Painted feature walls are one thing; wallpaper feature walls quite another. Like paint, wallpaper can add drama to a room lacking in architectural detail. But it has even greater benefits, adding texture and character that paint often can't. There are, however, a few rules.

By definition, feature walls are strategic, designed to draw attention to a room's existing focal point. This means they work better on the same wall as a bed, fireplace or even a mounted television, particularly so when it comes to something as attention-grabbing as patterned wallpaper. Trying to make an alternate wall the feature will just make the room feel confused — the eye will flicker from one spot to another. While there are always exceptions, it can pay to avoid walls with doors or windows, and to forego accent walls in rooms that are already cluttered.

No matter how gorgeous the wallpaper, first ask yourself if it fits in with the rest of the room. Unless you are prepared to fork out for new furnishings, there's little point in falling in love if your choice includes colours that clash with your existing decor. And while wallpaper is relatively easy to replace (especially if originally hung by a professional), it's more fiddly and expensive than paint. Can you live with your decision for years?

Consider a feature wall carefully. Will it be enough to change the way you feel about the room? Feature walls aren't the "safe" option; sometimes wallpapering the entire room is best, especially if the space is small. But if you are after drama, consider a wall mural, or a singular image that covers the entire wall. Ranging from photorealistic prints to abstract or geometrical designs, wall murals — dramatic and subtle — can transform a room. They are also probably better matched to contemporary, rather than traditional, interiors. As a general rule, traditionally styled homes tend to suit more subtle, rather than contrasting, feature walls.

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It sounds obvious but a feature wall is a statement. It will shout, rather than subtly convey, your sense of style. If you are a person who avoids hats because people look at you, you may feel the same way about a bold feature wall once it's up. Contrast and bold designs create impact; toning shades and muted patterns can be more sophisticated.

Top tip

Feature walls haven't lost their appeal. But they have expanded, with wallpaper, murals and even materials such as tiles, stone and reclaimed wood, now joining paint.