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Turning a feature wall into a feature room

From the Resene decorating blog

Gone is the solid burgundy wall that was popular in the 90s as a standalone feature of a room. However feature walls have definitely not disappeared. In fact, they’ve made a huge comeback in a more sophisticated guise over the last few years.

A nature themed feature wall

The burgundy wall of the 90s as a stand-alone feature is out. However, feature walls have made a huge comeback in the last few years in the form of texture, pattern and colour. Wallpapers, tiles, murals can be used to add a ‘wow factor’ to any space. But taking the feature wall elements and using them along with the principles of design – through rhythm, form, line, pattern, proportion or colour – and bringing the idea into the rest of the room really makes a unique statement. Build a nature-themed room starting with a feature wall in Design EAR101 from the Resene Wallpaper Collection. With monochrome walls and floors in Resene Half Black White and trim in Resene Noir, you can reflect the colours of the wallpaper pattern and leave room to add in some fun pops of colour in Resene XOXO, Resene Wild Thing and Resene Moby.

Feature walls are a clever way to introduce texture, pattern, shapes, line and colour to complete a room scheme,” says Amanda Neill or Designworx.

The digital revolution has made it so easy to find great design information these days, adds Nicola Manning of Nicola Manning Design, “We’re a lot more sophisticated now,” she says. “And we’ve moved away from creating walls in isolation. Now, it’s about layering and pulling the individual elements together in a cohesive whole to create a feature room. We don’t want a feature wall that doesn’t relate to the rest of the room.”

“Elements of a feature wall can be applied to unify a room using the basic principles of good design,” explains Amanda.

In interior design principles, a well-designed room always has one or more focal points, depending on its size. A focal point must be dominant enough to draw attention and interesting enough to encourage the viewer to look further. But it also must be an integral part of the decoration, linked through scale, style, colour, pattern or theme.

You can create that focal point using a feature wall, says Amanda, but it must not hog all the attention.

The secret is in sharing the spotlight by creating rhythm or continuity within the room. To achieve this, you need to think about repetition, transition and contrast using mechanisms to impart movement to the space, leading the eye from one design element to another. You can repeat a pattern, colour, proportion, texture, line, shape or any other element in through the furniture, fabric and accessories.

“Taking these key elements into the rest of the room space is what really makes a unique statement and brings your room to life. Wallpapers, colours, patterns, tiles or murals can be used as a feature wall to add wow factor to any space.”

But before you create a feature wall, it’s smart to make a decision on how you want the space to feel first.

“Choose a wall that will support this feeling. Look at the elements this feature holds, take the colours, pattern or the motif in the wallpaper or the shape of the tile into other parts of the room, and link elements of the design to achieve a cohesive space that makes a strong statement,” says Amanda.

Do it for the kids

Kids rooms are a great place to start having a bit of fun creating a feature room, says Amanda.

She recently completed a full house renovation on the Isle of Man. As a feature of a child’s bedroom, she introduced a large painted pink mural as a pretty backdrop behind the bed. It set the tone for the rest of the room where splashes of watercolour pattern in a cheery candy pink are taken through to other elements on a crisp white background.

A child's bedroom with a watercolour mural on feature wall

In this child’s bedroom by Amanda Neill or Designworx, a large mural was created a backdrop behind the bed. The watercolour-like pattern in pink tones was then taken through in other elements to create continuity. The feature cushion was in the same watercolour painterly style, the upholstery fabric on the reading nook and bed base and headboard had a weave that crisscrossed in a painterly fashion, and the pink tones were carried throughout the space. Create a painterly mural in your own home in a pretty pink such as Resene Pink Ribbon, Resene Smitten, Resene BFF or Resene Irresistible over a warm neutral backdrop like Resene Rice Cake.

There is a large feature cushion on the bed in the same painterly style as the backdrop; fabric on the reading nook, bed base and headboard have a painterly crisscross weave; the floor rug has a painterly textured weave and pink hues are scattered about the space in books and decorative items.

“The whole room has quite a loose, abstract feeling so the younger child whose room it is can change out the details as she matures in her teenage years.”

Having a variety of elements related to a strong focal point lets you add and subtract to create different effects, depending on the season or your mood.

Nicola suggests using a strong wallpaper or painting stripes in bold colours to create a focal point on a wall of a child’s room. She then takes those colours through to the rest of the room. “The shapes, lines or motifs can be repeated to link to that strong original design element.”

Feature rooms that are all grown-up

Adult spaces tend to be more structured and use more sophisticated colour schemes and patterns, says Amanda. Yet they’re based on the same principles; taking aspects of the feature wall into the rest of the room to create that link.

