We’ve all been there. We all have that room. That space. That wall.
That one bare, boring wall filled with a coat of paint and not much else. For whatever reason, try as you might, you cannot seem to find the cure for its boringness.
And so it just sort of exists, haunting you and mocking you with every pass. Almost daring you to do something, anything, about it.
But fear not! As interior designers, we’ve battled many boring walls over the years years. And along the way the way we’ve picked up plenty of ideas that work with any size budget.
So come along and explore our 8 ways to rescue a boring wall.
Good bye accent walls, hello murals.
Anyone can do an accent wall. But if you really want add an element of interest to a boring wall, consider adding a mural to it. After all, what is a wall if not just a giant blank canvas?
Murals are much more personalized, and will create much more visual interest than a solid color wall. They can help show you your personality and tastes, and become instant conversation starters when you have guests over.
Another reason we love wall murals is they work literally anywhere. If you have a curved wall or other irregular shaped area, a wall mural is a great idea. They can be big or small and take on any shape, making them a great choice to rescue a boring wall.
And best of all, if you ever change your mind, a coat of paint can make a mural disappear quickly and make room for one of our other ideas below!
Ideas for Wall Murals
The first step is of course to pick the subject of your mural. There are so many different options that it really just boils down to personal taste.
One idea we love is giant geometric patterns. Check our our guide for painting a hexagon wall mural for some inspiration.
Recreating famous pieces from popular artists is something we’ve seen a lot. Banksy, Warhol and comic books are just a few ideas we’ve seen in the past.
You can also look to nature for inspiration. Being from Denver, we see a lot of wall murals with mountain scenes. This is a great way to draw a bit of the outdoors into your home.
And of course, if you’re feeling uninspired, let your artist decide! Chances are you picked them because you liked their previous work and style. Let them create a truly custom and one-of-a-kind wall mural for you.
Just remember that this is your home and your space. Don’t worry what others will think, and know that paint isn’t forever.
Below are some ideas we’ve curated to help give you some inspiration for your own wall murals.
Wall Murals For Kids
Wall murals work especially well in kid’s bedrooms or play areas! They add a fun element to areas where kids spend most of their time, and can really help the space feel more like their own.
Start with their favorite TV or book character and create a mural around that subject. Chances are their room is already decked out with their favorite characters, so a mural will fit in great and make them the envy of their friends.
Wall murals in kid’s play areas can also integrate with existing toys and furniture. Have a tree house in the play room? Add a jungle scene behind it with trees and animals. Have a basketball hoop or other sports equipment? Turn your wall into a sports stadium with cheering fans, lights, and more.
Creating a Wall Mural
When it comes to painting the mural, unless you are an artist by trade, this is a job best left to the pros.
Adding a wall mural is a great way to support local artists, so ask your friends and families for references. Many neighborhoods also have community Facebook pages, so check there as well.
If all else fails, consider using a marketplace like HomeAdvisor to find certified pros. Make sure you check reviews and get multiple quotes if possible.
Things to Consider With Wall Murals
Once you have identified an area of your home to add a wall mural, there are some considerations.
First, make sure the paint can handle the needs of whichever space it will live in. That last thing you want is a mural getting ruined because it couldn’t handle its environment.
For example, bathrooms that have showers or baths typically need a high gloss paint that can resist the steam. Likewise, kitchen areas need a durable paint that can resist splatters and be wiped down. And of course any room where kids play must be ready for the inevitable banging and abuse that will be present.
Just make sure you check with the artist before you begin. Chances are they have experience and can take all the necessary precautions when they create your wall mural.
Murals are custom artwork, and as such, will take time to create. Be prepared for that area of your home to be off limits for multiple days. If you have kids, make sure the work area won’t be messed with and is safe from rogue soccer balls and other hazards.
Wall Mural Alternatives
If a mural feels a little too bold for your tastes, consider a patterned paint job. This is a good balance between a solid color wall and a highly specialized mural.
Stripes, chevron, and small repeated graphics all make for great accent wall patterns. These can provide visual interest while not becoming the focal point of a room like a mural. And with a bucket of paint, some wall tape and patience, this is a definitely a DIY project that won’t break the bank.
2. Photo GalleryLights, camera, action.
Another great way to rescue a boring wall is with photo galleries.
