One of the most common design trends in recent years is the “Feature Wall”, or “Accent Wall”. This trend consists of selecting a bold color to paint on one wall in a room for a dramatic look. It is a very inexpensive way to change the look of a room, which is one reason why is has been so incredibly popular. It has been shown hundreds of times on various shows on HGTV, along with many home decorating publications, and hence has been widely used and abused.
|Design no-no: "Feature Half-Wall"|
Feature walls are indeed utilized by interior designers, and can make for a very appealing space. However, like many things, there is a wrong way and a right way to do this. That is one aspect of feature walls that is so confusing to the consumer. They are commercially promoted to be bold and bright, but that is not always the best way to use them. Fire engine red walls have their place, and I can tell you, they do not belong in most homes. However, they are used frequently throughout the US, due to the sensationalism on TV and other do-it-yourself references. My article “DIY… Not for Everyone” elaborates on the pros and cons of tackling one’s own home design project without professional input. I agree that Feature Walls can have a fantastic effect on a room. But a teal wall in a Victorian living room is no more appropriate than heavy make-up when going out for a jog.
To elaborate on my own professional opinion regarding this design practice, I support feature walls in certain situations. These situations include: tying a room of mismatched furniture together with a wall that uses a color to unify all the pieces; providing a dramatic backdrop for a room with dramatic furniture; enhancing potentially unique architectural features, such as vaulted ceilings, etc. There are specific circumstances in which I have seen a DIYer’s feature wall fail. Most commonly is the Feature Half-wall. This is a wall that is interrupted considerably by doors and/or windows. Some people assume that the feature wall MUST be the biggest wall in the room, or the very first wall you see when you enter. Not true… at least in my book. The wall selected should be blank, with no doors or windows (this can vary slightly by case), and should be reasonably sized. If the room’s architectural elements do not support a feature wall, one should simply go without. There are OTHER WAYS to get color into a room.
|Alternative to feature wall---Subtle pink creates a feminine, but not overpowering feeling to this bedroom|
You don’t have to have a feature wall in your room just because your friend has one, or your favorite show uses them frequently. In some cases they are perfect, but in MANY cases, they are without merit. Another mistake (at least in my book) is the Random Feature Wall. This is when a homeowner goes to the paint store and selects a bold color from the shelf, without considering the overall composition---the furniture in the room, the flooring, the lighting, etc. This is a HUGE mistake. Regardless of one’s favorite colors, one must select a color that is in keeping with the existing furniture and style of the room. If your favorite color is purple, but your room has green and orange upholstery, this is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The color of the feature wall should be dependent not only on the occupant's taste, but the existing pieces and the anticipated new pieces that may be added in the near future. In most cases it is best to select a bold color that has a lower saturation level, for example, a bright red when it has reduced saturation will tend to be more of a deep rust or burgundy. These tones are more likely to be pleasing to the eye today, and years into the future.
There are obviously many factors that can make or break this “easy” do-it-yourself project. I cannot vouch for all designers by any means, but I usually promote the use of more classic colors that will be compatible with a variety of furniture types and trends, should your tastes change, as they most likely will. A more modern space of course will support the use of stronger, higher saturation. Other than that, a dark, but classic color will usually do the trick. Color consulting is one of the services that JOI offers. I carry the entire color catalog for Kelly Moore paints, and can bring the store to you, saving you many trips back and forth. Call or email me if you would like a professional color consultation.
|Classic chocolate brown provides a dramatic backdrop for a minimalist modern bedroom|