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Tricking the Eye: Accent Walls & How to Use Them

Choosing the Right Wall and Color

Can you remember the last time you re-decorated your bedroom? Does the idea of doing a full-room remodel exhaust you? Accent walls, one wall painted a different color than the others, are a great way to revive a languishing room, liven up the space and even change the apparent size of the room. If you have a room that’s an unusual shape, or one that’s particularly small, you may feel that you can’t use strong or bright colors, but by using an accent wall and careful consideration, you can effectively use colors that would overpower a room when used on all four walls.

Warm colors bring the wall closer to the viewer’s eye and can help make your space seem smaller. While this seems like something you wouldn’t want, if you have a room that is long and narrow this could be a valuable design technique. By painting one of the end walls with a warm color – orange, yellow, or red –you can re-balance the space, making it feel more like a room and less like a corridor.

Cool colors push a wall away from the viewer’s eye and can help make your space seem larger. Using a cool color on the end or side wall of a bedroom will help give you more space in a small bedroom, or make a narrow space feel wider. In some cases, you can even paint a low ceiling a cool color to make it feel loftier than it is.

Picking a Color

The first thing you need to do is figure out the visual temperature of the room. Once you’ve figured this out, you can decide on your goal temperature for the room. Do you want the room to feel warm and cozy? Cool and spacious? Something in between? Choose a color that will help you achieve this temperature goal – because you’re painting just one wall this color, you can go with a bolder or darker hue than you might otherwise, and really spike or chill the temperature without overwhelming the room.

Be careful of what texture you choose and how the color mixes with neighboring hues in the room – these can affect the temperature and profile of the color drastically. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can try a pattern of colors or textures, just make sure to choose colors that complement each other and aren’t too starkly contrasting.

Quadrant Homes /

Picking a Wall

Now that you’ve chosen your color, it’s time to pick your wall. The best accent wall is the one that stands out the most. This should be the wall that you are naturally drawn to look at the most. In most bedrooms, this will be the wall the bed is on. If you’re having trouble deciding, try bringing a friend into the room and asking them what wall draws their attention first. This wall will be your accent wall.

Make sure that the wall you choose isn’t too bare, nor is it too obscured. If the wall doesn’t have anything on it or in front of it, it can be too overwhelming to the viewer and unbalance the room. Alternatively, if the wall is cluttered and covered with things, you won’t achieve the affect you’re going for, and the wall will be wasted.

Putting it All Together

The Generalist /

You have several options when it comes to putting up your accent wall: painting, wallpaper, vinyl decals, or even wood planks. Once your wall is up, make sure that the rest of the room is in step with it — make sure to pick a more muted neutral color for the other walls. Carefully consider your paint finish, your drapes, and your bedding, to make sure that the accent wall is as effective as possible in changing the dynamic of the room. Finally, take a step back and relax in your newly revitalized space.