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11 Wall Covering Ideas to Transform Your Home

venetian plaster wall covering ideas
(Image credit: Jim Stephenson )

Wall covering ideas might be late-stage choices, but they are one of the most important decisions for the day-to-day enjoyment of your home. The surface material you choose to finish your internal walls with sets the tone for the entire interior scheme of that room. Wall coverings have the power to affect all kinds of aspects of a space, from light levels to how big (or small) a room feels. They can also highlight certain architectural features and need to be chosen in accordance with the general ambience you want from the space. 

When considering wall covering ideas, most people will immediately think of either paint or wallpaper. These are both undoubtedly excellent choices, but it really can pay to explore some of the other options out there too — they could just elevate your house design ideas to the next level and create a home full of personality and character. 

1. Venetian Plaster Walls

venetian plaster finishes as a wall covering idea

This neglected apartment was stripped back and given a new lease of life — part of the challenge of the project, which was carried out by InsideOut, was how to blend the original plasterwork with the new venetian plasterwork. (Image credit: InsideOut)

Venetian plaster is a finish made up of plaster mixed with marble dust. It is applied to the walls in thin layers which are then burnished. This creates lots of texture and character and is ideal in contemporary and traditional homes alike. There are various techniques that can be used, including sgraffito and marmorino.

2. Upholstered Wall Panels

upholstered wall panels as a wall covering idea

Give your home a touch of glamour with upholstered walls such as these from Eshiet.Design (Image credit: Eshiet.Design)

Upholstered wall panels are a great way to inject a luxurious, opulent feel into the home. They work really well in bedrooms where they can double up as floor to ceiling headboards, but also look great in snugs and living areas where they increase the comfort factor. 

3. Plywood Walls

plywood walls as a wall covering idea

This extension and refurbishment project, by Bradley VanDerStraeten features exposed plywood walls throughout — many of which feature concealed storage.  (Image credit: French + Tye for BDVS Architects)

The trend for exposed plywood walls continues. Now frequently used in place of plasterboard, plywood not only looks fresh and contemporary, but it is also a really affordable option. Be sure to look out for FSC certified and low VOC plywood if you are considering this wall covering idea to ensure it's sustainable and the right choice for a healthy home.

(MORE: Building a Healthy Home? Try These Ideas) 

4. Textured Clay Walls

clay wall covering idea

The walls of this house have been finished with Clayworks Clay plasters. They use a unique blend of unfired clays mixed with minerals and pigments to provide healthy, breathable finishes for internal walls and ceilings. (Image credit: Lesley Lau )

Clay plasters are a fantastic wall covering for anyone looking for a way to add texture and a really unique depth of colour and tone to their walls. 

Clay plasters are also highly sustainable and healthy, being  recyclable, compostable and re-useable — plus many manufacturers, including Clayworks, produce mixes that contain no toxic ingredients or VOCs.

Finally, clay plaster also allow buildings to breathe and absorb toxins, odours and sound. 

5. Exposed Brick Walls

exposed brick walls

Exposed brick walls can really boost industrial style interiors such as this kitchen from deVOL. (Image credit: deVOL)

Exposed brick as a wall covering idea works really well for anyone keen to inject a sense of industrial chic to their home design.

If this is a look you are considering, be aware that it is always wise to seal the bricks and mortar with a suitable product — otherwise you could forever be finding brick dust over the floor. 

6. Feature Wallpaper Ideas

textured wallpaper as a wall covering idea

Crocodile Black Wallpaper from Graham & Brown costs £25 per 10m roll.  (Image credit: Graham & Brown)

In the world of wallpapers these days the sky really is the limit — with materials, textures and effects in abundance. From leather and velvet to animal print and timber effect. Some of the 3d patterns mimicking everything from timber to button back upholstery are shockingly convincing too. 

The best bit? They are easy to swap if you change your mind. 

7. Timber Effect Tiles

timber effect wall tiles

The Bricola Oak Wood Look Tiles from Direct Tile Warehouse are made from porcelain. £18.90/m2. (Image credit: Direct Tile Warehouse)

Both timber and stone effect wall tiles are extremely popular at present — and as a result they are getting evermore realistic. While some feel they lack the tactility of natural timber, they are less likely to need maintenance over time and are perfect in areas of high humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

8. Tongue and Groove Cladding

tongue and groove wall cladding

Fresh and simple, tongue and groove wall panelling makes the perfect subtle backdrop in this home — allowing the views of outside to take centre stage.  (Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Easy-to-fit on a DIY basis, inexpensive and ideal for creating a fresh, New England-style appeal — there are lots of reasons why simple tongue and groove wood panelling is so popular right now. 

You can buy packs of boards ready to cut to fit — if opting for softwood be sure to seal any knots in the wood before sanding, priming and painting. 

9. Textured Paint Techniques

textured paint finishes

This plaster paint effect was achieved using Chalk Paint from Annie Sloan, applied onto a base of wall paint using thick strips of cardboard that were dragged, wiped and scraped along the wall to build up layers of colour and tone. (Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Clear your mind of the dubious rag rolling techniques of the 1980s and focus instead of some of the newer textured paint effects currently doing the rounds. 

From those that conjure up the impression of Venetian plaster and clay walls, to those that mimic marble — these painting techniques are inexpensive yet effective and will really add character to your space. 

If you are keen to have a go but lacking in confidence, Annie Sloan offers workshops all over the country. 

10. Split Face Stone Walls

stone wall cladding

These Copper Split Face Tiles from Walls and Floors are made from natural slate and have an on-trend coppery tone. £44.95/m2. (Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Split face stone tiles make an eye-catching wall covering in any space, adding a rustic yet contemporary touch. You might choose to cover just one section of the wall, such as chimney breast, in split face stone — or fit them all over for a really striking finish. 

To make installation simpler, opt for those supplied on panels. 

11. Copper Wall Finishes

copper wallpaper

Shibui Copper wallpaper by Mind The Gap, available from Dowsing and Reynolds costs £175 for three rolls of wallpaper, each measuring 0.52m x 3m.  (Image credit: Dowsing and Reynolds)

From paper thin copper wall panels to wallpapers with a golden metallic coating, the copper trend is everywhere. Although it might seem a little daring for some, copper wall coverings will really inject a rich warmth and a homey sense to your interior scheme.  

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. She has renovated a terrace and is at the end of the DIY renovation and extension of her Edwardian cottage. She is now looking for her next project.