Skip to main content
Home & Garden

An accent wall can really make a room pop—here’s how to do it

Bold colors and big patterns, oh my!

A modern living room with a light blue accent wall. Credit: Getty Images / NelleG

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

We all love a good plot twist. That moment when you think something is going one way and then an unexpected element creeps in to flip the script.

Enter the accent wall: an interior or exterior wall that boasts a different color, design or material from its surrounding walls. Consider this your room’s plot twist, turning the tables on boring décor with a pop of something special.

Is it a kitchen with a bright yellow wall within its world of white, or perhaps a richly colored backdrop for a unique armchair in the office? Whichever type of accent wall you choose, there are no steadfast rules on making it work.

So when it comes to accent wall ideas, we reached out to design experts for tips on helping your space tell its own story with maximum impact.

Annica Wallin, executive creative director of Stockholm-based wall art and decorating company Desenio, says, “The rules should only be set by you. If you have an eclectic personal style, express that in your interiors as you would in your fashion choices. Even if you have more classic or minimalistic tastes, you shouldn’t be afraid to choose a bold, striking color for an accent wall. This can offset an otherwise monochromatic and sparse space, giving it a new lease of life.”

Be selective when picking an accent wall

An empty modern living room with a white wall and plant.
Credit: Getty Images / asbe

Consider lighting and impact when choosing what wall you'll paint.

First thing’s first—what wall deserves the spotlight? When choosing which wall to accent, Wallin says it all depends on the format of the room and how you want the space to function.

“If you want to design a room that makes an impression upon entering, consider adding an accent color or texture to the wall opposite the door,” she explains.

For optimal effect, avoid walls with architectural features like windows or doors. “This way, you can focus on decorating it,” she continues, noting that windows and doorways can take attention away from the accent wall. They can also interfere with another aspect of these special décor moments—paintings and prints can be great toppers for an accent wall.

While the wall itself should be a complete canvas, it doesn’t mean you can’t design around another type of focal point. Accent walls behind fireplaces and headboards can be quite stunning.

Ceilings are also fantastic places to spruce up with some color. Whether you choose a soft or vivid color, adding white crown molding can help separate your new accent “wall” from the rest of the room for a modern look.

Choose a color with intention

A client and a designer pick a color palette for a design.
Credit: Getty Images / shironosov

Read the room when determining your ideal color.

When deciding on which color to embrace for that wow factor, read the room. In other words, consider the shades on your other walls, furniture, wooden finishes, and other elements throughout the space. For everything in the room to look balanced, you’ll need cohesion in your choices.

When working with décor such as patterned furniture or rugs, resist the urge to get matchy matchy. Instead choose an accent color within the patterns to carry the eye around the room.

While an all-white room with a colorful accent can work, it’s tricky. It’s best to stick to light to medium neutrals such as gray or beige for the adjoining walls.

Explore options beyond paint

(Left) A luxurious entryway with blue printed wallpaper. (Right) A simple living area with a gallery wall against a white wall.
Credit: Rifle Paper Co. / Getty Images / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

If painting isn't your thing, consider wallpaper or a gallery wall as your accent.

Paint isn’t the only way to create an accent wall. Think wallpaper, shiplap, or even patterned tiles.

Hilary Gibbs, CEO of decorative tile company Livden, says, “Tile gives your space that unexpected ‘wow’ factor. Start your accent wall by choosing a patterned tile that connects with the color palette and design elements of your space.”

With this decision made, it’s time to address scale. “Choosing a larger-scale design can turn your accent wall into an eye-catching statement and make your wall feel like a giant work of art,” says Gibbs.

For an intentionally quirky look, add patterned wallpaper and then decorate over it with artwork or shelves. Remember to also consider texture.

Wallin encourages, “Using subtly textured wallpaper is a great way to set a background in which to feature a gallery wall of prints or statement art.” Materials with warmth to the touch can add a richness and depth to your space.

Gibbs says, “At the end of the day, there’s no better accent wall than one that showcases your unique sense of style and personality. Have fun with it!”

Related content

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Up next