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20+ Accent Wall Ideas – The Ultimate Guide

Explore all our favorite accent wall ideas and get expert tips to design your perfect accent wall.

A dining room with accent wall next to the best accent wall paint colors.

Our clients often ask us to select paint colors for accent walls.  It’s an easy and low-risk way to add color and dimension to a room. We especially love accent walls with today’s neutral paint interiors.  

But putting accent wall ideas to use in your home isn’t always easy. Keep reading for our expert guide to some basic rules to follow for colorful accent walls that work in your space.

*This post contains affiliate links for products I use and love. If you click on some links and make a purchase, I will get a small commission at no cost to you. This helps pay for the costs of the blog, so I can continue to offer great content to our readers.

Is an Accent Wall Still in Style?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked as paint color consultants. 

Our answer? Accent walls are here to stay! They’re a simple way to add a bold pop of color to a space without feeling overwhelming. And there are so many different types of accent walls that you can find the perfect one – and the perfect paint color – for any room of your house.

Accent Wall Design Tips

Select a wall without windows

Windows will add backlight and make the color difficult to see.  Instead, choose an inside wall or a wall with something you want to highlight such as a piece of art, a fireplace, or a dining room wall.

Start and end the wall on an inside corner

This makes the transitions more harmonious.  It’s also much easier to cut in an inside corner than an outside edge.

Limit your accents to one per area or room, and consider the whole-house palette

Use accent colors carefully and mindfully, or they could start to look disjointed.  Consider the colors throughout the house.  Even if they are not in the same room, they should all harmonize together.

Pull the accent color from an interesting feature in the room

Your accent color should always relate to another part of the room.  Consider a color from a piece of art, a throw pillow, bedspread or a gorgeous countertop. 

For the headboard wall below, we matched a gorgeous deep blue-green color from a family heirloom painting over a fireplace. 

Painting over classic fireplace with white mantel
Photo by M. Camilli, The Color Concierge

The painting was on the opposite side of the bed in the master bedroom, and ties in perfectly with the headboard accent wall. Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray (2063-20) was a perfect color from the picture.

Bedroom with accent wall painted with Benjamin Moore Gentleman's Gray
Photo by M. Camilli, The Color Concierge

What is the best way to test accent wall paint colors?

Just like any paint project, testing your accent wall paint colors before painting a whole wall is very important. This is especially true with accent walls because we tend to use darker or bolder colors for this application.

If you’re going with a dark accent wall color, it’s important you choose one that won’t be too dark for the light conditions in your space. The way you learn if a color is too dark is that when you test it in the room, it looks black on the wall. We call that “blacking out.” 

It’s also important to understand that the same color can look very different spaces and lighting conditions. In the image below, for example, two accent walls (one in the living room and one in the stairway) are shown in the same space.

Photo of two areas painted with Britannia Blue
Photo by M. Marceny

Both sides are painted with Benjamin Moore Britannia Blue, but they look vastly different because the stairway has much more natural light.Thankfully, testing paint colors has gotten a lot easier. In the old days, testing meant we painted a large poster board with sample pots and a huge mess.

Now we have SAMPLIZE, 9X14″ Pre-Painted peel-and-stick paint samples.  Check out the SAMPLIZE website HERE.

20+ Accent Wall Ideas To Try

Bedroom Headboard Wall

One of our favorite placements for accent walls is the headboard wall in the bedroom. We chose Gentleman’s Gray from the fireplace painting above for the bedroom accent wall pictured below. It contrasted beautifully with the 4-poster bed.

Bedroom with accent wall painted with Benjamin Moore Gentleman's Gray
Photo by M. Camilli, The Color Concierge

Notice how the wood glows next to the rich blue-green wall. The wood has red undertones, which are a complementary color to green and opposites on the color wheel. Walls, ceiling and trim were Sherwin Williams Extra White (SW 7006).

Fireplace Accent Wall

A splash of dark blue accent color on a fireplace wall can add drama.  I love this accent wall because it hides the TV over the mantle and lifts the eye to make the ceiling look taller.  The color is Sherwin Williams Cyberspace (SW 7076).  You should have lots of light if you use Cyberspace. Otherwise it will look black.

Living room with SW Cyberspace fireplace accent wall
Photo by M. Marceny

We used a similar technique in our client’s home below. We painted the whole fireplace wall – even the bookshelves – with Benjamin Moore Britannia Blue. The bookshelves are a satin sheen and the wall is matte, offering some depth and texture despite all being the same color.

A living room with Brittannia Blue accent wall and SW Greek Villa wall paint.
Photo by M. Marceny

Painted Ceiling Accent Walls

Ceilings are the fifth wall, and ceiling colors add amazing dimension.  This looks amazing with crown molding to define the space.  The green-gray ceiling color pictured below matches the slate fireplace and is painted with BM Millstone Gray (1581).