With a gallery wall, there are really two main decisions you’ll have to make:
- Do you want to use only photos or mix in art or other decor?
- Do you want the gallery to be balanced or unbalanced?
The first decision is mainly personal preference. Photo gallery walls are great for family rooms and other gathering areas. These are great ways to show case family photos, travel photos and other important life events.
Mixing in non-photos is a great way to make your gallery wall stand out even more. Consider adding a mirror or piece of artwork to break up the monotony. Or you can add a little texture with some 3D decor. Think faux deer antlers, wall sconce or potted succulent.
Balanced Gallery Wall
A balanced gallery wall is one in that is laid out in a grid with each item having the same shape and size. The net effect is that the whole gallery wall takes on a square or rectangular shape.
A balanced gallery wall is a great option for large areas. By controlling the size of each item and the spacing between them, you can easily make the gallery fill up a large empty wall.
A balanced wall works best with photos because you can simply use the same frame for each photo. But don’t let that deter you from getting a little creative. If you want to add a little element of design you can always use the same frame for a piece of art. Even a solid color piece of paper can provide a nice pop of color amid all the photos.
Below are some great examples of balanced gallery walls to help inspire you!
Unbalanced Gallery Wall
As the name suggests, an unbalanced gallery wall is one where each item can be a different shape and size. The spacing between each item can also vary, allowing the gallery to take on different shapes.
Because the shape can be arbitrary, an unbalanced gallery is great for irregular spaces. They can be used in places like stairs or with curved walls, or even just working around existing furniture or decor.
The great thing about an unbalanced gallery is that it’s much easier to mix and match gallery items. Here are a few ideas of items to include:
- Framed art
- Classic magazine or comic books
- Shadow Boxes
Even if you choose to use all photos, consider using different sizes, frame colors, etc. to create an unbalanced gallery that has some visual interest.
If you need a little inspiration, check out the collection of unbalanced galleries below!
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3. Floating Shelves
Gravity defying decor.
Floating shelves are a great way to rescue a boring wall. Not only do they provide visual interest to an otherwise boring wall, they are incredibly functional.
Mounting Floating Shelves
Floating shelves come in a variety of styles. The most traditional installation uses a cantilever approach in which the shelf is mounted using a hidden bracket that is secured to the wall. The lack of visible hardware gives the illusion that the shelf is floating.
Other styles of floating shelves can include visible hardware. Angle brackets, steel cables, and other mechanisms can all be used to hang them.
Many times the visible hardware can enhance the look. For example, using old galvanized pipes to mount a shelf on an exposed brick wall can help enhance the rustic feel of the space.
Types of Floating Shelves
Most floating shelves are simply flat pieces of wood, metal, or even glass. These are perfect for displaying light-weight items, but might be a little boring for some people.
Luckily the world of floating shelves has come a long way in the past few years. There are plenty of other options available that can might better match your style.
For example, floating shelves can come in cubes and other geometric shapes like hexagons. You can also find floating shelves with built in drawers, providing extra functional storage in your space.
Arranging Floating Shelves
Similar to gallery walls, you mostly have 2 choices for mounting floating shelves: symmetric or asymmetric.
The symmetric layout works really well when you have a large wall, or a wall separated by a central focal point such as a fireplace or furniture.
In this case, consider buying an even number of shelves of the same size, mounting them in the same horizontal lines.
The asymmetric layout works better in smaller spaces, and adds some extra visual interest.
Consider arranging an odd number of shelves, or mounting multiple shelves at different heights. Mixing and matching different size shelves can also help achieve a fun asymmetric layout.
Of course none of these rules are written in stone. Experiment with different layouts and see what works best for your space.
Check out some floating shelf ideas we gathered below and see how they can spruce up your wall!
4. Stone & Wood Accents
It’s time to stop walking all over tile and wood.
Tile and wood are a not just a great way to bring natural elements into a space. Both materials are durable, long lasting, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. And best of all, they are great for DIY projects.
So why should we limit ourselves to only using tile and wood on floors? Are they really that beneath us?
Bad puns aside, we absolutely love the idea of tile and wood accent walls. They can act as a natural element that blends well into the surrounding space. Or they can be a dramatic focal point that will demand people’s attention.
