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7 Eye-Catching Accent Wall Ideas to Try

OCTOBER 24, 2017

There are few design ideas more mystifying than the accent wall. Should you paint or wallpaper? How bold is too bold? And for starters, which wall in the room should steal the spotlight? If you're wondering how to choose an accent wall, you're not alone. To get you inspired and answer all your questions, we're sharing seven eye-catching ideas for accent walls—from feminine toile wallpaper in a kids room to rich charcoal in a master bedroom—as well as a little 101 on choosing an accent wall. Read on to learn how to master the illustrious accent wall.

How to Choose an Accent Wall

Found the perfect swatch of paint for your dream wall? Choosing the right wall for that color is the first step to an eye-catching accent wall. A poor choice could mean the difference between a room that “nails it” and a room that just seems off.

Whichever wall you choose, be confident there’s a reason to draw attention to it. In general, the right wall to accent is usually the first one that you see when you enter a room. However, given that many rooms have many entry points, that may not provide you surefire direction. Look for other architectural clues, such as a fireplace, built-in bookcases, architectural nooks, etc. that a certain wall is an intended focal point.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The wall should be symmetrical. Avoid walls that have a slope, windows of different sizes, or odd niches.

  • Look for a solid wall. Walls that don’t have interruptions (doors, windows, built-ins) are great contenders for an accent color, which can bring visual interest to the simplest of spaces. Common examples of these are the walls behind sofas and beds.

  • Consider existing furnishings. If a potential accent wall is already mainly concealed by other furnishings like art, floor lamps, tall furniture, or window treatments, painting an accent wall will be futile. Look for walls that are fairly open.

  • Use color to your advantage. If you want to make a particularly short wall seem longer, you can paint an accent wall in a cool hue like blue or green. Alternatively, you can make a long wall look more balanced by painting an accent wall in a warm hue (like red, orange, or yellow).


Accent Wall Ideas

Wallpaper a Nook

Photo by David Duncan Livingston, Design by Benjamin Dhong and Heydt Designs

Offering both color and pattern, wallpaper can have extra impact on an accent wall. Filling a small nook in a room with wallpaper can have maximum impact, no matter how narrow it is. Just make sure the nook is centered on the wall, or, paper two symmetrical nooks so it doesn’t seem random.

Rock the Staircase Wall

Photo by Patrick Cline, Design by Danielle Colding Design, Inc., via MyDomaine

The wall either above or a below a staircase is a prime destination for accent color or pattern. We love how this floral wallpaper is a bold focal point to enjoy from below, but painting an accent wall on the wall above your steps is also a foolproof idea that creates instant atmosphere.

Play With Scale

 Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor

Painting an accent wall is a great way to draw attention to a room’s height. If you have a small but tall room, try painting the wall behind the bed or sofa to exaggerate scale. Thanks to its purple accent wall, instead of looking diminutive, this bedroom has drama.

Float It

Photo by François Halard for Vogue

Since they’re inherently detached, floating walls and room dividers can almost always “do their own thing.” If you have a floating wall in your living room or in the entryway of your home, try painting it a contrasting color to make it stand out.

Tile It

Photo by Laure Joliet for Architectural Digest, Design by Decorist Celebrity Designer Brian Paquette

Instead of installing a simple low backsplash in a bathroom or kitchen, send your tile all the way up the wall to create an accent wall and eye-catching focal point. Whether you stick with solid colored tiles or get playful with patterned ceramic tiles, you’ll kick your kitchen or bath up a notch.

Go Faux (or Keep It Real)

Photo by Carlos Cortés for AD Spain

If you happen to live in a historic home with original paint—charming chips and all—you can resurface and paint out surrounding walls in bright white to modernize the space and create an accent wall. Otherwise, try a plaster finish on a single wall to give it that sophisticated look of yore.

Integrate Texture

 A more subtle option is to add texture to a single wall, either via a solid textured wallpaper or via architectural detail like lattice or molding. In this Decorist design project, a textured deep charcoal wallpaper looks almost like paint, but its subtle texture adds a bit of intrigue.

Ready for an accent wall?

If you still need a little guidance on how to choose an accent wall for a room in your home, or you want help with paint or wallpaper selection, Decorist's designers are ready and waiting. Have a quick question? Visit our Design Bar.

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