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Accent Walls: A Cheap and Easy Home Makeover

Updated on October 3, 2011
A bold accent wall in this second floor apartment's entry stairway sets a lively tone
A bold accent wall in this second floor apartment's entry stairway sets a lively tone | Source
Any wall with a fireplace is a natural for a bold, accent color
Any wall with a fireplace is a natural for a bold, accent color | Source
Try painting the wall behind a bed a different color from the rest of the room.
Try painting the wall behind a bed a different color from the rest of the room. | Source

Room Renewal in a can of paint

Does your decorating style feel a little tired? Could your home use a refresh? Do you want to dabble in color, but mistrust your ability to use color well? Would you like to redecorate, but don't have the time or money for a full home décor makeover?

If the answer is "yes" for any one of these scenarios, then it may be time for you to paint yourself an accent wall.

Accent walls are a fantastic weapon in any home decorator's arsenal. An accent wall can create a focal point in a room, it can subdivide large open spaces, and it can create an entirely new look without forcing you to go out and buy all new furniture.

There are many benefits to an accent wall, if you want to redecorate.

  • It is a quick fix; it takes only a few hours to add an accent wall to a room in your house.
  • Painting an accent wall is a cheap upgrade to your home décor.
  • Even if you think you don't have a good eye for decorating or if you are not a very handy person, it is incredibly easy to paint an accent wall; this is one home improvement chore you can do all by yourself.
  • And perhaps best of all, because the effects are reversible with just a little white paint, even renters can customize their apartments by painting an accent wall.

Any room of the house can be perfect for an accent wall. In a living room, consider a wall with a fireplace, a wall with a TV or entertainment center or a wall with built in bookcases. In a bedroom, the obvious choice is the wall behind the bed. Painting one wall in a foyer or entryway can create a bold look in an otherwise traditional home. And a single accent wall also provides a striking backdrop to a favorite, oversized piece of artwork.

A wall in a foyer is a fine place for a splash of color
A wall in a foyer is a fine place for a splash of color

How to paint an accent wall

It's really easy to paint an accent wall; you can add a big dose of color to a room in just a few hours. Here's all you have to do:

  1. Choose the wall you want to paint
  2. Use blue painters tape or masking tape to create edges so you don't accidentally get paint on the moldings, ceiling or another wall
  3. Prime the wall with paint primer. If you are using a bold paint color, a coat of primer will make the color look better, and also will save you from having to apply more than two coats of paint
  4. Apply paint with a roller brush, perhaps using a bristled paint brush for corners and more delicate areas. Apply a second coat of paint if needed, or else just touch up the areas where the color is a little thin
  5. Allow paint to dry for a few hours before you remove the painters tape.

Good colors for an accent wall

I believe that if you really love a color, then go ahead and use it as an accent wall (or even as the color for an entire room!) How a color makes you feel is the single most important consideration when you prepare to bring color into your home.

There are, however, other things to think about other than how much you love chartreuse. (And yes, I did once paint a bedroom wall a vivid chartreuse green. It was so bright and vibrant, it always made me smile.)

  • Among the topics to consider when painting a room are:
  • What is the function of the room? If it is a formal living room, for example, do you want a bubble gum pink? Will tangerine orange interfere with digestion if you use it in a dining room?
  • What is the prevailing color scheme in a room? Unless you are planning a top to bottom redecoration, it's a good idea to stick with colors that complement the furniture, art and accessories that you already have.
  • What other rooms will be able to see the accent wall? Does the color you choose work with the décor in those other rooms?

Beyond those basic considerations, there are no hard and fast rules about what colors to use.

Here are colors that I think are great for accent walls: eggplant or plum; dark red; a deep orange; dark grey; black. Use your imagination and have confidence to go for it. Painting a single wall is so easy, and can do so much to transform a room!


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    • s.carver profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from San Francisco

      That's what I have at home. I love it. Good luck!

    • PiaC profile image


      7 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I'm about to paint the wall above my fireplace dark charcoal gray to contrast with the gray blue of the rest of the room. Thanks for the tips!

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      7 years ago from Winnipeg

      Great ideas on how to easily transform your home, one room at a time. Painting is so easy and can make such a difference. I have also tried tinted plaster, makes a real old world look, very warm feeling. Thanks for sharing your great hub!

    • s.carver profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, lyjo. Sounds like an awesome room!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome ideas, I have a friend that painted their ceiling a muted, dull, kind of mauve/purple...everything else is white in the room, except the couch, which is a deep charcoal grey...and most of the accent colours(cushions,accessories...) are the same muted,dull mauve/ looks awesome...great decorating ideas...take care!

    • s.carver profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks, Simone. I also love that look, making one wall or part of a room a darker shade of the same color. Another look I love but haven't tried, in part because I'm worried about the paint-in-the-eye physics of it, is painting the ceiling a bold color. Growing up, we had a library with a red ceiling that was so cool.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      What a fabulous decorating idea! I did something a bit less pronounced with my living room, painting my fireplace and mantlepiece slightly darker shades to make them pop out, and it really added dimension to the room. Obviously accent walls do that with even greater efficacy. Great Hub!


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