Follow us on

How feature walls have evolved with meaning

History has a habit of repeating itself and the feature wall doesn’t escape this trend, albeit with some significant differences in accessibility brought about through technological innovation. 18th century aristocracy commissioned elaborate wall coverings at great expense to be proudly presented and admired by peers. Sadly, in recent decades, a feature or accent wall meant nothing more than a few rolls of bold wallpaper stuck on a wall to reinvigorate an interior, these times are long gone, and the feature wall is back with a vengeance.

The hospitality industry has seen seismic changes over the past decade with the whole experience of visiting a hotel or restaurant being just that: all about the “experience”. Consumers are more than ever willing to shell out life enhancing experiences and the industry once guilty of stacking them high and selling them cheap have refocussed on customer experience. Without fail, the whole industry is setting its stall to deliver unique atmosphere and character speaking to customer senses, from visual appearance, feelings, smells and personal interaction. Management ethos and vision have changed to address these challenges whilst interior designers made accountable for translating that dream into reality and one that is understood by clientele.

First impressions of a hotel are in the lobby area, once a fairly stark space guiding incoming residents to a highlighted reception desk, sound bouncing off the marble floor and walls: clean and functional but not welcoming and certainly not delivering a unique and relaxing experience. So, the journey of the feature wall in hotel design begins here, allowing the lobby to convey management vision and playing with senses. Whilst the reception desk is still a focal point, careful use of ambient lighting, highlights this central point of functionality without screaming “I’m here”. The open space of the lobby carefully and creatively segmented into intimate and social zones each with their own innovative yet linked characters, each space lending itself to different functions or moods. Acoustics are far superior with sounds muted through wall coverings and furniture, delicate fragrances from vaporisers enhance the sensual experience. Visually each space has its own character with guests being drawn to their favourite spaces and migrating to these to meet or work rather than retiring to the quieter confines of a room.

The journey continues with guest rooms another domain of the feature wall. Whilst the larger hotel chains may have little option but to pseudo-standardise the “feature” wall, they still deliver an experience far superior than that of a decade ago. Of course, boutique and high-end hotels take a completely different approach with each room having its own theme or personality. Returning customers become attached to individual rooms building brand loyalty whilst one-off visitors target specific rooms appealing to their own tastes.

Fortunately, the world is at a very different position than the 18th century when lavish wall coverings were hand printed or embroidered. Choices for hotel owners and designers are endless, what was unthinkable due to cost, is at the behest of designers at the click of a mouse.

Interior designers have a veritable smorgasbord of options to select from. Glass partitions adorned with an array of shelves can be used to delineate one zone from another without losing the feeling of space and openness. Exquisite Venetian plaster walls make a real statement, highly polished plaster or even cement are on trend and create a stunning display when subtly lighted.

Murals have become the new wallpaper; no longer does a mural need to be an artwork taking days, weeks or months, delivery is next day with advent of computer-generated images and one-off large-scale printing.

Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning wall panels: from reclaimed timber, perfectly aligned and symmetrical oak cladding to molten metal spayed textured panels. Interior designers have all the tools necessary to make each experience personal and truly unique.

Marie Soliman, Bergman Interiors

A hand-sculpted work which seems to crystallise a great rupturing: a spine-like tear in a lunar landscape, revealing a fluid core of bronze is the description of one of the feature walls we are using in the main villa in upcoming boutique hotel in Norway ~says Marie

We love working with artisan and artists who developed revolutionary products that allow us to dream and create using huge range of surfaces and materials including metals, Timber, glass, marquetry, plaster, plasterboard, glass, fibreglass, concrete and much more, sky is the limit.

Feature walls are art not walls!

Art is not a canvas anymore, it’s everything in a hotel space; it should be a state of the art especially feature walls.

It should bring interest to the space that has a powerful allure, impression, textures and infinite details and to tell a story.

Feature walls are not limited to the main walls in a lobby lounge but it’s a smart tool of how to divide the spaces and create a wonderful circulation that takes the guest through the design journey, a story unfold.

We are designing the Harrington hall hotel and using a layered beautiful screens of glass, burr shelving and fret work screens to divide the space visually without blocking the spaces with walls creating this atmospheric space, I can speak forever about feature walls. The ideas are indless.

Feature walls are gaining so much popularity not just in hotel world but in the residential sector too. It is beyond Just a bespoke piece, tailored not only around the aesthetic preferences of the individual who commissioned it, but their histories, passions, and personality as we have designed on for one of the Marylebone London based high end resi.

Features walls for me is as sexy as a good winged eyeliner!! Adds character, bit of mystery and lots of beauty.

Lauren Elliott, Lauren Elliot Designs

In a time where we understand and acknowledge that our feelings and well-being are of upmost importance, the demand on our surroundings and interiors has heightened, especially in hotel design. When we visit a hotel we want to experience so much, we want a home from home, but perhaps with an edge, we want to be inspired by an interior that we may not have in our day to day lives at home but have always secretly dreamed of!

