Insider Solutions

White Walls Are Out—Color and Texture Are In

Walls—we take them for granted. They protect us, create cozy spaces, and serve as the skin of every room. Yet we often forget how important they are and don't consider their treatment.

Wall covering has changed a lot in the last 10 years. The days of Navajo white seem to be over. Even builders are offering two or three shades of tan as standard procedure. This may not be a big difference, but it is saying something about people wanting choices in color. My clients have asked me, "What color should we paint the walls??

Colorfully painted walls are bright, strong, bold and exciting—adding mood to a room. Even subdued colors add mood. With color, rooms have personality and style, and make a statement about the occupants. You can create your own style with color and not spend too much money.

Don't be afraid to paint each room a different color—particularly bedrooms where there is a door and natural stopping point. Open areas generally need to be unified; however, an accent wall in a contrasting color can be interesting and easily achieved.

There are several other ways to cover a wall. Wallpaper is still used but has a great deal of competition with faux finishes and Venetian plasters. Faux finishing is used to create color and texture. It can resemble marble, natural materials or stone effects. Other types of faux finishes include glazing and combing.

Venetian plaster is a three- to four-coat process creating different textures. These textures are applied on top of one another. Whatever color you choose is mixed into the plaster, giving it greater depth and durability.

One of my favorite wall coverings is fabric. It is a wonderful look and adds an acoustical element to the room. Padding made of foam or Dacron is applied to the walls and then fabric is attached over it. Any fabric can be used, and in most cases it is less expensive than wallpaper—of course it depends on the cost of the fabric. Another advantage is that it doesn't damage the wall when it is removed.

Fabric can also be applied directly to the wall with glue. If you choose, you can add wood or metal as accents in a design. You might cut wood into shapes such as squares or diamonds, or buy ready-made metal shapes and glue them onto the fabric-covered wall.

If you are handy, make your own wallpaper by cutting out pictures from a magazine or use personal pictures. You can also paint a faux finish on heavy paper and tear it into large pieces and glue them onto the walls overlapping the pieces. With these techniques you never have any seams.

Another one of my favorite things to do is to carry ceramic tile up onto walls. It is a rich look and usually a surprise. It is washable and the colors and textures are endless. You can even create a picture or design in the wall using different tiles and turning and cutting them into different shapes.

Vinyl tile can be used in the same way. Recently I saw vinyl tile that looked like cork. On the wall it added a feeling of warmth. Think about using this in a child's room because it is washable and relatively indestructible.

Ideas, new ideas and your ideas—that's what today's design is all about—finding what is right for you. Have fun and remember that walls have no feelings—You do!

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