The walls in our homes each represent a blank canvas on which we can display our vision of beauty, charm, peace, drama, fun or formality. They take up the most square footage in our living spaces, and have a profound effect on how our homes look and feel.
Walls have been treated to every kind of decoration from the first cave drawings to fur and fabric wall hangings. Walls have been built with mud, grass, concrete, wood, and tin, their surfaces plastered, stained, painted and papered. There is no end to the imaginative ways we have discovered to transform the walls that surround us.
There is an exciting array of materials available to fix up plain drywall, which is the common means of building walls today. Paint is the most common and inexpensive way to create a finish.
There are hundreds of colours from which to choose and faux finishing techniques abound that anyone can apply — as the decorating shows, books and magazines inspire us to do. But let’s take a look at some other options for dressing your walls in style.
Papers with Punch
Papering walls is an alternative that is often paired with paint. Wallpaper is a popular choice because it comes in such a variety of colours, patterns and textures.
There are flat papers that have every motif imaginable from flora and fauna to kids’ cartoon characters. You’ll find colourful stripes and geometric shapes as well as patterns that imitate the look of paint effects such as colourwashing and marbling.
Today’s modern approach to serenity in decorating is met with monochromatic textured papers such as grasscloth.
In a space that is light on colour, interest is gained through building up different tactile elements. The matte finish of rough grain in the paper on the walls will balance sleek, shiny tabletops and shelves, a mohair throw or pillows, a hardwood floor and a short pile carpet.
Better quality, thicker papers do cost more, but they can serve a dual purpose. In addition to looking good, they will cover up imperfect walls.
The use of a type of embossed wall covering called Analgypta is a century-old tradition originating in England. It is a wonderful decorative finish for any period setting or if you like a fussier look. You’re meant to paint Anaglypta. Rubbing over the raised pattern with an earthy shade of paint, such as burnt umber, will accentuate the pattern.
The metal look is all the rage today, and you can easily bring your walls to life with metallic papers. Whether you want to continue the gleam of stainless steel appliances onto your kitchen walls or dream of a golden glow in the dining room, these options are now available, sold by the roll and ready to hang.
· Prep your walls with vinyl acrylic wallpaper sizing. It goes on like paint, dries quickly and slightly tacky. This ensures better adherence and down the road when you decide to change the paper, it will peal off the wall easily.
· Buy the right paper product for the job. There are special water-resistant and scrubbable papers made for bathrooms and kitchens.
· To get clean, precise edges, use a very sharp blade to trim the paper. During the job, replace or sharpen the blade often.
Wood and Its Imitators
The high price of using solid wood planks as a wall covering puts it into the luxury class.
Oak and mahogany paneled dens and dining rooms are a rare treat these days. But you can create this classic look with less expensive cuts of wood, plywood and wood veneers.
Wainscoting is a familiar sight in country décor. Tongue and groove slats are cut to fit snugly against each other to line a wall, or more commonly, the bottom third of a wall.
Plywood can be cut into panels and adhered to a lower section of wall as well. Simply stain or paint the wood, and the paint or paper the upper section of wall to complement the style.
Trim for around windows and doors as well as chair rails and plate rails were originally always made of wood, but today, man-made plastics, vinyls and medium density fiberboard are often substituted.
These lack the grain of real wood; however, they do come in a variety of widths and cuts, and once painted, they are a practical and good-looking option.
Wood veneer is another alternative. Very thin layers of real wood are pressed onto a plywood base so that you get the natural colour and grain at less cost. Veneers are usually stained to show off their unique markings.
· When applying stain or paint to wood, always work in the direction of the grain. If there is no grain, move in the direction the board or trim is running.
· Aromatic wood like cedar is a good choice for a bathroom, garden room or inside a closet.
· Use medium-density fiberboard or plywood and stock molding to create custom paneling.
Panels of heavy woven cloth and finely tooled carpets make a striking adornment for a wall.
Rather than attach the material directly onto the wall, hang it from a wooden dowel or iron rod. This causes less damage to both the wall and the panel.
The result is like having an oversized piece of art on your wall. You can make this the focal point of your design scheme.
A wall of sumptuous silk shimmers luxuriously, cotton or hemp panels dyed in bold shades give a south-seas beat and the jewel tones of a Persian carpet transforms a plain wall into a rich backdrop for period furnishings.
Use fabric panels to create the illusion of walls where none exist. Introduce a tall fabric screen to create privacy in an otherwise open floor plan. Hang drapes from the ceiling and pull open or closed as the situation dictates.
Generally, ceilings aren’t generally a focal point, with the exception of the bedroom. Here, a sheer canopy can be draped above the bed to tumble down the wall creating an airy cocoon to lull you to sleep.
· Decorating with fabric is fun and easy. Try inventive hanging alternatives such as rings or clips that slip over a wire, drapery swing poles, and decorative rods.
· Hang sheer metallic fabrics in front of solid panels for a glittery wall hanging.
· Choose two fabrics of equal weight and sew a reversible fabric screen.