10 Tips For Creating Your Accent Wall

August 05, 2021

10 Tips For Creating Your Accent Wall

An accent wall can be an attractive design feature to your home. 

Accent wall in an apartment

Photo by Jean van der Meulen from Pexels

What Is an Accent Wall?

An accent wall is an interior or exterior wall that can have a different colour, shade, design or material from the other walls around it.

An accent wall should be the first thing you see when you enter a room. 

Depending on the layout of your room, it could be the largest wall, or perhaps the wall above the fireplace. Make sure the wall you select as your accent wall is free from light fittings and other distractions. 

You will need a decent amount of wall space to turn it into an accent piece.

Ready to start your accent wall? Then let’s walk through these tips.

#1 Find the ‘natural focal point'

Make sure you've selected the right statement-making accent wall.

Figure out where the natural focal point in the room is.

If you have a fireplace, for example, you can make it more dramatic by painting the wall [around it] in a different color.

For your bedroom, try painting the wall behind your headboard; accent walls also make fantastic backdrops for gallery walls and showstopper sofas.

#2 Choose the right accent wall

If your room has no obvious natural focal points, picking which wall to paint might seem like a challenge. 

In an oblong room, the best wall to accentuate is the farthest short (in width) wall.

Choosing a longer wall especially in a wide, skinny room will just make the space feel more cramped. You don't want the wall to be too big, or the finished project will look gaudy.

If you are still unsure the perfect accent wall should also have no windows or doors and be no more than one story tall.

Accent wall with pictures

Photo by LeeAnn Cline on Unsplash

#3 Select the Right Style

The simplest accent wall is one decorated with a different color or some decorative wallpaper. This works well in any home, whether it is a contemporary or period property. 

Use your main color as a starting point. For example, if your room is painted pale grey, you could use a deep turquoise as your accent color. Or, if you elect to hang wallpaper, look for a design to match the grey walls.

Try a few colors out for size. Purchase paint test pots and see how the colors look at different times of the day.

Create a mood board to try out different themes.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different paints. There is now a huge range of paints for interior walls, from metallic paints to suede-effect paint colors. These types of paint look great when used on an accent wall.

Are you feeling creative? Have a go at creating a design on your accent wall. Mask out horizontal or vertical lines using tape and paint eye-catching stripes or a geometrical design. You could even try making your own stencils using thick paper and a craft knife.

Another option for the artistically inclined is to paint a mural. You don't have to go full-on, but a simple design that's in keeping with the overall theme of the room will create a fun talking point for guests. 

Exercise your creativity and have a go with some acrylic paints. If you hate the result, you can always paint over it!

Picture walls are a fun way to create an accent wall. Photos are a popular starting point, but it's OK to hang an eclectic collection of artwork and prints. 

In fact, the more diverse your pictures, the better it will work. Mix and match frames. Include traditional wooden rectangular frames mixed with round picture frames and canvases. Large and small, old and modern.

Organize your pictures on the floor to finalize the best layout before you start banging picture hooks into the wall. Once you are happy with your design, you are good to go.

#4 Planning Your Colours

There are no hard and fast rules for which colors to use for accent walls but here's how to make the right choices:

Bold colors and accent walls can work but it's important to tie the color used on the wall to other small-scale, subtle elements of the room, such as a pattern within a vase, for example.  

This will also have the effect of making the contrast between your accent wall and the rest of your scheme less jarring, helping you to create a unified space.

Neutrals and accent walls are perfect if you are looking to zone a space subtly, such as an open plan kitchen diner. 

Even picking a color for your accent wall that's a tone or two darker or lighter than that of your other three walls can make an impact. Or, you can take the approach we've mentioned above, using black or dark brown or grey to create a neutral but dramatic contrast.

Textures and accent walls are often overlooked in their labelling – but they're important to factor in.

An exposed brick wall is an accent wall, as is a wall of bookshelves or art. Bear in mind that if you have a room with a wall that's busy with books or artwork, you're unlikely to need another accent wall in that space.

Think outside of the box when you are considering your new accent wall. You are not limited to simple wall paint covering the wall. 

Think about other ways to use paint color. Your accent wall may be perfect for stripes or for a specialty paint finish.

Metallics are powerful style statements for an accent wall.

But beware when picking paint: You don't want to go too bold when painting accent walls. To play it safe you may want to select a muted tone when painting accent walls

For some period of time accent walls were a bright glossy red, but that trend has now come and gone. The more popular trend is to have muted tones.

That doesn't mean you can't have some color, you can still have greens, blues, yellows, even lavender. But shying away from the bold statement-making colors is likely to keep you happier in the long run.

 If you're still finding your toned-down color too bland six months in, you can always go bolder. But we're going to bet you won't regret neutrality.

#5 Don't Forget About Texture

Texture is the surface quality of a material.  It refers to the quality of a surface as perceived directly by touch (tactile texture) or indirectly by the eye (visual texture).  

Texture may be defined broadly to include the visual properties of solidity, reflectivity, translucency and transparency.

Tactile texture is produced by the physical surface texture (the relief) of a material – a surface can feel smooth, soft, hard, rough, ridged, grainy or bumpy to the touch.  The play of light on the peaks and valleys of an innately textured surface creates highlights and shadows which enhance the visual texture.

