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Bye bye bland walls
Do you have a space in your home that’s crying out for attention? Dreary walls that are in desperate need of excitement? Worn-out rooms that badly need a shot of energy? Consider these eight ideas that can take your space from bland to grand.



Adding accents, such as new pillows, can liven up a room.

1. Light It Up

"Lighting is often taken for granted or completely ignored, but it is an important design element. The right light can enliven a space," says Noreena Scheve, interior designer with Design Resource Center in Elm Grove. "Lights can showcase a wall or highlight specific points on a wall such as artwork, photographs or architectural elements. You can wash a wall with light to reveal textures or faux finishes, or set a small light behind a plant to create dramatic shadows. There’s so much you can do," she says.

2. Put Your Wall Up

Wall panels defined by moldings can add interest to plain walls. "We used wall panels in an ultra-modern condominium and completely transformed it. You would’ve thought you were in a pre-war apartment in New York," says Jon Schlagenhaft of Jon Schlagenhaft Design of Mequon. "The panels can go floor to ceiling or just part of the way down. They really add character to plain walls," he adds. The interior of the panel or the moldings can be painted a different color than the walls or finished with a glaze.

3. Gotcha Covered

If the idea of wallpaper makes you cringe, consider this: "Wallpaper has really changed since the ’70s and ’80s," Sheve says. "There are more graphic designs, more bold and bright colors and some with just a touch of metallic — not to mention cork and even snakeskin patterns," she says.

Putting up and taking down wallpaper — one of the biggest pains in redecorating — has even gotten easier, Sheve says. "Some wallpaper can go on and off almost like a Post-it® note. It has staying power, but will come down easily when you want it to."

4. Ceilings: The Fifth Wall

Make the ceiling the fifth wall of the room. Remember, walls can be one color or pattern, ceilings another. Create interest on often-forgotten upper walls and ceilings with bands of vibrant color or pieces of fabric, such as canopies and architectural embellishments. Ceiling panels draw the eye upward and create an interesting effect. "In a kids’ room, round, fabric covered acoustical disks mounted to the ceiling can control noise. And, fabric suspended from the ceiling, flowing over a bed can add intimacy," Sheve says.

5. Refresh With Color

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to revitalize a bland space. Work with colors that please you, says Schlagenhaft. "I avoid color trends, but what is popular now and really beautiful are subdued colors such as grayed out blue-greens and turquoise or browned out purple or violet. These colors are sophisticated and glamorous," he says. "If you’re nervous about how a color will look, many manufacturers are providing small paint samples that you can try out."

6. Design With An Accent

The use of accent colors can brighten up a plain room or add a cohesive feeling. Use an accent color in artwork, decorative pillows, throws or items such as ceramics or collectibles, Schlagenhaft suggests. But be frugal with the accent colors or you’ll risk losing the effect. "I would use no more than three accent colors in a room," he says.

7. Do-it-Yourself Art

One of the easiest ways to enliven walls is with artwork. Art used to belong only to those with plenty of money to spend, but not so these days. You can create your own striking works of art by purchasing inexpensive canvases and paints from arts and crafts stores, according to experts. Best of all, you can create artwork expressly to harmonize with your décor, using colors or patterns that coordinate with your furnishings.

8. Whimsy Is In

Give flight to your imagination with a little bit of whimsy, says Sheve. "Take something you love or treasure and weave it throughout various rooms, whether it is in wall coverings, window treatments, or whatever you like. I had one client who loved pineapples, which are the traditional symbol of greeting. We used it in various ways throughout her home. It doesn’t have to be obvious," she says. You can use this idea again and again, using other favorite items like musical instruments, a favorite flower or even animal prints. M