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Wonder walls

From the Resene decorating blog

Feature walls have much to recommend them. They can add pizazz to an otherwise lacklustre space. They make an impact without dominating the whole room. They let you express your personality and creative flair, and you don’t have to be Michelangelo to create something outstanding.

With so many options for execution – paint, tile, wallpaper, wood, murals – you won’t hit the wall in terms of inspiration. The Resene Wallpaper Collection is a treasure trove of designs to choose from, including some showstopping murals. You can even use your own favourite photos or designs as wallpaper using Resene WallPrint.

A green nature inspired lounge

The palette for this living space is an homage to the greenery in nature.

The wall’s deeper pastel Resene Pewter works beautifully with paler Resene Pumice. Flooring painted in Resene Colorwood Whitewash, planters in dusky green Resene Jurassic and Resene Pumice, sisal rug in Resene Pewter, drums (small) in Resene Pumice and (large) in Resene Cape Cod, bowl in Resene Hot Toddy and pendant lamp in Resene Jurassic. Candlesticks from Nood. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

A dining room with bold circular wall patterns

The bold circular pattern painted on this wall and cabinet is an upsized version of that used in Resene Wallpaper Collection 538021, which is wrapped around the lamp and the vase.

Walls and cabinet painted in Resene Sea Fog, Resene All Black and Resene Quarter Friar Greystone, floor painted in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, dining table, lamp base and candlesticks in Resene All Black, chairs in Resene All Black and Resene Tussock, vases, plant pots and bowl on table in Resene Apache, Resene Tussock, Resene Hot Toddy and Resene All Black. Duvet cover, pillowcases, throw, cushions, timber plinth nightstand and lamp from Citta. Project by Megan Harrison-Turner, image by Bryce Carleton.

Consider carefully which wall is the best candidate for some feature love. An accent wall should highlight an existing focal point, for example a bedhead, a mantelpiece, or a chimney. That way you’re not caught in a battle for your attention.

Second, be sure to integrate the wall into the space so it doesn’t look like it’s just been plonked there in a fit of interior design panic. Echo the feature colour in the rest of the space – in your furnishings, furniture and accent colours – so the wall looks like it belongs.

If you’re going the paint route, you might choose one accent Resene paint colour for your wall – the perfect way to instantly change the mood of a room. Pattern, however, opens up a whole realm of options and allows you to create something truly unique.

Patterns and shapes

One way to carry the wow factor of your feature wall into the rest of the space is to repeat the design and colours across multiple surfaces. But you can vary the scale of the pattern according to the size of the object or surface.

A bedroom with a painted herringbone design

The painted herringbone design of this bedroom wall urges you to swivel your gaze from one side to the next, taking in all the details.

Back wall painted in Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue with the angled stripes in Resene Duck Egg Blue and Resene Inside Back. Left wall painted in Resene Half Inside Back, floor in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, plant pot in Resene Duck Egg Blue and artwork in Resene Milk White, Resene Taupe Grey and Resene Fuscous Grey with the background in Resene Half Black White. The lamp is painted in Resene Dark Slate. Sofa from Interior Warehouse, cushions from H&M. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

A mid-century modern inspired lounge

The pendant lamp in this living space is a firm nod to the mid-century modern aesthetic. The painted mural design is pleasing in that it follows a clear structure, while the curved shapes give it a soft, free form feel.

Floor painted in Resene Half Robin Egg Blue, wall in Resene Quarter Robin Egg Blue. The vases and accessories pick up other hues from the mural: Resene Smoky Green and Resene Robin Egg Blue. Sofa, half circles cushion, coffee table and Eames bird from Nood, pendant lamp, candleholders and tapers from Good Form, rug from Freedom, wishbone chair from Mood Store. Project by Laura Lynn Johnston, image by Bryce Carleton.

An achromatic colour scheme makes a striking statement for a feature wall, especially expressed in bold geometric shapes. You could take your inspiration from the Resene Wallpaper Collection, painting the design on your wall in a different scale or colourway. Then the accent pieces in your room can be wrapped in lengths of the actual Resene wallpaper to continue the theme throughout.

If you do opt for black and white, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same monochrome palette in the rest of the room. Break things up with some pops of warmer colour, like playful Resene Apache – a golden hue that has enough vibrancy to stand out against the bold wall design. Or try a kiss of bright pink with Resene Ballerina, a saturated red like Resene Bullseye or a tangy green like Resene Limeade. Accent colours with sass, not subtlety, are the order of the day here.

