Accent walls

Let’s talk about accent walls. Are accent walls in, or are they out? Will they make your home stand out, or make it look dated? Wondering if certain accent walls are better than others? If you’ve considered adding one to your home or investment property, listen to the full podcast episode for all the details and insights. Or, you can read some key highlights below.

Accent Wall Ideas

Listen to the Design Your Home Podcast

The big question: Are accent walls in or out of style? And the answer is…it depends. While some experts think they’re outdated, but others say a well-done accent wall can transform a room and steal the show. In my personal opinion (and I’m going to tell it you straight;) they’re still in, but not all accent walls are created equal—some are better than others.

Why do I like accent walls? Because they nail one of design’s golden rules: emphasis. Every room needs a focal point, and an accent wall can do just that.

Accent Walls

Pros and Cons of Accent Walls

First up, the pros:

1. They Create Visual interest: And can make an otherwise plain area stand out.

2. They Define Spaces: In my home a white wood accent wall instantly added character to a boring, builder-grade foyer and totally defined the space.

3. Stand-Out Style: In a sea of cookie-cutter homes or rental properties, an accent wall can make your home look different than the rest.

4. Distraction Tactics: Got an awkward spot you’d rather not highlight? Throw an accent wall elsewhere to draw attention away.

Accent walls can add flair to a room, but they come with drawbacks too. Here are a few to keep in mind:

1. Distraction Potential: When done poorly, accent walls can distract from your overall room design, rather than enhance it. The aim is to create accents, not eyesores.

2. Trendiness Trap: Opting for overly trendy designs can quickly make your space look dated.

3. Removal Challenges: Some accent walls, especially those with materials like wood, stone, or wallpaper, can be tricky to remove. Changing them out takes time and effort, which might not be ideal.

Consider these cons alongside the benefits when deciding whether to include an accent wall into your space.

Different Kinds of Accent Walls

Painted Accent Walls

I have mixed feelings about painted accent walls—they’ve been done A LOT, making everything feel less special. Plain painted accent walls can feel basic, but… if you love a color and want to try an accent wall, it’s a safe place to start. If you do a painted accent wall, just don’t overdo it by putting a painted accent wall in every room in your home

Painted Accent Wall
Image: Kailo Chic | Etsy |

Painted Wood Molding Walls

If you want to step it up a bit try adding a painted wood molding accent wall.  Now you’re talking my love language—they’re classic and add a subtle touch without overwhelming the space. It’s an elevated look that does take little effort.  Opt for neutral tones or white paint to keep it timeless. Examples include board and batten, tongue and groove (shiplap), and panel molding. I love painting them the same color as the wall for depth while maintaining a timeless look. Geometric patterns are a another, trendier option that work best in more more modern spaces.

Painted wood molding walls
Image: kublykarpentry | | | the_owls_reno

Wallpaper Accent Walls

Wallpapered accent walls offer endless styles, but they’re not easy to remove. Temporary options like peel-and-stick from companies like Tempaper are a great optoin. However, installing on textured walls can be tricky so you might need to skim-coat and prime first to avoid seeing the texture behind the wallpaper.  But, if you have smooth walls, this DIY project will be smooth sailing!

Image: Tempaper & Co.

Floor to Ceiling Gallery Wall of Art

If you want to try an accent wall, but want to keep it simple, try a floor-to-ceiling gallery wall with different pictures and frames. Just be careful not to put it where people might bump into it. Choose a quieter spot for this fun display.

gallery art walls

Drapery Accent Walls

Although less common, a unique accent wall to consider is using a whole wall of drapery panels as an accent in your bedroom. This soft, layered look works well if your headboard is in front of a window. Opt for neutral panels for a subtle effect.  

Wood Accent Walls

Wood walls can be a great accent option, but it’s essential to ensure they match your home’s style. I’m not talking about the painted wood panel walls; these are actual wood finish walls, like rustic reclaimed wood or wooden slats. However, the trend of rustic wood walls has been overdone, so make sure it complements your home’s style. The wooden slat walls, popular during the pandemic, can get busy with their vertical lines, so use them sparingly for a balanced look.

Wood Walls
Image: |

Stone Accent Wall

Let’s talk about stone accent walls—a trend gaining traction for that vintage European vibe. Just like with rustic wood, ensure it matches your home’s style. This is definitely an investment that isn’t easy to change out, so make sure you really like this. 

Design by Studio Mcgee-Water's Edge Project

Brick Accent Wall

Another option for accent walls is brick, whether natural, painted, or whitewashed. While they can add charm, consider that new brick walls are hard to remove and can become dated. If it’s a historical feature, embrace it, deciding whether to paint it or leave it bare based on your style.

Tile Focal Wall

Tile focal walls can be great in bathrooms and kitchens, but be cautious about overusing them. Stick to spaces like bathrooms, kitchens, or around fireplaces where they make sense, as removing tiles can damage drywall.

Your Ceiling is an Accent Wall

Ever thought about using your ceiling as an accent wall? It’s a subtle yet effective way to add something special to a space. In our kitchen remodel, we used tongue and groove (also known as shiplap) on the ceiling, and we LOVE it! You can also consider wallpaper, paint, or even wood beams for your ceiling. Just remember, you don’t want to overwhelm the space—keep it as a pleasant surprise rather than the main attraction.

Ceiling accent wall
Image: kpetersondesignn | | |

Accent Wall Tips

Here are some accent wall tips to create assets, not eyesores in your home:

1. Don’t Overdo It: Avoid making your room too busy by overloading it with accent walls. Balance is key to intentional design.

2. Choose the Right Color: Ensure your accent wall color complements your space and ties into the overall palette of your home, rather than just following trends.

3. Consider Neutrals: Bold colors can be distracting and may become tiresome quickly. Neutral walls offer a timeless feel and are more versatile.

4. Strategic Placement: Use accent walls in areas where they naturally fit, like behind a fireplace, bed, or in a foyer, to create focal points and define spaces.

5. Bonus Tip! Blank Walls are Magic: Accent walls work best on walls with few windows or door openings. They offer endless design possibilities and can transform a space without distractions.

Final Thoughts...

Design trends, like accent walls, have their moments. But if you love them and want to include one, then go for it! TYour home should reflect what you love, regardless of trends.

Feeling a bit stuck staring at your bare walls? Join the waitlist for my personalized design training, Room Design Essentials, and let’s turn those walls into masterpieces together.

And if you own an investment property and need a little help making it stand out, then my join Design for Mid-Term Rentals and discover how design can help you get your property booked.

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Angelou Tamco