Sometimes limited budgets necessitate economical makeovers, so we decided to create a series of articles for all of you out there who want budget-friendly tips for refreshing your homes. So far we’ve shared three articles in this series: a  budget bedroom makeover, decluttering tips, and tips for using rugs in your home. Today’s article is all about accent walls, an option that can be very budget-friendly while making a big difference in the look of your room.

Accent Walls

Home design trends come and go, but one that seems to have some staying power is the accent wall – and it’s typically an economical project as well. Having a wall that stands out in your home, whether painted a different shade/color, wallpapered, or created in some other way, looks great in some homes but is not for everyone. If you’re thinking about incorporating an accent wall, read on and learn about some things to consider.

What Is an Accent Wall?

Before deciding to add one, it is important to understand what an accent wall is and how it should be used. An accent wall is one that is a different color, shade, or texture than the other walls in a room. It’s typically the first wall you see when entering a room, adding character and depth; it is also used occasionally to help divide spaces. Generally, it should be utilized along with the focal point of your room, not as a detraction from it. In some cases, it might not encompass an entire wall, but just a portion (surrounding a fireplace, for example). The primary benefits of creating an accent wall in your room are to:

  • Make a room appear larger
  • Add drama or visual interest to the room
  • Add separation to an open concept design without needing new construction
  • Introduce texture and dimension to your living space

Painted Accent Walls

Painted accent walls provide contrast to the other walls and items in the room. Here are a few rules to consider when choosing your wall color:

  • Regardless of which color you choose for your accent wall, it will most likely look better up against a neutral such as gray, beige, or greige rather than a stark white.
  • Dark gray, brown, navy blue, and black are all considered to be neutral colors and will work well with your neutral color scheme, as long as they display the same undertone or color temperature as the adjoining walls.
  • Play off the wall color with other accessories in your space, such as throw pillows, blankets, artwork, and even throw rugs. This is an easy way to invite harmony into the room so the accent wall doesn’t look too out of place. Make sure you keep the space balanced, bringing in pops of the accent wall into your furniture and decor while not being too ‘matchy-matchy’.
  • Pick a color that reflects your personality and makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the overall style of your home or accessories.
  • If you’re planning to sell your home within the next few years, you may want to consider a more neutral palette, as your favorite bold color might be a turnoff to a buyer with a different bold color preference.
Living room rug

Alternatives to Painted Walls

Draperies, wallpaper, shelving, murals, wall art installations, or photo galleries can also be used to create accent walls. Or, they may complement a freshly painted wall for the finished look you want.

We love wallpapered accent walls!  The rules are a little more relaxed since these stand out due more to pattern or texture and less to color contrast. But keep in mind that the basic color rules above still apply.

If you have large bookshelves in your room, consider painting the back wall of each shelf in a contrasting color, following the same color rules as for entire walls.

Wall art and murals are quite popular right now and can bring a great deal of personality to your rooms. The peel-and-stick variety of wall murals provide you the opportunity to try out something a bit sassy and bold – you can easily change it up when you’re ready for something new!

Floor to ceiling draperies are very much in style these days, so consider creating an accent wall out of them. Whether they contrast with the surrounding wall color or simply bring a sophisticated texture or pattern into the current color family, floor to ceiling draperies will make a small room look larger and taller every time.

Finally, if you’re wanting something really special, consider using brick, stone, tile, wood, or some other element for your accent wall. But beware: these are not typically budget-friendly options!

A Few Cons to Adding an Accent Wall

While they can be a beautiful addition when used correctly, accent walls can also be distracting and seem out of place if not done well. A very bright color on a wall in an already busy room can make it feel cluttered … or even chaotic! Also, if the accent wall is not situated to work with the room’s focal point, it can create an unbalanced style that might seem overwhelming. It can certainly be difficult to make an accent wall work in some spaces, especially when the goal is cohesiveness with the surroundings. Make sure your accent wall compliments your room instead of simply standing out.


If you need help from a professional, please give the team at AHT Interiors a call; we offer DIY In-Home Design Consultations in addition to full-service interior design. These consultations are two- or more-hour-sessions with our designer who will provide immediate answers to your design dilemmas.

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