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How to Choose Accent Walls 

Who doesn’t love a good a feature wall? I mean, it’s a (relatively) easy way to make a big design statement. Done well, they can also check off a few other design elements like contrast and lines. However, things can quickly get confusing. Whether you’re working with open concept or more traditional floor plans, there are some important things to consider for creating feature walls. I know – because I’ve run into a fair amount of these challenges over the years! Here, I’m sharing all my ideas on how to choose accent walls.

corner with black walls, chair, and lamp

Ok, first things first. You might be wondering, “are accent walls out of style in 2024?” And my answer would be no. Not really. Not when done well.

What does that mean? Well, painting an accent wall *just* for the sake of it can feel a little overdone. It seemed like for awhile e’erbody was throwing up feature walls!

So how do we keep them classic? Use them when they actually add something to the space. So read up on all the tips in this article (plus the bonus alternatives) and you’ll be all set

ps. If you’re wondering what did make the out of style list, check out my Outdated Decor Trends for 2024.

bedroom with dark green accent wall

1. Choose Wall with Natural End Points

Ok, which wall? This is crucial. Sometimes the accent wall we want is not always the best choice. And sometimes it’s not one wall but more of a corner.

What does this mean? Well, I like to look for walls that have natural end points – meaning a corner or trim or something.  This helps it feel intentional and will also make the painting a heckuva lot easier.

I aim to end at an interior corner. If it’s an outside corner, then you’re stuck with the pressure of getting an ultra even straight line where the other color meets (even a pro would struggle with this). 

Sometimes, this means that you paint more than just a wall but maybe an entire little corner, like I did here with my office nook. 

office nook with black accent wall, desk, and chair

2. Use Strategically

Building on finding natural end points, you can also choose a space that might need some extra help.  Accent walls can work some magic by adding some dimension to a space.

Here are some ways I use them strategically:

  • Paint end of a long hallway or narrow room to “pull” it forward
  • Add to an otherwise boxy room to feel cozier
  • Paint half of wall to create visual of headboard or chair rail
  • Define an area (e.g. this is the office nook portion of bedroom)
dining room with table

3. Do NOT Paint Every Wall a Different Color

Painting accent walls is super satisfying. In fact, it can become a little addictive. But, try to refrain!

This was all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s. We’ve got Dusty Rose on this wall and Sage over here! And why stop with just two bathroom colors – Lavender and Buttercup anyone?

Accent walls are done best in moderation and sprinkled within an overall paint strategy.  So if you’re wondering how to make them modern – keep it minimal. Check out my tips for ways to authentically add color in home decor for more ideas.

FAQs about accent walls

An accent wall is typically one wall or one area painted or designed to stand out from the rest of the space.

Typically, I think accent walls look best when they are darker than the surrounding walls. This contrast gives the space some dimenion.

For gray walls, a much darker neutral gray like Iron Ore or Peppercorn work well. Hale Navy is also looks good with gray and stands out as a deep, neutral navy blue.

No, accent walls are not out of style. However, use them sparingly and strategically.

Avoid using accent walls in every single room and create this feature when needed, not just for the sake of it.

black office wall

4. Black Accent Wall Ideas and Tips

And when it comes to accent walls, there’s usually only one color I ever choose. Black. Give me all the black paint.

It might seem a little risky, but honestly I’ve never regretted one single black wall. The trick is to choose neutral black paint. Basically, neutral paint plays well with others. There’s no funny undertones to deal with so it’s more of a safe bet. 

Using neutrals leads to an overall cohesive look as our brain will register the switch from a cool to warm color as feeling “off.” 

My go to black paint colors are Tricorn Black and Iron Ore, both from Sherwin Williams. You can read my side by side comparison here, Tricorn vs. Iron Ore

small bedroom decor ideas with black accent wall

5. Accent Wall Alternatives

Feeling like maybe you’re not up for an entire feature wall? Or maybe you’d like to try something different. I like to build off the general accent wall tips and apply to other areas too!

  • Interior Door
  • Half a Wall
  • Cabinets
  • Back of Shelves

What’s your home decor style?

I hope these tips and ideas help in choosing accent walls! If you need paint help, check out How to Paint Like a Pro.

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