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Category:  Decorating

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The Art Of Decorating Walls

By Patricia Taylor

The art of decorating a wall requires more skill than learning how to pick wallpaper and pictures. Most people believe that all they need to do is hang a picture and they are finished. The rules of interior design that govern furniture placement, window treatments, and art will also apply to wall decorating.

Unlike picking furniture, learning to decorate walls like a professional decorator is easy to learn.


The rhythm of the room is determined by the mood. The first thing a decorator needs to determine is whether the room will be serene, relaxing, stimulating, emotional, or cool. Once this is decided, the decorator needs to decide what rhythm the room will have.

Rhythm is determined by size, shape, and spacing of objects and how the eye flows from one object to the next. A jarring room may be created by having a painting hanging on stripped wall paper with large, contrasting colored furniture. A peaceful room may be created by hanging several small, square paintings in a row over a fireplace, and let this flow down to square shaped furniture that sits on a rug.

A serene, placid room, is created when all objects are the same size and equally placed. Larger objects, tall, vertical rectangles, and bold contrasting colors and shapes create an vigorous tone.


Weight refers to the visual weight demands of an object. Large objects that are dark, bright, bold, large patterned, or oddly shaped are heavier. Small objects that are pale, solid, or geometrically shaped are lighter.


Balance is achieved by creating symmetry. Maintaining balance prevents a room from looking top or bottom heavy, or as if a painting is sliding off a mantle or couch.

Many designers make a mistake when it comes to balance. They will have large furniture framed by a bold pattern on the wall paper, or a large wall painting. Instead, they should think symmetry.


Each wall should have a dominant object, a bed, couch, or painting. Smaller items, or groups of smaller objects frame this large object, creating a focal point.

A wall that does not have a dominant object may not need one. Each room will have one dominant wall. This wall may be turned into a focal point by painting it a different color than the rest of the walls.

Large pieces of furniture may be ‘balanced’ by putting a patterned wallpaper behind it. This could be a new ‘panel’ wallpaper with a single tree spread over the entire wall, or it may be a wallpaper that offsets the size of the furniture. This technique works well with large buffets and entertainment centers.


Every room has a wall with negative space. This is a large space that should not be the focal point of the room, but is still bare and breaks the rooms rhythm.

The common treatment for negative space is to fill it with cheap wall art. While this may ‘work’, it can have a devastating effect on the entire room’s balance.

Filling negative space needs to be left for last. When the room is almost finished, then let your eyes flow around, stopping at the negative space, and asking yourself what should go there. In many cases, the decorator will find that this negative space should be a focal point.

One thing to remember is that a wall treatment does not need to be on the wall. A small table with a vase of flowers can turn negative space into a focal point, without overpowering the room’s main focal point – and without damaging the room’s balance.


This short tutorial will help most homeowners create wall treatments that will make your guests believe you hired a professional decorator.

Patricia Taylor advises on home furnishings and decor from her web site at She invites you to get her FREE home decorating guide here


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