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What to do with a partial wall

Addressing an unusual situation can be a fun prospect when planning your decorating projects. A unique space may seem daunting at first but by its very nature, can open up many design possibilities.

One such dilemma is how to decorate a partial wall. Partial walls are common in open-concept homes or can even be the result of a renovation. Whatever the root of the cause, the partial wall can seem somewhat of a conundrum depending upon its location, dimensions and relation to the rest of the room.

The feature photograph addresses this very problem. The partial wall at the bottom of the stairway was no doubt a solid wall at some point. A solid wall at the bottom of the stairs would, no doubt, have resulted in a dark, confined landing to the staircase. As well, the stairwell would have been somewhat disjointed from the rest of the home because of this separation.

Most people would consider removing the wall altogether to open up the space, however, then one has to deal with patching floors and ceilings. Even considering turning the wall into a half-wall would still require ceiling work. So what could you do in this case?

The photograph shows how creating a large opening in the centre of the wall allows light to flow through the wall and provides visual lightness and flow. This idea provides a great solution because not only does it open up the space, it allows the lovely crown moulding and baseboards at the top and bottom of the wall to be retained.

Once the wall is opened up, painting it in a feature colour provides a focus to the space. The large vase of flowers is dramatic, though not necessarily functional if you have pets or kids, as it could easily be toppled. So, another idea is to install a glass panel, whether textured, clear or sandblasted glass, which would provide a lovely detail while making the space more user friendly. You could also forgo the glass and simply hang a painting, stained glass panel or other decorative item inside the wall opening. If you need a place to display a small art collection, install large shelves inside the opening to show it off. If the opening is near a natural light source, you could install glass shelves to display plants. You may even be able to have a custom, vertical fish tank made to fit. Some hanging pendant lights at varying heights or a slim, long chandelier are other ideas.

A partial wall may very well house electrical or plumbing so be cognizant of this before you take a sledge hammer to it. If this is a factor, you may be able to work around it by opening up a smaller section of the wall, like a window opening. This idea will allow wall space for a small desk or table beneath the opening, which can come in handy in an entryway situation.

If a wall can’t be opened, the area could be lightened up by installing a large mirror on both sides of the wall. You could still paint a rich colour on the wall behind the large mirrors as an accent colour.

Partial walls are a great place for unique finishes like brick, stone, textured paint or wood. Because the project covers a small space, you may be able to splurge on something like marble or granite tiles. You could even consider something really unusual like covering it in a faux suede or leather fabric or even textured metal sheeting. Because it’s a small project, you can change it frequently when using non-permanent finishes like wallpaper, paint or fabric.

Something that is currently an obstacle could end up being a real asset to your home. Think about the possibilities for your partial wall dilemma then take the plunge.

About the author


Connie Oliver is an interior designer from Gimli, Manitoba.

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