Creating Eye-Catching Accent Walls

A bedroom with white walls and ceiling. The accent wall behind the bed has paneling and is painted black.

Think outside the bucket!

When you think of accent walls, you usually think of adding a bold shade of paint to the wall or back of the bookcase.  While professional painting is an EXCELLENT way to create a focal point, consider thinking outside the bucket.

Use visual texture to add interest

There are a variety of different materials and textures readily available for anyone willing to take that step.  Visual texture adds as much interest to a space as food texture can add to your dining experience.  The following are a few ways to create accent walls with visual texture.

Stimulate the senses by creating an accent wall with dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtains. No windows are necessary to make this statement.  Add color, visual movement, and a bit of softness to your space. 

Use wall panels or wainscoting to create a visually neat, but texturally interesting, three-dimensional detail. Even when painted one color, the panels are set apart from the rest of the wall for a subtle bit of sophistication. 

Create an eclectic gallery wall or go with the theme of your choice. If you choose to go the eclectic route, you can vary the size, shape, color and texture of your frames and the details they contain.  You may also choose to use the same frame in a repeating pattern with variations on a theme.  Either way, a gallery wall is a great way to add interest as an accent wall.

Get ‘hands on’ with textured materials

You may also choose to get a bit more “hands on” to achieve your accent wall goals.

Textured materials are things that can almost be felt just by looking at them and create visual weight in their natural state. Here are some tips for creating accent walls through textured materials.

Items like brick and stone give off naturally cool vibes and come in a variety of colors, sizes, and types. White-washed or exposed brick can be styled as shabby-chic and lean into a more industrial look.  Stone can be polished, rough-hewn, left natural, or arranged in a mosaic pattern.  Real brick and stone may be a bit pricy, however the latest in facings and veneers are just as attractive and may be a more affordable option for smaller budgets.

Add a touch of reclaimed, pallet, or other heavily-grained wood to the wall. Choose a herringbone pattern, or vertical or horizontal stripes for a naturally warm accent.  Wood is a very versatile material that can be sealed, stained, waxed, painted, or left to dry to “weather” and age naturally.  One alternative to a full wall of wood, is to create raised geometric shapes with thinner wooden slats on top of your painted accent wall, then paint the wood in a contrasting color. 

Create a Living Accent Wall—with plants! Mount planter boxes, baskets, or a commercially available “living wall plant system” to create a lush, inviting wall-scape.  Even one small row of plants with tendrils that cascade down the wall is enough to make a luxurious backdrop and create visual/textural interest.

Accent walls with murals & wallpaper

Today’s DIY decorators have a wide variety of wall coverings to choose from.  Full-wall murals created with paint, photos, or wallpaper, are a great way to add some wow factor to a focal point, all will achieve the goal of an amazing accent wall.

Your pattern and color choices will determine whether the wall becomes a backdrop or the feature.

Far from the days when wallpaper had to be slathered with special glue mixed in a bucket, options are now cleaner, easier to apply, and some are even removeable and repositionable. Many textures, colors and patterns are available, and some can be as temporary as you wish!  Want to add some faux brick behind your headboard?  There’s a 3D textured wallpaper for that.  You can even choose to paint the wallpaper to achieve the look you want.  Online shopping makes the process even easier—no more flipping through sample books.  Search for patterns in teal blue, or with an ocean theme, or to match the wallpaper you saw in a movie once. 

Photo murals can be dramatic, bold and draw the eye. The subject matter and how the photographer uses lighting and sharp or soft focus can determine how a photo “feels” to you.  Keep this in mind when looking through photo mural options.  Everything from a beach scene to one elegant giant black-and-white flower is available in many wall sizes.  Again, some murals can be temporary to foster a seasonal look, and others are a bit more permanent—more like traditional wallpaper. 

And now we’ve come full circle to paint! In the past, painted murals may have been reserved for children’s bedrooms or playrooms, usually used to carry out a theme.  But murals aren’t just for kids anymore!  With a little paint, a pencil, and a projector, there’s no limit to the amazing things you can create!  Not feeling that confident or don’t have the time?  Let professional mural painters handle it for you.  Check online for local artists or contact your local community theater—many times their set painters are muralists, as well.  Make sure to add a fresh coat of paint to the wall (discuss background colors with the artist first), and make sure the paint has time to dry and cure before beginning the mural. 

Don’t forget the 5th wall

Space is almost always at a premium in your home or office.  Take advantage of underutilized spaces—like your ceiling!  Called The 5th Wall, using your ceiling as an accent wall is a great way to transform the feel of a space, the mood of a room, or highlight (and even hide) certain features.  Learn more about how ceiling color can accent and transform your room.