Accent Walls – The Ultimate Guide

Our clients often ask us to specify accent walls.  It’s an easy and low-risk way to add color and dimension to a room. We especially love accent walls in todays clean white paint interiors.  Below are some basic rules to follow.

Which Wall Should Be The Accent Wall?

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 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.  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.

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

What is the best way to test Accent Wall paint colors?

We always recommend that you test paint colors in your house because lighting can change a color completely. In the old days, this 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.

Accent Wall Ideas

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.  it contrasted beautifully with the 4-poster bed.  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).

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

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

Ceiling Accents

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 matches the slate fireplace is 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.

Bathroom Vanity Accents

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

Stairway Accents

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

Dining Room Accents

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

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

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 Walls

The exposed brick accent wall in this Paris apartment was selected by the homeowners.  The building was very old, so it was likely exposed and not chosen.

Dining room with brick accent wall
Photo by M. Marceny

Wallpaper Accents

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

Mural Accents

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

Accent Wall Paint Colors

Consider the paint colors in this post:

  1.  BM Rosepine – (Sample Here)
  2. SW Arugula – (Sample Here)
  3. BM Millstone Gray – (Sample Here)
  4. BM Wrought Iron, SW Iron Ore – (Sample Here)
  5. SW Cyberspace – (Sample Here)
  6. BM Kensington Blue – (Sample Here)
  7. SW Granite Peak– (Sample Here)
  8. BM Gentleman’s Gray– (Sample Here)

The Verdict

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.

Online Color Consultation Interiors

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A headboard accent wall painted with BM Gentleman's Gray

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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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