Open-concept design has been a staple for the last decade, but isn't without its challenges. When combined with high ceilings, large open rooms seem to have miles of wall space that needs to be filled so that the room feels cozy, and not cavernous. If filling your own walls feels daunting, check out our go-to ways to layer in art, bring functionality, and introduce pattern, texture, and color.
Adding millwork not only brings texture and dimension to walls, but it lends a sense of permanence that is especially nice in new builds or recent renovations. Millwork can add architectural interest or style when none is present and depending on what is chosen, can make a room feel more formal or more casual. Adding detail overhead can help bring extra-tall ceilings down to a more human scale. Coffers, beams, or even a simple plank on the ceiling can define a space as its own and bring coziness.
The easiest and quickest way to make a big change on your walls is to add a dark paint color. It can be tricky in open spaces, of course, but if you have a single room in need of a little drama, consider going dark. A dark shade is always a big risk, but that's why it brings such big reward! Just be sure to temper your design with lighter finishes, and include lots of texture (note that this designer included velvet, leather, and a high-pile rug) to keep your space feeling luxurious, not sterile.
If you have large, empty walls, now's the time to go big, or go home! An easy to way to fill horizontal space is to select a triptych or pair of art pieces that relate to one another, but one large piece can do the trick, too. Framed art isn't the only option, either. Textile art is a more casual option that brings a lot of texture and can be customized in the colors of the space. Consider hanging personal objects as well, like a collection of hats or guitars.
Without a doubt, wallpaper is the easiest way to add color and pattern to a space, and when used as a strong design element, little else is needed to make a room sing. The pattern doesn't have to be bold to fill the wall, however. Even subtle designs or textured papers like grasscloth offer dimension and color to the room. Surprisingly, wallpaper can be more durable than a painted surface, making it a good choice for kids' spaces or hallways, where hanging objects may not be a good choice, anyway.
While they can be tricky to pull off, a gallery of framed art hung together definitely makes a statement. For the best results, choose a unifying element for each piece, then you can vary the other elements. In our Studio, we hung a set of seascapes around a doorway and chose simple frames for each. Then, we varied the material of the frames, and matted some prints and not others. This way, the grouping feels collected and cohesive, but not random. Hanging the gallery is another challenging element, so place the largest pieces first to achieve balance, and then fill in with smaller ones. Make sure to balance the visual weight (meaning the dark and light elements) too, and not just the sizes.
Unused wall space may be an opportunity to bring a lot of function through a built-in feature. From book cases to desks to bars to benches, the options are endless and range from practical to indulgent. But when well-planned, all can add an element of interest and style to your room. I'm always thinking of places to add built-in features when planning for a renovation, but they can be incorporated at almost any time, and are definitely an investment in the style and function of your home.
Even if you aren't interested in our full-service design, we can help fill your empty walls through our concierge shopping service at our Westlake Village, California Studio. Book your private shopping experience by calling 805-371-3222.