A blue and gold feature room

In creating a feature room, it’s important to choose the focal points carefully so they don’t compete with one another, but layer the theme to pull it all together. Amanda Neill of Designworx used a wallpaper as the feature in beautiful blue and gold tones. The same pattern in fabric was selected to upholster the lounge chairs to create continuity. The colours within the wallpaper and fabric were picked out and used in the cushions pulling together a variety of shades that layered onto the rich velvet sofas. Steal this colour scheme by starting with walls in Resene White Pointer, flooring in Resene Artisan, incorporate a focal point in Resene Rebel, paint some key furniture pieces in Resene Safehaven and add accents in Resene Moonlight.

Nicola says an upholstered panel or a grass wallpaper behind the bed is a great way to introduce a feature wall in the bedroom. “You can bring in the colour or texture in the rest of the room with fabrics and cushions and perhaps add a contrast with a throw.”

A striking pictorial wallpaper in soft blues and gold tones was the starting point for a lounge Amanda designed. To create continuity, she used an upholstery fabric on two armchairs with the same pattern as the feature wall. To complete the whole room in a matching fabric would have been overkill. Instead, tones in the feature wallpaper are picked out in a variety of shades, layering luscious blue velvet sofas with gold, pale blue and dusky cushions.

Running through the fabric is a metallic gold thread, so metal handles on the drinks cabinet and the curtain fabric were chosen to work with the gold tones for subtle continuity. Just as colour expresses the spirit and life of a scheme, it’s these little details and trims which underpin the design and enhance the overall feel.

“It is important to choose your focal point carefully so the elements don’t compete with one another,” says Amanda.

A textural feature wall with a Victorian feel pattern

A feature wall doesn’t always have to be bold and in your face. In this Cheltenham project, the feature was the patterned metal on the fireplace breast. It had a strong textural interest and the same finish was used as a splashback in the kitchen, the pattern has a Victorian feel to it which was very fitting in the villa, yet the contemporary renovation in the back end of this house required a contemporary use of this pattern. To this end proportion was a strong design element, the metal pattern was an oversized play with scale, and this scale was taken though in the size of the sofas, and scale of the custom design floor rug. The contrasting black and white palette was taken throughout and layered with splashes of yellow. To bring a similar colour scheme home, try Resene Merino on the walls and add in accents of Resene Eighth Stonewashed, Resene Stonewashed, Resene Liberty and Resene Thumbs Up.

Scale and proportion are important, too. Scale is concerned with the size of one object compared to another and proportion has to do with the ratio of one design element to another. Look at the room, says Nicola and decide if you want to bring the wall forwards or push it backwards visually. “If you want to pull it forward, don’t make it as strong.”

“Layer the theme and play with the various elements to pull it all together so that it pleases the eye,” says Amanda.

A feature wall doesn’t have to be in your face, she says. In another project, she worked with a patterned metal on the fireplace breast as her base feature.

“It has strong textural interest with a bold architectural motif that forms a repeating pattern. The Victorian feel to it is very fitting in an old character villa. Yet a contemporary renovation at the back end of the home required a contemporary use of this pattern. To this end, proportion became a strong design element.

“The metal pattern is an oversized play with scale. This scale is taken through in the size of the cushioned sofas and the custom-designed floor rug. A contrasting black and white palette continues throughout, layered with shots of yellow in the armchair, cushions and a fall of curtain.”

The room is anchored by an extravagant motif on the floor rug that pulls in all the colours used in the room – in bold gold, yellow and black on cream.

Turning a feature wall into a feature room is all about using that strong starting point to make a carefully considered interplay of connections. Subtle and not so subtle, all should balance one another to result in a harmonious whole that is never boring.

Top tip: When creating a feature wall, decide on how you want the space to feel and choose the feature that will support this feeling. Then, have a look at what elements this feature holds. It could be that it is a metallic feature tile, and you carry that metal finish on to other items or surfaces. Or, if it has soft lines and shapes, take these elements into the lines and shapes in other parts of the room. The take away is that If you link the design to itself in multiple places, you’ll end up with a cohesive space that also makes a statement.

Resene Eighth Stonewashed

Resene Moonlight

Resene Liberty

Resene Safehaven

Resene XOXO

Resene BFF

Resene Artisan

Resene Thumbs Up

Resene Pink Ribbon

Resene Noir

March 24, 2019

Visit your local Resene ColorShop for more colour ideas and all the expert advice and products you need for a superb finish on all your decorating projects.

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