There’s no quicker, easier or more affordable way to make a statement in a room than to give it a coat of brightly coloured paint, but if you’re nervous about using too much colour, you can play it safe, but still make a statement, by introducing a feature wall.
Feature walls – now often referred to as statement walls – add vibrancy and personality without overpowering the rest of the room, and they allow you to be more daring with colour without having to go all out.
Paint is not your only option though. There are many other creative alternatives.
“Using a textured paint-on wallpaper and then painting it the same colour as the room is one option,” says Resene colour consultant Sarah Gregory. “Or a tonal colour rather than a block of full-on colour. Or you could use a nice statement wallpaper.”
While a statement wall provides a focal point to a room, it can also transform it, making it appear larger or wider, cooler or warmer, even more intimate. A statement wall can enhance a room’s best features or downplay its weaknesses. A bold floral design, for example, not only injects personality, it can help to disguise uneven walls, and stripes are a great tool for increasing the sense of space within a room.
“Both horizontal and vertical stripes can give you the illusion of a room being bigger (horizontal stripes widen a wall while vertical stripes make it appear taller), just like if a woman wore a stripy top,” says Sarah. “There are lots of stripes coming through in wallpaper at the moment, but painting stripes is much easier than trying to find a wallpaper that’s got the particular width of stripes you want. You might want thin stripes and thick stripes all in one go and lots of different colours – that looks really good in kids’ rooms in pastels. Painting is more versatile than wallpaper if you want stripes.”
Accent colours are also a means of changing the mood of a room. Brilliant colours give a room energy and vibrancy while softer, tonal colours create a calming, relaxed atmosphere.
“It’s really very personal,” says Sarah. “I’ve met a lot of people recently who are using full-on colour. People are getting confident. I’ve done a lot of oranges recently and blues and greens. But then at the other end of the scale there’s those people who will just go up the neutral scale from something like Resene Thorndon Cream to Resene Triple Thorndon Cream.”
Whether using adventurous colours or more toned-down hues, feature walls can help to anchor or define separate areas within large spaces. In a living room, an accent colour may be used on one wall to define it as a reading corner. In an open plan kitchen a feature wall may be used to mark out the dining area.
Splashbacks are another place for adding colour in the kitchen, but current trends have seen a shift away from the ever-popular red to other cheerful colours also coming into use.
“It used to be the classic was red – everyone had a red splashback,” says Sarah. “But now oranges are coming in and yellows are creeping in too in the high-end kitchen market. Metallic colours are also being used.”
As a general rule, feature walls are located around some kind of focal point in the room – a chimney breast, the wall that your TV hangs on, or the bed head wall in your bedroom. Or it could be the wall that you first see as you enter the house. But Sarah says there are other tricks homeowners can try to create interest.
“What you can do now is to wallpaper opposite sides of the room and then paint the other two. So you’re not doing all of the room but you’re doing the opposite walls. It works really well on long skinny rooms.
“Also on a chimney breast you can flip the feature so that you wallpaper on either side of the chimney breast and paint the chimney breast rather than have the wallpaper on the chimney breast, just to make it a little different.”
Using different paint sheens also adds eye appeal. While low sheens are usually used on interior walls, using a mix of low and high sheen can impart that wow factor.
“We generally use a low sheen on our walls, but if you were to do a stripe it would be really yummy if you did some low sheen and some gloss so you’ve got the light playing on it as well. Or a few different colours and different sheen levels to make it a little bit more appealing to the eye.”
Or you can use colour to complement artwork.
“If you have a beautiful painting that you love, you could pick a colour out of the painting and paint that behind it so that it accentuates the painting. It won’t be the dominant colour in the painting – just a little undertone or accent in the painting to bring it out.”
Accessories, like cushions, curtains and plant pots, can be used to bring out the colours in accent walls too.
“I always suggest that people take The Range fashion colour fandeck with them when shopping for their cushions so that they can match up the colours that they really like,” says Sarah.
Feature walls can be taken outdoors too and used to partition off areas, or as a backdrop for water features, plant pots, urns, sculptures and espaliered plants.
“I love feature walls in the landscape,” says landscape designer Sandra Batley of Flourish. “And they don’t need to be boring".
“Feature walls can have a simple water weir built into them to transform it into a water feature. Or outdoor sculptures and weatherproof art can be attached. Vertical walls or green walls are a huge trend.” There are fabulous colour choices for coloured feature walls.
One of the best ways to make a statement on the exterior of the house though is to paint your front door in a high-impact colour.
“If you were going to do a statement outdoors, front doors are a really good place to do it,” says Sarah. “Red is really popular, and also black, in a really lovely high gloss.”
Whether indoors or out, a statement wall is a great opportunity to experiment with pattern or colour and to inject your personality into your space – and it’s a trend that’s catching on.
“People are finding their way on their own now and really expressing themselves,” says Sarah. “They’re not moving house. They’re renovating and making it their space. And a statement wall is a great place to start.”