Planning Cool Wall Ideas
Decorating is one of those tasks that can be simultaneously extremely rewarding and incredibly frustrating. For those select few that have a flair for interior design, it may not be such a difficult job to come up with a theme that ticks all the right boxes, but for us mere mortals, it is not uncommon to spend hours—even days—agonizing over what fabric to use on the furniture, or what color to paint the walls.
Walls, in particular, can be a nightmare to finish, especially when the wall is quite large in relation to the room. The problem is worsened when the wall is largely exposed. Walls that have furniture in front of them or things like shelves on top of them stand out more, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how well you choose your finish.
The role of the wall will also play its part in deciding what finish to use. For example, a feature wall should draw some attention to itself—without being overwhelming—since it is not much of a feature if nobody ever looks at it. On the other hand, a back wall, or the walls of an entrance hallway or something similar, should add to the overall aesthetic without drawing too much attention to itself.
There are also tones to consider; do you want your room to feel light and airy, warm and cozy, or anything in between? What about the finish? Are you looking for something durable that will withstand a bit of abuse in the form of knocks and bumps, or are you more concerned with elegance and aesthetic?
Perhaps you want to strive for the best of both worlds. Choosing a finish is further complicated by the fact that there are so many options beyond mere color and pattern. You could have a smooth, painted wall, a papered wall; you could opt for some kind of cladding, or perhaps something a little more extravagant like Venetian Plaster.
The point of all this is to say that finishing a wall can be tricky, but don’t worry; we’re here to help. We’re going to dive deep into this topic for you and cover all the bases so that you can tackle this problem with ease. We can’t tell you what to choose, but we can help you figure out how to choose it.
Decorating a Wall For the First Time
Given that the actual process of decorating a blank wall will be completely different depending on how you decide to finish the wall, we’re going to stick to generalities—the things that are more or less common practice regardless of how you are actually decorating your wall.
Clear the Area
It can be very tempting to think you can paint above that side table without getting a splash on it, or plaster a wall with the sofa just behind you and keep everything pristine. The reality is you might be able to do, but it’s really not worth the risk.
It is amazing just how easy it is to accidentally ruin something without realizing it. It could be an unintentional flicking of paint, the innocent brushing of a plaster-coated hand on some furniture, or any number of other inadvertent mishaps. Even if you are being extremely careful, it is an easy mistake to make.
Better to avoid the risk altogether by making sure the area around the wall is completely clear of anything you don’t want to unintentionally decorate.
Mind the Floor!
Following on from clearing the area, it’s important to make sure the floor is protected from unwanted splashes and drops. If you have carpet down, you could pull the carpet up and just roll it back out of the way. However, if you don’t want to do that, or you have a floor like laminate or parquet flooring that can’t be rolled up, be sure to put something down below the area you are working on.
Carpet protector sheets are relatively inexpensive, and can even come with adhesive on one side, so they don’t slide around underfoot. That being said, a regular old bedsheet will also do the trick. Just be wary of dropping wet materials like paint on a regular bedsheet, as it will easily soak through and stain the floor underneath. If you do spill paint on a makeshift bedsheet floor cover, lift the sheet as quickly as possible, before it has time to seep through, and clean it.
It’s easy to dismiss health and safety as something that professionals need to deal with, but you shouldn’t put yourself at risk when you are decorating. That means wearing a dust mask if you are sanding or working with fine particulates, wearing gloves to handle potentially dangerous compounds, making sure the area is well ventilated, and being careful if you have to use a ladder or step. Having a second person to help with things like that should be considered a must since they will also be able to help if an accident does happen.
What is Your Esthetic?
Having a clear idea of what you want to get out of your newly decorated space is a key factor in making decisions about how to finish a wall. Bear in mind that what you want to achieve is not limited to a color or finish. It also includes what your goals for the room are. We mentioned above about how the intended feel of a room will affect your choice of decor, so it should make sense that you will want to establish the feeling or tone before you start deciding how to finish your wall.
If you want to create an open, airy room, it is better to go with lighter colors and plain, smooth surfaces. Darker colors absorb more light, and patterns can make a room feel smaller, especially if there is a lot going on in the furniture department.
