With apologies to CNN whose Key Race Alert has seeped irrevocably into my brain, I bring you today A Key Decor Alert (and if I knew how to add dramatic music I would). Anyway…. The Key Decor Alert (and repetition is almost entirely the point) is that A Feature Wall Is Not (necessarily) a Mistake. But you gotta know how to do it.
Now, for many it never went away and while I have long maintained that it can look a bit random and also as if you didn’t have the courage of your decorating convictions, I have recently worked out what, for me at least, was the problem. The issue, I think, is white paint (again – it’s so often a Decorating Demon – and that might be another Key Decor Alert: White paint often isn’t the answer). How many times have you seen a feature wall in perfectly pretty colour or a gorgeous wallpaper with the three other walls all in white?
We have discussed at length on these pages how you shouldn’t default to white paint unless it’s a deliberate decision. White can often be too high contrast with the rest of the decor and does nothing but emphasise any potential shortcomings of a feature wall.
As I merrily said the other day – after all you don’t always wear a white top with every skirt in your wardrobe – only to moderate a comment from someone about 20 minutes later who said yes, actually, she did. So to everyone apart from you… sometimes a colour other than white works better with your outfit.
Note in the images above and below how the walls are in a toning shade of green and while the picture rail above contrasts it is one of the colours from the wallpaper so it’s more of a sort of neutral bone colour rather than white.
In short, white paint can make a feature wall look like you ran out of paper or paint. Like you were scared to carry through the idea. Like you created a feature wall because you read in a magazine somewhere that it might be a good idea but with no follow-through on how to do it.
If you want a feature wall it’s not just about picking out a wall. It’s about decorating the whole room around that feature to draw it into the scheme rather than have it hanging awkwardly on the edge like the unwanted guest at a party. In the same way that you must never decorate a room in isolation because you can see it from the other rooms in the house when you walk past so you must never decorate a wall in isolation. It’s part of that room, bring it in, make it feel welcome.
But there are white walls below I hear you cry… well yes but there is also a pink border so this is a feature that has been thought about, that has been, if you like, framed on the wall by the pink (and then echoed in the picture and deepened in the colour of the chairs). Like I said, there ways do this. You could have done the whole wall and still framed the edge – that might only take an extra tester pot. It’s about, as it always is, making it look deliberate and thought out.
So pick your wallpaper, then paint the other walls in one of the colours within that design – it can be dark or light. If you don’t want paper then pick a colour for that wall, and, to tie it in with the rest of the room, paint the skirting boards round the rest of the room to match for example. And perhaps the window frame and the door as Karen Knox from Making Spaces has done below. Yes the walls are pale (not white) which matches the background colour of the wallpaper but the woodwork and skirting boards pull out the dark blue of the paper and because the skirting boards lead out from the wallpaper it makes the whole room feel together and that the feature wall is an integral part of the decor and not a random, well, feature.
Now while this room, by Fiona Duke Interiors, isn’t a feature wall, it illustrates perfectly the point of not defaulting to white. The dark ceiling tones with the wallpaper and creates a scheme that looks cosy and warm and, crucially, joined up. Imagine the paper just behind the bed with grey walls, or even the paler gold colour on the walls and ceiling and you can see why a default shade of white would have looked random and wrong.
So go forth and feature your walls but make sure you don’t forget the other three. Pick a colour that tones or is a softer contrast for the other walls and the ceiling. Now you have created a room scheme. It may not be rocket science but it is about joining the dots.