11 Feature Wall Ideas That Will Instantly Transform Your Rooms
“The walls of your bedroom are essentially a canvas, not only for artwork or colour but also for your experience in the room,” says Alexandra Champalimaud, founder of Champalimaud Design. More than just a backdrop to your interior design scheme, a feature wall can, for instance, dramatically change the mood and look of a room and elevate the overall aesthetic.
Accent walls present homeowners with a wonderful opportunity to mix and match various surface materials, colours and textures.
By combining bright glazed tiles with marble, wainscoting, stone, or metallic-effect surfaces, Hong Kong-based design duo Vincent Lim and Elaine Lu of Lim + Lu have transformed bathrooms into alluring spaces. “Combining two types of materials in contrasting colours can really give a space a burst of energy. The juxtaposition of textures and colours brings a high level of excitement to the space,” says Lim.
When choosing your paint and wallpaper, be mindful of your emotional response to colours and prints. “Choose any colour or pattern that makes you feel good,” says Champalimaud. “Make sure you’re certain about how you want to integrate a wall feature with the space. Do you want it to dominate, or is it an accent? Is the purpose of your choice to give the room personality, or not? What is it that you want to enhance?”
Ultimately, your interior should represent the things you love. A bold wall sporting a vibrant print may be off-putting if you’re accustomed to minimalist interiors, while neutral schemes might seem dull to people who prefer maximalist styles.
“You must feel connected to what you decide to do, as it will impact the emotional relationship you have with the room; you want it to draw you in, let you focus and feel rested,” says Champalimaud. As she sums it up: “It’s important to consider those things in your choices and make the decision for yourself.” Stumped on where to start? Get design inspiration from the following pages.
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1/11 Add wooden warmth
Organic walls of stone, wood or concrete bring the beauty of nature into your home. When choosing such materials for feature walls, co-founders Naoko Takenouchi and Marc Webb of Takenouchi Webb say it’s important to remember that natural surfaces will change with time and require care to maintain. “Don’t expect a feature wall of natural materials to be perfect, but appreciate the beauty in the imperfections,” says Takenouchi. “Integrate them into your space so they can take on a patina and change with time.”
In its Marina One showflats, Takenouchi Webb has created textural juxtapositions by setting a flat-panelled wood wall adjacent to a wood wall with a ribbed pattern. “By creating a wall with contrasting sections, your eye can focus on different elements,” says Webb. “Either select two highly contrasting materials and colours, or use the same material with a different treatment. For example, do up one section in glossy wood and the other in a matte-finished wood.”
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2/11 Elevate a blank canvas
Even off-white walls can be made intriguing with a clever mix of textures and materials, as evident in Canvas House, a shophouse with refreshed interiors by Ministry of Design (MOD). Crafted as a co-living space for leasing firm Figment, the four-storey structure was imagined as a “proverbial blank canvas” with its deliberate lack of colour. Yet its white walls are anything but boring; the firm created various installations and wall features to add tactile details to the abode.
One of its most distinctive elements is a neon artwork encased in an aluminium box, featuring a quote by Thomas Jefferson, the third American president, which encapsulates the concept of this shophouse. “We love wall features that actually communicate an idea or convey a concept,” says Colin Seah, creative director of MOD. “The quote, ‘I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past’ summarises the attitude of the house—it is a neutral white canvas for the future to be dreamt upon, rather than a wholesale homage to the past.”
3/11 Include tactile elements with fabrics
A fabric-clad wall is a great way to create a tactile atmosphere. “Softening the walls with stretched fabric panels, or adding cladding such as silk wallpaper to a feature wall, will create a warm and inviting feeling of sophisticated intimacy,” says British designer Katharine Pooley.
According to Winnie Wong, managing director of upholstery brand Cetec, you shouldn’t use silk or fabrics with low lightfastness in rooms with strong sunlight. “Thin fabrics aren’t suitable as wallcoverings because they are too transparent and the backing of the fabric will be visible,” she says.
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4/11 Mix and match patterns on your walls and flooring
Whether you use them for a section of the kitchen wall or on the floor, graphic tiles are a great way to spice up your interiors. Inspired by traditional Spanish tiles and their intricate floral and curvilinear motifs, these patterned ceramic tiles can add a dose of Mediterranean charm to your home.
Use a single solid colour for your painted wall if you’re selecting patterned tiles for your flooring; this will make the colour on the wall appear richer and more vivid. “Think of patterned tiles as a piece of artwork hanging on your wall; you should always make sure that the background is unobtrusive enough so the artwork can shine,” says Lim.
Another suggestion is to use similar patterns for a variety of tiles in the same space. “Consider the different ways of laying the tiles to create varying patterns,” says Chloe Elkerton, founder of E&A Interiors. For plain tiles, try laying them diagonally, as this will cast the eye out to the longest dimensions of the room and make the space appear bigger than it is.”
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5/11 Bring out a botanical flair with floral wallpaper
Patterned wallpaper or fabric panels can also create a similar, mural-like effect. Botanical prints in particular continue to be a hit. When selected in subdued tones, these elegant motifs will add a graceful touch to any interior.
