HED:Up against the wall
By Lena Mitchell
The walls of a room are the largest visible surface area.
It is important, then, that walls have the appeal and interest to set the tone and provide a backdrop for the family’s activities in a room.
When Doyce and Bill Deas of Tupelo decided to do some renovating and redecorating in their home a few years ago, their dining room had little natural light filtering in.
Kelly Holcomb of Staggs Interiors concentrated on the walls in his design plan and chose to use the very darkness of the interior room for a dramatic effect.
“I thought it would be good to play on that to make the walls look rich and pretty,” Holcomb says.
He developed a faux finish design to cover the walls, from the crown molding with its antique marble look, to a French design painted border at the bottom of the wall.
Faux finish artist Lucia Randle executed the large Harlequin pattern Holcomb developed 18-inch by 12-inch diamonds in vertical rows in a deep eggplant shade on a rich dark gold background.
The beauty of faux finish is largely due to the many layers of color the artist uses, each showing through to add greater dimension to the finished project.
The walls were finally coated with a glaze to give them a sheen and to reflect the light that does come into the room.
In the Deas’ kitchen Holcomb used a screen print wallpaper.
The unique colors in the panels on the wallpaper were created by the manufacturer applying a color, running the paper through the press and then applying another color.
The paper chosen also has a rich golden background that blends with the gold of the dining room and is a sunny backdrop for the light antiqued wood finish applied to the cabinetry.
“(Mrs. Deas) loves wall covers and doesn’t like just plain paint,” Holcomb says. “We were also working with the fact that the dining room is open to the kitchen and the living room, so you can see from the kitchen through the dining room to the living room. All of the rooms had to blend with each other.”
Wall design options
Walls work with the ceiling and floor and contribute to the balance of a room, says Donna Webber, an interior design association spokeswoman.
“The walls are crucial in the overall design,” she says. “Color and texture can be used to reach beyond the limits of construction.”
The faux finish as a wall treatment has gained wide popularity and many people are not using wall coverings as much, says Beth Miller, an assistant professor in the Mississippi State University School of Human Sciences who teaches interior design.
“Ground, a wallpaper that has a faux finish look, is a less expensive do-it-yourself way that people can get the faux finish effect without the expense,” Miller says.
Borders with architectural features that enhance crown molding are also used widely on painted walls, she says. With today’s open floor plans they can help unify the look from one room to another.
Grass cloth has also recently made a comeback, offering a more natural look that has seen a resurgence.
“You’re still seeing a lot of papers that are adaptations of existing historical papers from places like Charleston and Natchez,” Miller says.
Another wall finish that has become prominent is to use plaster to give the walls a somewhat thick finish. The plaster is scored to give it an appearance of stone or an old castle look.
“The only problem with something like that is when it goes out of style you have to sand it down to do anything else with the wall,” Miller says.
A good rule of thumb is to use wallpaper in the bathrooms and kitchen and painted surfaces elsewhere with borders.
Miller says the goal, particularly in an open floor plan, is to achieve blending and continuity of colors, with features that unite your overall look. “Usually you do that with some kind of color repeat so that you’re not changing the total color palate in every room.”
Another consideration is the kind of natural lighting: lots of light, cooler color; less natural light, warmer colors.
“Color has a lot of emotional implications,” Miller says. “For example, yellow agitates but many people use it in their baby’s room. When the baby wakes up crying, they need to have a soothing color around them, a cooler color that is non-agitating.”
Choices of paint colors, textured finishes such as plaster coatings, flat or textured wallpaper, paneling, tile and faux finishes are some established wall treatment options.
However, another product that recently entered the market, called Wallies, offer ease of application to enhance a plain wall finish.
Wallies, a division of the McCall Pattern Co., are prepasted vinyl-coated wallpaper cutouts that can be applied to a wall to make border designs or patterns spread out over the entire wall.
Julie Gray, a graphic designer from Belmont, Vt., got tired of painting designs on walls herself and wondered why no one was offering an easy way to decorate a room with unique patterns.
“We want to provide a wide variety of high-quality wallpaper cutout designs that make decorating simple, affordable and distinctive,” she says.
There are 25 designs available that include rustic themes like apples, fresh flowers, chili peppers and cows to more classic designs like roses, ivy leaves, bows, architectural features and whimsical clouds, cherubs and Beatrix Potter bunnies.
Wallies are available in Tupelo at Hancock Fabrics.
Wall design checklist
Various factors will influence the wall treatment in each room. Be sure to take the following features into consideration.
*Size and shape of the room: Wall treatments can make the room appear larger or smaller, cozy or spacious.
*Exposure of room: The amount of natural light entering the room will affect the kind of wall treatment to be used.
*Use of the room: The mood you want to create in the room should be matched to your choice of wall treatment.
*Relation of rooms to each other: Particularly in an open floor plan there should be repetitions to help the eye move smoothly from one room to the other.
*Architectural features: Doors, windows and other features like fireplaces also influence choice of wall treatment.