Pattern can energise a space and give a sense of movement – which is just fine and dandy, except perhaps when you want to relax. Have the best of both worlds in your bedroom by placing your bold feature wall behind the bed – that way you won’t see it when you’re taking a sneaky siesta.

If you’re going for bold pattern, consider keeping the tones restful and gentle. It is a space for relaxation after all, even when you’re not sleeping. A pattern of gentle, tonal blues will invoke serenity and won’t overwhelm. Try using just two accent colours like dewy blue/green Resene Haven and sea foamy Resene Emerge on top of the two basecoats in Resene Jet Stream.

Again, carry the wall accent hues in the rest of the space by repeating them in décor pieces like vases, tabletops, and lamps. But also give some accent pieces sharper contrast to break things up. If you’ve gone for mid-range blues for the wall, add in touches of deeper navy like Resene Madison or a gridiron grey blue like Resene Atomic.

How to create a geometric wall feature: Apply your basecoat and once dry, measure and mark the wall vertically in 30cm increments, working from floor to ceiling. Draw horizontal lines using a level and a pencil to guide you when applying masking tape to ensure a straight, level line. Then mark 15cm increments across the horizontal lines to make it easy to connect them at 45 degrees and 135 degrees. Once your first diagonal strips of tape are applied, measure 24mm gaps on either side before applying more strips. Once the whole design is masked off, apply your accent colours at random in two coats, skipping occasional gaps. One the paint is dry, remove all the tape and remove the pencil lines with an eraser.

Elegance and escapism

Didn’t get away on holiday this year and you’re ready for some escapism? Or do you simply want a reminder of a cherished exotic adventure? A great feature wall can deliver on both counts.

Creating the escapist vibe you’re after is easy with some stencils or your own design sketched on paper. To ensure a smooth canvas, head to your nearest Resene ColorShop or to find all you need to repair any flaws in your surface before you start.

Mask off skirtings, mouldings and ceilings with low-tack painter’s tape and apply paint with a sponge or roller. To avoid drips or uneven coverage, roll onto paper towels first to get rid of excess paint. Pour your paint into a shallow tray and have a moist rag handy to mop up any dribbles. Once the paint is dry, peel off your stencil and place it in the next position.

When continuing the theme in the rest of space, try to exercise restraint. By all means introduce materials that speak of adventures past – batiks, terracotta pots, wooden carved masks and sculptures, raffia-fringed throws and cushions but remember, less is more. The décor needs to hint at faraway climes, not look like a theatre set. An understated way to expand on a tropical theme, for example, is via some lush greenery – nature is never, ever tacky.

To keep things subtle and restful, stick to one Resene colour palette for your escapist feature wall; there’s a lot going on already if you’ve opted for a pattern. Green is a perennial favourite, satisfying our universal craving for a connection with nature. Go for a lovely soft grey-green like Resene Pewter, which pairs well with the restful, mossy Resene Green Mist. Or try a combination of lava-hued Resene Pumice with Resene Blue Smoke, a dense jungle-like grey-green.

Classic geometrics

If clean, geometric lines are more your thing, then you’re on the same page as the mid-century modernists. The pioneers of this post-WWII aesthetic favoured graphic shapes and open, simple design with good proportions. Their focus on clutter-free, no-fuss functionality was in firmly in line with the stability and dependability the post-war generation craved. Furniture was sleek and minimalist, and there was delight in having contrasting materials like plastic, plexiglass, steel and plywood co-exist the same space.

Designers of the day also loved to juxtapose man-made design and materials with nods to nature – fusing the indoors and the outdoors.

That’s not to say your mid-century inspired wall has to showcase all or any of these shades. You might like to stick to one tonal palette and leave the boldness to the design. A medley of tonal blue/grey greens is a lovely and restful option – combine colours like Resene Blue Smoke, dewy grey/green Resene Haven, Resene Tiara – a breath of duck egg grey – and the gorgeously delicate Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue.

The evolution of the feature wall

Feature walls have come a long way since the days of bright, bold block colours. While those style touches do add immediate impact and flair to a space, putting a little more thought and creativity into your feature walls can completely transform your finished room, taking it to a whole new place or even time.

Resene Milk White

Resene Quarter Friar Greystone

Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash

December 30, 2022

For help choosing colours to suit your projects, visit your local Resene ColorShop, ask a Resene Colour Expert online or book a Resene Colour Consultation.

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