If Walls Could Talk…

If you’re stepping through your front door to your abode, you should be feeling what you’re wanting to feel! Invoke peace, positive energy or a space that’s popping with colourful pride. Anlo Neethling, interior designer and director of ONE Design + Development shows us how to create visually striking (and personal) walls within our homes.

Here a few design elements, materials and appealing options to create jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring wall treatments, no matter your personal taste and home interior aesthetic.


One of my personal favourite wall treatments. The availability of designs, variety of textures (the paper), installation methods, local designs, international design and range of cost. It can range from being affordable to extremely high-end designer pieces. There are even options for gold foil embossed designs!

There are endless possibilities with creating a custom designed wallpaper. Anything from designing a unique pattern to enlarging an existing photo or print. In a previous project, we created a small piece of art with oil paints, scanned and enlarged it to ultimately produce a custom wallpaper print.  

  • Make sure you have a highly experienced installer, especially with an elaborate pattern or design
  • If you have a tighter budget or you are scared of commitment, one can combine a dado rail and paint the section underneath the dado, with wallpaper placed above the painted section
  • When brave, select the boldest colour in the wallpaper, if not so brave, select a more subtle colour

In one of our favourite projects, we printed a bold custom designed pattern on wallpaper vinyl, stretched the vinyl over a large timber frame (which is 2100mm in height x 1400mm width). This was extremely cost-effective, bold, highly visually impactful and ‘commitment-friendly’. You could easily change it in a season or two with a new trend and it won’t break the bank. 

The cooler months ahead

Don’t get stuck with the traditional warmer tones, try using alternative warmer tones like: 

  • Current popular trending colours like terracotta, dirty pinks, burgundy and even a warmer white and warm creams
  • To balance the warm tones, as a contrast, I like to use cooler tones with the warm feature wall colour through secondary pieces in an interior
  • For the bedroom – cooler tones for headboards and scatter cushions
  • For the lounge or living room – accessorise with cooler tones in the loungearea with art and scatter cushions

For a quick, easy Saturday DIY project, divide the walls into three evenly divided spaces. 

Paint the bottom third in a feature colour of your choice, hang some art so that the art is positioned over the newly painted area and neutral colour. 

  • To add warmth to a room or feature wall, look into using timber. Either slats, solid boards or when on a budget, look at ‘weet-bix boards’ commonly referred to as ‘chipboard’ or OSB (orientated strand board). It’s cost-effective and perfect to use in a rental property
  • Look into using a warmer tone paint (still neutral) but opt to use a textured foam paint roller, this will add texture and depth to wall. Monotone, but with texture
  • Smokey, eggplant colour for warmth is trendy and all the rage

Materials and finishes to feature walls

  • Green walls – from a couple of pot plants fixed to a wall to an entire wall of greenery, creates a luscious feature wall
  • Alternative materials (as seen in House Colley) – we incorporated 80mm PVC downpipes, cut in half, attached to a cleat system and fitted to the lounge wall, the 3 doors were installed afterwards to match up perfectly with the cladding, this created a modern and seamless interior, painted with a matte paint after installation
  • One of my all-time favourites, decorative mouldings – I have used this material in modern to very traditional interiors. We love using a variety of profiles and sizes. Installed in either a traditional pattern, or to push the boundaries and create a modern and new approach. 
  • Love the usage cork – as a feature wall, especially with creating a warmer mid-century interior. It adlso works extremely well in a kid’s bedroom or office
  • Tiles – not only for a kitchen or bathroom! Using tiles to create a feature wall can be very effective, especially with the vast array of handmade tiles produced in South Africa. For the brave, combine extraordinary tile with a bold wallpaper
  • Craving an industrial or even a traditional farm house feel? There’s nothing better to use than exposed brick. Do note to make sure that the bricks are sealed afterwards, this will enhance the lifespan of the wall and reduce the collection of dust
  • Stone – stay away from man-made stone or stone effect. The current trend is slate tile installed in its natural form, very much inspired by the retro 50s 
  • Everybody loves a timber cladded wall – it can get very expensive extremely quick. Use a vinyl-timber flooring plank, it’s 25% of the cost and you would be able to have it installed in a couple of hours
  • Padding – a dramatic headboard for your bed can span from wall to wall or floor to ceiling, creating an entire padded wall 
  • Plaster art – adds texture, warmth and movement to walls, cost-effective and can be done in an afternoon
  • Mirror – from the standard to smokey grey, rose golds or any tinted variations of colour, this will add depth and increase the perceived space to a room. Go ahead and hang some art on the mirror wall 

Feature wall through repetition or collection 

Create a feature wall through the repetition of an object through collection. 

A feature wall made up out of a collection of beautifully crafted plates, collection of photographs, and personally trinkets.  

Install a couple of floating shelves, add all your found treasures, instant feature wall, oh, and you can change the objet on a daily basis. 

Trends in feature walls 

  • When you have the privilege to renovate or construct a new home, look into creating an expansive wall of glass looking onto a manicured garden or courtyard garden. Alternatively, have a glass window splashback in your kitchen looking onto a garden or planter box
  • Local, local, local – source locally printed wallpaper, stone from surrounding areas or even locally and sustainably grown timber. Use local installers and reduce your homes carbon footprint as much as possible
  • Mix organic shapes with geometric ones
  • Go with the flow and have fun with different shapes when painting—a circle here, an arch there, you name it! The final design will be full of personality and totally one of a kind
  • Walls will transport us to faraway lands filled with leafy palms and safari animals easily achieved through a custom printed wallpaper  
  • Marble and terrazzo – when you have the opportunity to create a feature wall from the actual material or printed wallpaper versions, this trend will last for at least 5-10 years
  • Don’t be afraid to continue your feature wall onto the ceiling, continue the wall colour on to the ceiling. For the brave, continue the wallpaper from wall to ceiling

There are a plethora or endless design aesthetics and materials to add to your home’s interior.

Have fun with curating an experience that will leave an impression on house guests, family and friends, but ultimately represents you and the atmosphere you wish to create.  

ONE Design + Development

Anlo Neethling

Interior designer