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Your Walls Are Your Canvas

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PAINT

There are many ways to change the look of a room without doing any major renovations. Here s a few ideas to get you started, then look around the house and

Like the two-toned paint treatment in the photo, there are thousands of potential colour and pattern combinations using simple paint techniques. Patterns like stripe, flocking, dry brushing and sponging are not as popular as they once were but they still have potential to create a dynamic space. In the past, it was fashionable to use these finishes on all of the walls in a room, which today, would seem a bit overdone. You can use any paint treatment in smaller sections to create a special effect. A paint technique used on an upper or lower portion of a divided wall will give your space texture and depth, for example. Create a focal point by creating a paint technique right on the wall and frame it as if it were an actual painting. This could be fun over a fireplace, at the head of the bed or in a dining room. Use an interesting paint treatment on a wooden staircase to mimic a carpeted stair runner. Paint a treatment on a wooden floor in a foyer to create a unique entryway. These are just a few ideas but you get the picture.

TEXTURAL FINISHES

Textured wall finishes require a bit more commitment because they are difficult to remove or change down the road. They can still create a great look in the right space. Those with minimal texture, like an orange-peel textured finish, can be changed down the road with less fuss. Finishes with a deeper texture, like a Tuscan plaster treatment, are a little more difficult to change. Decide ahead of time which type of a commitment is right for you.

WOOD OR PANELLING

Wood finishes can be a great look in the right setting. Again, consider using them on the lower half of a wall rather than the entire wall to add visual interest. Panelling, for instance, can be used to create a wainscotting effect. Don t forget that wood can be painted after installed so you can get the texture you want but can also have the colour and look you desire. Walls finished with wood or panelling could be painted soft white to create a rustic, cottage look, for example.

TRIM AND MOULDING

Adding decorative trim, moulding and motifs to your walls can add lots of character and charm. Note the intricate corner trim at the ceiling in the dining room photograph. The trim is highly ornate but because it s used as a decorative touch and is painted out in a neutral colour it is not overpowering. You can buy all sorts of decorative motifs which can be simply hot glued to the wall to add textural touches in a nonpermanent manner. Decorative millwork items like acorns or fleur-de-lis designs could add a touch of whimsy to any room. Affordable items like beads, old jewelry, wooden lettering, small mirror pieces or even children s game board pieces or small toys can be used in the same fashion.

WALLPAPER

Applying wallpaper is a fairly quick and non-permanent update that can drastically change the look of any room. The right pattern and colour can do wonders for a humdrum space. There are even peel-and- stick appliqus that don t require adhesive and can be removed in a flash. These can be fun in a child s room but there are designs for adults available too.

STONE AND BRICK

Of course if you want to create a permanent feature wall there is always the option of installing stone, brick or tile. There are many great products out there in composites or a mixture of stone and composite that mimic the real thing. These provide the look you want but don t require a stonemason and are not as heavy as the authentic item would be. When applying items like this to a wall you want to ensure that they will be secure so check out your options.

FABRIC AND TEXTILES

If you can t paint you can always use fabric to change the look of your walls. The right colour/ pattern/texture could help you create a stunning wall in the master bedroom. You don t necessarily have to cover the entire wall either. Just use great fabric strategically to get the look you desire. Look for sale items like bedsheets or drapes which already have finished edges so you don t have to sew. An heirloom quilt or clothing article (like a kimono) can be used in the same manner.

Every wall has the potential to be dynamic. Choose your finish and go for it.

Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Winnipeg

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