Like stainless steel appliances, painted accent walls are here to stay. Fascinatingly, after more than five — count ‘em: 5! — years of blogging, “The Accent Wall: Friend or Foe?“ remains one of my most-read posts. Can you believe it?
I’ll be honest: I still have mixed feelings. But there are several trends in accent walls that give me comfort.
- Paint PART of a wall to emphasize a particular object. The Bossettes went to hear my hero, Jamie Drake, speak recently, and we were fascinated by his use of contrasting paint behind a freestanding bookcase. (Did you catch that? Freestanding, not built-in. So bold.)
Tragically, I can’t find a picture of that, but here’s a similar flash of Jamie Drake genius: in the 2012 Kips Bay Show House, he used white on part of a wall to highlight the art.
- Paint the “fireplace column.” That’s not a real term. But you know what I mean? Not the whole wall, just the space above and around the fireplace.
- Insets make for terrific accent walls. Why, how shocking: this gorgeous space ALSO is by Jamie Drake!
Less glam, but still on-trend (yep, still hate that phrase!) is a painted inset bossy color did recently. (Also file this under “painted bookcases”):
- Paint the surrounding walls white — or another super-super–light color) to keep the overall look fresh and modern. High contrast is best. See how dated the khaki walls make this room look? (Sorry, Herrell remodeling on Houzz…)
- Black is the edgiest accent wall.
Hey, look at this! Another black accent wall in a nursery! There’s hope for the next generation after all.
So those are the trends in accent walls…and then there are a few rules. I’m sure you already know them, but let’s review just to be safe:
- The accent wall should be the main wall in the room i.e.: behind the bed or behind the sofa. Ideally, it will be the first wall you see in the room.
- An unbroken wall is the best accent wall. The fewer door and window openings, the better.
Want to ask me a question about an accent wall — or anything else? You’re in luck! I’ll be the guest designer on The Washington Post’s Home Chat this Thursday – aka tomorrow, February 14, Valentine’s Day! You can even submit a question in advance RIGHT HERE. I hope to hear from you!
Quoted in publications from The New York Times to The Washington Post to Real Simple magazine, Annie Elliott is considered an expert in color, residential space planning, and telling people what to do in the nicest way possible. Her interior design firm, bossy color, has been serving residents in the greater Washington, D.C. area since 2004.