“I love to use Fromental or De Gournay’s hand-painted silk wallpapers on feature walls; they install impeccably and add a real ‘wow’ factor to an interior,” shares Pooley. Terri Tan, design director of Designworx Interior Consultant, agrees. “Wallpaper provides colour, pattern, sheen and texture. Handmade wallpaper is best as the handiwork gives the end result an unparalleled quality,” she says.
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A wall mural is another elegant way to bring a personalised touch to your room. “If you opt for a mural, consider having the design start from the bottom of the wall and move upwards,” recommends Alexandra Champalimaud, the founder of Champalimaud Design. “It’s also important to make sure the colour of the ceiling corresponds to the colours in the mural as well; you could even consider doing a partial mural on three walls. Whatever the subject matter is, it needs to have depth and a story, and it needs to mesmerise you.”
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6/11 Consider incorporating mouldings and other types of plasterwork
Add a graceful touch to your home with mouldings, which can instantly jazz up any space. Inspired by heritage homes, these decorative elements are making a comeback. They easily augment the charm of a newly built home, which may feature bare walls and angular proportions.
“Mouldings are used to emphasise certain characteristics in a room,” says Champalimaud. “You don’t want the mouldings to be too shocking or too strong. For instance, well-designed baseboards can establish geometry in the room and frame the space beautifully.”
Apply rectangular mouldings that run the full length of the wall, or opt for wainscoting— recessed or raised wooden panels that cover just the lower third of the wall. Besides contributing to the visual impact of the interior, these panels can also add to the seamless look of your home.
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7/11 Incorporate display shelves
A full-height bookshelf is not just a dream feature for bibliophiles; it can also visually heighten the sense of space in an interior while showcasing decor objects. Located within the Conrad Hangzhou hotel in China, the Li’an restaurant designed by AB Concept is a shining example—the Hong Kong-based firm was tasked to craft the overall interiors of the hotel as well as this establishment. “As the Li’an restaurant has a high ceiling, using a full-height display amplifies the scale and also creates visual interest at different eye levels,” say Ed Ng and Terence Ngan, co-founders of AB Concept.
Floral motifs applied to the interior walls draw cues from the traditional Chinese dishes served at Li’an, contributing to its design narrative. “Artistic elements, such as the floral wall, resonate with the delicacies served in the restaurant.”
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8/11 Include plant life
Indoor plants can also be used to add more life along walls. “Plants can dramatically change a space by adding life and colour to it,” says Marc Webb, co-founder of Takenouchi Webb.
“Plants require regular care and maintenance, so if you want to have them along your walls, it’s more practical to use shelving where you can place many potted plants rather than a built-in vertical green wall,” he adds. “That way, it’s also easier to move your plants around or update your wall-shelf with new plants when needed. Speak to a nursery or a landscape designer to choose plants that are most suitable for your home.”
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9/11 Decorate your walls with artworks
“For a long corridor, stairwell or a huge room, a gallery wall is perfect to add that personal touch in any home,” says Terri Tan, design director of Designworx Interior Consultant. “To prevent mould forming on artworks or photographs in our humid climate, they should be framed with acid-free boards and covered with clear glass. A good alternative is to opt for oil paintings as these withstand humidity well.”
Wallcoverings can also enhance the impact of your gallery wall. “Wallpaper acts as a great backdrop to a collection of art, whether for framed photographs, maps or a mixed collection of art pieces; they offer a layered and eclectic look,” says Chloe Elkerton, founder of E&A Interiors.
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10/11 Make a statement with whimsical designs
Inject a sense of whimsy into your interior with a tapestry-like wallpaper depicting idyllic landscapes and fantastic scenes. It can create an instant statement in a dining area, or a social zone where a greater visual impact is desirable; it also creates an indelible impression on visitors to your home.
In petite areas such as powder rooms, a bold pattern can make a big impact. “Wallpaper is a great way to add character and enhance a bathroom, particularly a powder room,” explains Elkerton. “Powder rooms often have no windows, and are dark and lacklustre, therefore wallpaper can give that instant pop of colour—it also means you can use that fun wallpaper you’ve been longing to use.”
For added impact, Elkerton recommends creating contrasting accent walls in a powder room. “Combine an accent wall of wallpaper with striking wall tiles—use wallpaper on walls that are not next to the sink for the toilet. These glazed, emerald-green scallop wall tiles add bold colour, shape and pattern, and combine well with this Leopard wallpaper from Cole & Son.”
11/11 Paint it blue
When you’re choosing paint colours, consider the effects of the hue and the function of your room. The restful effects of blue shades make them particularly suitable for the study and bedrooms. “If you’d like to create a space that lets you focus deeply on your projects, introduce an ombre blue wall,” shares Windy Santosa, brand marketing manager at Akzonobel, which carries Dulux paints.
Take inspiration from the Blue Willow all-day restaurant in Conrad Hangzhou. Designed by AB Concept, this dining area features a navy blue wall accentuated by a golden band and a metal screen; the use of blue was inspired by Hangzhou’s tranquil landscape and the storied art of Chinese ceramics.
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