Wall Treatment Options for Your Home - dummies

Wall Treatment Options for Your Home

By Katharine Kaye McMillan, Patricia Hart McMillan

Choosing the materials to use on your walls involves practical, aesthetic, and budget considerations. Make a clear distinction between what you want and what you need, especially if you don’t necessarily need everything you want. For example, if your house is home to small children and pets, you need something more practical than a white rug.

For unity, plan adjoining rooms that are openly visible to each other as though they were one space. Treat them both positively (with the same backgrounds) or as negatives and positives (using a dark background and light furnishings in one and a light background and dark furnishings in the other). Use contrasting colors in adjoining spaces only if you want to create a sense of activity and movement.

Walls determine a room’s mood. You can choose from many different materials to cover your walls. Some popular choices include paint in plain or faux finishes, wall covering, and paneling.

If you’re having trouble choosing between these popular materials, remember that combining the materials is possible to provide the best solution and help you achieve your goals

With any style, period, or mood, keep in mind that texture plain or patterned and in any material not only adds tactile interest, it affects space in the following ways:

  • The lighter, smoother, and silkier the texture of all surfaces, the airier the space.

  • The rougher, coarser, and furrier the background textures, the smaller (and perhaps cozier) the room.

Texture is particularly important to neutral-color schemes, popular in Contemporary spaces and in conservative living rooms. If neutrals are your cup of tea, add excitement by adding rich texture.


Paint is an inexpensive source of color and a powerful mood maker. Use it as a versatile decorating tool to reshape a room. Other colorful materials — wall coverings, ceramic tile, and fabrics — may do the same job as paint, but at a higher cost for materials and labor. Painting a room has these advantages:

  • Painting is cheap.

  • Painting is easy.

  • Painting is fast.

  • Painting is impermanent.

Paint allows anyone to be daring with color. Why not make your rooms pop and come to life? You can even take this advice in open floor plans — just take extra care in selecting colors that look great together!


Wallcoverings are minor miracles of color and pattern. Don’t overlook textured textiles, skins (suede and other leathers), and other wallcoverings for neutral living room walls. Textured wallcoverings, such as suede, brocade, velvet, linen, burlap, and metallic, add richness and depth. Take a look at the following tips for decorating your living room with wallcoverings:

  • Marry Traditional colors and patterns (such as stripes) with Traditional furniture.

  • Try a small amount of handscreened wallcovering as an accent, if your budget doesn’t allow for an entire room done in this expensive material:

    • Consider adding the wallcovering as a border just above a wainscot (paneling below a chair rail molding).

    • Create small panels of paper and border them with decorative wood moldings.

    • Cover just one short wall.

  • Use textured wallcoverings with Contemporary furnishings. The more distinctively textured, the more dramatic the contrast, and thus the more powerful your decorating statement.


Today’s wood paneling is a far cry from the older luan paneling that made itself at home all across the country. Paneling adds richness to walls. And, while initial costs make paneling more expensive than paint or wallcoverings, in the long run, it proves a savvy solution for repairing damaged walls. You can nail paneling directly to the studs, saving time and labor. If you haven’t seen new paneling, take a look.