One of the most important things about decorating your house is making the space feel like an extension of who you are. After all, your home needs to make you feel at home, right? So, you pick out furniture, lighting, and accessories that do just that. But what about your walls? Committing to a paint color for an entire room can be daunting, especially if you're considering a bold look. One way to dip your toes in is with an accent wall.
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What exactly is an accent wall? Basically, it is any vertical surface — either interior or exterior — that is a different color, design, or material from the rest of the walls. Adding a feature wall is not only a fun home decor idea, but it's also a smart design decision. Think about it — not only will the perfect accent wall act as a focal point in just about any room, but it can also ground a bright and airy setup or visually separate one area from another in an open layout. It can even create the illusion of a headboard in a bedroom or pull your focus to a picture window for some extra drama. It's not just about painting one wall a contrasting, solid color. You can play with patterns, textures, wallpaper, tile, or even a gallery wall full of artwork.
But the challenge is, which wall should get the royal treatment? Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision for you and your home.
How to Choose an Accent Wall
1. Select a prominent wall that already draws the eye.
When trying to decide which wall should be a focal wall, think about the function of the room. What area do you want to draw attention to? In the living room, that tends to be wherever the TV sits. It's a great way to provide a dramatic backdrop for binge-watching your favorite shows. Consider going with a dark accent wall color, like black or navy blue, that will allow your flatscreen to almost disappear completely.
2. Anchor the most important piece of furniture.
Got a lot of empty wall space? One way to anchor a design is with an accent wall. Take the soft green backdrop in this bedroom — while the large windows provide a lot of natural light, the muted, earthy shade adds a cozy element that feels like an extension of the lush landscape outside. The wood features and soft textures used throughout complete the warm and inviting scene. Pro tip: Stick with soothing shades or pastels where you sleep and bolder tones in the living and dining areas.
3. Add depth to a narrow room.
One quick and easy way to amp up the drama and add depth to any room is to incorporate the color black. Take this stylish setup that blends natural finishes and neutral textiles with an edgy accent wall. If left white, this bedroom design would work just fine. However, by throwing a little ebony paint into the mix, the space takes on a whole new elevated look and feel.
4. Visually define your space.
Many of us live in homes or apartments that have open floor plans or rooms that serve more than one function. For instance, if your abode doesn't have a dedicated entryway, create one with the help of an accent wall. Instead of paint, consider mounting wood slats to the wall and ceiling, as seen here, for a unique and textural finish that will add loads of visual interest. And if you really want to create a grand entrance, add a few planters, a bench, and some throw pillows to beautifully define your space and welcome guests.
5. Hide a doorway.
Live in a loft or a studio apartment? Sometimes large open spaces present unique challenges when it comes to decorating, which is part of the reason we love this accent wall from Joy of ThreeSixNine. Not only is the design inspiring, but it also happens to prove that with a little creativity, you can make the best of awkward layouts. Here, Joy was able to hide the door in plain sight with the help of a playful palette and artistic color blocking.
6. Highlight a specific area instead of the entire wall.
One important thing to remember when selecting an accent wall is that you don't actually have to use the entire wall to make a big impact. Perhaps you only want to draw attention to a specific area. In that case, follow the lead of Heena Gardner and highlight a small section. She chose a muted shade of olive green to complement her bookshelves and dress up a cozy corner. Have fun with it and paint a shape on your wall to give an otherwise plain wall a little extra flair.
7. Frame the window.
A window overlooking a picture-perfect view is the ideal accent wall idea for any homeowner. Not to mention, it's also the easiest way to bring the outdoors in. As demonstrated in this black-and-white bedroom color scheme, framing your window with a little wall paint all but guarantees that the idyllic scenery will get the attention it deserves. And bonus: You can add a whimsical touch to your space by echoing the lines of your home's unique architecture.
8. Make a fireplace your focal point.
If there's a fireplace or built-in bookcase in your home, consider turning this design feature into an accent wall. For example, we love the dark teal tone-on-tone treatment used on the fireplace and the wall behind it in this bright, light-filled bedroom. The dramatic focal point makes a powerful impact without weighing down the airy scheme and eliminates the need for much else on the home decor front.
9. Emphasize a nook.
Accent walls don't have to be gigantic in order to make a big impact. Take this forest green nook framed by damask-patterned wallpaper. The combination of a bold color and an eye-catching pattern can really up the drama factor and depth of any space. And the rich jewel tone of the adjacent ottoman is the perfect complement to this small but impactful alcove that's reminiscent of a sophisticated salon or speakeasy.
10. Create a grand backdrop for your dining table.
A dining area is an ideal place for an accent wall, especially if you have a long empty wall just waiting for a little special treatment. Think of the blank space as the backdrop to your tablescape, and use it to ground the entire room. In this setup, the wood paneling adds warmth and texture that beautifully complements the furniture and flooring. Complete the setup with a bold piece of wall art that's sure to be a conversation starter at your next dinner party.
Just a Few Things to Keep in Mind
When deciding which wall in your home to turn into an accent wall, it really comes down to one question: When I walk into a room, what's the first thing I want to see? Once you know the answer, the rest is easy. But before you make your final decision, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- Make sure the wall is one that will be visible and create an impact one way or another versus a surface that will be hidden.
- Try to select a paint color or material that will complement and enhance the rest of your decor.
- Consider the overall vibe you're trying to achieve. Do you want something that is bold and exciting? Dark and moody? Or warm and earthy?
- Do you want to use the entire wall? Don't forget that you can focus your efforts on a small section of the wall and still make an impact. Play with shapes and textures if you want to take it a step further.
- Instead of focusing only on the walls, consider highlighting architectural features, such as a fireplace, window, door, nook, or even a built-in bookcase.