Form country or cottage style by pairing wood with muted greens.

How to Decorate a Wall With Vertical Planks

by Lorna Hordos

Vertical wall studs make running planks horizontally the simpler application; by strapping the wall horizontally, however, you can secure planks vertically. Now, you're left wondering how to decorate such a feature wall. The vertical lines created by the planks visually stretch the room’s height. Play into the visual illusion with the right furniture, decor and accessories that'll further stretch the space -- or bring a too-high ceiling back down.

1. Window Treatments That Work

A room with a low ceiling benefits from vertical elements, such as vertical blinds. White vinyl or fabric blinds blend well with light oak, ash or pine: Include white elements throughout for airiness. Steel blue, gray or cream slightly offsets weathered or reclaimed wood for an eclectic or urban-meets-country vibe. Blind cords, however, are a strangulation hazard and concern; if you have a baby or toddler, curtains with a vertical design or stripes provide the same elongating effect and are a safer option. If the ceiling is average height or taller, horizontally striped window treatments redirect the eye by creating an interesting distraction.

2. Furniture That Fits

Against a wall with vertical lines, the right furniture creates an optical illusion. For instance, a low-backed couch or low shelving unit makes a low wall seem taller. On the flip side, you can bring down a visually stretched tall wall by pushing a high-backed couch or tall bookcases against it. But also consider the room’s scale; the bulkier or beefier the furniture, the more visual weight or impact it has: Chunky furnishings in a tiny room appear like a flock of well-fed pigeons trying to squeeze into a robin’s nest. In a small room with a low ceiling, opt for svelte, low-profile furniture. Supple velvet seating offers softness against earthy, rough wood, while nubby tweed or aged-looking, rugged -- and easy to clean -- leather complements smoothly sanded planks.

3. Working With Artwork

Regardless of ceiling height, hang art at average eye level, or around 57 inches from the floor. Any higher and it’s lost; any lower, it’s overlooked. Again, think “vertical,” such as with long, tall pictures of looming silver-birch trees for the squat space, or a horizontally stretched ocean scene on a tall wall. As for the frames, metallic silver sparks off darker wood, while gleaming black stands out against lighter species.

4. When Wood Isn't Good

The look of natural wood isn't for everyone. By painting or staining the planks an unexpected blue, red or green, the wall takes on a more modern look. Neutral pale gray or white lessens wood's visual heaviness and helps create a cottagelike setting. Either way, the grain and lines will still show, so the "uplifting" vertical effect the planks have on the space remains the same.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images