Tile Accent Walls
When people think of tile on a wall, they typically think of small applications like a kitchen backsplash or shower area.
These are all functional applications. A kitchen backsplash can handle grease and food splatters better than dry wall. A tiled shower area clearly is better suited to handle water and steam than just about any other material.
But there’s no reason tile on a wall has to be functional. If you have a large open span of wall in any room, using tile to as a design element is a great option.
For example, if you have a fireplace with a simple tile surround, consider running the tile up to the ceiling. Fireplaces on their own typically become a focal point for rooms, and adding a tile accent wall is a great way to drive the point home.
Tile accent walls are also great for powder rooms. These typically don’t have the same water and stream requirements as a full bathroom, but a full length tile accent wall is still a great way to make those boring walls disappear.
For a tile accent wall, think beyond the normal ceramic tiles. We love using a ledgestone or split face tile because they add depth and texture to the wall. And they’re available in every imaginable finish, from muted mattes to sparkling quartz, so there are plenty of options to choose from.
While laying floor tile is a DIY project that requires little experience, consider hiring a professional for this one. Chances are you’ll be dealing with high areas and potentially awkward measurements. You also have to contend with gravity constantly trying to pull your tiles out of position.
Below are some tile accent walls to get you started.
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Wood Accent Wall
Wood accent walls are another great way to introduce natural elements into a room. As with tile and stone, there are plenty of options to choose from
While you can use the same wood you would use for a floor, consider using different sources like reclaimed or unfinished planks. These types of wood will definitely make your accent wall pop a little more.
Whatever wood source you use, make sure it’s been properly prepped for indoor use. This includes being free from bugs, removing old nails and screws, and being at least roughly sanded to remove the larger splinters.
When it comes to laying out the wood accent wall, think beyond the horizontal layout. You can just as easily go with a vertical pattern, or really take things up a notch and go with diagonal, chevron or herringbone layout. These will take a little more time and material (due to the extra cuts), but are well worth it.
Below are some great wood accent walls to help get your creative juices flowing!
No long just for grandma’s house.
At some point in the late 90s, wallpaper got a really bad rep. It was seen as old school and past its prime, something you would only see in a cheesy 80s horror movie.
It’s time to remove the stigma and start showing it some love. In fact, there are many reasons wall paper might make a better choice over paint:
- More variety of styles and patterns
- Can last up to 15 years
- Sometimes easier to remove
So why do we love wallpaper? For starters, it’s so versatile. You can find a wallpaper pattern for literally anything you want. Just like picking out carpet or tile, it can be really overwhelming.
It can be bold or muted. Textured or flat. Matte or shiny. Modern or contemporary. It can have any design from trees, plaid, cute little whales, words of inspiration, and everything in between. We’ve been doing interior design a long time and have seen it all.
Whatever you pick, make sure your wallpaper is suitable for the space it will live in. Not all wallpaper is ideal for wet areas or where steam is present. And if you’re going to hang it in a area where food or kids are present, make sure it’s durable and can be wiped down.
Another reason we love wallpaper is how much easier it has become to work with. In recent years there has been a massive rise in peel-and-stick wallpaper. This eliminates the glue and messiness of traditional wallpaper, making it much more DIY friendly.
That said, even with peel-and-stick wallpaper, you’ll want to follow a few tips:
- Be patient
- Use a sharp box cutter or utility knife for all cuts
- Whatever area you measure, make sure you order some extra (usually 10%)
- Use a plastic scraper or other soft straight edge to smooth out any bubbles as you apply the wallpaper
- If you do find bubbles afterwards, use a needle to poke a small hole; this will let the air out and you should be able to flatten them out
For traditional wallpaper, we strongly recommend leaving it to a pro. They’re much better equipped to handle the stress of gluing, hanging and cutting large sheets of paper on a ladder. And they’ll definitely be better prepared for when you inevitably discover your walls are not perfectly square.
Finally, don’t constrain yourself to using wallpaper in the entire room. It works perfectly well as an accent wall, or even as just a single column above a fireplace or other room feature.
You can even use wood trim to create a portrait of wallpaper in the middle of any room. Be creative and think outside the box.
To help inspire you, we’ve gathered some wallpaper ideas below showing some great patterns and creative usages!
