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Accent Wall Ideas + Paint Tips

Looking for a new project? Try these accent wall ideas, each designed to refresh a space.

What Is an Accent Wall?

An accent wall is any wall in a home that is singled out, whether through a different paint color, wall art, wallpaper or structural beams. Accent walls are one of the simplest ways to make a space feel brand new, and they also allow you to infuse your personality. Make an accent wall as playful as you wish; choose a paint color that was a childhood favorite or a wallpaper print of flowers, stripes or polka dots! Other ideas for accent walls include wall-to-wall shelving (try layers of floating wall shelves, one on top of the other); scenic wall mural decals; and large tapestries or hanging quilts for a softer aesthetic. Finally, consider furniture; a grand, large buffet, desk with hutch or tall bookcase each make the walls behind them stand out (and can in and of themselves be considered as accent wall pieces).

1. Accent Room

If you’ve got the paint and paint brush, why stop at a single wall? Try two or three walls like the room shown here to blanket a room in color.

2. Art Up High

Once you’ve finished a new paint job, make it pop with a framed wall art piece. Canvas prints feature art for virtually every taste and interest, so whether you want your walls to showcase your motorcycle hobby or ocean scenery, wall art has got you covered.

Accent Wall Tip: Find the Right Wall. Before starting on a DIY accent wall project, you’ll need to choose the right wall. This should be one that’s already naturally featured in the room. Consider: a) a wall with the biggest furniture piece (such as a sofa or bed), b) the biggest or widest wall in a room, or c) a wall that naturally stands out due to a slant or arched ceiling edge.

What Color Accent Wall Goes with Grey?

If you have a grey sofa, grey rug or grey headboard, the best kind of paint color to match for an accent wall will be anything that pops. Turquoise, teal, yellow, pink, red, orange and blue all contrast against the subtle neutral and make a statement.

Accent Wall Tip: Create a Vision Board. Psst – have you heard about vision boards? Whether you’re working on an accent wall, vacation wardrobe or birthday celebration, vision boards help you know your vision and bring it to life. Try an online website host like Pinterest and get started keeping your favorite images. Anything and everything that inspires you (no matter if it has to do with the current project) belongs on a vision board. (Does a blue unicorn make you smile? Add it to the vision board. In some shape or another, it will come back and influence your accent wall or other project, even if just by helping you narrow down a blue color!)

3. Wood Panel Accent Walls

An accent wall usually means a painted wall, but wood panels can also fit the definition. Overlay panels are an easy and affordable purchase and can truly transform the look of a room. As opposed to paint, they’re more rustic, warm and natural, so if that’s your vibe, go with panels!

4. Simple Blue Accent Wall

Finally, painting just one simple wall in a shade you love is the perfect antidote to a tired room. Take home paint samples before buying a can and paint just a small area as a test before beginning. When you’re done, match accessories to the new paint color. Try a complementing bedspread, throw blanket, throw pillow or window curtains.

Accent Wall Tip: Go Darker. An accent wall is often not going to be the only painted wall in your room. If all your walls are already painted (albeit in a neutral, subtle wall color), work this to your advantage by painting one of them over – in a darker shade from the rest. A popular example in modern homes? Three light grey walls + one charcoal wall.

Painting an Accent Wall

Painting is the most popular way to make a wall as accent, but it also requires a few prior steps. Make sure the wall you choose is in good condition – without evidence of forming cracks. (If a crack is starting to form, fill it or patch it before painting.) Make sure the wall is clean; run a clean rag over it to trap attached dirt or grease. Light sanding may also be a good idea, to ensure you’re getting the stubborn particles and that you’ll have a clean, flat surface to work with come paint time. Finally, mark all edges of the wall with painter’s tape; line each edge carefully so that the tape is straight and covers the molding. Then, throw on a shirt you don’t mind getting “artsy,” and let the painting begin!

Accent Wall Tip: Add Lighting. After all the hard work you’ll have put into a new accent wall, you’ll want to showcase it! Install wall sconces on either side of the wall. At night, turn them on – and enjoy how the light splays across the color to make it more prominent. Other lighting designs to complement an accent wall can include hanging pendants, chandeliers, floor lamps and string lights. And during the day, remember to throw back the shades!

Accent Wall Ideas

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