but please know, you should just do what makes you happy. And the feature walls I’m talking about are the ones that make me happy. So we’re cool with that, right? Okay, just making sure.

So we know what a bad feature wall looks like. Step into any mid-range hotel decorated in the last decade and you’ll see it. Walk around your neighbourhood, check out the hairdressers and nail salons and they are all doing it. One bold wallpaper design – a huge floral or perhaps a large-scale damask – plastered on one spot and the rest of the space decorated in some insipid colour like magnolia or cream or white.

Bad feature wallpaper courtesy of House to Home

No. Just no. Bad feature wallpaper courtesy of House to Home

Yeah, we don’t want you to do that. I mean, if that really gets you going, then sure, do it, but if you want something that looks like it’s still of this decade, then read on.

The thing about choosing a wallpaper as your feature wall is that it’s gotta be bold. There’s no point in choosing something with very soft details or a totally muted palette for this because it’ll do nothing to catch your eye and make a statement. And good feature walls SHOULD be making a statement. If you fall in love with a soft patterned wallpaper in a muted colour palette, then do all four walls. It’ll be great and it’ll look classy and elegant and it won’t look like you ran out of wallpaper 2 hours into your project and just left it like that.

A perfect example of this is when Emily Henderson decided to use a really beautiful but way-too-subtle patterned wallpaper in her bedroom. She admitted totally that it was a mistake and why (which I admire – see even the really talented peeps out there can get it wrong from time to time). The design was crazy pretty but simply not bold enough to command a single wall. I couldn’t find a picture where she showed the whole room but if you check out the post, you’ll see what I mean.

Emily Henderson Rose Gold Wallpaper

If she’d taken it across all four walls, it would have been a beautifully textural backdrop to the space but on one wall, it simply got lost and then pairing it with white walls made it look like an afterthought even though she’d spent something like a bajillion dollars getting that paper made. Learn from the mistakes of others. A subtle pattern is great on all 4 walls. If you are going with just one wall, make it count.

Here’s where Emily got it totally bang on right. This wallpaper is bold, it commands attention, it ties into the rest of the space beautifully.

Emily Henderson Nicole Mason Living Room

What you are looking for is wallpaper that looks like a large scale artwork. I’m not talking about murals (although those are pretty damn great too), I mean something that catches the eye, adds movement and colour and creates drama in a space.

feature wallpaper in bedroom

Another great feature wall by TFAD Architects 

In my office, the first wall you see when you walk into the room is the chimney breast. So it was here I used a feature wallpaper and made sure that wall was something that grabbed your attention. The rest of the wall colour tied into the paper and the style of the wallpaper was Chinoiserie-inspired, a style that I use in small areas throughout my home.

ORC - Swoon Worthy Office Reveal

This was no after-thought. I carefully considered an absolute ton of different papers to ensure the entire design was eclectic but also cohesive and the same colours and finishes are used throughout the space making the wallpaper something that tied the room together but also gave the room a focal point.

In a bedroom, your bed takes up the most real estate so why not give it some extra punch with a bold design that absolutely BEGS to be looked at? I fell in love with this home in Domino designed by Studio Ten 25.

Another great feature wall. Melane Johnson Photography for Domino

Another great feature wall. Melanie Johnson Photography for Domino

The other thing you need to consider is where it’s actually going to be used. Ideally, it should be placed on whatever wall you want people to see first. Not some random side wall that has nothing else going on on it. This is your first impression of the space. The one place that if people were only going to see that wall and no others, it says HEY LOOK AT HOW FABULOUS I AM!

Swoon Worthy Dining Room Design Main

The final room design for my dining room including a feature wall – Check out my post here for more details.

You also need to understand how that feature wall is going to relate to the rest of the room. One of the worst things about bad feature walls is that many times, they have no real relationship to the other four walls. It’s so important that it ties in with the rest of the space and actually makes it look purposeful rather than just something thrown up there because you couldn’t find something better for that area. Tie in the other walls via a paint colour that picks up one of the colours in the wallpaper or choose accessories and furnishings that compliment the style and pattern of the wallpaper. I mean, there’s no point in doing a traditional damask pattern if the rest of your space has mid-century furniture, ya know? Make sure whatever you choose is echoed in the rest of the room to tie it all together.

Can't WAIT to get this up in the dining room...

Can’t WAIT to get this up in the dining room…

So those are my tips on getting a GOOD feature wall. Anything to add? Are you fan of a good feature wall as well or do you think the feature wall has no place in today’s interior designs? Do you have any in your own home? Go on, talk to me.

 

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