Photo by J. Maynard

This entry ceiling is BM Wrought Iron.  The dark color makes the room look taller and pairs perfectly with the black dining room color.  The wood table warms up the black and white (BM Cloud White) palette.

This black and white home's hallway and dining room features Benjamin Moore Cloud White paint and Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron paint.
Photo by M. Marceny
Transform your wall with a splash of color.

Bathroom Vanity Accent Wall

This bathroom renovation used Benjamin Moore Rosepine as the accent wall.  We really liked the way it contrasted with the violet gray floors and cabinets.  The rest of the walls are painted BM Balboa Mist.

Bathroom vanity wall with BM Rosepine green Accent Wall
Photo by Color Concierge Client

Office Accent Walls

Consider an accent color behind your desk.  This mid-toned accent is BM Kensington Blue.

Office with BM Kensington Blue walls
Photo by M. Camilli

We also used a BM Kensington Blue accent wall in the office of our client’s home pictured below. Kensington Blue works well in this space because it’s similarly muted as the rest of the colors in this office (including SW Sea Salt) and the home’s color scheme.

Office with BM Kensington Blue Accent wall and Sea Salt walls.
Photo by M. Marceny

Stairway Accent Walls

This accent wall is at the top of a stairway and is painted Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore SW 7069.  This soft black is dramatic when contrasted with the warm beautiful hardwood floor and SW Agreeable Gray walls.

Stairway landing with SW Iron Ore accent wall and SW Agreeable Gray walls with warm hardwood floors.
Photo by M. Marceny

We later painted this space with Sherwin-Williams Cheviot walls and the Iron Ore accent wall still looks great!

An office is painted with SW Cheviot white walls and an SW Iron Ore accent wall.
Photo by Clyde Placensia

Powder Room Wainscoting

In my powder room I pulled the dark teal out from the wallpaper. Read about this powder room project in this project spotlight: Bella Blue Powder Room with Wallpaper.

Benjamin Moore Bella Blue was an exact match with the blue flowers in the wallpaper! I drenched the wainscoting from base molding up to the chair rail, and even the drywall in-between. I experimented using a matte sheen on all surfaces (chair rail, drywall and base molding), and it looked fantastic for this type of color drenching application.

I also painted the ceiling with Bella Blue just for fun, and it has become the most popular bathroom in the house.

A small powder room with wallpaper, wainscoting and BM Bella Blue paint
Photo by M. Marceny

Dining Room Accent Walls

You can also use the dining room as an accent itself, with all the exposed walls.  In this dining room we used SW Granite Peak as a dark blue accent.  Since this room was already fairly dark, we couldn’t use a really dark blue such as Hale Navy or Cyberspace because it looked black in the room.

Dining room with SW Granite Peak walls and warm wood furniture
Photo by M. Marceny

We later painted this room with Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue and I absolutely love the way it looks. It’s a bit more colorful and bold than Granite Peak, but still muted enough that it doesn’t feel overwhelming in this space.

A dining room wall painted with Oval Room Blue by Farrow & Ball
Photo by M. Marceny

This fabulous dining room has an accent wall on the bookshelf wall, and it runs along the length of the table. The color is SW Arugula. This was taken in an apartment we stayed in Paris.

Dining room with SW Arugula accent wall
Photo by M. Marceny

Need accent wall paint color ideas? Consider the all paint colors in this post:

12 swatches of paint for accent walls
  1. BM Gentleman’s Gray
  2. BM Britannia Blue
  3. SW Cyberspace
  4. BM Millstone Gray
  5. BM Wrought Iron
  6. BM Rosepine
  7. BM Kensington Blue
  8. SW Iron Ore
  9. SW Granite Peak
  10. Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue
  11. SW Arugula
  12. SW Needlepoint Navy


You can now order a bundle of peel-and-stick samples from Samplize with the accent wall paint colors featured in this post! Use the button below to get all the samples.

Living Room Accent Walls

You can place a living room accent wall behind a sofa as long as the wall is clear of windows.  This photo shows an exposed stone accent wall in an ancient building in Paris.  The stone is the same that was used to build the apartment building.  This is also a great opportunity for a wall gallery.

Photo by M. Marceny

Exposed Brick Accent Walls

The exposed brick accent wall in this Paris apartment is beautiful. The building was very old, so it was likely exposed and not chosen, but you could add this kind of wall to a home as well.

Dining room with brick accent wall
Photo by M. Marceny

Wallpaper Accent Walls

This gorgeous work-from-home office has a beautiful wallpaper accent wall, and was designed by our client.  If you pick another material such as wallpaper as your accent, make sure that the walls are painted one of the colors in the wallpaper.  Don’t forget about removable wallpaper and pre-made murals.

Home office with wallpaper accent wall
Photo by M. Marceny

Board and Batten Accent Walls

Even if you want a neutral or one-color room, it’s still possible to add an accent wall by using a trim technique like board and batten on one wall. 

