If you have a large wall in your living room that’s needing... well, a bit of love, you’ve come to the right place. Having a big empty wall is much like a blank canvas. Unless you have a clear idea on the look you’re planning to create, knowing how to break up a large wall in a living room can almost be harder to achieve than decorating in a far smaller space.
A living room, more than any other space in a home, needs to feel warm and inviting. A space to relax and unwind, yet smart enough to entertain and socialise in. Start by researching the best living room wall decor ideas can help you discover the ideal decor solution for your space and then adapt any of the following ideas to suit your style, needs and space.
How to break up a large wall in a living room
An oversized wall shouldn’t be thought of in isolation either. It should be the anchor that ties the room decor together. ‘When I see a room with one strong, dominant wall,’ agrees Bethan Harwood, Partner & Home Design Stylist at John Lewis & Partners, ‘I’m itching to change up the other elements to balance it and bring the room together.’
But what if you have a very large surface to cover? Worry not and just read on - this guide is packed with plenty of ideas and inspiration to help you smarten your supersize wall, making your living room look no less spacious but a lot more welcoming.
Living room walls come in all shapes and sizes, and while you’d think that bigger is always better, a very large living room wall can sometimes be a disadvantage when decorating. Just like standard sized walls, there are plenty of ways to decorate the space but how you apply them is what counts on a large wall.
Take paint for instance. Painting a large wall in a living room in all one colour doesn’t do much to make the space look less huge, but using a variety of living room paint ideas in different ways can trick the eye into thinking it’s smaller than it is. The same goes for wallpaper – one repetitive print on a large space can feel a little never ending.
However, if you take a look at our suggestions below, you’re bound to find something that you can try at home and transform your living room wall with.
1. Add drama with an oversized mural
‘Murals work best in rooms with high ceilings or large spaces, where you can see most of the design,’ explains Bethan Harwood, Partner & Home Design Stylist at John Lewis. And that's exactly why they're the ideal solution to how to break up a large wall in a living room.
‘Murals tend to be designed for rooms with high ceilings or large rooms,' adds Bethan, 'but as long as you measure the design against your space to make sure the main section isn’t lost, they can be versatile. I particularly love a mural in an open-plan space or family room as they feel homely and can be a great conversation starter,’ she adds.
2. Break up one shade with blocks of different colour
‘Colour blocking is a great way to divide up a wall, highlighting different corners or to frame the sofa, ' says Bethan Harwood, Partner & Home Design Stylist at John Lewis.
If you're not keen to paint blocks of colour on the wall, you can still add plenty of visual variety via a selection of simple, graphic artworks grouped together in a group. Keep the look symmetrical so it looks balanced - the classic rule of three is a failsafe plan and one that always looks confidently put together, especially when decorating the wall behind a sofa.
3 Introduce a built-in living wall
'What about a living wall?' asks Bethan Harwood from John Lewis. 'I love them in open-plan spaces that lead out to a balcony or garden. You can also work one into a shelving unit, which is slightly easier to upkeep. I’d keep the pots and background monochrome so the plants can be the feature.’
Built-in shelving, like in this living space, can create a wonderful living room feature wall idea. It does require plenty of space to work well, which is why it's ideal for breaking up a large wall. It provides much needed extra space for storage and display, and looks extra effective especially if used to display a collection of house plants. And, as Bethan suggests, is a far easier take on the living wall.
4. Break up the space with a horizontal gallery wall
If you want to know how to break up a large wall in a living room, you can't go wrong with a gallery wall. Want to take the look a little further? Try a new spin on a the classic gallery wall by lining up your frames along one horizontal line.
Ideal too if you're looking for ways how to break up a long wall in a living room, this works particularly well in spaces that feature a large piece of furniture, like a sofa or sideboard. Draw a line at least 30-45 centimetres above where the top of the furniture touches the wall and hang your frames upwards from that, ensuring the base of all of the frames sit on the same line.
5. Warm up the wall with a deep paint shade
You may have heard that painting a room in a dark shade makes a space feel smaller, that's not always the case. It's true that paint colours do influence how a room feels, much like the amount of natural light that a room gets does too. But as a rule, painting a room in a dark shade makes the space feel cosier, not necessarily smaller.
