Feature walls are a great interior styling trick to bring major focus and wow factor to a room. Fallen in love with a print but worry it’s too dominating? Have a collection of nick nacks you want to show off? A feature wall is your friend.
What is a feature wall?
By and large, a feature wall is one wall within a room, decorated in a way that makes it stand out. Most people’s first choice for this honour is a living room or bedroom but they can work equally well in kitchens and bathrooms. Feature walls can be decorated in almost anything, as long as the design concept provides enough of a statement over the rest of the room.
Here are some of places that work especially well for feature walls:
- A chimney breast
- The splashback within a kitchen – cover in perspex to protect it.
- A wall alongside a kitchen table – this area will be clear of fitted kitchen cabinets. Paint it with magnetic blackboard paint and decorate with your children’s artwork as well as using it to organise your household.
- One wall within a bathroom – there is usually one wall which is far enough away from water sources; wallpaper this with a bold botanical print and tile the rest of the room and choose a bold, botanical print for the remaining wall.
- Alcoves – here you can install bespoke bookshelves and let your paperbacks or decorative ceramics (vases, objet d’art, heirlooms and mementos) do the talking
- The wall that a bed backs onto.
Wallpaper and wall paint are obvious choices when you’re coming up with ideas for your feature wall. A bright colour you love or a bold print will be less overwhelming if used on only one wall. It is also a great solution if you’ve fallen in love with an expensive wallpaper as you won’t require as many rolls to do the job. We think that a far more exciting and original idea is to use your walls to feature collections of the things you hold dear.
Using picture frames as wall art
With digital cameras posing very few limits on the amount of images they can both take and store, and smartphones in every person’s pocket meaning a photo-moment is, literally, at your fingertips, is it any wonder that the majority of photos seem destined to be stored on computers? Well we think it’s time to take control of those treasured memories! Liberating your photos from life on a hard-drive means they’ll be there to enjoy daily…kind of why you took them in the first place!
It’s a good idea to choose your frames first. This way you’ll know at what size you should get your photos printed. Which frames you choose is all down to the aesthetic you hope to achieve:
- Regimented – pick the same style, same colour, in the same size. You’ll need to have a good eye (or a handyman with one!) when it comes to hanging them – this look relies on perfectionism.
- Semi-regimented – same style, same colour, mixed sizes.
- Colour mix – the same style but in a mix of colours.
- Style mix – random styles in a limited colour palette.
- Eclectic – anything goes!
Of course you don’t only need to frame photos. Wall art, flyers, a treasured theatre ticket, postcards can all form part of your collection. Think about grouping them together in themes (family, travel, graphic design/signage) or colour stories to make more of an impact. Using black and white images for a photo feature wall, in thin black frames, with regimented spacing between each frame looks timelessly striking and works really well up a staircase.
When it comes to hanging them, have some glass cleaner and kitchen towel on hand to clean the glass of dust and dirt. Once framed, perfect your layout by planning the arrangement of your frames on the floor. One by one, take each frame and replicate this layout on your chosen wall. Ensure you follow any instructions for hanging your frames carefully. If you’re going for a perfectly spaced, gallery style of picture wall, it’s a good idea to have a pencil, tape measure, spirit level, nails and hammer all within striking distance so that once you’ve measured you’re ready to go. Heavy frames will require holes being pre-drilled and plugged and fitted with a screw for hanging.
Alternative feature wall ideas
Of course your choice for a feature wall doesn’t need to be limited to something as mainstream as photos, pictures and art. In our time, we have known people to display their collections of antique keys and vintage scissors on a wall!
Bookcases and bookshelves can, in themselves, make a feature of a wall space. Arrange books by colour, side by side, in piles and face on to make a feature of their design and certain covers that you really like. Use book shelves for decorative items such as vases, glassware and ornaments – cram they full to really make the statement. By arranging them to fill the space edge to edge and floor to ceiling you can make the whole display look purposeful.
Other collections you can display on a feature wall are plates (don’t think of your granny; modern plate collections displayed on a wall are having a huge resurgence), clocks (set them to the time zones of important friends and family around the world) and mirrors.
You can also look into decorative lighting for a feature wall. You could arrange fairy lights to depict an emblem, word or slogan. Garlands and illuminated wall-mounted sculptures can look like artwork and giving them pride of place on a feature wall can evoke the feeling of grandeur and importance your home might be looking for.
Using what are normally inanimate objects and arranging them in a way to evoke a personal touch is a really inventive way of creating a home, rather than just a house.
All images from Habitat’s photography archive. Some products may not be available. Please visit habitat.co.uk to view our current, uniquely designed, range.