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Make a feature of it
By Niki Schäfer
Feature walls will never go out of fashion. They don’t have to be garish wallpaper or even a traditional fireplace with mantle clock and candelabras but there will always need to be a place in the room that is where our focus should fall first. This is a design rule not a trick. Rooms need focal points.
A feature wall can be a different coloured wall, a fireplace or stove, it can be a display of mounted plates or witty flying ducks, an irregular bookcase or a distressed dresser. The idea is to draw the attention of the person who walks into the room. And so while there will be fashionable answers as to what to make a focal point of, it seems better to make a feature of something you love and will want to draw attention to.
This could be a digital photo blown up to cover the entire wall, or a curtain of shells sewn together by hand. It’s not about the content – the content is yours – the focal point should be something that represents who you are and what you want your home to say about you.
Feature lighting will always be a great focal point. Every hotel lobby uses this trick, as we walk into the space we look up in awe at a fabulous chandelier, almost a sculpture in the air. This idea can be replicated in any room. The chandelier needn’t be ornate; it could be a wild pink pendant shade, an oversized floor lamp or a sequence of directional wall lights used to create patterns on the wall.
Sections of wall can be removed and a light source built in to create remarkable sources of light and by that a mean a light that people will remark on. This is really the essence of a feature wall. It becomes the feature of a conversation.
(Both images show Flos Lighting)
Artwork is the easiest way to create a feature wall. A framed painting will draw the eye or four black and white photos or similar prints (pencil drawings, maps, nature studies) framed identically and hung immaculately. If they are the feature, there can’t be one out of place – it will send people to distraction wanting to straighten it.
A fireplace has long been the focal point of a living room – a source of heat and also light, when lit, means we will immediately be drawn to it, making it the perfect focal point. A limestone mantle with a marble hearth or a stove surround by slate are both beautiful but the fireplace feature needn’t be at the traditional end of the wall – a contemporary glass fireplace built into a central wall in an open plan space so that it can be seen from both sides of the room will definitely attract attention.
A feature needn’t be expensive or grand – it can be a wall full of photos and magazine posters, lovingly displayed by a teenage girl, it can be a change in paint colour for the chimney breast, a dresser full of pottery or painted china will be as much of a feature wall as a wallpaper, and a bookshelf always draws attention – especially if it contains, art, sculptures and lights on display too.
Niki Schäfer is the director of Niki Schäfer Interior Design (www.nikischaferinteriodesign.co.uk), founder of the Henley House & Garden Show (www.thehenleyhousegardenshow.com), and author of Creating Space. She appears frequently on TV and radio as a home expert and represents the British Institute of Interior Design as a professional speaker.