Using color to help a room express itself

What exactly is an accent wall and what are some accent wall ideas? Well, it’s not in French or Spanish, but like a word pronounced differently or with an exotic are, the accent wall draws our attention.

Instead of a pale “good morning” it might gush, “Buenas dias!” Rather than a bland, “I’m here,” the accent wall squeals, “Je suis arrivee!”

Traditionally, decorators use accent walls to solve several problems — from awkward room sizes, to color coordination, to emphasizing a focal point in a room.

Take a space that is long and narrow. Since warm colors of red, orange and brown tend to “pull” a wall in, paint the short, farthest wall a deep sienna to foreshorten the room’s length. Likewise, to widen the perception, paint a long wall in a cool tone of blue or green.


Warm colors such as red and orange “pull” in a wall to make narrow or spacious areas appear more cozy and intimate.

A room filled with a variety of fabrics, carpet colors, artwork and textures can result in visual chaos. A bold accent wall that picks up the predominant colors and stresses the tonal theme can quickly pull it all together.

Quick Tip

color wheel for accent all ideas

You only need one

Color can be like alcohol. A little might make someone bubbly, but too much can make a person sick. So only one accent wall per room, please. By looking at a color wheel you can make sure the colors complement one another and don’t conflict. For instance, a yellow and green striped accent wall in a pink bedroom … would call for an aspirin.

Is there something special about a room? A fireplace, an antique armoire, your bed’s headboard? Walls behind these focal points can take a splash of dramatic color. But coordinate with the other three walls. For instance, if the rest of the room is pale grey, you could punch your accent wall with lacquered black. For a child’s room, control the pink by keeping it pale and making one wall a rich purple.

blue bedroom accent wall ideas

The accent wall can be a focal point itself, or tie other elements in a room together.

And if you don’t like the look once you’re done or you’re a renter and need to move on, it’s simple to change up. Another can of paint and a roller can bring you back to beginning white, and all “ze drama” will go away.

Other special touches

Paint is a simple way to accentuate a wall, but other playful options are available.

Try decals. Stick-on ‘branches’, floral sprays, and even planets and galaxies can be attached to walls to form artistic framing for beds or furniture.

home made accent wall stencil ideas

Stencils and designs add obvious pizazz to a wall.

Stencils are trickier to handle, but even cave dwellers who stenciled handprints next to stalagmites knew how appealing these outlines are. Simply tape leveled stencils to the wall and roll on paint. Carefully move the stencil to the next wall section.

Make boring built-in bookcases decorator features by painting their inside back walls, then display vases and accent pieces or travel treasures.

Fast Feng Shui

If you’re unsure as to which wall to accent, ask a friend to say which wall she looks at when entering a room. That is the natural focal point. Conversely, it could be the lonely side of the room, the wall where not much is happening, that you want to bring to life.

But if you’re still vague as to what color would be right for your fourth wall, the feng shui masters have got it covered. Using the five elements of earth, fire, water, wood and metal, they stipulate which colors create what energy in the various parts of a house and its rooms:

Eastern Wall

An eastern wall suggests wood and greens or browns that would promote a sense of tranquility.

Red accent wall ideas

Paint a wall on the south side of your home hues of red to emulate fire and stimulate creativity.

Southern Wall

A southern wall calls up fire and purple, orange or reds for creativity

Southeastern Wall

A southeastern wall, representing earth, leans toward sands and lattes for order and stability.

Northwestern Wall

Perfect for an office or study, a north or northwestern wall painted in the greys or bronze tones of metal will promote clarity, precision, and efficiency.

gray accent wall ideas for home office desk

Walls of gray and bronze tones promote clarity, and are perfect for an office or study.

North or Eastern Wall

Besides the actual element of water, which may be found indoors in the form of a small electric waterfall or even as blossoms floating in a beautiful bowl, covering a north or eastern wall with blue or black will suggest purity, calm, abundance and even wealth.

modern living room in front of black accent wall ideas

A blue or black wall will signify purity, calm, abundance and wealth.

Or maybe you just want to use some of the elements themselves. An accent wall can be created from planks of old wood or even purchased paneling with a quick wash of white. Brick veneer or a floor to ceiling attachment of rough-hewn sandstone can be as dramatic as an expanse of flaming red.

Homes & Land is your local real estate resource! Find real estate for sale and top real estate agents in your area today!