Accent Walls Tips: The Essential Dos and Don'ts

sage accent wall in a living room

The Spruce / Michelle Becker 

Accent walls are alive and well in the decorating industry. These easy and stylish color accents will always be popular because of their flexibility. You have unlimited paint options for your accent wall, as well as other surfaces and materials. Even the location of your accent wall is purely personal. Your home is unique, so your accent wall should be just as special. Accent walls can be used in any room if you know the essential dos and don'ts.

What Is an Accent Wall?

An accent wall is an interior or exterior wall that can have a different color, shade, design or material from the other walls around it.


Click Play to Learn the Dos and Don'ts of Accent Walls

Do Think Beyond Solid Colors

maite granda accent wall bedroom

Maite Granda

Think outside of the box when you are considering your new accent wall. You are not limited to simple wall paint covering the wall. Think about other ways to use paint color. Your accent wall may be perfect for stripes or for a specialty paint finish. Metallic wall finishes are powerful style statements for an accent wall.

Don't Forget About Texture

There is more to accent walls than just paint. Have you considered stone or tile for your accent wall? Extensive shelving can also work as an accent wall in a room that lacks an architectural feature and storage. Your accent wall can also include a gallery of photos or artwork, or even a fabric-draped wall.

A recent trend is the addition of a wall-mounted electric fireplace on an accent wall. The secret to accent walls is that they are the most flexible decorating secret weapon you can have. (The only rule for accent walls is that they accent a wall—that's it.)

Do Go for an Accent Wall in a Neutral Room

You should still consider an accent wall even if you're keeping your room neutral. Accent walls can work just as well in a neutral color, as a bright one. The initial idea of an accent wall conjures up visions of bright red or blue, but in a neutral color scheme, a dark brown wall is just as dramatic.

Don't Shy Away from Bold Colors

house of harvee accent wall

HouseofHarvee / Instagram

As long as you have the right accents around the room to coordinate with your new color, you can choose whatever color makes you happy.

Do Consider the Other Wall Colors

Take into account the color on your other walls. Most accent walls look best when they adjoin walls in a light to medium shade. Accent walls in an all-white room are stunning but tricky. The contrast of a bright accent wall against white walls can look very modern and even stark. Balance your strong accent wall color with neutral wall colors on the other walls. Your neutral walls can be gray, or greige, or beige — whatever works best with your accent color.

If you do choose to accent a wall in a white room, soften the contrast with mid-tone accent colors to bridge the difference.

Don't Just Think About Walls

Think about other ways to use an accent wall. Have you considered the ceiling? A chic decorating trend is to add color to the ceiling. This ceiling color can be your accent wall. Accent ceilings can be created with soft colors or even vivid colors. White crown molding helps separate the wall color from the ceiling and creates a stylish look.

Do Choose the Right Wall

Home by Polly living room

Home By Polly

Be purposeful when picking your accent wall. Rooms without an architectural feature can benefit from an accent wall, especially one with texture. A wall of windows can also be your accent wall, but be mindful that a dark accent color surrounding windows can create a bright light effect and overwhelm the room.

Don't Forget About Wallpaper

Common wallpaper is a gorgeous choice for accent walls. The latest temporary wallpapers can give you a designer look without a long-term commitment. Look for wallpaper with pretty designs and colors for a chic style. For renters, temporary wallpaper is a clever way to personalize your home.