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How to Decorate a Bare Wall

by Serena Makofsky

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A bare wall has so many decor possibilities

Decorating a bare wall may seem like an easy task, but the fact is an empty canvas sometimes intimidates would-be decorators. The key to making a bare wall into the focal point of a room is the right decorative accessories. Turn your bare wall into a pleasing backdrop or an extension of a decor theme in the room. A bare wall can also feature decorative accessories that blend form and function, such as lighting, floating shelves or a mirror.

Decorating a Bare Wall:

  1. Gather inspiration. Look around your house and the room with the bare wall and locate those items that catch your eye. Take fabric swatches, paint samples or pictures clipped out of magazines and hold them up against the wall. Examine the way natural and artificial light affects the look of your bare wall to determine if the area requires extra lighting.

  2. Consider color and finishes. One easy way to doll up a bare wall involves adding color and texture. You can use one of the new neutrals, such as antique white, eggshell, sunny yellow, faded cornflower or pale earth tones. You can opt for a brighter shade that makes the wall a focal point. Go designer with chocolate brown or hit the bare wall with Indian-inspired orange, saffron or fuchsia. A dark shade with a layer of translucent antique whitewash adds a textured "shabby chic" appearance. You might also opt for wallpaper in a vintage or artsy print.

  3. Add contrasting paint or patterns. If the bare wall has trim, a stripe of linen white adds classic cool. Bright aqua or cotton candy pink has a retro 1950s effect. Dark wood stain gives trim a Japanese-inspired style. Stencils in abstract, geometric or ethnic designs add dimension to a bare wall. Try a line of fleur de lis, paisley, squared-off swirls or creeping vines along the floorboards. If you want painted imagery to be the focal point, add a wall mural. Try a simple nature scene of trees, birds, branches, blades of grass and owls in silhouette, or invest in packaged murals or wall decals.

  4. Use furnishings and accessories. Integrate your bare wall with the rest of the room. A simple table supporting a lamp or a vase gives a bare wall a touch of style. A tapestry or hanging rug can soften the effect of a bare wall while a large painting can dominate a bare wall. If the wall is narrow, create a gallery effect with vertical arrangements of paintings in coordinating frames.

  5. Illuminate your bare wall makeover. A line of recessed lights adds a moody effect. A table or floor lamp has the utilitarian purpose of changing a bare wall into a reading or study area. Miniature gallery-style spotlights draw attention to wall art.

Wall Decor Tip:

  1. Avoid coordinating everything in the room with your redone bare wall. An accent wall should stand out rather than camouflage the room's overall decor.

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