Decorating Walls

For the last ten or so years walls have either been neglected or tortured.  They either have been given a boring coat of paint or had to endure coat after coat of paint.   In the later case, they have been rag rolled, tissue painted, mottled, sponged, french plastered, etc. etc.   While some of these create texture, they are essentially differing techniques of adding background color to a room.  

As with many things, when we decide we like something we throw moderation to the wind.   We can't get enough.    Only when there is nothing left to sponge paint, glaze or dapple we begin to realize perhaps we may have gone overboard.    I am a huge fan of faux finishes and trompe l' oeil  when the effect is subtle and carefully integrated into the scheme to achieve an overall result.    In many cases  these effects have become the overriding element in the design not the supporting element they should be .

Two patterned wallpapers used in field & style arrangement

 In areas where there are no furniture or windows like halls and stairs, naturally the walls gain importance.    But in areas that include furnishings walls should be more supportive of the room decor.   Many houses are virtually devoid of architectural interest.   Aside from baseboards, window moldings and the occasional crown molding the detailing must be added.   In every design subtle;e detail is essential.   It is what keeps the space interesting


It what keeps you from getting tired of the design .

Let me share with you  some things  I do to add interest and details to walls.  


It is being said that wallpaper is back in style.   As far as I'm concerned sales might have been slow , but wallpaper was never out of style.

Close up of mini border style

Wallpaper can have a big impact on a room,  but most often I like to use it to create an effect.   When you select a subtle wallpaper design you know what the finish will look like.   I know of people who hired a painter to do a faux finish.   They got a sample board yet when the work was done it had little resemblance to the sample.   Wallpaper can give the effect of many of the textured finishes,  but when its time for a change the walls don't have to be refinished.

Dining Room  room set with wallpaper field and wooden styles

If budgets allowed I would try to accommodate

all the elements into every room.   Unfortunately

in the real world things must be kept within budgets.   I usually have to pick and choose

to get the most look for the least money.

Field and styles

Wallpaper field and style add very subtle detail

ments.  Style is the Old English term for


fence and of course "field" is the area enclosed

by the "style"[fence].

Typically the styles are wooden moldings,  but

I started using mini borders years back instead.

This makes field and style treatments very cost

effective.   A mini border is a fancy stripe cut

from a striped wallpaper.

For the field I like to use a marbleized or other

faux finish wallpaper.  I like the wallpaper to

Two storey foyer with wooden style moldings

be as close in color to the painted wall as is possible.   Don't forget detail must be subtle!

I use this treatment in two ways.   I either panel

out the entire room or do one or two over the

main elements in the room.

Never never 1 wall


The only justification for one wall for me is if

you have a room that is about twice as long as

it is wide.   In that case I sometimes use a strong

paper at the far end to visually bring the room

into square.

      Two storey foyer in a new Victorian decorated in period

As far as I am concerned  "Accent walls" should

be called "Accident Walls"   Why would

anyone do that on purpose?    They either

look like you were too cheap to paper the whole

room or you ran out of paint.

The two storey foyers demand this kind of

decoration.   If you look to history these very

high ceilinged rooms were always detailed out.

This space needs to be broken down.   It needs

architectural detail.   I have seen people spend

thousands of dollars on hand screened wallpaper

to get the large repeats they think they need for

Looking toward the ceiling.

these areas.   Unfortunately the large open space

they had becomes a large busy space filled with

huge patterns or flowers.

On stairwell walls the "sides"  of the styles

must be vertical

with the tops and bottoms

following the lines of the ceiling and baseboards.

A dramatic dining room with wallpaper set into gold sttyles

It can be attractive to hang art work inside

the styles.   However if the art is too big to

fit, I have no problem letting it cover the

styles as long as it is centered on them.

A large mirror is centered over two field and styles

As always thanks for visiting my blog.   Please tell your friends.   I hope you find the information

informative and useful.   Let me know what you think of it.   The next one will be about decorative

art and how to hang it.

Bill Gantt