Feature Wall Do's and Don'ts

A grey stone accent wall that incorporates colors and textures from the rest of the intterior design of the room

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Feature walls provide great opportunities to experiment with textures, shapes, colors, and patterns. Also called accent walls, they offer a quick and easy way to liven up the space, and depending on what material you choose, they can be very low cost. Feature walls can be high impact, but they do not have to be. Sometimes a subtle pattern can inject just the right amount of interest into a room without overwhelming the space. 

Whether you want a big change or a subtle upgrade, a feature wall could be just the thing you need. Here are some of the do's and don'ts to keep in mind.

The Do's of Feature Walls

  • Complementary colors are great: Make sure that whatever color or pattern you choose complements the rest of the room. Choosing a bright or bold color can be great, but only if it fits in with the rest of the room. Bold just for the sake of bold is never a good idea.
  • Accentuate the space: Use an accent wall to define a living space. In an open concept home or in multiple-use spaces it can be tricky to define areas, but an accent wall can help. For instance, a feature wall to highlight the dining area in a combined living/dining space can help greatly.
  • Update with paint: Opt for paint when you want an easy and inexpensive way to update your space without making a big commitment. There is no limit to the patterns you can create with paint, and it is the easiest material to change should you decide you want to try something different.

The Don'ts of Feature Walls

  • Find your focal point: Do not randomly select a wall to highlight. The feature wall should be used to highlight the room's existing focal point. For instance, the wall where the mantel sits, or even where the TV is, makes for a good feature wall. The wall behind the headboard in a bedroom is also ideal. The point is that the eye should be drawn to one spot and if the feature wall is anywhere other than the focal area, the eye will not have a place to rest. Let the room's architecture be your guide.
  • Help a small room: Refrain from putting an accent wall in a tiny room. It will only make it look smaller. If you want a bold color or pattern in a small room, you are far better off covering all the walls. Go big or go home.
  • Do it in the right room: Don't opt for a feature wall because you are scared to commit an entire room to a particular color or pattern. While it is a great option if you think the color or pattern will be too overwhelming for the entire room, you should not do it out of fear. A feature wall should be a highlight, not a consolation prize.
  • Steer clear of crowded rooms: Avoid putting a feature wall in an already overcrowded room. When there is too much going on in a space, it can be confusing to the eye and create a sense of chaos. A feature wall should be a highlight, so it needs room to breathe.
  • Use mixed materials: Do not fall in that trap thinking that paint and wallpaper are not your only options. You can also create feature walls out of tile, stone, and reclaimed wood, to name a few materials.
  • Do not fear wallpaper: So many people are hesitant to decorate with wallpaper because they do not want to deal with eventually having to take it down, but there are plenty of peel-and-stick options that are easy to remove when the time comes.