How to make an accent wall

Accent walls – walls that are different in color design than others in a room – are an easy way to energize a room. Here are a few considerations when choosing which walls to accent and how to do it.

Splashing on color
Paint is the most common way to accent a wall. Color can provide sharp contrast or subtle complement to the rest of the room's color scheme. Vibrant, warm hues can add a strong visual pop to a room comprised mainly of neutral colors. This technique works best if there are objects of a similar color – lamp shades, carpets or upholstery – in the room to anchor the shade. For this kind of accent, it's best to keep the rest of the walls a neutral color, such as white or brown.

A subtler tactic is to employ different hues of the same color family – namely, warm colors with warm and cool colors with cool. A navy wall can add depth and shade to a room comprised of light blues. It's best to stick to neutral colors contrasting with a pop of one color. This technique can also be done with a solely neutral palette.

Using texture
Accent walls don't have to be solid or even painted. Broad vertical stripes and other patterns are perfectly acceptable. Intricate wall paper is another easy way to accent. For a more impactful accent wall, you can use substantial materials. Stained planks of wood arranged horizontally create a highly textured wall. You can also use brick, bamboo or even artfully arranged mirrors of varying sizes.

Choosing the room
Living rooms, kitchens and other rooms with frequent foot traffic are obvious candidates for an accented wall. However, any room of the house can have an accent wall. The best rooms for an accent are those that otherwise feel flat or sparse. An accent wall can help a large room feel magnificent, but it can also help smaller, duller or more utilitarian spaces feel brighter and more inviting.

Choosing the wall
Accent walls should tie in with the rest of the room's layout and character. Usually, an accent wall is anchored by some specific design or architectural detail – either a bed, a bookshelf or a fireplace. However, accent walls can also provide balance to other, busier walls. For example, a good location for an accent wall is opposite a wall with many or large windows.

They can also be used for dramatic effect. An accent wall can make a stunning first impression if situated opposite the entrance to the room. It can also be used as a subconscious guide. Horizontal painted stripes or birch veneer planks can serve as runners on the wall adjacent to an off-center entrance, naturally drawing people into the room.

Considering light
Light is another important factor to consider. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, warm hues will make an accent wall seem closer, while cooler hues make a wall seem farther away. This effect can be used to help rooms feel bigger or more intimate. Sunlight also intensifies warm colors. Warmer hues can be used to brighten rooms with less sunlight, while cooler colors soften light-drenched rooms.

Tying it together
Modern house plans with great rooms and similar open floor layouts provide interesting opportunities for accent walls. House plan HHF-8292 has a kitchen that opens onto a living room, inviting a creative approach to lead one into the other. An accent wall that extends into both rooms can provide visual continuity between the two. You can also implement thematic accent walls in multiple rooms throughout the house. For example, bedrooms could all have a birch veneer wall, while downstairs living spaces could be accented with oak or mahogany.