How to Create a Feature Wall (Without Going Back to the ’90s)

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The feature wall found favor in the 1990s, when a slew of home renovation TV shows started adding this decorative device to made-over homes week in and week out. Perhaps as a result of this overkill, the idea eventually fell out of favor — until recently. But this time, it’s all about using paint and texture strategically. See what a modern feature wall could do for one of your rooms.

Cozy up. Charcoal may be a dark shade, but it’s also soft and warm. This makes it perfect for adding depth and coziness to a bedroom. In fact, the atmosphere-changing effect of adding this simple color, something you can potentially do in a day, can be delightfully dramatic.

Whereas an all-dark bedroom would be almost cavern-like (which can also be cozy),  otherwise bright-white space retains something of a crisp feel, even with the addition of wood, a sandy-colored rug and green accents. It’s worth noting that the well-ironed bed linen is also key to the crisp look.

Max out the monochrome. Isn’t it interesting how much difference a few shades can make? A dark feature wall behind the bed in an otherwise white room with wood accents — and yet here the atmosphere is even crisper (although with interesting artwork, rumpled bedcovers and smooth, pale floors it’s incredibly inviting). A restricted color palette and the inky black hue chosen for the accent wall do the trick — one often used in Scandinavian style to great effect.

Add a hint of pink. Pale neutrals — oat-colored upholstery, woven natural rug, various different woods — already work well to add texture and depth to this white-painted room. But that gently glowing wall behind the dining table is quite unexpected and really lifts the whole feel of the room, giving it a shot of edginess.

Extend your garden. A room as sunny as this can take a strong wall color — especially on just one wall — without losing any of its airy, outdoorsy feel.

Make it multicolored. Why stop at one shade? When you’re not tackling every wall in a room, you can afford to go bolder. Remember, it will really help things look cohesive if you pick up the wall colors elsewhere in the room — A note the unifying effect of the table lamp, the chair and the pillows. If you’re tackling this sort of design, do invest in proper paint-blocking masking tape, which will ensure crisp edges to your paintwork.

Here, it’s also interesting to note the effect that painting a back wall can have on the sense of depth in a space. If you have a room that feels a little cramped, a dark color on the far wall will cause that wall to recede, thus visually expanding the space.

Alix Flamm is an interior designer working in the Irvine, Tustin, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo area of Orange County, California.