Accent Wall Rules: How to Paint an Accent Wall

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on April 19, 2020

Without commutes and social obligations (aside from Zoom calls), most of us may find we have extra time on our hands—so if you find yourself staring at the walls, why not make them fun to look at? Adding an accent wall is a fun and easy way to switch up your space without painting the entire thing or doing a furniture overhaul.

So what is an accent wall? It is one wall in a room which differs in style from the rest. It typically boasts a bolder color or patterned paint or wallpaper to stand out. Creating your own accent wall is pretty simple—getting started is the hardest part. We tapped our Creative & Design Lead, Heather Goerzen, to spill her accent wall secrets that will bring a pop of color and interest to your space. 

Here are her three rules to consider when painting an accent wall in your home.

When choosing a wall to accent, think a plain, clean slate without windows and doors—especially if you have a view—since the boldness can detract from the beautiful scenery. 

Accent walls are bold moves, but that doesn’t mean your entire style needs to be. “If you’re painting a bold accent wall, we recommend the remaining walls be kept neutral,” says Goerzen. “Adding another layer of design thoughtfulness—cooler accent colors should harmonize with similar cool tones on the surrounding walls, and the same for warmer tones.” 

To prevent clashing, matching the neutral undertones in the room to the undertones of the accent wall helps keep the peace. This prevents your living room from looking like an ’80s ski suit (unless you’re into that sort of thing—go crazy).

Keep in mind the color pallette of the entire room when choosing your accent wall color. “You want to keep the space balanced, bringing in pops of the accent wall into the furniture and decor, but not too matchy-matchy,” says Goerzen. “For example, an olive green wall could look amazing paired with neutral walls and a blush sofa, with touches of green and blush throughout the textiles or artwork. Or an ivory sofa could make for an elegant statement against a slate gray or black accent wall behind it.”

Play off the wall color with other accessories in your space, such as throw pillows, blankets, artwork, and even throw rugs. This is an easy way to invite harmony into the room so the accent wall doesn’t look too out of place.

Creating an accent wall is a lot about playing the field—minus the commitment. Painting or wallpapering just one wall makes it easy to switch up depending on your mood or shifting style. Try using peel-and-stick wallpaper in a sassy pattern for a temporary change-up. Flirt with different colors, fool around with styles. Have fun with your home, especially during a time you’re probably spending plenty of time in it. 

And don’t forget this bonus tip from Goerzen—“An often overlooked accent ‘wall’ is the ceiling. You can paint in a deep color or wallpaper for a unique and eye-catching effect.” Top off your room with some pretty paper or a bold color. You’ll be looking up with new appreciation for your space before you know it.

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Words by Avery Johnson