Feature Wall Design Ideas – When and how to do a feature wall

Feature wall design ideas are a great way to create a focal point, highlight a feature, or define an area of a room (like a dining area) in an open plan. But when and how should you create a feature wall, and when is it NOT a good idea to break up the space with a different color or style? And, what else besides paint makes a good feature wall? Read on…


When and why to use feature wall design ideas:

Accent or feature walls work well when there’s an actual reason for highlighting that area. If you’re going to be drawing attention you may want to use it as a beautiful backdrop for special piece of artwork, highlight a piece of furniture, or define the space by how it is used.

So, feature walls can do a great job of:

  • Defining an area within a room that serves a particular function, like a play area, a dining area, or a living area.
  • Creating a focal point with wallpaper, artwork on a beautifully colored wall, or a wall in back of a sofa.
  • Highlighting a feature, like a fireplace.
  • All of the above as long as there are clear starting and stopping points and no weird shapes created due to ceiling drops or other elements.

When NOT to use feature wall design ideas:

Painting various walls different colors will break up the unity of the space. I don’t suggest doing a feature wall if:

  • You have a small room – it will make it feel smaller.
  • There are lots of ‘ins and outs’ to your walls and you plan to paint a small section since it will break it up too much.
  • An uneven ceiling plan that creates an oddly shaped feature wall. Again, it will highlight the oddities rather than drawing the eye to the attractiveness of the feature.
  • There are no clear stopping and starting points for the feature (it should run wall to wall, with a clean start and end point).

    Feature Wall rendering

    See these corners? Elements like these can start to create an odd shape for your feature wall.

Various types of feature walls include using:

Paint – the most obvious and cheapest change is paint.

Living Room

Imagine how different this would have looked unpainted? I personally would have gone a bit brighter, but notice how nice the shape is of the painted area, as well as the contrast of the tan interior of the fireplace and hearth. (Photo: House & Home UK)

Tips: Certain colors tend to recede (go back in space) or push forward (close in space). Generally cooler, bluer colors recede and warmer, brighter colors move forward. Be aware of how you are using the color and the fact that it will change the perception of the space. For example, you don’t want to make a long, skinny space feel even longer).

Wood – a really wonderful way to bring warmth and an organic feel to a space.Tips: Shiplap boards can be purchased ready to go, which will give you an evenly spaced installation. Rustic wood can be used as well (make sure it is installed in a random pattern). Since you are adding some dimension to the wall, be aware of how this will impact existing moldings, window frames, and doorframes (although if you’ve followed my advice, there aren’t any on your feature wall!)


This is a good example of how shiplap wood paneling can add texture and character, while still feeling contemporary (photo: House and Home UK)

Wallpaper – add character without taking up space.

Danny Seo wallpaper sample wall

Danny Seo, upcycling expert, collaged a sample book of wallpaper found at a fleamarket to create this fantastic feature wall.

Tips: Be conscious of the scale of the wallpaper. There are no hard and fast rules, so get samples to try in the space.

Decorative wall molding – a budget-friendly option for creating architectural detail.

Panel Moulding that sets the stage for another great Kelly Wearstler design.

Panel Moulding that sets the stage for another great Kelly Wearstler design.

Tips: This is almost a DIY for a handy person with a miter saw. What I love is that it is surprisingly affordable, and the results look like a million bucks.

These feature walls design ideas can really add so much character to a space. Sometimes they are all that is needed to give it new vibe. Got a question? Submit a comment below and let me know! And don’t forget, if you want me to coach you through redesigning a room in your house, check out The Room Makeover Solution, my e-course that will have you designing like a pro.

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