Dress your walls

Have a look around you. Are the walls of the room that you are sitting in bare or covered with pictures that you don’t like or just don’t seem to fit? We often go to great lengths to get the right furniture, the right ornaments, the right bedding, but we don’t give the same consideration to what we put on our walls.

Dressing a wall can be daunting. There are so many options and choices available these days and that in itself can be paralyzing. Often we are afraid to make a mistake, so we do nothing. A room, however, looks unfinished with bare walls and all your hard work and effort into choosing all your other furnishings won’t amount to much.

But where do you start? Well, consider the following questions:

    • Is there a dominant colour in the room that you want to carry through on the walls or do you want something on the wall that will “break up” the dominant colours of everything else in the room?
    • What “mood” do you want to create in the room? Certain images create movement, whilst others are more static.
    • Do you want an energetic feel to the room or something serene and peaceful?
    • What about a fun element? Some images can be quirky and pose questions to the viewer.

The best way for me to illustrate how an image can change the look and feeling of a room is with photographs.

This is the guest room in my house with one of my images printed onto canvas above the bed.

www.dorimoreno.com, images

My guest room


I wanted the room to be colourful without being over bearing. I also wanted to bring nature in, hence the colour palette and the landscape scene.

But what if I had brought in more orange to complement the lampshades? Have a look at these.

www.dorimoreno.com, daisies, Namaqualand, South Africa

A blanket of daisies covers the ground, Namaqualand, South Africa

The green and orange in this image complements the bedding and the lampshades very well.  One thing that does not work well for me with this image is how busy it makes the room look. The image “competes” too much with the bedding.

A better option may be this image.

Daisies, Namaqualand, South Africa, www.dorimoreno.com

The dominant serenity of the blue sky quietens things down

Whilst we are on the theme of matching colours, have a look at these three images.

sunrise, Port St Johns, www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa

Sunrise, Port St Johns, South Africa
This image dominates the room too much

Durban, www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa, paddlers

Paddlers, Durban, South Africa
There is too much contrast in colours between lampshades and image

www.dorimoreno.com, sunrise, South Africa

Bird at sunrise, South Africa
Although this is a tranquil image, the colours are too dominant

These images dominate the room too much and even though they are serene, tranquil images, the bright colour creates the opposite effect in the room. The yellow/ orange in these images is also a completely different shade to that of the lampshades creating too much of a contrast.

The image below of a baobab silhouette works better but, again, is too busy and competes with the pattern on the lampshades.

www.dorimoreno.com, baobab tree, South Africa

Baobab silhouette, South Africa
The pattern of the baobab branches competes with other patterns in the room


To create energy and movement in a room, images of animate things work well. Consider the images below.

www.dorimoreno.com, giraffe, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Giraffe walking, South Africa
The giraffe walking from left to right creates a sense of movement in and around the room

www.dorimoreno.com, elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Elephants, South Africa
The image of the elephants “extends” the room .

www.dorimoreno.com, zebra, wildlife, South Africa

Zebra, South Africa
The movement is in the tails and this has a more grounding effect.

From a colour palette point of view, these images all work well as they do not compete with other elements in the room and the images are visually strong enough to stand out and make a statement on their own.

The giraffe walking from left to right creates a sense of movement in and around the room, whilst the image of the elephants “extends” the room because the elephants are walking down a road that goes into the wall.

The image of the zebra has some movement to it but does not “take” you anywhere because they are standing still. The movement is in the tails and this has a more grounding effect.

www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa, buffalo, Kruger National Park

Buffalo, South Africa
There is no sense of movement because they are standing completely still

The buffalo image creates no sense of movement because they are standing completely still. Even though you know they are living creatures, the image is static.

www.dorimoreno.com, Namaqualand, South Africa

Namaqualand, South Africa
Movement is created by the road

The image above creates movement even though there are no living creatures in it. This is because the road visually takes you somewhere. This also creates a sense of mystery and adventure.

Choosing images with a lot of movement and a different colour palette can also work well. These images complement the room but stand out visually, creating energy.

www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa, Humpback whale

Humpback whale breaching, South Africa
A lot of energy is created by the movement of such a large creature

www.dorimoreno.com, waves, South Africa

Crashing waves, South Africa
Powerful wave movement creates energy


Dynamic energy can also be created by the angle the image was taken. Have a look at these:

www.dorimoreno.com, Clarens, South Africa

Clarens, South Africa
The slanted angle creates a dynamic energy

www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa, Langebaan

Langebaan, South Africa
The feeling created can be quite uncomfortable for many people

The slanted angle creates a dynamic energy because the viewer knows that this is not how it is supposed to be. Images like these are a very personal choice. The feeling created can be quite uncomfortable for many people.

Shapes and Signs

You may want to bring in signs or shapes into the room, which can be done in a “not obvious” way. This image of the giraffes standing with their necks crossed creates an X, which may subconsciously create perceptions of negativity.

Giraffe, www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa, Kruger National Park

Two giraffes stand with their necks intertwined
You may want to bring in signs or shapes into the room


The image of the windows are a quirky, fun way of bringing in a different element. The image asks more questions than it answers and as such may create too much of a busy mind-set for someone staying in your guest room. It may also feel like the space is too open or unsafe.

www.dorimoreno.com, South Africa

Windows, South Africa
The windows are a quirky, fun way of bringing in a different element

There are many other things to take into account too, such as, what medium to print on, how much to pay, where to source from and should you install yourself or have it professionally done.

These are questions which I will cover in further blogs which I will be writing in the weeks to come.

Hopefully by reading this blog you have a greater understanding of what to take into account when choosing to dress your walls. The choices are endless and your walls should be customized to your liking just as the rest of your house is.

All the images used for illustration purposes in this blog are taken by me. Feel free to visit www.dorimoreno.com for a large selection of images.  Other sites to consider are:




Many photographers offer their images for sale, so if you come across a site and see something that you like, drop them a mail. Chances are they will sell you their image.

Oh, and don’t forget the most important thing. And that is to have fun in the process of dressing up your walls!


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