Adding a feature wall, ( when less can be a lot more ).
Updated: May 14, 2020
People often ask me the same question, "Where is the feature wall going to be?". My usual response is, "Well what are we featuring?".
Feature walls can be wonderful, but not always necessary. They can easily become cumbersome and dated, necessitating an update in only a few years time. Here are some quick tips when considering a feature wall in your home!
1. What are you featuring?
My favorite areas to feature are living room/family room wall, a free-standing bathtub, or behind the master bed. In a previous post, I showed how I used hardwood flooring behind a bed to create a feature wall. For other clients, I have had custom headboards made that take up the entire wall and create an opulent sleeping environment.
This master-bedroom's entire back wall is a feature wall that consists of hardwood plank flooring behind the bed.
In living rooms, I like to make an entire wall stand out that is independent from others in the room. The feature wall attracts the eye, making it appropriate to anchor the wall as the entertaining center of the room. A television or fireplace is centered in the wall for visual balance.
This feature wall in a client's living room was created expressly to house the television and LED fireplace that the client desired. To complete it, a faux wall was first created, and then clad entirely out of marble ledgerstone, with a crown moulding at top. The moulding is lined with an LED strip creating a dramatic up-light effect.
In some cases, a feature wall gives the guest a subtle visual aid on how I want them to orientate themselves in the space, and ultimately use the room. By creating a monolithic structure (like the one pictured below) upon entering the home, I am directing the guests' attention in a distinct direction. This action dictates how they will see the light in the room, the furniture in the room, and in some cases, direct them away from things I might not want them to focus on such as a bar-sink, or a powder-room entrance.
This feature wall with it's size and presence, will anchor the space and ultimately direct the occupant's attention in the proper orientation for the layout of the space.
2. What material will you use?
This is always the million dollar question. Is your feature wall simply a splash of color? Is it a completely built-out structure like the ones pictured above? Does it have texture? Most importantly, why does it need to have texture?
Does it have texture just because you saw one with texture in Architectural Digest? This is where a good designer really earns their money. Deciding where the feature will be, why you are creating it, and how it will be implemented is an important process that requires a professionals expertise.
For example, To capture the modern Miami look, I often use dimensional tiled materials, such as marble ledgerstone, but this is far from a hard-and-fast rule.On one job in particular, I chose to do a feature wall out of a much softer and warmer material: wood. in one of my favorite features, I hid a staircase by covering it with a custom wood feature wall. Through a process of cutting regular 2x4 and 2x6 and 2x8 boards into random end-lenghts, and then stacking them on the wall, we created a very organic yet very modern look that distracts the occupant form what they are actually seeing.
The feature wall pictured above distracts the viewer from the staircase it is attached to, and anchors the living space set in front of it.
The point here is each application is different, and each feature wall unique. There is no firm answer as to what material or color or shape a feature wall should be. In many cases, the room will dictate that for you.
3. Think outside the 2nd dimension
Implementing a physical item in combination with the feature wall creates a richer experience than a 2 dimensional feature wall can by itself. By pulling things like the actual bathtub into the design, we create a sculptural environment that transcends just painting one wall a different color.
This master bathroom creates a feature with the presentation of a shower "area". The elimination of shower glass and the placement of the tub give the room depth and enhance the user experience.
In this example, the combination of the tub in the foreground, the feature wall of mosaic marble in the mid-field, and the mirrors, create the illusion of depth. The user gains a sense of space where there really was not a massive room to begin with.
Remember, like all elements of design, make sure there is a need for a feature wall before diving into its creation. The feature wall can be the pivotal element of your space. Spend time really thinking about how it is going to play that critical roll. If in doubt, call a design professional. Helping you find your space's potential is what we are here for!
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