Do you need an Accent Wall? Take this Test

I am not an accent-wall-happy colourist. Personally I think they are mostly dated (from the 80’s & 90’s).

The minute I say this, I know I’ll get emails with questions starting with, ‘I know you don’t like accent walls, but what do you think. . . ?’

So I’m starting this post with a disclaimer; I don’t entirely dislike accent walls when they are tastefully done. There are times when I suggest them and times when they don’t work at all.

Here are 10 ways to know if an accent wall is right for your home:

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1. Are you decor challenged? Or is your decorating budget small?

At a colour consultation a few months ago I had a client say to me “I don’t have a big budget for decor so I would like some accent walls to bring in some extra punch and colour”.

If this is where you find yourself, then by all means, get the colour somewhere in your home cause it’ll make you happy 🙂

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2. Do you have children’s rooms to decorate?

I love choosing two colours (or even more, depending on the space) to go with the bedding or furniture in the room. Remember a kid’s room is their personal space where the rest of the house is yours so here’s where I ignore colour flow.

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Love the pink and coral in this room (above)!

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Here the gold accent wall (above) was repeated in the fancy dresser/change table!

3. Do you have a small character home with heavy molding everywhere (base and crown) small square rooms?

Then mostly I would say no. In this room below, the accent wall works because it’s a totally symmetrical room, and you can see that they’ve taken a paler shade of lavender and continued that along the rest of the walls.

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4. Do you have a contemporary or modern home?

If your answer is yes, than an accent wall on a focal point wall (below) could be completely appropriate and fabulous!

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5. Do you love wallpaper or stripes?

If you love it but don’t want to commit to an entire room, the focal point wall (below) is a great place for it!

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Just make sure you continue the background colour of the wallpaper on the surrounding walls! I really dislike the look of white walls with only one wall of colourful paper!

The walls in the room below (in my opinion) should have been painted in the greeny beige of the background to really finish this room properly.

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6. Do you have bookshelves or a niche to paint?

Accent colours can look fabulous inside them!

7. Does your dining room need to be defined by another colour?

If your dining room is simply on the other side of the living room, painting that wall (below) can be a great way to make a statement! (But only if it doesn’t have a window, if you have a 50’s house with an L shaped room – this doesn’t apply to you!).

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8. Do you have a stairwell that needs some life?

Here’s a way to do it, just make sure you paint the rest of the walls a colour that coordinates with the rest of your decor—personally I think the white is way too stark here (but of course I would say that :).

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9. Are you missing a headboard or have too much white [bedding] in your Bedroom?

Then an accent wall could be the way to create the feeling of drama and colour that you are looking for. Just don’t leave the other 3 walls out!

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10. Does your fireplace stone go right up to the ceiling?

If it does then don’t even think about painting that wall! It just cuts the colour in half and doesn’t look good!

Hopefully these guidelines (remember they are not rules which are meant to be broken) will help you when considering if an accent wall would work in your home!

We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous email consultation packages here.

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  1. Great Post and wonderful photos which will hopefully make it easier for any that are willing to try an accent wall.
    I am not a huge fan, but I knew I needed to have one in a dining room, the art was just floating on a neutral wall, it was screaming for drama. Come in chocolate base with a bark paper in a cut out circle design. It actually turned out better than expected. So, absolutely, in the right setting, they can make a huge impact. But, then again, you already knew that. Thanks again for such an informative post. It is always such a pleasure to read your blog. Happy Holidays. xo

  2. Material Girls- Emily

    I am asked that question constantly in paint consultations- how about an accent wall? I totally agree with you- not a big fan of them either. But I did do a wallpaper accent wall recently and it turned out really nice!

  3. I agree! Feature walls are misused way too often!
    How many times we painted them for clients only to come back in a month to paint them back in a main room colour.

    But from time to time you come across a great feature wall! If it used right it can be amazing!

  4. I am also not in favor of accent walls. I am painting my living room Kendall Gray from Benjamin Moore (a fairly dark gray). I want a seamless look so want to paint the fireplace also in the same color (all gray) and will use color in my furniture. Does anyone think this might not work?

  5. Thank you! I’ve been sitting here pullling my hair out wondering if the kid’s colors are “OK”. I am going to choose a neutral like this reply box here (look down readers) and do their color on another wall. I do like your theory – this is their room and just go with it… Thanks!

  6. Number six is the best example, and is the only one from this list I would ever specify to a client, or use in my own home. I can’t think of any reason to just paint one of the four walls in a different colour in the average room. In my opinion, it depends on the room size, and the architectural features. Recessed areas are the best candidates. I would also consider using the concept on a freestanding wall that separates two rooms, or on a wall that backs two entrances into the main room or hallway. Think about the typical stage set-up for a runway fashion presentation. The accent color is pushed back from the lines and contours of the walls in the foreground. This creates a certain depth to the room.