Original Post Date: 3/30/14
**********This is a revised and re-post from three years ago. What’s weird is that it was exactly three years ago I published this article – down to the very day. I of course did not notice until I went to change the date to today’s date for republish. Haha. I guess you are meant to read this post!
How To Decorate Wall Niches has been one of my most visited blog posts, so I decided to update it a bit and re-post it. I was also getting quite a few requests from my Private Facebook Group members about tips for decorating their pesky little wall niches. So here goes!
Today we are talking about how to decorate wall niches. Some people love them, and well…..others hate them. There seems to be no neutral zone where this is concerned.
Most new construction homes here in the Katy/Houston area these days, almost always come with at least a couple of wall niches (also known as art niches and wall cutouts). In fact, home builders sell them as a special feature or an upgrade to the homes they build.
They are often found in the entry halls where there are really high ceilings, or in the living room above the fireplace as a place for the television. In some cases, these niches are a great feature for breaking up a large wall, or a very high wall. But there are those instances where these niches are more of an awkward nuisance, that baffle homeowners. The result is usually that they are left unadorned, or filled with a random arrangement of items that just don’t work.
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of these wall niches myself. Maybe because they are often just drywall cut-outs that are not embellished with moldings like they used to be in the past, or they are filled with random tchotchkes that just don’t work. It could be because they are usually so high up on a wall that you cannot really see and appreciate the art that is displayed in them.
In times past, they were beautifully curved, and finished off with wonderful moldings and casing and used for displaying sculptures and other art. Although these might be a bit formal for the way most people live today, the wall niches of today are the other extreme, with no real architectural purpose. They are simply wall cutouts.
If you have some of these wall niches in your home, and you have no idea what to do with them, I am here to give you some ideas and tips, which will hopefully help you transform them into beautiful, eye-catching features.
Here, we had enough room to add an entire entry way vignette. First we painted the back of the niche a bold teal, and then included my client’s Depression Era buffet side board, and a few styling items to make it stand out
Drywall Over Them
Not because the builder of your home thinks they are so special, it doesn’t mean you have to. If these niches don’t work for the way you live and decorate, cover them over with drywall and blend them into the existing wall space. That’s a better option than forcing them to work. You can then add art as usual
Give Them A Function
Instead of forcing them to be decorative, why not make your wall niches functional by adding some shelves and making them have a purpose. This one was not installed inside of a niche, but you can see that it could easily work. Not a lot of depth is needed to accommodate a rack full of decorative plates
Resist The Temptation Of Fake Trailing Ivy
Whatever you do, PLEASE DON’T do this! Do not add fake ivy, and/or tiny art pieces and objects that result in a cluttered mess. Instead, add some glass shelves with a great textured or patterned wallpaper as the back drop, and add some of your favorite treasures. You can add greenery of course, and they can be faux greenery, but be very selective here
Add A Beautiful Mural
This can get tacky fast, so be careful with this idea. If you have multiple wall niches all over your house, do not add murals all over. Murals are meant to be a special accent and would lose their value or special-ness if they are done every where. The picture below is a great example of a mural done in a wall niche above a fireplace. It became the room’s focal point and quite the conversation piece. My client named him Pierre 🙂
Add A Custom Accent Piece Made To Fit The Niche Exactly
I commissioned this custom laser cut wooden wall panel for a niche in my client’s hallway near the entry. As you can see, it fits perfectly in the space. I had it painted in white to almost blend in with the cool light gray color of the walls. That way, it will not stand out too much allowing the pattern to make the statement.
This are custom faux wrought iron piece I had commissioned to also fit exactly into this large niche.
Play Them Up
Instead of fighting the fact that you have these wall niches, why not play them up and make them a big impact in the room? This niche was turned into a bar area in this room. We added horizontal stripes to the back wall and then styled a bar vignette. Both beautiful and functional
Here in this mid century modern space, we turned this niche into a area to house the homeowner’s rock and geodes collection
Make It An Art Niche
Art is really a great way to style your niches. Be sure that they are not scaled too large or small. In the picture below, my client wanted to display a few of the fabulous landscapes that she owns. They were a bit small to work alone, so we used two and added a floral arrangement below. It is even better that the niche is lit to showcase the beautiful art
Add a few custom greenery and art pieces for interest and balance. Here the client already had the backside of the niches painted a deep brown. She also wanted to display these two framed rosette collages she already owned. Some greenery and candlesticks added the depth we needed to work with the stone fireplace
Make Them Bookcases
I have come across some deep gaping holes in clients living rooms that end up being the perfect place for a built-in bookcase or TV cabinet
In the picture below, the bookcase to the right of the fireplace was non-existent. We had it custom built and painted out the same color as the walls. We then added grasscloth wallpaper in the back and then styled them to perfection
This matching pair of bookcases was also large gaping holes on either side of the fireplace. We had these units built with storage below and open display areas above. We also wanted to tie in the niches above, so we painted them out and added a horizontal stripe detail. The petrified wood sculptures make them a great feature instead of forgotten wall cut-outs.
This bookcase was also non-existent when we first met with this couple. Now it looks like it was always a part of the living room
We also addressed the niche in the hallway that leads to the master bedroom in this project. My client wanted to display her art which she had painted years before. We painted out the niche the same color as her dining room beyond and proudly displayed her beautiful piece
Add Three Dimensional or Sculptural Pieces
Sculptural pieces with a sleek silhouette would look great on the ledge of a niche. Here are some examples
But you can also create a collage with 3 dimensional objects and colorful or whimsical plates
Here we used these animal portrait plates to create a collage on this wall. Clearly it is not a niche, but you can see how they could be used for that
I just love these iridescent porcelain wall flowers. I have to admit that I have used them on a few other projects
These green plates are also a favorite for niches
These wall “mushrooms” would also look great arranged randomly in a niche. Here we included them on a regular wall, but you can see how wonderful they would be grouped in a niche
It Is OK To Add A Vintage Mirror Or A Collage Of Mirrors
These vintage mirrors carry enough visual presence to really make a niche a wonderful focal point
For a whimsical touch, you can add a series of mirrors with different frame styles and even finishes. Notice that we have an actual niche to the right, which is painted an accent color with a favorite piece of art
Keep It Simple
My designer buddy Carla Aston with Designed w/Carla Aston, recently showcased this beautiful, clean and simple example of how to dress a niche. I think the simplicity speaks volumes
Image Via Carla Aston Designed w/Carla Aston
When In Doubt, Use Wallpaper
Although this was not a niche, can you image this beautiful metallic damask on cork wallpaper as the accent inside of a niche? I can 🙂
There you have it! Quite a few ideas of what to do with those awkward niches. So I am very curious to know, how many of you are the proud owners of wall niches? How have you decorated them? Were you at a loss as to what to do, or was it easy for you?
Please leave me a comment below.
If you are struggling with your wall niches, feel free to comment below with a question, or send me an email and I would be happy to help. You can also book a consultation here. We can help, even if you are not local to Houston
I am well aware that seems to be a big issue for homeowners, so don’t be overwhelmed! I promise I won’t judge 🙂
I hope you found some great ideas, tips and inspiration to addressing the great wall niche conundrum.
Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!