If, on the other hand, you wanted something cozy, your challenge becomes how to achieve that without making the room seem claustrophobic. You want to go with darker, warmer colors, but not so dark that the colors take the room with them. It can be good to incorporate patterns on your wall, but you don’t want to go overboard, as a noisy wall can be a little overwhelming.
Another factor to consider is whether you want your room to say something specific. For example, if you are trying to convey an air of luxury and class, you might want to try something like Venetian Plaster or Marmorino Stucco. If you were decorating a reception area of a business, however, you might be more concerned with professionalism and opt for a plain wall.
Perhaps the focus of the wall will be something that you intend to put there afterward, such as a picture, or a centerpiece like a clock. In these cases, you don’t want the wall to draw the eye away from your focal point, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean the wall has to be featureless and devoid of color.
Having a Clear Direction is Important
It may sound obvious, but knowing what you want from your decor is important. Of course, we are assuming you are decorating your own space—if you are decorating for someone else, substitute what you want for what they want. Despite the obviousness of this idea, it is all too easy to forget that you have to live with your choices in the long run, and, as a result, make less-than-ideal choices during the decorating process.
Try to consciously think about each decision you make when choosing the finish of your walls, or the colors you pick within those finishes. If you are in any doubts, explore those doubts. Sometimes a thing that you were unsure about can grow on you and become comfortable, but it could also go the other way and often does. If you struggle to feel good about a design choice in the short term, you are unlikely to feel better about it over time, seeing it day after day. You may even come to resent it.
Take the time to consider what you want from your design. You can start with simple things, such as favorite colors. If you have always hated green, it’s probably not a good idea to incorporate it into your design. But try to dig deeper. If you’re the kind of person that takes a while to come around in the morning, do you really want that bright, airy room we mentioned above? Or would you prefer something a bit more subdued where you can sit and drink your coffee until your body is ready for the day? These are the kinds of things you should try to consider when choosing your wall finishes.
Another thing to think about is how cluttered the space is likely to get. If you are the kind of person who likes a minimalist aesthetic, you can be confident that an extravagant feature wall will have room to be viewed in all its glory. However, if you tend to fill your spaces with items—furniture, personal items, etc.—then perhaps that feature wall wouldn’t be the best idea, since there is a very good chance it would end up obscured by your life!
Are You a DIY Guru?
There are certain things we can say for sure that you should not attempt yourself, or that you are perfectly fine doing yourself, though for the most part, what you can and can’t do will come down to your individual level of expertise in certain areas.
Things You Should Be Able to do Yourself
Most preparation work can be handled by you without much of an issue. This may involve moving furniture away from the wall that is being worked on, cleaning the wall in preparation for the work, and putting any necessary protection for the room down. The main thing is to avoid attempting to lift anything too heavy since that is the most likely cause of an injury or accident during the preparation stage.
Moving on to the decorating stage, most people can handle a paintbrush. We’re not saying there is no skill involved in painting, but when it comes to just painting a bare, flat wall, most of us can get good enough in a short enough space of time to be able to do the job ourselves. Just be sure to put down plenty of protection for your carpets and furniture, though.
Things You Might be Able to do Yourself
The most obvious thing you might want to tackle yourself that could also be a job for a professional is wallpapering. The good thing about wallpaper is that you can try your hand at it without doing too much damage if things don’t go well. Sure, you might waste a few rolls of paper, but that’s not nearly as severe a problem as attempting to plaster a wall with your own untrained hands and getting it all wrong!
You could also try plastering, of course; however, we would not recommend that for someone with no experience. And if you decide you want to give it a go, we certainly wouldn’t recommend an important wall being your guinea pig.
Calling a Pro is Not a Defeat
As mentioned above, any kind of plastering is usually an area where you would want to call in the professionals. Plastering of any stripe is a skilled trade that requires practiced hands to get a flat surface. The level of skill needed increases significantly if you decide you want a specialist plaster, such as Venetian, as there is a lot more involved in the application of this kind of plaster.
Another area where the professionals should undoubtedly be called in is for anything structural. For example, having a wall knocked through into another room to create one large space. Some interior walls are structural, and knocking them down can compromise the structural integrity of the building as a whole, so you definitely want someone who knows what they are doing handling that side of things.
