wall to wall

May 7th 2013 Comments: 5 Topics: , , ,

Recently, I’ve written posts examining the important roles of ceilings and floors in the well appointed room.
Today, walls get their due spotlight.  The wall plane is by far the most beheld of all room elements (it’s is at eye level, after all).  Dressing the wall, however, can go far beyond the drab frock of sheetrock.  Here are some examples of where we took the concept of “wall paper” to whole new levels.
McAlpine Journal: Bohn Beach House
Inherently colored plasters (often called “Venetian plaster”) can add a rich, earthiness to a room. It’s surface is polished to a slightly reflective sheen and, since the color the integral to the material, does not require paint.

We like to use flush wood planking in relaxed, casual settings.  The nature of the material innately calls out to used for beach cottages, mountain shacks and lake cabins.  Whether painted (shown pictured, left) or stained, this masculine treatment almost makes you feel like you’re lounging in a cigar box.
Mention the word “library” and the mind conjures images of a dark, smoky, paneled gentleman’s room.  In this library, we desired that atmosphere but we wanted to try to create it in a completely different fashion.  We paneled the walls with tobacco colored fabric thus creating an upholstered sanctuary.  The sound quality in a quilted room is unlike all others;  a hush occurs almost immediately upon entering.
Heavy fabric provides excellent sound attenuation and lives well in screening rooms. This minute, two person TV lounge is enveloped in lush mohair drapery. Thick, heavy curtains were a staple in the cavernous volumes of old Hollywood movie houses. Why couldn’t they add equal drama in a little space?  Add a bit of gilt (as in the picture frames) and you’ve got a bit of Bijou right at home.
Often, when we do wood paneled walls, we use them sparingly;  they become a backdrop to vignettes.  Whether stained or painted, wood paneling can act as a beautiful foil to present staged compositions.
Most traditional wood paneling and wainscoting is of the raised or recessed variety.  In our office, we designed a wood wainscot with a fluted texture, like the face of an architectural column. Used in this fashion, this traditional surface method comes across as very modern.
To convey a mood or tell a story, we’ll often bring exterior materials inside. We wanted this breakfast room solarium to feel like an outdoor courtyard so the same rock veneer that clads the outside of this house was invited indoors.  A continuous copper water trough at the top of the focal wall creates an intentionally leaky feature.
In a penultimate case of wall adornment, we commissioned artist David Braly to create a mural for the walls in this Italian-inspired dining room. David employed an inspired graphite method that created a subtle, faded, tattoo-like environment.

I hope we’ve inspired you to look at walls in a different way.  Save them from the doldrums of the gypsum wall bored.

Greg Tankersley, for McAlpine Tankersley Architecture


  1. D2Zen says:

    Informative, engaging post, as always.

    I especially like the fluted wainscot in your office. Will you please give me a word or phrase to describe the round table in that pictured room? It is particularly graceful-looking therein.

    Thank you.

  2. As always a wonderful post. I find David Braley’s mural particularly engaging…

  3. @ShelleyCHolmes says:

    Amazing work…


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