Five Ways With Walls
If I were to work out how many hours I have spent decorating the walls in our house over the last four years, I swear it would fall well into the thousands. From painting to paper, there isn’t a wall in our home that has been left untouched. Walls are there to be adorned - the minimalist life is not for me and although I wouldn’t class myself as a maximalist, I am definitely a fan of the statement impact. Last year, I collaborated with The Art Of Protest Gallery and artist Alexandra Gallagher to paste a mural in my courtyard garden, showing that it matters not whether your wall is indoor or outdoor and that art can be just as effective outside as it is in your rooms.
We’ve got a room above our garage which, when we moved in, was set up as a gym. Many years ago, I worked for StairMaster (that’ll be the fitness company, not the chair lift - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve explained this over the years) and managed to undertake three years of full time employment without actually ever getting on a stepping machine. Yes, I know, impressive. So I certainly wasn't keen that the room remained for this purpose and immediately stuck the whole lot on eBay with an excellent profit made.
So what to do with this 15ft x 30ft space? With two early teen aged children, it was the perfect games area. I recruited my kids to help me paint the entire back wall in chalkboard paint and it absolutely transformed the room. We spent a fun day decorating it, stringing fairy lights across the top and attaching Instagram photos we had printed out as Polaroids (yes, way too much time on my hands). We scoured Pinterest for ideas of what to draw and covered it with our very best artistic efforts. It was great fun, although I challenge anyone to draw a cactus that doesn’t look penile. It’s an impossibility.
Anyway, the wall created a focal point in a huge empty space. It wasn’t expensive, it encouraged the kids to get creative and was good to look at. I’d love to say that it still looks the same today. Unfortunately, my teens have now moved into mid teens and the room is now a hellhole of empty Blossom Hill bottles, discarded Cheesy Wotsits and random stains of which NO ONE needs to know the origin. If those poor walls could talk, who knows what tales they would tell? I’d suggest those tales would involve A LOT of very short skirts, caterpillar eyebrows and significant amounts of Rimmel London.
Over the years, I’ve undertaken more wall decoration projects than I’ve had hot dinners but it is always, without fail, exciting to try something new and interesting. Instagram itself is a hotbed of creativity and is excellent for gaining inspiration and ideas. Here’s five ways to get you thinking more captivating than characterless when it comes to your spaces.
In my opinion, wallpaper is always a good choice. Over the years, I’ve used many patterns in my home and they’ve always added that extra wow factor when walking into the room. Whether you go one wall focal or all out four walls, it’s a great way to impress your own personality on to a space. It’s easy to be influenced by current trends and ideas, but when you pick a paper, make sure that you really, really love it. Every paper that I’ve ever used has literally sung to me – whether it was the Andrew Martin Penny Post that I used in my previous house, the Cole & Son Deco Palm that graced my hallway or the Loft & Us gloriously tropical Feuiles De Luxe. Each one has been a work of art on the walls. I’ve used the papers themselves as a focal point – only adding maybe one or two contrasting pieces of art or neon to the space so that I don’t detract from the pattern.
This, of course, is personal choice – there are plenty of maximalist homes on social media that would use both gallery art and wallpaper in the same area – but for me, it takes away from the beauty of the designs. If you are worried about using wallpaper and the impact it will have, try it first in a small area such as a cloakroom or an alcove. My first experience of wallpapering was the downstairs loo and from that point on, I was addicted. In true Changing Rooms stylie, it turned a burgundy flock walled monstrosity (I mean, seriously, why?) into a green and gorgeous palm tree’d oasis. The wallpaper I used was Honolulu - Julian McDonald for Graham & Brown - and was under £20 a roll, proof that wallpaper doesn’t have to be expensive to be transformative.
Okay, so if you follow me on Instagram, then you’ll know that this is my weak point. I love a gallery wall. There are a few reasons why the random combination of art brings me so much joy. First of all, it’s totally and utterly individual. No one else will have a wall collection the same as yours, thus making your display unique. Everyone wants to be unique, hey? We are bombarded every day with trends and ‘must have’ items – curating your own personal gallery is not only a great way of pulling all those pieces together that are hard to place, but it’s also a weirdly therapeutic task. Believe me, this is true. I’ve done a few.
