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Break Up Your Wall Space

Creat ing an inter-e sting décor entails more than just the items that you put into the room. The backdrop is just as important. If you’re on a budget, creating a dramatic setting by treating the walls in the room can make all the difference in the world.

I will be referring to the two wall spaces as “top and bottom half,” but really, the wall space should be broken up into a bottom one-third and a top two-thirds to ensure visual balance.


As you can see in the photo, dividing the wall space can completely change the look of a room. This treatment is particularly nice in a bathroom because it visually separates out the functional half of the room. This allows you to feature either the top or bottom of the walls depending upon your needs. For example, if your bathroom fixtures are a little dated you can bring the focus to the top portion of the wall with vibrant colour while downplaying the fixture area by using a finish or colour that will minimize the dated fixtures. On the other hand, if you’ve just spent a lot of money on new fixtures and want to showcase them, you can use a contrasting wall finish behind the fixtures to accomplish this.

The two wall spaces can be treated in many unique ways. This is another eye-catching feature of dividing the wall space. You can choose from an assortment of finishes to make one great space. My own bathroom wall space is divided with the bottom half being white-painted horizontal wood planks and the top half has been treated with everything from paint to wallpaper over the years. You can choose to treat either portion of the wall with tile, wainscotting, a textured wall finish, mirrors, panelling, wallpaper and/or paint.


By breaking up the surface to be treated you may be able to finally purchase high-end finishes because you’ll need less of them to complete your project. Sometimes you may find a deal on a gallon of mistinted paint or a few rolls of clearance wallpaper that normally wouldn’t be enough to complete an entire room. By splitting the wall surface you can take advantage of those bargains. I’ve changed the top portion of my bathroom walls over the years for less than $20 using clearance wallpaper and paint. The fact that you’re treating a small portion of the wall makes it easy to change the space without a huge investment in time or money.


You can break up the wall space in more ways than just top and bottom. Use decorative wood trim to create faux wall panels. Basically, you’re creating a series of empty picture frames and attaching them to the wall in a visually pleasing manner. This is a nice treatment for a bedroom or dining room. The panels can be made into whatever size and shape you desire which leaves room for your own creativity. Once applied, you can finish them in numerous ways. Paint the panels the same colour as the walls for a subtle look. Paint them in a contrasting colour to make them more of a feature. Create decorative inserts using a coordinating paint colour, fabric or wallpaper. In a dining room you could display your vintage plate collection by hanging one decorative plate in the middle of each panel. The possibilities are many.

Use paint to create geometric splashes of colour. A wide band of vibrant colour around the room can be used to highlight a gallery of photos or artwork, for instance. A wide vertical stripe of colour behind the bed can create a focal point to the room. In older homes with 10-foot ceilings a one-foot band of colour around the room at the top of the wall will add tons of personality to a kitchen, dining room or bedroom. I used this treatment in my kitchen and love it. You may even have enough leftover paint on hand right now that could be used to make a simple but dramatic change.

Walls are a great canvas on which many interesting treatments can be used. Don’t be afraid to mix things up a little. A small change can make a big difference.

– Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Winnipeg



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