Feature walls

Feature walls, as Marc Worner highlights, can create a true sense of style and distinction.

A feature wall can help break up a big space so as to make a cosy nook, frame a large backyard or draw the eye to other interesting aspects of a landscape. It can also be used effectively to anchor a garden design around a specific theme.

Outdoor feature walls should both complement and contrast with other walls outdoors. Try to be more creative and make it more three dimensional than an indoor feature wall.

Reflect a moment

As usual, design is a critical element to good outcomes, so trying to add continuity with the inside of the house is a high priority. To create a sense of continuity and flow between the exterior and interior designs, try using the same materials, textures or colours used on any internal feature walls and floors. If no features exist, you’re only limited by your imagination and your clients’ budget.

Depending on the look you want to achieve or what is already in place, consider which finish will work best for your feature wall – from urban raw concrete to horizontal timber slats, a green wall, textured wall tiles, corrugated steel, brick, Hebel or paintwork.

Living walls

Inset an outdoor fireplace in a wall of the entertainment area and surround it with wood to ceiling height. Playing on its fireplace setting, you can create an outdoor feature wall which is dramatic. As an added bonus, your clients won’t have to go far for firewood.

Let’s say your customers live in an apartment or townhouse and want to add more plants to their home; think about installing a green-wall feature. Living walls come in all types of designs and many are sold as complete packages, ready for installation, using the plants of your choice.

If the green-wall effect has to happen where it’s unlikely plants will thrive; think about using artificial plants which require next to no maintenance and always look good. Remember though, like artificial turf, you get what you pay for!

TIP: For large or multiple green walls, give serious consideration to sub-contracting out this mini project to a specialist company and save your team for other jobs that they do better and protect your financial bottom line.

An outdoor fireplace can create an outdoor feature wall which is dramatic. Image: BlazingDesigns/Stock.adobe.com

Looking good

Painting is another cost-effective way to create your feature wall.

Choose the colour based on the effect you want to achieve. Australia’s climate is both harsh and diverse, so it’s generally preferable to use lighter colours or reflective finishes to reduce heat absorption. For instance, a warm yellow gives a space the Mediterranean feel.

Turn one bland wall into feature wall with a functional spot for seating and shelter. Built-in seating is practical and can double as storage. It can also be used to visually section off different areas. Adding a roof means your owners can enjoy the fresh air whether it’s sunny or raining.

Try dressing up a wall with a designer screen in metal or heavy-duty plastic that come in a myriad of designs from the major hardware chains. Simply attach it to an existing wall or set posts in position and create a feature wall to shield the household garbage or car parking.

More recently, the humble retaining wall has often been turned into a feature wall of using the Gabion technique. That is, a selection of rocks of different sizes encased in open-weave galvanised metal cages. It is an ideal way to retain the ground, add usable space while achieving good drainage, and the look is quite industrial. Construction is labour intensive though, because you select both big and smaller rocks and insert them in place according to the heights and widths of your wall.

Built from natural stones, stacked-stone cladding comes in various shades, adding a warm ambience to the space. Image: Brad Pict/Stock.adobe.com

Timber

Horizontal timber slats are a contemporary alternative to standard timber paling fences. They’re a great way to inject natural elements into the urban setting and a simple way to warm up a concrete or rendered space and again section off unsightly areas like garbage storage.

Distressed Oregon timber panels are great for renovating an undercover entertaining area. One example is to use whitewashed timber – which lightens the wood – while the distressed technique allows the natural grain to show through. It’s ideal for beachy, country or industrial design.

Northern Rivers Timber (northernriverstimber.com.au) offers reclaimed Oregon boards that come predominantly from milled down ceiling trusses, floor joists and posts and beams. It slices them up, wire brushes them, and attaches them to a ply backing board for easy installation. They are soft, light and display a wide variety of timber grain, and are supplied in planks pre-attached and offset to charcoal painted backing.

TIP: Straight lines make the most of a garden’s minimalist aesthetic and play up to its symmetry.

One idea a lot of landscape designers are incorporating in their external areas is using timber-look tiles for feature walls. Timber cladding is so popular at the moment, however, it can be quite painful to look after over the years. The use of timber-look tiles in feature walls helps create an ambiance of warmth with timber, without the hassle and maintenance headaches of the real thing. The Tile Wizards in Queensland, NSW and South Australia are very supportive of the landscape industry.

The design results using timber for a feature wall are endless depending on the look you want to achieve. It might be a geometric pattern to achieve an art deco feel to an otherwise modern space.

With a barn-like feel, rustic style timber gives any space an instantly lived-in feel. Timber from old fence palings is also cheap to source and easy to install, making this a highly economical option.

Inset an outdoor fireplace in a wall of the entertainment area and surround it with wood to ceiling height. Playing on its fireplace setting, you can create an outdoor feature wall which is dramatic. As an added bonus, your clients won’t have to go far for firewood.

Polishing and lacquering wood adds warmth and a slightly elegant feel.

Curved timber walls are breathtaking. The ultimate combination of form and function, this might be the most interesting way to use timber cladding.

Horizontal timber slats are a great way to inject natural elements into the urban setting. Image: TheWaterMeloonProjec/Stock.adobe.com

Masonry

Stacked stones are widely used to decorate walls, fireplaces, pillars, and water features. Built from natural stones, stacked-stone cladding comes in various shades, ranging from red to brown to grey, adding a warm ambiance to the space. This design element is being increasingly used near the entry door to homes. Stone tiles, though, are generally one of the more expensive options. However, if you opt for tiles a maximum of 20mm thick, you can easily attach them to external brick, Besser or concrete walls. Simply stack and stagger the natural stone panels and they’ll adhere to each other like tiles. They are actually stone veneers so there is not the weight factor of solid stone.

With the variety of colour and texture available, bricks are also a versatile material to use for a feature wall, and the natural variation in brick can add a one-of-a-kind look. Brick is weatherproof, low maintenance and will last a lifetime.

Stacked stones are widely used to decorate walls, fireplaces, pillars, and water features. Image: knelson20/Stock.adobe.com

Metal

Corrugated steel is an ever-popular cladding option for contemporary homes. It is composed of sheets of hot-dip galvanised mild steel, cold-rolled to produce a linear corrugated pattern. It’s versatile, lightweight, weatherproof, fireproof and available in a range of colours. It’s quick and easy to install, and despite being a non-renewable resource, steel is also 100 per cent recyclable, making it a smart choice for anyone building sustainable homes on a budget or wanting the industrial look for their landscape.

Steel is 100 per cent recyclable, making it a smart choice for anyone building sustainable homes on a budget or wanting the industrial look for their landscape. Image: TheWaterMeloonProjec/Stock.adobe.com

Hebel

Hebel is a lightweight, precast, foam concrete building material that simultaneously provides structure, insulation, fire and mould resistance. Products include blocks, wall and cladding panels.

One of its advantages in construction is its quick and easy installation, because the material can be routed, sanded or cut to size on site using standard carbon steel power tools. Transport costs of large loads is low because of its light weight.

Hebel can be coated with stucco, plaster compound or cement rendered to guard against the elements or covered with brick or vinyl.

TIP: To really shine a spotlight on new feature walls, install external lights to create the perfect frame for customers’ features at all hours. Lights do wonders for texture and dimension. Let the light wash down it and create a stunning look.

Think about it

So, the next time your customers are looking for bright ideas to add a comfort zone with ambience, utilise wasted space or dress up dull spots, you can offer to transform their outdoor living area without breaking the bank, in a short time, with little disturbance to their household – by adding exceptional feature walls.

 

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