Create a functional space that fills the floor and wall.
When it comes to dealing with empty walls, sometimes the easiest thing to do is fill the area in front of it. Not only will you rescue your boring wall, you’ll get a functional area out of it.
A sitting area is functional, relaxing, and can help detract from the emptiness of a boring wall. And they work great in just about any room, although we especially love adding a cozy sitting area to master suites.
To start, you’ll need a chair or two (duh). Then we recommend adding in a small side table for set drinks and books. Add in a lamp for overhead lighting and a comfy blanket, and you’ve got yourself a sanctuary inside your home.
To add a little extra visual interest, pick a chair with a fun pattern or bold color palette. This will help the sitting area stand out even more and draw people’s eyes away from the empty wall.
You can also create a sitting area using a small couch or love seat. Just make sure you measure the wall to ensure the couch won’t overwhelm the space.
Check out a few sitting areas we really love below!
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A work area is a great way to repurpose a boring wall. We love the idea of adding a small desk and chair to create a home office or homework nook for kids.
As with the sitting area, be careful not to go overboard on the size of the furniture. Make sure you measure the length and width of the desk and ensure you’ll have plenty of clearance to move around it when it’s being used.
Add in a few floating shelves and baskets for storage, and small lamp or wall sconce for light, and you’ll have yourself a highly functional and efficient work area.
We’ve gathered a few ideas below to hep inspire you!
Warm up any boring wall.
Adding a fireplace to any boring wall instantly creates visual interest, and creates the foundation for designing around it. Depending on the type of system you install, it might even help save on your utility bill.
According to ImproveNet, the average cost to install a fireplace is around $2,100. You have to consider that fireplaces may require additional ventilation, gas line, and electrical. A licensed professional can give you an estimate and safely perform the work.
Aside from traditional gas and wood burning fireplaces, we strongly recommend considering an electric unit. While they won’t match the heat output of wood or gas fireplaces, they also do not have the same venting and exhaust concerns. This makes them great alternatives for older homes or in smaller rooms.
Without the venting and exhaust, electric fireplaces are able to keep their heat inside the home. When used without any fan, the costs to run an electric fireplace are minimal. And even if you do use the built-in fan to distribute heat, you can still expect to spend far less than you would with a gas fireplace.
Finally, electric fireplaces do not have real combustion, so they are suitable in areas where a traditional fireplace is not, such as drywall or wood.
Check out some ideas below for incorporating a fireplace into an otherwise boring wall!
Nothing beats a classic.
Wainscoting is wood trim or paneling installed on a wall. While tradition dictates that it usually goes up to chair height, there’s no reason to limit yourself. The higher up the wall it goes, the more impact it will make in the room.
Because wainscoting is typically painted, there are plenty of options to choose from: particle, fiberboard, hardwood, etc. Typically the demands of the space will dictate what material to use.
A wainscoting application can be as simple as running a chair rail, and then creating rectangular panels out of quarter round trim. This is a cheap option and great weekend project that requires minimal skills (a mitre box saw and nail gun will go a long way).
On the other end of the spectrum, wainscoting can involve multiple layers of wood paneling to create texture and relief. This level of work is bet left to an experienced craftsman.
The cost to install wainscoting will vary depending on size of room, intricacy of the design, and the materials you use. According to realtor.com, wainscoting can cost anywhere from $8 -$40 per square foot for materials, and another $2-$4 per square foot for labor.
We’ve gathered up some great wainscoting ideas below to get you started!
Go conquer those boring walls.
To wrap up, remember that when it comes time to rescue a boring wall, you don’t always need a lot of money or time. The ideas we discussed above should fit a variety of budgets and tastes.
And remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one idea! Combining some of the tips above is a great way to really add interest to a room:
- Add a tile accent wall in a column surrounding a fireplace
- Paint a mural behind some floating shelves
- Hang some fun wallpaper above some wainscoting
Most of the ideas we discussed complement each other perfectly, and can be done is phases to help spread the cost out over time.
Just remember: nothing you do in your home is permanent. Step outside your comfort zone, take risks, and let your personal style shine through. Don’t let those empty all stay empty forever.
And when you’re done, leave us a comment to let us know how you have rescued your boring walls!