How to Choose the Best Accent Wall

Accent walls are a great way to complement a theme or experiment with bolder décor. But how do you know which wall is the best choice for creating the look you want?

While there are no hard and fast rules, there are certain guidelines you can follow to help you choose an accent wall to create a room you love spending time in.

And with everyone staying home more these days, it’s well worth getting this right!

Selecting the best wall

The first step to creating an eye-catching accent wall is choosing the right wall. Make the wrong choice, and you’ll turn a great-looking room into one that feels off balance. 

No matter what wall you choose, make sure there’s a reason to draw attention to it.

Following are some tips to help you select the best accent wall for your room. 

Find the room’s natural focal point

A room’s focal point isn’t always the wall you see when you walk in. 

Pick a wall that you think is interesting or unique. Accent the fireplace wall, for example, when decorating a room with a fireplace. 

Whether it’s a built-in bookshelf, an unusual nook, wainscoting, or something else architecturally interesting, show off those features.

For example, the wall behind your headboard makes a good accent wall in a bedroom. In the living room, the wall behind a distinctive sofa, a dramatic piece of artwork, or another bold piece of furniture can be accented.

If the room lacks a focal point, create one 

Decide how you want to decorate the space and where you are going to put your furniture. You can then use those elements together with the accent wall as focal points in the room. 

Whenever you work with a brand new and empty space, keep in mind the accent wall will determine the color scheme to use throughout.

For example, you might want to showcase a collection of framed family photos against an accent wall. Gorgeous indoor plants make wonderful focal points as well, such as a beautiful jade or a collection of prickly pear cactus.

Solid walls with no windows or doors are best

Solid walls without openings, such as windows and doors, are ideal for accent walls. You may not want to accent a wall that has large, open windows that overlook beautiful scenery, as the accent color may distract rather than accentuate. 

Natural light may also alter how the paint color appears on the wall, turning that color you loved into a shade that doesn’t excite you.

Note, however, that this isn’t a hard and fast rule, so if you really want to accent the wall with windows or doors, just do it.

In an oblong room, choose the farthest short wall

If you have a long, skinny room, avoid accentuating either long wall. The accent color will make them seem even longer, making the room feel off-balance. 

By painting the farthest short wall, you will make the room appear more oblong. The overall result is a more proportionate vibe in your space.

Remember, however, that you’re the artist here. Feel free to avoid this advice if you have no interest in proportions or if you want to emphasize the length of a room. 

The choice is yours…

Look up

When you can’t find the right accent wall, consider the ceiling. 

A white ceiling makes a room appear larger, while a darker color makes a large bedroom seem cozier.

Picking the right color(s)

Make color work for you

For example, to make a short wall appear longer, you can paint the accent wall a cool shade, such as blue or green. Alternatively, choose an accent wall painted in a warm color to balance out the look of a long wall.

When painting your accent wall, don’t be afraid to go with a bold color. People often think that the color they choose for their accent walls should only be a few shades off, but unless your decor and other room accents clash, choose as bold a paint color as you like.

Accent walls don’t have to be painted a single color. Create stripes, chevrons, and other shapes. Bottom line, an accent wall can be a mural or a combination of colors.

Remember your decor

When choosing and designing your accent wall, don’t just think about paint. Consider what your wall and surrounding area might look like with pictures, artwork, and decor.

You can still create an accent wall even if you want your room to look neutral.  Consider using brown or tan as your accent color with neutral color schemes.

When using wallpaper or a mural as an accent wall, be sure that the colors and patterns match the rest of the room.

Muted vs bold

Be aware that muted colors will stand the test of time better than bold ones, so choose your color(s) carefully.

This is particularly true if the color you’re considering is a current trend. Trends are transient, so in the long run you may be happier choosing a more neutral color.

That said, if you really like bright purple or blue, consider going with a slightly muted shade to avoid the need to paint every year or two!

On the other hand, if it doesn’t bother you to paint more frequently, (when the trend moves on) choose the color(s) that you love!

Take the room’s purpose into consideration and the mood you wish to create 

Various colors carry different energies, and these energies can have a significant impact on some people. 

For example, if you paint a red accent wall in your bedroom, you might find it difficult to fall asleep, while a color such as cerulean blue, although vivid, may create a more calming atmosphere.

Vibrant colors like lime or chartreuse work well in a room where you want to create energy, such as a den or playroom. A calmer green, such as Seafoam green, might be more appropriate for a bathroom.

Color temperature also plays a role. A warm color like red or orange creates a different vibe from a cool color like green, blue, or purple.

Choose a color that is darker than the other walls in the room

Darker colors will pop against lighter walls, drawing attention straight to the focal point. 

As a general rule, paint the accent wall 2 shades darker than the rest of the walls. This is the easiest way to go if you don’t feel comfortable experimenting with color and placement.

While going with a lighter color for your accent wall is possible, it is riskier. The room may feel off balance or disorienting if the focal point in the room is lighter than the wall opposite it.

Don’t color coordinate everything in the room

Finally, your accent wall should not be the dominant color in your color scheme. There will be a lot of matching and nothing will stand out, making your accent wall seem uninspired! 

If you want the best results, choose a color that is in contrast to the dominant color in the room.

For example, if you’ve got navy blue upholstery and curtains, don’t paint your accent wall navy blue – all of that beautiful blue will blend into one big drab room!

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to experiment. There are so many color choices and decor options out there you never know when you’ll find your signature style!

For more tips on paint, check out these posts.

5 Believable Faux Painting Techniques

Epic DIY Wall Painting Ideas to Refresh Your Home

Tracking your Paint Colors in HomeZada