Walls, walls and more walls. In new homes, they may be huge and soaring, but fewer and farther between in an open floor plan. In older homes, there may be too many because of just the opposite. In either case, wall treatments can make or break the room.
Paint is a favorite choice. It can change a room in a day and the color choice can add warmth and bring a room down to scale or used with complimentary colors to unite an open floor plan. You can add drama by painting large vertical stripes to draw the eye up and help make a low ceiling feel taller. Lighter tones can help a small room feel more open. Painting walls to match closely with the flooring and ceiling (which should be painted a shade or two lighter), creates a neutral backdrop for the entire room. I did this in my living/dining room and it instantly felt bigger because the borders between floor and wall faded away. The eye is naturally drawn to anything that interrupts visual flow. By eliminating it, the eye will focus on what’s in the room instead.
Wallpaper is making a comeback, but be wary. Even purely textural designs can fall out of trend and if you don’t plan to stay there forever, make sure you get something that’s easily removable. If you’re adventuresome however, the design choices are endless and you can really have some fun, With restraint, it can be used to create a focal point in a room that would otherwise be boring.
Use molding to create a faux wainscot. Attach it to the lower half of a wall in picture frame-like squares then top off the “wainscoting” with a larger piece running horizontally to cap it off and give the illusion of wood paneling (don’t forget the baseboard), then paint the entire lower half of the wall in a semigloss the same color as the rest of your trim work. Instant architecture! Beadboard paneling can also be used and is much cheaper than the real thing. Paint the wall above in your choice of color and finish it off with ceiling trim. I did this in the dining area of my open living/dining room to help define the space. I used beadboard paneling and I love it!
Note: I used the other (picture frame) method on a piece of furniture grade plywood to create a beautiful headboard. I trimmed out the sides and top as well and used a decorative bead molding inside the squares for a more intricate design. There are so many styles to choose from, just let your imagination be your guide…
Walls can be fun to decorate. I like to use items that don’t match, it’s much more interesting. My favorites are antique oil paintings and vintage style posters, the bigger the better. Old french advertisements or movie posters are good choices. The colors are amazing, they never go out of style and they adapt to almost any type of decor. You can find them on the internet. They’re great for large rooms with high ceilings. I’ve seen them used in contemporary designs. It adds a loft like feel to the space. Another favorite is antique game boards. I like the graphic appeal. The originals are next to impossible to find, but they’re easy to make. You can find pictures of them in books or magazines and the designs can be as simple as a checkerboard. Folding screens are good for filling empty corners and can be used as a backdrop for other pieces. Closet doors are inexpensive and are taller than decorative screens so they have more presence and can be painted or stenciled and turned into any design statement you want.
For your family’s photos, try arranging them together with similar frames. You can also use sepia tinted or black and white versions for a more classic look.