This particular question comes from my good friend, Sabrina. But I have been asked about accent walls on more than one occasion.
What are your thoughts on “accent” walls? Where should they be in a room? What generally works, and what doesn’t?
To be honest, I have a lot of thoughts on accent walls and my opinions may not be popular. But here we go!
When considering an accent wall, the most important question you should ask yourself is “What am I accenting?”. If the only thing to accent is that you do, indeed, have a wall there, then I don’t recommend an accent wall.
The purpose of an accent wall is to accent something beautiful! It can be for a variety of reasons…..a fireplace, a large art piece, architectural details of a home, a gallery wall…..the possibilities are many and varied! An accent wall must have substance and not just be a wall that’s a different color than the rest.
I do realize that a lot of people really get into accent walls. I’ve heard of homes that have a different accent wall in every room. Please remember though…..just because other people are doing it, doesn’t mean it should be done. Or that you should do it. Unless accent walls bring you profound joy. If the accent wall itself is a thing of beauty to you, then by all means….add accent walls. But from a designer’s perspective…..it needs to be a little more thought out.
I personally learn a lot from examples, so let’s have one shall we? Let’s say we have a large open room with a fireplace. When you walk into that room, it’s lovely but doesn’t necessarily have a focal point. It’s a common occurrence, especially in open concept floor plans. This is where we can put the accent wall to use. The room already has a fireplace and that’s a perfect detail to accent. In putting an accent wall around the fireplace, we give the room a focal point and can design our furniture plan to also accent the fireplace. It grounds the room and gives it focus and warmth.
In this example, the accent wall is wonderful because it is drawing our attention to a significant detail of the room. Now, in your imagination, remove the fireplace but leave the accent wall. As you walk into that room, your eyes are automatically drawn to that accent wall. But…there’s really nothing there. It’s just a wall that’s a different color than the rest of the room. It doesn’t really guide furniture placement. It’s just there. Does that accent wall still give the room focus and warmth? Or does it just make you think, “hmmm, there’s a big wall”?
The purpose of an accent wall is to draw the eye to that wall and bring your focus there. So, when deciding if you want an accent wall, you must determine if that wall will accent something beautiful in your home or accent the fact that you have a wall.
Now, let’s say you’ve decided that you definitely want an accent wall. With the preliminary question of “what do I want to accent” having been answered, that supplies you with the answer of which wall should be accented. Go with the wall that has a little somethin-somethin to show off. Or that will have something to show off, like an art piece, gallery wall, large windows with a spectacular view, etc.
The next decision you need to make is how you want it to be accented. And this decision can be a lot of fun! If you’re room is painted a neutral color, this can be the perfect place to bring in a bold color. For instance, imagine a room with light gray walls, dark hardwood flooring, a neutral sofa and rug and a lovely fireplace that would be perfect to have an accent wall around it. You love your room, but…it needs a little spicing up.
You also love poppies. Bright red-orange poppies. Paint your accent wall, or even a portion of the wall that accents the fireplace, a beautiful poppy red! Add some poppy red pillows to your sofa and a vase of poppies on the coffee table and you have just given your room an amazing make over that’s unique to your home and will fill you with joy every time you walk in that room.
Your accent wall shows off your fireplace and adds color to your room. It draws your eye to a beautiful focal point and gives a warm, cozy feeling to all who enter. Plus (and this is the most important part) it makes the room reflect you. It makes a house your home because it accents something you love….your fireplace and red poppies.
Some people prefer a more subtle approach to accent walls. If you’re painting your room a neutral color (for instance, light gray) you may opt to paint your accent wall the same color as the rest of the room, but a few shades darker. This is a beautiful way of adding an accent wall in your room without being quite so bold.
Using a neutral color for your accent wall is great, but if you do be sure it’s the same neutral in a different shade. If your room is painted in a warm gray, you don’t want to have a dark, cool gray accent wall. Or if your room is painted a cool gray, a dark beige wall would also be a bad idea. For accent walls pick a neutral a few shades darker than the rest of the walls or go bold with a fun color!For accent walls pick a neutral a few shades darker than the rest of the walls or go bold with a fun color! Click To Tweet
Another option to consider for an accent wall is painting a pattern on the wall. You could have one large stripe, many smaller stripes, chevron, polka dots, etc. Accenting can be done with color and pattern. There are even textural painting options to consider. There are lots of possibilities to add warmth, charm and personality to your home. Have fun with it!
P.S. Here are some tips for picking paint colors to make the accent wall journey a little easier.