Feature walls are a simple yet high impact way to transform any room in your home. Take a look at our best ideas to add a dramatic focal point to a space, from shimmering metallic and bird-inspired wallpapers to shiplap-style cladding and simple paint effects.
Feature walls provide a canvas for trying out a colour or a design on a small scale that you would never go for on a larger one. For this reason, feature walls can be little blasts of colour, pattern, sheen and shine that can bring a truly individual style to any room in your home.
Choose your feature wall with care. Chimney breasts are the obvious choice because they tend to be set centrally within a space and are likely to already be the focal point of a room, particularly if they have a fire fitted. Decorate the front face only or the sides too.
If you don’t have a chimney breast, pick out a single wall instead. Think about the furniture in your room and how it will look once your feature colour or design is in place. You may find it best to go for an emptier side of the room, or one that features a doorway or window for added interest.
In a smaller or busy space, try giving just a section of wall over to a feature treatment. This can work particularly well in a corner. Mask off carefully if painting, or define the space by adding a hard edge, such as an architrave.
Paint and wallpaper are the most popular and simpler choices for creating a feature wall. Go for contrasting colours and bold designs for impact, or toning shades and muted patterns for a gentler approach. Pick out any featured colours and include them in soft furnishings or accessories so that the feature wall is part of a cohesive design scheme. There are lots of tromp l’oeil wallpaper designs around, giving you the look of panelling or book shelves without having to resort to carpentry.
If you don’t want to be too bold when it comes to paint colour, why not use a paler shade but apply it in a different way – paint it in a strip horizontally or vertically or continue the paint over woodwork or up over a section of ceiling.
Don’t overlook real tongue-and-groove panelling as an option and consider using decorative accessories to make a wall different. Try hanging mirrors or picture frames and make those the feature.
The joy of a feature wall is that you can try out wallpapers, paints, finishes and accessories that might normally be outside your budget because you are only buying small quantities.
For more colour inspiration, check out our brilliant bedroom paint ideas gallery.
The palm print trend is certainly a statement – especially if applied to walls, rather than just accessories. Be bold in a bathroom, and move the lush leafy prints on a step, by papering a single wall with a deconstructed palm print like this abstract design. The gorgeous greens really pop and add a jungle-like atmosphere to an already (literally) steamy space.
If wallpaper seems too much faff, or you’re not a pattern person, then pick a punchy paint colour to set off your decor. This vibrant blue really breathes extra life into this living room scheme, where a neutral base is layered up with rich jewel-blue tones. This works especially well here, because of the fresh choice of colour and the neturals that offset the powerful blue wall.
Similar paint colour
Some feature walls are less about being bold, and more about being playful – as this polka dot print proves. Light and lovely, the fresh black-on-white patterned wall has a lightness about it that’s ideal for a children’s room, as it makes a feature, without overpowering the space. It’s also easy to layer up accessories in classic primary colours over against this effectively neutral design.
In a bedroom, set the tone for a lovely peaceful night’s sleep with a dreamy landscape behind the bed. This folktale-esque wallpaper is an ideal option: deep colours, a richly decorative pattern and a modern Scandi style offer the perfect backdrop for petrol-blue bedroom furniture in luxe textiles and similarly elaborate bed linen.
There’s a certain sense of awe that comes from being confronted by a sheer stone wall in nature, and this feeling is recreated in this bedroom with its clever paint-effect wall. Of course, you could go for a real luxury-stone-clad space, but this is a far better option for those on a decorating budget! Draw out the warm sandy tones still further, with bronze-finished accessories and mustard-yellow bed linen in a rough-hewn fabric, such as linen. Lovely.
Similar paint colour
Farrow & Ball
Boost an all-white scheme in a period property with a space-sensitive but still striking wall of modern Oriental-style wallpaper. The white base of this opulent pattern repeat, featuring a peacock-like bird intertwined with flowers, helps to keep the finish crisp and fresh – which in turn sets off the rest of the design details in this contemporary living space.
Create a classical style in a living room by using a feature wallpaper on the wall behind a stone fireplace. The wallpaper here is a great example of how to achieve a smart statement without the space becoming too formal; an architectural etching-style pattern repeat features two monkeys clambering in and around archways, and almost has a mind-bending Escher type feel. Play on this effect by layering two mirrors – with tactile, tonal frames – on the mantelpiece. This draws the eye even more firmly towards the feature wall.
Fornasetti at Wallpaperdirect
Maximise an empty under-stair space by giving it a function…and a stand-out feature wall, to boot! Rather than leave the angled surface plain in this little nook, a wallpaper with a large format pattern has been applied to it, to create an interesting contrast to the geometric paper that covers the flat walls. The big-bloom florals (in the same shade as the other paper’s pattern) make an impact, while the white base prevents overwhelm in the compact space. Add a simple painted chair for putting on/ taking off shoes, and a lamp so you can see what you’re doing, and this otherwise redundant area become a functional hallway focal point.
