When it comes to living room feature wall ideas, wallpaper isn’t the only way to add wow. Sure, a statement wallpaper in a bold colour or flamboyant floral will make instant impact and look fantastic, but there are plenty of other ways to get creative if you’re faced with a featureless living room.
Wall art is an easy way to turn a plain wall into a focal point – and is easy to rearrange if you fancy a change later on. Or if your living room idea is lacking in architectural details, why not try creating a faux feature with DIY panelling or a decorative paint effect.
Living room feature wall ideas
No matter what your decor style, feature wall ideas are a great way of adding extra visual interest if your living room is looking a little lacklustre. While bold patterns and vibrant colours are impactful, calmer colours and neutrals can look every bit as eye-catching on a feature wall. Or consider adding shelving so you can work in colour and texture with ornaments, artwork or greenery.
1. Put up a picture gallery
Fill empty wall space behind a sofa with a gallery of favourite art work. Instead of a random mix of colours, give your display a more cohesive feel by choosing pictures, frames and mounts that complement each other. Paint walls a toning shade so that the background brings out the colours of your art.
For an informal display like this, choose artwork in a range of sizes. To work out the best picture layout for your gallery wall idea, try cutting paper templates out first and attaching to the wall with Blutak. You can then play around with the arrangement until completely happy with it.
2. Paint vertical stripes
Give a featureless wall some decorative detail with a simple colour-block treatment using uplifting blues and greens. Keep to two colours of a similar tone for a subtle, understated look, painting one large panel in the centre of your wall, with two narrower panels, one at each end.
Separate your coloured panels by painting narrow bands of white in-between to create a dividing line. Use low-tack painter’s tape to give a crisp line.
To enhance your colourful living room paint idea Add cushions and soft furnishings in complementary tones with bolder pops of pink and yellow here and there.
3. Give panelling a modern twist
Add architectural detail to a plain living room by installing timber wall panelling over one wall. Paint woodwork a flat, matt eggshell finish, continuing the colour on skirting, architrave and doors to create a rich immersive feel throughout.
Break up dark tones by adding statement artwork. One oversized canvas or large framed print will add more impact than several smaller pieces. Choose pale colours that complement soft furnishings with metallic accents to add sparkle.
4. Line a wall with floating shelves
Combine a feature wall with smart living room storage ideas. A stack of floating shelves run wall-to-wall will give an abundance of display space for artwork, picture frames, books and decorative pieces.
If you’re worried that a long run of open shelving might look untidy, separate shelves into sections by placing items in groups of three or five. Add height to displays by using a short stack of books to raise up smaller pieces.
5. Try a chic half-painted wall
Get a hit of bolder colour without committing to a whole room redo by trying a half-and-half paint treatment on a feature wall. A rich, warm colour on the lower section of wall will make a cosy backdrop for a sofa or a decorative piece like a sideboard or cabinet.
An easy way of updating a white or neutral room, a half-painted wall with a darker colour at the bottom (and paler colour at the top) will also create the illusion of height in a living room with low ceilings.
6. Create a wall of greenery
Revitalise a tired living room by adding an indoor living wall. House plant ideas and greenery not only add colour but can boost air quality and well-being too. Just choose ferns and succulents that don’t require frequent watering.
Use the wall behind a sofa or a sideboard for your display. Pocket planters that are attached to the wall on brackets make a great alternative to wall art. Display in multiples of three or five to fill the space above furniture in a block effect.
7. Paint a statement border
Try a two-tone treatment on the wall behind a sofa and paint a bold border stripe mid-way across the wall. Continuing the stripe over a bookcase or a door creates an eye-catching effect that adds even more ‘wow’.
Try this effect in a dark-coloured room by painting the stripe in a paler colour. Or try the reverse effect in a light room, by opting for a darker colour for your stripe.
8. Go dark with a dusky paint colour
Make a statement by painting a feature wall in an ultra dark on-trend paint shade. Choose a flat, matt paint in a velvety finish that will make a plush backdrop for a living room sofa and furniture and take colour floor-to-ceiling for an immersive feel.
Try dark shades of plum or damson in a living room to create a super-cosy effect. Avoid strong contrasts to keep the mood mellow, bringing in touches of rich raspberry, soft grey and olive green, with accents of warm gold and brass to add contrast on artwork and furniture.
9. Run shelving wall to wall
A patterned wallpaper makes for the perfect living room feature wall, but adding a single run of shelving will take the look up a level. Paint shelving a complementary colour so that it blends in with your wallpaper design and display family photos, artwork and favourite ornaments in a cheery mix of colours.
Hang the shelf at eye level (when standing up) and choose a slimline design or narrow picture ledge so that anyone sitting on the sofa won’t knock their head as they get up.
10. Play with scale
Supersize a favourite floral print and repeat it on a floor-to-ceiling mural to give a living room feature wall the wow factor. Paint adjoining walls in the same dark background colour to make your feature wall really zing.
Choose plush velvet upholstery for sofa and armchairs in complementary dusky tones. A dark winter floral like this looks great teamed with rich garnet, midnight blue and dusky plum.
11. Create an easy-change picture gallery
Line a living room wall with narrow picture ledges that can be filled with favourite prints or framed family photographs. Shelves are super-easy to rearrange if you have new additions or simply fancy a change at a later date.
Paint shelves to match your walls for a chic look – it’ll make art work stand out more. Add further interest by layering in a few small ornaments here and there to fill in any gaps between pictures.
12. Use feature stripes to widen a wall
Go bold with extra-wide stripes across one wall of a living room. Horizontal stripes will make the wall appear wider – perfect for small living rooms. Vertical stripes (both wide and narrow) have the opposite effect and will help make a wall look longer and higher.
For a chic scheme, choose monochrome striped wallpaper. Black and white looks ultra smart teamed with just a few accent accessories in bold primary colours.
Which wall should be a feature wall in a living room?
A feature wall can be used to highlight a living room’s existing focal point, such as the wall where a fireplace sits or where the TV is positioned. Alternatively, a feature wall can be used to create a backdrop for a statement piece – such as a sofa or sideboard – with a bold colour or standout pattern used to draw attention to the item.
Size-wise it makes sense for a feature wall to be used over a larger area to have maximum impact, so avoid them in very small rooms, where the effect might be too overpowering. In open-plan spaces, feature walls are a great trick for zoning the space – a painted panel or feature wallpaper can act as a visual divide and make the perfect break-out spot for a seating area or study space.
What do you put on a feature wall?
Generally speaking, paint is the easiest option, whether it’s block colour allover or a paint effect, such as stripes or painted panels. Wallpaper is another popular choice – while a bold floral or flamboyant pattern might be overpowering used wall-to-wall, a small amount in a key area can give the perfect hit of pattern.
Tactile feature walls are another option, from traditional wooden panelling and reclaimed timber boards to walls clad in tiles, slate, marble or stone.