My SEO specialist Danielle did this in her master bedroom (painted with Sherwin-Williams White Duck) and it really helps the headboard wall stand out despite being the same color as the rest of the room.

A master bedroom is painted with Sherwin-Williams White Duck
Photo by D. Gagnon

Wainscoting Accent Walls

A similar technique to board and batten is to add a wainscoting accent to a room. This is a great way to add color to a space without making it feel too dark.

In the client’s home pictured below, we used BM Britannia Blue for the wall color above the wainscoting and BM Oxford White for the wainscoting itself.

A Britannia Blue dining room is visible from a BM Classic Gray living room.
Photo by M. Marceny

The dining room pictured below uses a similar color palette, with Sherwin-Williams Needlepoint Navy walls and Sherwin-Williams Pure White shiplap wainscoting.

A dining room painted with SW Needlepoint Navy walls and SW Pure White wainscoting.
Photo by M. Marceny

Bookshelf Accent Walls

If you have large bookshelves or other built-ins in a space, try making them the accent. In the client’s office pictured below the built-in shelves and cabinets are painted with Sherwin-Williams Needlepoint Navy and add a lovely pop of color behind the desk.

An office features SW Greek Villa walls and SW Needlepoint Navy built-in cabinets.
Photo by M. Marceny

Mural Accent Walls

Consider murals as accent walls, or in this case accent closed doors!  In this photo, the artist painted her murals on the closet doors of Maddie Camilli’s studio.  The artist is Julia Williams,  Instagram handle is @thedesignosaur.

Mural accent walls painted on closet doors
Photo by Maddie Camilli

Picking the Perfect Accent Wall Paint Colors

Once you know where to paint your accent wall, it can still be tough to choose the perfect paint color. Here are a few of our best tips and our favorite accent wall colors.

Should accent walls be lighter or darker?

Accent walls are typically darker than the rest of a room’s walls, but there is no hard and fast rule. A light accent wall in a dark room could look really nice – you just need to test it out to see if it works in your space.

How many shades darker should an accent wall be?

If you search for this online, you’ll see a lot of recommendations to paint the accent wall the same color as the other walls, but two shades darker. This can look very nice, but it’s definitely not the only way to do accents! I love going with a much darker color or a much more colorful hue. 

It is helpful, however, to ensure the undertones of your primary wall color and your accent color align. This will keep the same looking harmonious.

What paint finish is best for accent walls?

Normally, it’s best to paint accent walls with the same paint sheen as the other walls (typically an eggshell finish or similar). 

If the color is darker, I prefer a flat or matte sheen on drywall to make it look silky. Otherwise the light bounces around and looks obnoxious if the color is dark and it’s too shiny. I have a couple of rooms with dark paint like that in my house that I’ve been meaning to paint over with a matte sheen.

If you’re using bookshelves or built-ins as an accent, paint them with a shinier satin sheen.

Key Learning Points

Accent walls can make a room come to life, especially in a bedroom, behind a fireplace, or even on a ceiling.  Paint isn’t the only way to create an accent.  You can use wallpaper exposed brick, stone, shiplap, or wainscoting.

Don’t forget to test your paint samples.  We love to test with SAMPLIZE peel-and-stick samples.  Check out the SAMPLIZE website HERE.

Online Color Consulting

If you still need help with paint colors, check out our Online Color Consulting packages or an In-Person Color Consultation in the Denver Metro area. Or, explore 8 easy ways to choose paint colors.

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Rooms with accent wall ideas, selected by our paint color consultants

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9 Responses

  1. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I am redoing my master bedroom and purchased a light gray color grasscloth wallpaper. I plan to use it on the wall behind the bed. The walls are currently painted a dark taupish color. I will be painting the other walls white and WAS only going to paint around the edges of the wall where the wallpaper is going.

  2. I like the idea of a accent wall.But my issue is I have a cape chalet open concept.I don’t really have a point of interest except corner fireplaces and large windows. Confused about. Color and accent

    1. Hi Jill,
      You are right! A corner fireplace or windows don’t really lend themselves to accent walls, but you could use a picture gallery wall or a bedroom headboard wall. An accent wall doesn’t need to highlight an architectural feature; it can highlight furniture placement or art.

  3. I have an east facing living room in a forest and I want white walls and a fireplace accent wall. (Fireplace white with walls on either side in blue). I’ve already made one whole room paint mistake. (BM Swiss coffee looked muddy and sometimes slightly green). Now am considering BM white dove and BM Hale Navy. Help! Can’t make another expensive mistake!

  4. Hi. Whats the color of grey on the walls with the white fireplace and cyberspace color behind. Love the color combination!
    Thank you.

  5. Good day. My living room and dining room are side by side, divided by a hallway.
    Can I use the dining room wall closest to the hallway as an accent?

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Meet Michelle

Driven to help clients fall back in love with their homes with intentional paint color schemes. She started the company based on her passion for color and its ability to make a house a home.

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