Home improvement: 10 Ideas to dress your house walls (so it looks cool and modern)

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Hitting a wall when it comes to interior design ideas? Home decoration for comfort or maximum impact is easy with these 10 modern wall finishes. 

For someone with an eye for architecture and design, a wall – perhaps especially an interior wall – is not simply a structural element, a dividing line, an obstacle to be surmounted or a barrier to be crossed. If the facade of a house is your home's skin, consider an internal wall a crucial membrane, a canvas or a second skin, brimming with expressive possibilities. 

Whether you choose paint, wallpaper, an even more tangible material like textiles, wood or stone, or push your wall beyond the picture plane, treat your walls right and they'll keep you safe, secure and satisfied in return. Join us for a fly-on-the-wall tour of ten picture perfect palisades.  

Home improvement: 10 Ideas to dress your house walls (so it looks cool and modern) Shall we?

Climb the wall

Probably not a good idea if you have a resident cat, but the use of natural fibers or, in this instance, beautiful charcoal wickerwork lends immediate texture to an otherwise faceless surface, animated further by directional lighting. The addition of this handsome wooden box shelf in red pine breaks up the fine-grained rhythm of the wall covering, adds utility and catches and pools the subtle downlighting.

The walls have ears

If singing in the shower is one of your favorite pastimes, consider walling up your bathroom with tiles. Walls are often designed to be acoustically neutral, absorbing and muffling sound so your neighbors and the people in the next room aren't disturbed by your caterwauling. Such acoustic baffling is also usually intended to deaden reverb, reducing the amount of sonic vibration that's thrown back to you, making it possible to hear yourself think. However, if you like the sound of you own private karaoke, tiling's guaranteed to return an echo and average out those off-key notes, turning your tone-deaf troubadour into the auto-tuned three tenors. Plus, if properly grouted they're both attractive and waterproof for an electrically safe, steamy, shameless sing-a-long! 

Hit the deck

There's a famous scene in The Labyrinth in which David Bowie appears to waltz upside down and slantways through an M.C. Escher-esque maze of stairways and doors. This wooden wall covering is reminiscent of maritime decking and, when matched with wooden parquet flooring of a different cut and grain, can stimulate a gravity-defying moment of uncertainty as to which surface is floor or wall and vice versa. The effect is only accentuated by hanging a beach towel on the wall. A surefire winner if you're out to impress your guests, just be sure to polish your boat shoes as well as the floor – and don't forget to wax the wall!

Hit a brick wall

Gently does it! This roughshod internal wall uses natural rock for a country-rustic-chic drystone wall effect. Discreet lighting set into a narrow pebbled strip at the foot of the wall accentuates the texture of the irregular brickwork, an effect that's especially atmospheric when you want to set the mood at night, or simply guide your sleepwalking guests to the emergency exit!

Go to the wall with it

Marie Antoinette would have defended this elegant drawing room to the bitter end. If you're a fan of meringue, having cake and eating it, or simply the finery side of life, then go for a filigree-textured, cream-colored wallpaper like this one. Scale the baroque heights even further with a matching cut-glass crystal chandelier, wall-mounted imitation dual-gaslamp light fixtures, a chaise longue with rose-tinted pillows, and a carved wooden mantlepiece in ivory white that twins nicely with a wall-mounted portrait mirror. 

The fall of the wall

Yes, the wall in the contemporary world has all grown up and (almost) flown the nest. Interior landscaping is all the rage these days, with green-thumbed and eco-minded architects and urban designers extolling the virtues of greenscaped spaces at the domestic or city scale as a means for climate control, water retention (in the sense of saving water), and general environmental redemption. We just think it breaks up even the most sterile, white-cube modern interiors with a splash of something organic and… living; like when tree roots start to break up highways or seedlings take root in rubble. 

Hole in the wall

A well hung wall is a thing of beauty. So far we've seen textures, tiles and wall finishes that focus on the material of the wall itself. But of course a humble wall does a great job as a backdrop for something extra, something with a little more ostentation and pop than plain plane. A good, well-behaved wall is only too happy to be upstaged by a good, misbehaving piece of modern art, for example; or in this instance a piece of modern art evocative of Josef Albers in 3D crowded happily side by side with what appears to be a Marc-Chagall-meets-Pieter-Bruegel-at-medieval-village-block-party reproduction print. Either way, a wall-mounted mini exhibition curated by yours truly provides a portal through the wall to the world of the imagination, whether or not one welcomes such an invitation. 

Wallpaper trad

Get back to basics: roll up your sleeves, mix a bucket of glue and have fun wrestling with cumbersome rolls of good old-fashioned wallpaper. By all means, get Stuckist with a grin and get stuck in but watch for bubbles! You'll never see the end of them. Traditional wallpaper might be some DIY home renovators' nightmare, but that's why we've got the experts on hand to help and make sure you don't come unstuck in the process. The final result – if the job's done right – can be as powerful as an Isambard Brunel Kingdom invention and as subtle as a Victorian joke. 

Backs to the wall

Fancy a bit of Banksy in your drab apartment? A simple wall tattoo like this will fool people into thinking that you're a dab hand with a stencil and a spraycan in your spare time, just as long as you can stomach the subtle irony that the infinite reproducibility of so-called street art has meant that the vandalistic impact of such artistic gestures has been neutered at the very same time that these 'pieces' have become available to all and sundry. Democracy wins again, at least for interior design. 

Wall? What wall?

The 70s craze for photorealistic picture walls never died out, the resolution just got so good and/or your eyesight deteriorated so badly that you no longer noticed that you weren't in fact on safari or aloft with a flotilla of brightly colored balloons. Advances in digital printing have meant that the incredible, indulgent trompe l'oeil effects of mural-sized wall pictures are more affordable than ever, with an almost infinite variety of scenes and subjects to choose from. If you feel like chilling with men in tights without giving up the creature comforts of your IKEA lounge suite, then this forest glade is the photo wallpaper for you, your highness.

Home improvement: 10 Ideas to dress your house walls (so it looks cool and modern)