There are so many tools to achieve this feeling from lighting, to a clever use of texture but one for sure is with the Feature Wall and believe me when I say the possibilities are absolutely endless. It could be a full panelled wall of aged mirrors, a fully shelved wall displaying curiosities, a simple design with a singular piece of abstract art, the list literally goes on. It speaks volumes without needing words, it can be the thing that people tell all their friends about or provide a moment for someone to be still and ponder over their thoughts.

And so my point being is that the Feature Wall should never be over-looked and instead seen as an opportunity.

Our first commercial installation – Langham, London

At River Bespoke we specialise in the creation of handcrafted bespoke feature walls from individual shelves. We’re all about simple, clean, elegant designs; living wall art that is ever-changeable as well as functional, adding interest to any space.

A commercial commission

To date we have focussed on residential installations, but we’ve always said our bespoke feature walls would work equally beautifully in a commercial context. And now we’ve been able to prove it thanks to a commission from the world renowned Palm Court, Langham Hotel, London.

Palm Court, if you’re not familiar, is famed as the place where the tradition of afternoon tea was born over 140 years ago. The bar is the impressive centre-piece of the hotel, an enchanting world of elegance and glamour entered through hand-crafted iron gates.

Bespoke commercial feature wall from River BespokeThe brief: A luxurious yet functional feature wall

The Langham wanted a unique and eye-catching backdrop for their champagne bar, that would look stunning but also work to provide much-needed storage and display capability for a busy, customer-facing area. We worked closely with the Langham Hotel team to design the layout, materials choices and finishing touches. With ambient lighting, wallpaper and antiqued mirrors, we have helped them to create a truly beautiful area to compliment the luxurious Palm Court. For more images view our gallery.


Bespoke feature wall created for the champagne bar in Palm Court, Langham Hotel, London - River Bespoke



The verdict: “A beautiful champagne bar that fits the bill perfectly”

“We have been wanting to update the bar in Palm Court for some time and were looking for something different and special, River Bespoke’s shelves fitted the bill perfectly. We now have a beautiful champagne bar completing the stunning Palm Court. River Bespoke were very easy to work with from the initial concept, design and renders to working with our team to install the shelves on the day. Fitting was easy and flawless. Thank you River Bespoke.

Karina Ellias – Director Food and Beverage

Bespoke shelving used to create stunning wall for bar area - River Bespoke

A word about the situation we find ourselves in

It’s going to be a quiet and difficult time for interior designers and bespoke furniture makers, but these times will pass, and the world will return to normal far better prepared than ever before. We can take this time to reflect on our interiors and be doing all we can to exit this isolation period with smarter redecorated houses and businesses.




Contact us for more information or to find out how we can help transform your home or commercial space with a bespoke feature wall made from stunning shelving.

E: [email protected] | T: 07572 868549


We are thrilled to have our first retail outlet Parker and Gibbs onboard. With their shop based in Chichester, they provide a full interior service in West Sussex through to London. Whether it’s paints and papers, curtains and blinds, throws and cushions to upholstery and decorating, they have the experience, expertise and hands-on approach to manage each project personally and professionally.

Always on the lookout for new products, Hannah saw our bespoke shelves and knew they would be perfect, unique and useable for so many of their clients.

“We were delighted to come across River Bespoke. Their beautifully handcrafted shelving offers a customisable feature wall solution that can be tailored to any project with their stunning range of finishes. From design to delivery, Katie & Tim made the process a breeze, providing a diagram for installation to make things even easier for us, resulting in a truly unique and eye catching display.”

At River Bespoke, we have our typical shelf design but if a client has other ideas then we can work with them to develop designs from simple sketches through to scaled drawings and 3D renders. We have a can-do attitude and love the challenge that comes with designing furniture. We love to utilise our creative skills and look at developing innovative solutions.

We are very excited about the relationship and really look forward to working with them.



We are always looking at new ways to customise our shelves and we have just received this test frame back from fabrication. What a beautiful and elegant piece and so useable with contemporary interiors, both commercial and residential.

Stainless steel offers a clean and sleek look. Interior Designers love the smooth, reflective nature of this material and like building it into their interiors because it can work well with so many different styles.

Why not talk to us about designing a feature wall for your interior.

Email us on: [email protected] or contact Katie at 07572 868549.


We are thrilled to have “Our story” featured on the Luxury Hospitality website this week. Find out about the faces behind River Bespoke, our background and what drives us.

We are working with Luxury Hospitality Magazine as they are a leading publication within the hospitality industry providing readers with up to date news, event details as well as keeping them updated with what is going on within the industry; new openings, new brand launches and design styles.

We are already working with an iconic London hotel looking at installing our shelves on either side of a glass partition wall creating a stunning feature in their reception area.

The shelves are so versatile and with the virtually limitless customisation options, can easily fit in with most interiors, commercial or residential.

If you would like to discuss how our bespoke shelves, or even a feature glass wall could work for you or one of your clients please contact us: [email protected]