Boring is out, finds Aparna Karthikeyan, as she tells you how to spice up those blank spaces

Paint catalogues used to be, not very long ago, fairly boring things. They had tiny little squares of colour with which one had to visualise the entire room. But when I recently opened a paint catalogue, I was amazed. Here was page after page of walls; some solid blocks of jewel colours set off with an antique clock or painting; others plain vanilla or magnolia with the paint teased into whorls or applied with a knife for an impasto effect. Walls, I realised, or rather feature walls, had come of age.

This is basically one wall in a room treated in a special way so that it defines the whole room. As Karthik and Bhama, architects and managing directors, Turya Designs, say, highlighting one wall can totally alter the look of a room. “The change brings focus, and the entire room appears related to the feature wall.”

This is probably the most exciting way to uplift a tired room. It allows you to introduce colour without taking over the whole room, and it’s a great way to define an alcove or differentiate spaces in an open-plan design.

You can create feature walls in many ways. As Bhama says, you can change the colour alone, or work on the texture with different materials like stone, brick, wood and metal. You could hang a large painting, or cover the wall with a collage of photographs. “With paints and a play of material and creativity, we can bring in a world of difference,” says Bhama.

And the best part? They are easy on the pocket, cheaper even than building in a window. Says Kalpana Balaji, principal architect, Diagrammar, “Feature walls create an impact. Plan in advance and have the wall well lit with natural or artificial light.”

Although you can make the feature wall yourself if you are of a creative bent, “it’s better to consult an expert,” says Kalpana. This is especially true for unplastered walls. “These walls need protection, so you need to discuss water- and weather-proofing with an expert.” If it is just a textured paint effect, paint companies provide the guidance. However, you should incorporate lighting in the design stage itself. For that, you might have to work with a designer.

Whichever route you choose, a feature wall could be the best gift you’ve given your interiors in a while.


Pick a wall with the most space and no interruptions of door or window. A slanted wall like that near a stair also works. You can highlight one wall in a large room or a small wall at the end of a corridor.

The safest way to decide a colour is to pick one shade from the carpet or curtains already in the room. Light colours create a sense of space, while dark colours are better used in long or large spaces.

If you pick a rich colour, try contrasting it with B&W images, whereas light walls can be set off with vivid paintings.

Pictures by Karthik and Bhama, Architects and Managing Directors, Turya Designs


Make a book or collectibles wall. Use uniform shelves or play with sizes and shapes.

Use dramatic wallpaper to make an impact easily.

Extra large murals or paintings look striking and make great conversation pieces.

Make a photo wall with family or holiday pictures in various sizes.

A giant headboard or painting defines a bedroom wall. Or go risqué with a large mirror.

Make a tech wall with large-screen TV, game console and storage for movies and music.