Visual texture (sometimes called illusionary or simulated texture) can be produced by colour, or by pattern.  A particular surface can be made to appear quite different to the way it feels to the touch: smooth surfaces can have visual textures, small pattern can be ‘read’ as texture, and a faux finish can imitate other materials such as wood, brick, marble, silk or stone.

Just as you think about colour and pattern, also consider how you can mix textures in your room schemes. 

All surfaces have texture be they matt or shiny, coarse or fine, rough or smooth. If you are thinking of working with just one colour group it is particularly important to introduce different textures. 

Neutrals are ever popular, as they are so easy to live with and co-ordinate with other colours  well, but they can be rather dull unless different surface finishes are introduced.

To help you with texture think in terms of:

  • Light reflection: A carpet will reflect less light than a wooden floor
  • Visual & Tactile texture: By adding a glass top to a roughly hewn coffee table you will change the tactile texture whilst retaining the visual texture
  • Scale:  A sofa upholstered in a chunky cord is going to look very different to the same sofa upholstered in linen
  • Suitability: It may be great to have a sleek marble floor in a contemporary bathroom, but is it a practical choice?

One of the basic principles of using texture has to do with scale. Rough, coarse textures tend to make an object feel heavier, while smoother textures will make it feel lighter. 

Texture & Light

Texture can suggest temperature: smooth and shiny textures which reflect more light and give a cool impression; soft, raised textures, which absorb more light, convey a sense of warmth. 

Rooms we would describe as ‘cosy’ usually include lots of texture.

Texture adds interest to a scheme – especially monochromatic schemes – they change the way a room ‘feels’

Rough/Course textures

  • Reflect less light & therefore feel ‘warmer’
  • Give an object more ‘weight’
  • Feel more ‘rustic’

Smooth/Shiny textures

  • Reflect more light and so feel cooler
  • Make an object feel lighter
  • Feel more modern

There is more to accent walls than just paint. Have you considered stone or tile for your accent wall? 

Extensive shelving can also work as an accent wall in a room that lacks an architectural feature and storage. Your accent wall can also include a gallery of photos or artwork, or even a fabric-draped wall. 

A recent trend is the addition of a wall-mounted electric fireplace on an accent wall. 

The secret to accent walls is that they are the most flexible decorating secret weapon you can have. (The only rule for accent walls is that they accent a wall that's it.)

Blue Accent Wall

Photo by Huseyn Kamaladdin from Pexels

#6 Do Go for an Accent Wall in a Neutral Room

You should still consider an accent wall even if you're keeping your room neutral. 

Accent walls can work just as well in a neutral color, as a bright one. 

The initial idea of an accent wall conjures up visions of bright red or blue, but in a neutral color scheme , a dark brown wall is just as dramatic.

#7 Do Consider the Other Wall Colors

Take into account the color on your other walls. 

Most accent walls look best when they adjoin walls in a light to medium shade. 

Accent walls in an all-white room are stunning but tricky. The contrast of a bright accent wall against white walls can look very modern and even stark. 

Balance your strong accent wall color with neutral wall colors on the other walls. Your neutral walls can be gray, or greige, or beige, whatever works best with your accent color. 

If you do choose to accent a wall in a white room, soften the contrast with mid-tone accent colors to bridge the difference.

#8 Don't get too matchy-matchy

Sure, you want your wall to work with your color scheme but avoid matching too well. 

Don't pick the main color of your sofa choose the yellow in the pattern, or the blue of your accent pillows.

If you have a red couch, you should not paint a red accent wall. If you have a painting with a lot of blue, avoid blue for the wall. 

Instead, aim for a complementary color that will make that red couch or blue painting pop with bold contrast.

Accent wall with tv

#9 Make a transition space special with an accent wall

Hallways are often overlooked decoratively – whether entryways or upstairs corridors. 

Using a stand out paint color or wallpaper to decorate just one wall in the space can create the best of impressions – plus you can use decorative tricks to make more of their proportions.

How? A dark color at the end of a long, narrow corridor will make the space feel less elongated; a bold color on the back of the front door and the wall it sits in can be a quirky surprise; an architecturally characterless hallway can become bright and characterful with the use of a bold paint color or wallpaper.

#10 Accent walls: ideas to make yours high-functioning

Accent walls can be created with paint or wallpaper – with paint the handy quick fix that is often useful to try first – and wallpaper the more permanent option. 

Here's how to use accent walls to best effect.

Use an accent wall to zone a space

An application for the accent wall 'is to carve out a“purpose” for a portion of a room without having to put up any walls or get too creative with furniture.

Add contrast with an accent in a plain space

While we're huge fans of space-enhancing, light-reflecting white in decorating schemes, some rooms will be better off with an accent wall that can introduce a contrast.

For example black creates the most stark of contrasts, obviously, but it's also a wonderful complement to wood, really allowing its warmth to shine in comparison. 

Highlight an architectural feature with an accent wall

An accent wall needn't be a broad space – or even dominant within a room. And it definitely does not need to be the obvious wall to highlight or paint. 

However, if it's an architecturally interesting element of a room, why not draw attention to it?

Using paint to highlight an architectural feature like a fireplace, a special room shape, molding is a good idea.

An accent wall needn't be limited to walls, either. Painting built-ins as your “accent wall” helps to pull all the attention. Whether cabinets or bookcases, make sure to paint any wall bits that show up.

These tips will guide you with your planning so now you can go and start your new accent wall. 

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