Hold on to your hats, things are about to get heated! Okay…maybe not heated, BUT it’s time to talk about accent walls. In or out? Dated or not? What’s the scoop? While I have seen (and done some of my own) a few accent walls (or focal walls) that really worked, I have seen just as many, if not more, that definitely do NOT! Many times, when accent walls don’t work it is because there is no real reason why they are being created. A big, bright color on a wall might sound exciting, but is there a reason why you are painting that particular wall? While I don’t think every single design choice in your home needs to be scrutinized and perfect, I also don’t think design decisions should be made “just because you can” or just because you have some extra paint laying around and feel like being daring. Here are some of my thoughts on when and where accent walls should be used and when they should not…


1. Enhance the Architecture in Your Space

One instance where accent walls work really well is to highlight architectural features in your home that you’d like to stand out. Here’s a way I have used an accent wall to highlight architecture in my own home. This protruding wall in our living room (previously a brick chimney that could not be salvaged…insert sad face here) creates the perfect spot for a striped focal or accent wall. I’m not a fan of artwork hanging above the TV so the striped wall highlights the architecture of the space while remaining less cluttered. Wrapping the stripes around the sides of the wall create a 3D effect and ended up being one of my favorite spots in the house!

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Another view…

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2. Add Depth to Your Space

A great way to make a space feel larger is by using an accent wall to enhance the visual depth of your room. Here’s a great example of how a contrasting wall color in this breakfast nook makes the space look larger. Rather than just a tiny white box, the dark grey wall makes this space appear much deeper than it actually is.


3. Frame & Define a Space

An accent wall can be a great wall to frame and define certain spaces you want to highlight in your room. By using different colors and/or different materials on a wall, it draws attention to that particular spot. In our bedroom, for example, we simply worked off of already existing wall materials to create an accent wall that really defines and frames the bed.accent wall

We called York PA interior painting contractors from Brushwork to paint the walls and ceiling of our 3rd floor loft bedroom grey in order to allow the angled ceiling to feel as tall as possible, but left the brick and stucco sections of the wall a crisp white in order to frame the bed space. We got some beautiful bed sheets from If we could have saved the exposed brick, believe me, we would have…but since we couldn’t, this bright white was the next best option.

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When Accent Walls DON’T Work…

So…what’s my opinion of a fatal focal wall flaw? (say that five times fast!) Without a doubt it is a wallpaper accent wall against a contrasting paint color. Take a look at this room…

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source unknown

The dark and patterned wallpaper against the bright contrasting yellow on the other walls is just too much for this little space. With so many contrasting colors right next to each other, this wallpaper really has no rhyme or reason in the space and leaves it all feeling a bit disjointed. I swear I have nothing against wallpaper, and a patterned accent wall can work really well sometimes, it just has to be done right! Here’s where I think it can work…

You can still create a patterned focal wall with wallpaper without making the space feel disjointed and busy. In this room, the wallpaper creates depth in the space (like we talked about above) but the colors carry through the entire visible area. If you want to use wallpaper to; create visual depth, frame a space, or highlight architecture in your own space, be sure to carry your color scheme throughout. Contrasting colors from wall to wall will take away from rather than enhance your room!
So, there we go. We made it through the accent wall debate! Woohoo! That wasn’t so bad. Now, what are you thoughts on accent walls? Are you in, or are you out?


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