Abigail Ahern has the secret to styling a controversial design feature

This 90s trend is among the most provocative in the industry – this is how to make it work in a contemporary home

Fairytale feature wall by Kit Kemp
(Image credit: Kit Kemp for Andrew Martin)

Feature walls – in all their bold patterns and audacious hues – are among the most debated design features in the interiors world. While they are often praised for expressive qualities, they are equally disregarded by experts who opt starkly against their vivid aesthetic. 

However, designer Abigail Ahern has interrupted all disputes – by not only supporting feature walls – but also sharing her secret that will bring your wall to life in the chicest way possible. 

Discussing her paper and painted wall ideas via her Instagram, Abigail revealed what you need to know before embracing the trend. 

Blue and red dining room with blue and white wallpaper and red ceiling

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

‘The design world can be very snooty about feature walls, but they can work,’ Abigial confesses. However, if you're going to embrace this nostalgic trend, the designer urges you to choose your colors carefully. 

‘Just ensure to introduce the same color as your feature wall in other areas throughout the room – for instance, some textiles or accessories.’ 

So, the key to this nineties revival involves a maintained color scheme – but how can you ensure your space feels less dated – and more modern maximalist? Sharing her modern decor ideas with Livingetc, Abigail reinforced what you need to remember – in terms of your feature wall – and your wider scheme. 

Red and black hallway with black stairs and wallpaper

(Image credit: Little Greene)

‘I would never have more than four colors in a room, which means I can mix anything with anything without it looking chaotic,’ she says. 

And while feature walls may be categorized as maximalist, the eclectic guru urges you to rewrite this label – and create a maximalist space with a limited color palette. 

'In the past, when people think of maximalism, they may think of bright and crazy colors that are over the top and are not grounding or restorative. This way of having a layered and maximalist home is about reducing the number of colors that you put in a room, and everything looks harmonious and sophisticated, and not chaotic.’ 

Modern and neutral Chelsea townhouse

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Has Abigail just given us permission to embrace this unexpected 90s revival? If anybody can rewrite conceptions surrounding interior design trends, it is Ms. Ahern. 

Megan Slack

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team.

Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US whilst studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site.

Megan currently lives in London, where she relocated from her hometown in Yorkshire. In her home, she experiments with interior design trends and draws inspiration from the home decor ideas she observes in her everyday work life. Her favorite pieces include her antique typewriter and her expansive collection of houseplants. When she isn’t writing, she is browsing London’s coffee shops and bookstores to add to her ever-growing library, taking over the open shelving in her apartment.