Hollywood glamour, 1920s luxury, Art Deco delight… call it what you want, but this bedroom decor is packed with personality and a very large part of that is down to the fabulous feature wallpaper. The monochrome charcoal-smudge-like stripes have a soft, mink-like appearance which acts to temper that powerful powder-room pink paint above the picture rail, and that pops from the bed linen and art work. The result? We’d say there’s something very decadent, and yet very necessary about this room.
You may not automatically think of a bathroom or cloakroom splashback as a feature wall, but this subtle design is a beautiful example of how it can become one. A glazed sage-green tile has been hung behind the basin in a herringbone pattern for an elegant alternative to standard white or slate metro tiles arranged in a standard running-bond or stacked pattern. The yellowy-coloured grouting looks golden against the gilded taps and bathroom accessories, making the whole space seem to glow with sophistication.
We’re not quite sure why people always cover over plasterwork, when pink plaster can be such a lovely starting point for a living room decorating scheme. This rich, almost-terracotta tone conjures up thoughts of the warmth of far-flung destinations and, combined with the rich velvet and woven textures in this living area, makes for an original and tactile option for walls in the home.
Osborne & Little at John Lewis
Zone an area designated for home working using a strong wallpaper, like this classic design. The deep turquoise, chocolate brown and golden colour combination has a real heritage feel that lends itself well to the period style of the room. Bring the look right up to date with fuchsia and petrol blue accents that really pop against this geometric design.
Cole & Son
Who says a feature wall has to cover one wall…or that it can’t extend out in a different direction? This modern timber feature wall doubles as a kind of rustic canopy in this bedroom, and is an integral structural as well as decorative feature in the space. The flooring, bed and bedside tables all feature the same sort of finish, making the disparate elements appear as one cocooning space. It’s like an adult treehouse, and we love it!
Set the tone in a dining room with a feature wall that treads the thin line between playful and sophisticated. A punchy gilded pineapple design like this might do the trick – the deep blue base colour provides depth and weight, while the golden fruit offers a lighthearted finish. Blend with dark, modern furniture and other gleaming accent pieces and dinner parties instantly become more interesting!
Clarke & Clarke
In a country-style home, consider a lighter touch for a feature wall. A wallpaper covered with watercolour-style botanicals is a pretty way to set the scene in this feminine living room, where the block-coloured furniture picks up some of the fresh, chalky pastels for a clean and airy-feeling finish.
If block colour is too plain for you, and patterned wallpaper too fussy, why not go BIG with a supersized photo mural on one wall of your living area? This tree-lined vista creates a modern yet rustic woodland vibe in this hallway, making a statement as soon as you (or any guests) step foot through the front door. Rough-luxe furniture, in colours that complement the hues in the mural, create a cohesive, textural finish.
Mesmerise with a mix and match approach all on one wall. This bedroom wall features not one, but two powerful geometric wallpaper prints; the first is a timeless geometric honeycomb design (in glowing gold, black and white), the second, an eye-catching black-and-copper design, forms a headboard shape directly behind the bed. The combination of prints works because of the similar linear designs, as well as the matching colour palettes. The textural soft furnishings throughout the rest of the space tie the whole scheme together, and keep the eye coming back to the feature wall.
Cole & Son
Feature walls don’t have to be all about pattern, as this dining area shows. Here a single, deep blue wall actually makes a point of being understated, created calm and depth for the eye to rest on in this shabby-chic space. The choice of colour works beautifully with the pale wood, metallic chairs and pops of jade green and lemon yellow – in essence, it grounds the rest of the space.
Similar paint colour
Whether you choose to clad your walls with real timber, or opt for a more affordable trompe l’oeil wallpaper, this panelled effect is a great way to boost a flat wall. The silvered tones of the wood create a soothing, cabin-like style, while the book stacks bring a personalised touch to the otherwise streamlined rough-luxe decor.
Wallpaper isn’t the only route to a stand-out statement wall, as this bathroom proves. Be daring with your tiling options and create an energising bathing area – these angled tiles are designed to create a zig-zag pattern (vertically or horizontally, it’s your choice). Whether you opt for single tone or mix them up for a jazzy Deco-style finish like this, it’s a novel (in a good way) approach to wall tiles that easily outdoes the bathroom border tile.
A heritage wallpaper print makes a great addition to a rustic country bedroom, but it has the potential to be overwhelming… which is why it’s ideal to use it on a single wall. Taking it up to the level of a traditional picture rail – rather than all the way to the ceiling – and keeping a clapboard finish above the rail height helps to keep the pattern in check without reducing its impact.
Colefax & Fowler
Is the grey-painted wall here the feature of this kitchen diner, is it the oversized clock, or is it the combination of both together? Against the pitched roof of the extension, this single wall creates the sense of a statuesque (and rather large) cuckoo clock, but as feature walls go, it certainly makes a point.
Inspired? Then pick your wall and get creative. Let us know how you get on in the comments box!