Gallery walls don’t have to be super planned. They don’t have to all have the same frames (although they can if you want them to – it’s your wall) and they don’t have to be all one style of print. Mix photography, typography, old family photos, limited edition favourites. My walls include my very amateur attempts at art and spray painting, framed invitations, pictures my kids have drawn. And hell, why stop at pictures? Plates, guitars, neon lights, stags heads – anything goes, it’s your wall. If you love it, include it.
There’s nothing more interesting than a gallery wall filled with items and prints that are special to the home owner. It’s the perfect focal point, whether your display is in prime hallway position or gracing the wall of the downstairs loo.
Back to the focal point. Using huge art is a great way to add impact to your room. Okay, so this can be an expensive way to decorate your walls, I’m not going to lie. I recently spotted a huge typography print by on the feed of Nate Berkus that I became obsessed with. Merrily I googled it, trying to find the print version. Nope, there wasn’t one. Only the original at an eye watering £400k. But worry not, there are plenty of other options to consider if you’re looking for something which is a little more friendly on your pocket. Try Surface View – they have a huge archive that can be made into a custom made canvas to your own measurement specifications.
Maybe you have an old photo or cool view that you’ve taken yourself that you’ve been thinking should make it on to your wall. A couple of years ago, I had a monochrome photo I’d taken of the children blown up on to a canvas (I’d bought a voucher via Groupon so it was super cheap). IKEA regularly bring out large Limited Edition posters and canvas prints that can be a really good investment.
Or why not even consider creating an artwork yourself? You can pick up huge canvases in Hobbycraft or on eBay – get creative with oil or spray paint and produce something unique (my efforts at this were certainly unique). It’s fun to do and you’ll be saving yourself £399,950.
If you really want to make your wall stand out in a crowd, consider painting a mural. With the popularity of artists such as Lucy Tiffney (Great Interior Design Challenge), there is nothing that says individual more than a personalised design. Lucy has created custom murals for both outside the home and inside and they are stunningly effective.
Check out Instagram to view the creative talents of feeds such as Liz Kamarul and Jen Streeter, both of whom have painted their own designs on to the walls of their homes. Kate Learmonth is currently in the process of redecorating her home and has taken the mural concept to the next level, taking a black and white design up and over the ceiling for maximum effect. Just bloody amazeballs.
If you’ve got the faintest hint of artistic talent or have always wanted to try something different in your home, why not give it a try? If this sort of artistic endeavour falls out of your comfort zone, you can buy ready made or custom sized murals from companies such as Surface View. In my home office, I’ve used a map of the world mural from B&Q which is the perfect backdrop for my Mac, although it does encourage me to spend way too much time on Sky Scanner looking for holidays.
There are several reasons why a feature wall can be a good idea in your space. For rooms with no obvious focal point such as a fireplace or large window, they can provide a base for the rest of your room to work around, an anchor for styling. They’re also a great way to accentuate these features too, drawing the eye to the main focus of the room. It’s good for disguising the bits you don’t love, too - a dark wall behind the television stops the tech from standing out like a sore thumb. Paint is an inexpensive way to do this and is easily changed if you fancy an update. If you’re going for wallpaper, think carefully about the size of the room as you don’t want to overwhelm a smaller space by using too large a print.
And who says you have to stop at paint and paper? Katty Paterson used wood to create a slatted feature wall that is the perfect background for her room. The natural texture of the planks blends perfectly with the concrete floor and copious greenery. I’m currently revamping my home bar by tiling behind the area, not necessarily a standard dining room effect but it’s looking great. Think outside of the box when it comes to wall treatments.
How you decorate your walls in your home is a true reflection of your style. Whether you go full out impact or minimally subtle, there’s plenty of ways to create the ambiance that you are looking for and let your individuality shine through. Be brave and think outside the box. And if anyone is able to advise me on how to draw a chalkboard cacti that is non penile, then please let me know. Answers on a postcard please.