Wall Décor Disasters and How to Fix Them

Shaynna Blaze shares her tips on how to convert outdated walls into modern marvels. 

I get to see my fair share of décor disasters as part of my job on Selling Houses Australia. If your home has one of these ‘special’ wall features, then fear not, there is hope! Here’s how to turn dreadful into delightful.   

1. 1970's wallpaper

Anyone who remembers the 70's will remember just how popular wallpaper was. The loud patterns and colours (what was with all the orange and brown?) were enough to put most people off for life. Have you seen any of these patterns before?

Wallpaper has certainly made a comeback and these days it is anything but scary. The trick is to go subtle by choosing wallpaper in a single colour. You still have the benefit of texture and pattern, without the wallpaper screaming for attention and overpowering everything around it. 

If you keep the colour neutral, it will suit even the most modern and minimalist rooms. It’s certainly a way to inject some more interest and texture into an all-white or minimalist scheme.

2. Dated feature walls

The worst examples of dated feature walls are those favoured by people who are afraid of using too much colour so they just stick to painting one wall. The problem is that they paint one wall a really loud colour, leaving the other walls looking stark in comparison.

Sometimes the wall also clashes with the flooring and usually the wall is left bare, so it really sticks out like a sore thumb. Here’s a good example:

To avoid a feature wall failure, go bold and paint all walls in the same dark colour. This is perfectly OK in a room that gets enough natural light. The trick with dark colours is to make sure that the colour you choose picks up on and works together with other colours used in the room, rather than being the odd colour out.

And never leave a feature wall bare. Think of it as a striking backdrop to make other details stand out, such as a collection of prints, a large mirror, floating shelves or even an open bookshelf. A dark coloured wall is also great to frame a fireplace.

If you’re still reluctant to go too dark on all walls, another option is to use the full strength of a colour on one feature wall and then the half strength on the rest of the walls. This way the walls work together better and the contrast is subtler.

3. Wall paneling

If your walls look like the inside of a sauna, then they’re suffering from the ‘scary Scandinavian sauna look’. OK I just made that term up, but you know what I mean.

It’s one of the worst examples of timber paneling on all walls of a room, such as a bathroom, that makes one of the smallest rooms in the house feel even smaller. Often the wall paneling is teamed with scary floor tiles too. This bathroom is a case in point:

Now I’m not saying don’t use timber wall paneling, but moderation and balance are the key things to remember. By moderation I mean don’t overwhelm a room, instead just use timber for a feature wall or feature details, not on all four walls. By balance I mean, keep the timber as part of a balanced mix of other colours, textures and finishes, including lots of white and natural and neutral materials like stone or concrete flooring. Now don’t you think this looks better? 

4. Exposed brick walls

While exposed brick walls can give large loft-style apartments and warehouse conversions an industrial chic look, your run-of-the- mill exposed brown brick wall is often an eyesore. Even if you try to spruce up a space with modern furniture, like in the photo below, an exposed brick wall can still dominate for all the wrong reasons. The parquetry flooring doesn’t help either:

A quick and simple way to fix the problem is to paint the brick wall a dark colour that works with the rest of the room’s colour palette. This way you’re left with the nice texture of the brick but a subtler, more stylish look overall.

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