This is a post I’ve been thinking about for a long time, wondering… do I go there? It’s something that makes my stomach churn just thinking about it, but I’m going there folks. This is a post about the infamous and some what dreaded accent wall. Was it a thing of the 90’s? Is it for people who are just too afraid of committing to a color that they only put color on one wall, or is it a panic moment created by open floor plans and not knowing where to put the color on the walls? Either way, I’ve seen my fair share of bad accent walls… and keep getting repeat requests for the “one-wall-wonder.” So I’m going to go there… the good, the bad and the ugly, of the accent wall.
Now remember these are my opinions, and my opinions alone… but I believe that accent walls evolved from people’s fear of color, and it’s honestly an inexpensive solution. In the majority of cases of the “accent wall,” it’s truly unnecessary and makes a room feel lopsided. If you take an all neutral paint color and slap a bright red on one wall, guess what… thats going to be the first thing your going to notice when you walk into the room. Not your beautiful kitchen, not your thoughtful artwork, not your expensive rug. Nope, you will notice… and stare…at… a… WALL.
It’s so hard for me to find a not great example because no one wants to be the “bad” example. So I choose this photo. That orange wall is not working for me. I’m staring right at it, and I’m not noticing the other elements in the room. Just… that… orange… wall. Now, the reason I choose this room as an example is it was a makeover with two looks. The orange wall was not working, and the designer knew that, sooooooo
she switched it out. This pattern is much easier on the eye and blends in better with the wall color making less of a dramatic accent. In general don’t just pick any wall and make it into an accent wall for fear of not wanting to commit to a color or wallpaper. Let’s look at more examples that work and why they work, instead on trying to find “bad” examples.
The black accent wall. This works because black is a receding color. In fact the black wall isn’t even the accent wall, it’s framing out and bringing your attention to the fireplace. It’s also disguising the TV to the right of the fireplace. It works because the wall starts and stops at an inside corner, making a perfect delineation where to start and stop the color. (if you don’t know the difference between an inside and outside color this picture illustrates the difference)
Here the accent wall is on the fireplace wall. Fireplaces in general are focal points, and highlighting the wall where the fireplace resides works. Also this fireplace juts out of the wall, lending itself to an accent. I wouldn’t have painted that entire wall blue if the fireplace was flush to the wall.
This works perfectly as an accent because it’s a little niche built into the architecture. It frames out the beds. Just like the wall that jutted out of the fireplace, a recessed niche can be a place that lends to an accent. And the accent wall is framed by inside corners. (seeing a trend yet)
So those are some good tips if you decide you have to have an accent wall and don’t know what wall to accent. If your doing a bolder color stick to the focal wall. Just be sure the accented wall starts and stops with an inside corner. (this is even more important if you accent with wallpaper as it will most likely peel if you end at an outside corner) If you want to make a non-focal wall recede and create the illusion of a larger room paint the wall black, but again be sure it’s a wall that starts and stops with an inside corner.
If you find yourself painting an accent wall for the sake of having an accent wall STOP. If your architecture doesn’t lend itself to a particular wall, and your faced with an open floor plan, bring your accent colors in though other means. You don’t have to paint a wall to bring in tons of color.
This bedroom has grey walls, doesn’t lack color and doesn’t have an accent wall. In fact, drapery are a great alternative to an accent wall or patterned wallpaper. You can bring in bold moments of color or patterns with your window treatments, and because they frame out your windows, knowing where to put them is a no brainer. (knowing how to hang them however is tricky but I promise you that post is coming)
So folks put down those paint brushes, and know that not all color has to come into a room via the “one-wall-wonder.”