Looking for wall decor ideas to refresh a tired or blank space in your home? Those empty walls are filled with endless possibilities – and a few stylish wall decorations can make a house feel like a home.
No matter your decorating style, we've got the tricks that can give life to your walls and bring out your true personality. Keep reading to discover the best wall decor ideas that are sure to add character, interest and intrigue to your home.
1. Add interest with a wall mural
From hand-blocked panels to digitally printed vistas, murals of picturesque landscapes are an expressive way to bring epic scale and romance to a scheme – and they make the perfect accent wall ideas.
‘Ask a mural artist to create a preliminary drawing, preferably to scale, so any alterations can be made at this stage,’ says Helen Barnes, Murals and Tromp L’oeil Specialist. ‘And remember that if you commission a design on a penal or a fabric canvas, it can be portable, too.’
2. Reflect light with mirrors
Everyone knows that decorating with mirrors is a good way to visually 'double' the sense of space in a room – but we also love a mirror for how it magnifies light and adds a magical mood. ‘I always use mirrors with an antiqued effect, says Henriette Von Stockhausen, founder, VSP Interiors. ‘It softens everything that it reflects. Sadly, it is more expensive but it really is worth it as it makes the room feel immediately more settled.’
‘Think carefully where mirrors are positioned, where they end and what will be reflected in them,’ she adds. ‘I don’t use them in a dining as people don’t like to see themselves reflected while eating or speaking. I wouldn’t place a full-length mirror opposite a shower and never one behind a loo.’
3. Opt for large-scale art
If you are looking for wall decor that is easily changeable, then consider hanging up carefully-chosen artwork instead. An oversized painting will command attention and set the tone – even in a relatively small space. Alternatively, opt for gallery wall ideas if you have a plethora of artwork to display.
'Bold and extrovert wall accessories look great against a contemporary background,' says Deborah Heath of Design By Deborah. 'But a wall of vivid color would swamp a watercolor and an oil painting may look dark and imposing on small delicately patterned wallpaper. It’s matter of trial and error –and personal taste.’
4. Arrange books for an attractive focal point
Wall decor ideas don’t have to be purely decorative, they can be functional, too. ‘Books can bring culture and intelligence to any room, as Cicero said, ‘A room without books is like a body without a soul.’
One formal way of arranging books is the classic library approach, that is by genre – fiction, non-fiction, history, art and so on. ‘It’s probably one of the most popular ways to organize books in a domestic setting,’ says Philip Blackwell, founder, Ultimate Library.
‘Those looking for a more stylised result, which will have a greater impact on the overall look and feel of them too, will arrange books in blocks of color,’ he adds. ‘Some will go for one accent – we’ve done entire walls in Penguin paperbacks, from example – others will want a kaleidoscope effect with different pops of color.’
See: Book storage ideas – beautiful tips for an ever-growing collection
5. Take a world view with geographical wall decor
Whether vintage, wall sized or illustrative, a map can add interest and evoke happy memories of your favorite trips and destinations.
Add some visual interest to a study or child’s room with a striking map mural that is also educational. This feature wall will have particular appeal for budding explorers, who can stick mementos on the map to show where they’ve been, or mark where they would like to go in the future.
6. Fashion a wall display with plates
If your best china is too good to eat off, or perhaps you have decorative antique plates hidden away in a cupboard, make a gallery wall display with them. Select a few varying sizes and patterns and measure up the placement of each piece on the wall before you go in with a hammer and nails, to make sure you get the spacing right. Once you’re happy, attach the plates to hanging wires – you can get ones especially designed for plates that will hold them firmly without damage – and hook onto the walls.
7. Dress your walls with decorate paneling
Originally installed to protect walls and hide damp, panelling is enjoying a style revival. We adore the instant character wall panelling can provide, especially in featureless rooms. And of course it is a practical way to keep scruffs at bay.
‘Panelling is a useful way of introducing warmth and character to a room – there is something cozy about being surrounded by wood, says Bruce Hodgson, founder and creative director, Artichoke. If your budget doesn’t stretch to wood panelling, high-quality MDF painted with an eggshell paint is a convincing alternative to wood panelling.
8. Display houseplants – on the wall
Shown off with imagination and ingenuity, indoor plants add natural charm to any scheme. Swap a mirror above the fireplace for a wall-hung pocket planter filled with a verdant display of ferns and trailing vines. Different heights add visual interest – mix up plants with different leaf shapes and colors for an abundant display.
A well-edited arrangement of houseplants will not only life the spirits and help purify the air, it’s also great for adding color, style and an artistic flourish.
9. Introduce wall-to-wall style
If you want to add a unique touch to your home, a mural is a more permanent option. For a bespoke troupe l’oeil you’ll need to commission a specialist and be prepared to make a significant financial investment. Designs like these suit traditional schemes particularly well.
Although trompe l’oeil (meaning ‘deceive the eye’ due to the optically illusive nature of the art technique) is popular for large areas, such as dining and living rooms, it can add space and depth to smaller spaces, such as powder rooms.
Murals can incorporate specific themes, personal motifs or favored landscapes in any style. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a hand-painted design, consider a tiled alternative or a mural wallpaper, which can be custom-made and can even feature your own photos.
10. Opt for an instant update with wall decals
Instead of conventional artwork or feature wallpaper, why not choose wall stickers or decals (transfers) to make a statement? Options range from colorful designs, perfect for adding character to a child’s bedroom, to sophisticated silhouettes, elegant monochromes, witty graphics and adhesive chalkboard, ideal for kitchen walls.
Think about where to place them – off-centre or above a skirting board often looks more interesting than a centrally positioned design, which can appear lost in a large space. Consider the style of your interiors, too; simple graphics and block colors will suit minimalist layouts. Wall art can look fussy in a busy scheme, so remember to pare back on other accessories to enable your art to stand out.
What can you do with a blank wall?
Adding impact to your walls needn’t be confined to the traditional methods of wallpapering or painting. There are plenty of ways to enliven your scheme, whether you opt for an easy-to-change option, such as witty wall stickers and whimsical decals, or invest in a bespoke solution, such as a striking mural or a delicate trope l’ceil. Whether your schemes are traditional or contemporary, there is a wealth of creative ways to let you walls do the talking.
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space.
Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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