Dining room wall decor ideas – what to do with a bare wall

Set off dinner parties and family meals with a dining room wall display that gets people talking
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  • It’s fair to say that dining room wall decor ideas can be a bit of a head scratcher. After all, this is a shared space and one that’s used for entertaining, so you want your choice of design or display to be something guests will enjoy, too. Plus, given that dining rooms are often part of a bigger, open plan area, you need something that won’t jar with your decor elsewhere.

    What you put on your walls is a big part of any dining room ideas brainstorm. You could tell your personal story through photographs and collections of items that become a conversation point over dinner. Or you may want to use them as an opportunity to create a mood through paint effects. All while not putting guests off their food, of course!

    Dining room wall decor ideas

    Do steal ideas from other rooms – tiles needn’t be reserved to kitchens or bathrooms, for example – and be indulgent. A wall of plants or bold pattern can make your dining space an Instagrammable destination that will always have friends angling for an invite.

    1. Don’t reserve tiles for the kitchen

    Dining-room-wall-ideas-scallop tiled-wall

    Image credit: Corsica Fan tiles, £95.98sq m, Porcelain Superstore

    Take tiles beyond a traditional kitchen splashback idea and make them a full height feature in their own right. For a statement design, go for either an interesting pattern, bold colour choice or an unusual shape, or a mix of all three to draw the eye in an open plan kitchen dining area.

    It can create a stand-out area in a busy space. A glossy glaze will create even more contrast, especially when paired with a matt kitchen finish.

    2. Try a new alternative to plate display

    Dining-room-wall-ideas-baskets

    Image Credit: Simon Whitmore / Carol Wortley

    We’re used to seeing a plate display or a gallery wall made up of artwork and objects as a typical way to liven up empty walls. However, bringing together just one item, such as a grouping of woven wall platters and baskets, adds impact in its simplicity.

    In this dining room, the natural texture and pattern of this wall display idea brings a white wall to life and the grouping gracefully defines the eating area.

    3. Go bold with a wallpaper

    Dining-room-wall-ideas-bold-patterned wallpaper

    Image credit: El Salvador wallpaper, £36 per roll, Lust Home

    It’s time to be fearless – if you find a dining room wallpaper idea you love, go for it! It will breathe personality into the home as well as help to zone a large or open plan space. Live with the sample for a while to make sure you’re happy before you commit.

    For bold, colourful prints, pairing it with a white or neutral paint on the other walls will allow it to shine, or tone it down by choosing a paint colour that features in the design.

    4. Hang an indoor garden

    Dining-room-wall-ideas-hanging plants

    Image credit: Homesense

    Cascading green plants will instantly liven up a fresh white dining space. The secret to success here is the bold use of a variety of textures, lengths and leaf size for maximum impact.

    Hanging the planters from a grille allows the display to constantly evolve by easily adding to the clusters.

    Add to the indoor outdoor effect by mixing in rattan dining chairs that would work in the garden, too.

    Some of the best house plants for a dining room are Devil’s Ivy (Golden Pothos); Boston Hanging Fern; Aeschynanthus Japhrolepis; Lepismium Bolivianum; Hoya Linearis and hanging sedum Burro’s Tail.

    5. Try a paint effect

    Dining-room-wall-ideas-paint-effects

    Image credit: Elmir dining table, £650, Next

    Here, the paint effect creates some rustic texture, adding even more warmth to the tone set by the rich wooden dining furniture. Craig & Rose special-effect Chalk Wash paints can be applied by sponge, rag or brush.

    Alternatively, a limed effect can be created using watered down flat matt emulsion, chalk paint or a specialist limewash such as Bauwerk’s selection.

    6. Add a gallery wall

    White dining room with gallery wall and skylight

    Image credit: Robert Sanderson/Future PLC

    Take advantage of a captive audience at a dinner party and hang a gallery wall that can become a talking point. It could show off pictures of your travels, portraits of family and friends or just your favourite screen prints, sketches and paintings.

    ‘Choosing a common theme across your displayed artwork can really help to bring the whole wall together,’ Clare Moreton, photo expert at CEWE. ‘It’s also a great way to showcase your unique style and display something you’re passionate about.’

    ‘Select photos from your holiday alongside nautical paintings for a fresh seaside theme or display photos of your pets alongside prints with your favourite inspirational quotes – providing a perfect platform to showcase your unique personality.’

    7. Mix country panelling with industrial black

    Blue panelled dining room with white dining table and chairs by Furniture and Choice

    Image credit: Furniture and Choice

    A good wall panelling idea will elevate a country theme when it comes to dining room wall decor ideas. But to give it a modern edge, pick a steely blue colour and hang accessories in black for a striking industrial contrast.

    8. Make a talking point of tableware

    Fireplace wall in deep pink hung with Joe Brown plates

    Image credit: Joe Brown

    Taking the plates off the table and hanging them on the wall isn’t exactly a new idea in dining rooms, but there are some striking new ways to curate your look.

    Traditionally, you may have seen many randomly patterned plates hung together – perhaps with a theme of colour or motif. However here, mix-and-match designs from the same service have been hung together, and the wall behind has been colour-matched to the pattern, so the plates both pop and coordinate.

    9. Have fun with colour

    Green and white dining room with curtain and furniture by John Lewis

    Image credit: John Lewis

    If any room is a place to have fun with your decor, it’s a dining room. A playful approach to dining room wall decor ideas sets just the right note for family tea times, cocktails with the gang, or smiley Sunday lunches.

    Start with primary colours – choose slightly muted tones of red, yellow, blue and green to elevate your dining space beyond the playroom. Painting the wall to dado height is a good way to add a deep block colour without going ‘all the way’, can make a low ceiling appear higher, and create a feature in a modern home lacking architectural detail.

    Placement of your wall art is key to this look. Avoid the uniform – instead pop your pictures at different heights and mix up your media. Proudly display your kids’ artwork next to your favourite prints.

    If you’re struggling to make your arrangement look freeform, Clare Moreton suggests ‘placing your largest item in a central position first and then adding smaller items around it.’

    How can I make a blank dining room wall more interesting?

    Make your dining room wall more interesting with colour, a collection or a stimulating visual display – whether that’s a wallpaper, a piece of wall sculpture or your favourite family photographs.

    ‘I love to create visual surprise in my design,’ says interior designer Kelly Hoppen CBE. ‘Walls lend themselves brilliantly to this. You can let your imagination loose on their vast planes, making them a quiet backdrop or a fascinating focal point.’

    But she does have a word of warning if you are planning a wall display: ‘Before you commit to a wall finish… …have a clear idea from the outset about what you plan to hang on the walls or display in front of them. You don’t want a star piece of artwork to compete with its backdrop.’

    Spearmint green dining room with wooden sideboard and wall art

    Image credit: Future PLC

    What are the best colours for dining room walls?

    Deep inky blues instantly add an intimacy to a room, so it’s perfect for cocooning a large dining space, and are a favourite dining room colour, both of the Ideal Home team, and colour experts like Dulux’s creative director Marianne Shillingford.

    How can you add even more warmth to this dramatic colour? Interior designer Cathy Dean suggests, ‘Add in some tobacco tones, some warming reds and oranges and it is cosy and welcoming.’

    White is a fresh and versatile option for a dining space, particularly one tucked in the middle in the house where there’s a danger of the space feeling gloomy. It’s the ideal backdrop for collections of artwork or a collection of wall-hung plates, allowing the colours to pop. And you can bring in more drama with a feature wallpaper or boldly-printed fabrics.

    Additional words by Amy Cutmore

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