Choosing a deep, rich shade for the walls therefore might not be such a bad thing for a a room with a large expanse of wall - it may be just the thing to make it feel like a far more welcoming space.
6. Add symmetry with artwork
If you've fallen for a wallpaper print but aren't brave enough to paper the walls, you can still have a go at adding pattern to break up a big empty wall, without committing to a wraparound look.
Get three matching canvases and cover each one with a length of your chosen wallpaper (if possible, the print and the colour of the wall should both co-ordinate). The combination of the repetition and symmetry and repetition make this a great way to break up a large space.
7. Cluster a selection of mirrors together
Much like a picture gallery, a cluster of living room mirror ideas hung on a large wall in your living room work just as well to break up a large space. What's more, any natural light that may flood into the room is reflected out again giving a spacious and airy feeling.
8. Install vertical wood panelling
Instead of classic tongue and groove wall panelling ideas, vertical panelling is an excellent choice for large walls as it adds instant depth, warmth and interest. It's easy to install, as it comes in wide sections that you just fix to the wall and it provides great acoustic warmth, too. Perfect if you don't want to disturb the neighbours (or don't want them to disturb you).
9. Add a subtle edge with beading
Reintroducing some classic architectural details to your living room, like beaded panels, can instantly break up a large wall and make it look a whole lot smarter. Provided you paint beading and the walls in the same shade, it is a really easy and affordable way to add character to a space.
‘Try textured or metallic paint,' suggests Justyna Korczynska, Crown Colour Consultant. 'They add interest by subtly catching the light. If you’ve architectural elements, work with them to create a feature, or think about panelling – the highlights and shadows created add another level to a painted feature wall.’
10. Wow with wallpaper
When decorating a a large wall, living room wallpaper ideas are an easy first port of call. And because you have a lot of space to cover, you can afford to have more fun with the pattern than you would in a smaller space. Lisa Honiball, owner Honey Interior Design agrees. ‘Of course, there’s wallpaper,' she says, 'but don’t use a large feature wall as an excuse to chicken out of a scheme or decorate half-heartedly. Maximalists should still be embracing their love of colour and pattern and taking a fabulous wallpaper around all four walls!'
'Equally,' adds Lisa, 'if you prefer a more minimal approach, then don’t feel pressured to do something outrageous on one wall; you can still create focus and attention with a textured wallpaper on one wall or some panelling.'
11. Have a go at colour drenching some panelling
Already have panelling installed but want to give it a little more...oomph? Try your hard at colour drenching. While painting the entire wall and mouldings in one shade might look a little empty on a plain wall, it is a perfect match for a panelled wall as the shadows cast from the natural light add plenty of decorative beauty.
How do you break up a long wall in a living room?
Any of the above ideas translate well in on a very long wall in a living room, too. Consider investing in some taller furniture like bookshelves and cabinets to break up the excessive length and mark out specific zones.
Smart lighting can help, too. Living room wall lights cleverly placed can help split the space up into cosier zones. From hanging a pair of matching wall lights above a sofa to an adjustable lamp above an armchair, you can leave the overhead light on and have pooled areas of light to brighten up the space.
How do you colour split a room?
Clever living room paint ideas are becoming more popular, mainly because we're getting braver with our colour choices but also because they're super easy to achieve. Use architectural features wherever possible - existing arches, dado rails, picture rails - they can all be taken advantage of and painted in a contrasting shade to adjacent walls. Don't have any rails or panelling? Try creating a visual version with a super neat horizontal line across your living room wall using FrogTape painting tape.
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Ginevra Benedetti has been the Deputy Editor of Ideal Home magazine since 2021. With a career in magazines spanning nearly twenty years, she has worked for the majority of the UK’s interiors magazines, both as staff and as a freelancer. She first joined the Ideal Home team in 2011, initially as the Deputy Decorating Editor and has never left! She currently oversees the publication of the brand’s magazine each month, from planning through to publication, editing, writing or commissioning the majority of the content.
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