If you follow home design trends, you’ve probably noticed that accent walls have become very popular in recent years. From painting a wall to using wallpaper to trimming it out with wood, there are many options, and in most instances, you can do it yourself. Here are some tips for adding an accent wall in your home.

Where to Add the Accent Wall

There are no rules that specify which wall in a home should be the accent wall, in part because every home is different. However, there are some general rules and things to consider when selecting where to put an accent wall in your home:

  • Choose a wall that you want to stand out or grab attention. This is often the first wall that grabs your attention when you walk into a room. Common focal point walls are the ones behind beds, behind or across from sofas, and the vanity wall in bathrooms.
  • Look for other architectural details that you may want to highlight, such as a fireplace or built ins. An accent wall can help these stand out.
  • Choose walls that are symmetrical and don’t have any oddities that will be more apparent when you do an accent wall there. If there are slopes (including at the ceiling), windows of different sizes, or odd niches, it’s best to avoid that wall as an accent.
  • While you don’t necessarily need a solid wall free of windows, doors, and other interruptions, solid walls generally work best.
  • Consider furniture placement and its effects on the wall. If a wall is mostly hidden by furniture, artwork, accessories, and other items, there’s no reason to spend time and money on painting, wallpapering, or adding trim to it that will just be hidden.
  • Don’t forget the ceiling, which can add depth and dimension to any room. Depending on the room size and wall colors, light and dark colors can work wonders in heightening spaces or making larger ones feel more cozy.

Accent Wall Option 1: Paint

One of the easiest ways to add an accent wall is to paint it. You can do a solid color, geometric shapes, stripes, a mural, or any pattern that you like and think will look great. Much like which wall to use as the accent, there are no rules when it comes to how or what to paint, so choose something that fits you, your design style, and your home. Here are a few considerations and ideas to help with your paint accent wall:

  • Consider contrasting colors, i.e. a black wall in a room with white walls or a light wall in a room with dark walls. The easiest way to make an accent wall stand out is to contrast it with those around it.
  • Don’t be afraid to go bold and vibrant. You may not want to paint an entire room red, hot pink, yellow, or orange, but an accent wall is a great place to add bold, vibrant colors you love. One word of caution, though: Think about room use first. A bright yellow wall in a bedroom may not exactly be calming and relaxing. Consider using the bold colors in more active spaces, such as living rooms, kitchens, offices, and playrooms.
  • If you will be adding stripes, shapes, or patterns to the wall, be sure to carefully plan it out before you start painting. One great way to do this is to use painters tape to outline everything so you can see how the stripes, shapes, or patterns will look. You can also adjust to avoid awkward smaller areas created in the areas you get to last.
  • For stripes, shapes, and patterns, paint your background color (the lighter color of the stripes, the strips between patterns or shapes) first.
  • For stripes, shapes, and patterns, be careful when selecting colors. Put swatches together to ensure they will all coordinate well. Also, think about anything else that may be on that wall – whether it’s permanent things like a fireplace and its surround or artwork – and plan your colors around those items. If you will have a lot of colorful artwork on the wall, you may want to limit the number of colors you use and/or use more muted, complimentary shades.

Accent Wall Option 2: Wallpaper

Wallpaper has become popular again due in part to the improvements in quality, selection, and peel and stick options that make installation and removal much easier than the traditional paste-on wallpaper. Wallpaper is a great option if you are looking to add a pattern to your walls, be it florals, geometric, the look of brick or stone, or pretty much any other pattern you like. Here are a few considerations and ideas to help with a wallpaper accent wall:

  • Make sure your wall is prepped properly, you measure and mark wallpaper properly, you find a good starting point for installing wallpaper (it may not be the edge of the wall), and you take time and use care when installing. For tips on installing wallpaper like a pro, click here.
  • Make sure the colors in your wallpaper match the rest of your space. Consider the color of other walls, furniture, accessories, fireplace surrounds, and anything else in the room that has the potential to clash with the wallpaper.

Accent Wall Option 3: Wood Trim

Wood trimmed walls are probably one of the first you think of when you think of accent walls due to their popularity. And, they are popular for a reason: They look amazing and add a lot of style to a room. From panels and wainscoting to shiplap to board and batten to slat walls and more, there are endless options to add wood accent walls to your home. However, before you jump in, be aware that wood trimmed walls can be a challenge to do if you don’t have some basic skills and the proper tools. Here are a few considerations and ideas to help with a wood trim accent wall:

  • Before you get started nailing wood to the wall, make sure you have a plan to ensure your design looks uniform and does not have odd-sized or odd-shaped pieces.
  • Use painters tape to tape out patterns for panels, board and batten sections, or other designs you may be using before you start adding trim to the wall.
  • For shiplap or other more solid wood accent walls, measure materials and the wall not just to figure out how much you will need but also to get proper spacing and more universal sizing of pieces on the entire wall (you don’t want one tiny piece at the end of installation). This can also help you decide where to start the installation. If you need to have a couple of smaller pieces at the top and bottom of the wall, for example, you’ll want to start in the middle and work your way out.
  • If installing on a textured wall, consider adding a thin, smooth backer board first to give you a solid surface to work with.
  • Consider caulking seams where boards touch the wall to ensure there are no gaps. In particular, textured or uneven walls would benefit from caulking.
  • Take the time to properly fill any holes with wood fill and sand before painting.
  • Tools needed will vary depending on what type of wall you will be doing, but in general, you will need a measuring tape, nail gun, and a saw or saws (the type of which will depend on what type of install you are doing).

Other Ideas and Tips

Here are some other ideas for accent walls as well as some general tips:

  • Feel comfortable working with tile? A floor-to-ceiling tile accent wall is a great option for bathrooms.
  • Want a more simple way of creating an accent wall? Try a gallery wall using artwork, posters, or family photos.
  • Wall decals are a great alternative to wallpaper and are easier to install and swap out if your design tastes change often.
  • Floor-to-ceiling curtains can also act as an accent wall of sorts.
  • Accent walls don’t necessarily need to be large to have an impact. If you have a small nook or awkward space in a room, consider painting it a contrasting color.
  • While many of these methods can be done by homeowners, if you are uncertain about your skills or abilities to do something, it may be best to hire a professional.

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