Another area is electrical issues. If you find yourself wanting to move an electrical switch or put up some sconces, leave the wiring to qualified professionals. It is simply not worth the risk of doing an inferior job with the electrics of your home or business. You could be putting yours and any other life in the building at risk, not to mention creating legal problems.
Knowing How Much You Want To Spend
You’ll know what you can afford to spend—and what you’re prepared to pay—in advance. When deciding what you want your decor to look like, try to be realistic about what materials you want to use so as to avoid any nasty shocks when the bills start rolling in.
Be sure to shop around when buying materials to make sure you’re getting the best prices. And get multiple quotes for any work you are having carried out. Never just settle for the first quote you get without first hearing more. The first quote may end up being the best, but make sure it is before you book anyone in to carry out work for you.
If your budget is being stretched a little thin, be sure to look at alternatives. For example, there is no substitute for real Venetian Plaster, but you can get a close approximation with alternative methods, such as styled painting.
Big Idea for Small Areas
Decorating a small space, as you might expect, is all about making the most of the available space you have. As difficult as it can be to achieve sometimes, there is no more effective way of conveying an air of space in a small room than having fewer things in that room. Yes, emptying a room of items does create more space in the literal sense, but having fewer items also creates more perceived space, since your brain sees it as less cluttered.
It can help to make use of some of those light, airy designs we have referenced above since small rooms are the ones that benefit the most from an increased sense of space. The tricky part of decorating a small space is finding a balance between having enough of the things you need in the space while avoid cluttering it up with things you don’t.
Going Big in a Big Space
For a large space—particularly in a residential setting—floor space is often the most important thing. Larger residential rooms tend to have little more than a few items of furniture… or so it seems. The truth is our vision can sometimes be a little deceptive. The same amount of furniture that was in our small space above could be transferred to the larger space and seem almost spartan in comparison.
Take advantage of this difference in perception. Rather than using the added space as a place to put more things, look to make smarter use of the area with the things you have to begin with. This can make an already large room seem even bigger. It also allows you plenty of opportunities to show off the stunning feature walls you’ve created, since there won’t be any need to have furniture pushed up against the walls.
Timeless or Uber Modern
Modern and traditional styles have been coming together for decades now and to significant effect. There is an endless combination of ways to achieve this kind of juxtaposition, such as blending modern furniture with traditional lime plaster, or antique furniture with modern wall finishes.
Of course, experimenting with actual walls and furniture could get very expensive very fast, but you can try out ideas using images online. Anything that helps you get an idea of how something will look should be considered a valuable tool in helping you decide what style you want to decorate your room in.
Happiness is a Designer Wall
We touched on this above, but, ultimately, it is you that has to live with the results of your decorating adventure. As hard as you might try to avoid it, it is possible that you will still make mistakes that niggle at you long after the decorating is done. For these kinds of mistakes, there are two approaches to take.
Firstly, you can grin and bear it. There is always the chance that you will come around to the design choices you have since decided you are not keen on. With enough time, anything can become tolerable, if not something you actually like.
Alternatively, you could undo the mistakes you made, though this is obviously not the cheapest option, and may not be feasible to many. There is also an element of reluctance about undoing work you have put time and money into. For example, deciding you are not fond of the Venetian Plaster wall you paid for after it has been finished will leave you in a bit of a pickle, since that wall will not have been cheap and will have taken a skilled plasterer a good amount of time to complete.
Ultimately, it is down to you to decide what you can and can’t live with. As you might expect, we thoroughly recommend ironing out any uncertainty and doubt before you put the final seal of approval on any designs.
It sounds cliche, but it is important to enjoy the spaces you create, whether you create them by approving a design or literally crafting the space with your own hands. If you don’t enjoy sitting down in a room you designed, there is little point to being involved in the design process to begin with.
That being said, try not to let the weight of this self-expectation cripple your decision-making process. Ultimately, it is just a room. And, while most people would think twice about wallpapering over an immaculate Venetian Plaster wall, there are many situations where a few rolls of wallpaper or a couple of tins of paint can put a decor grievance to bed.