If you’re tired of staring at drab wall colors, it may be time to add a dose of color! Accents painting is a great way to enliven a room that has been looking too monotone. But how do you know which color to choose — and where to place it? 

With a little creativity and confidence, you can hone in on the right option. Keep reading to learn how you can choose the right color and wall for accent painting!

Know What an Accent Wall Is

Before you start grabbing paint swatches or buying paint, take the time to know what an accent wall is. That way, you can make more informed choices regarding paint colors.

Why Paint Accent Walls?

The key purpose of an accent wall is to create a focal point within a room. If you have a living room that doesn’t have a fireplace, try adding an accent wall. You’ll be able to anchor one wall of the room.

Choose a wall with a pretty window or antique hutch. Or if you do have a fireplace, accentuate its trim and stonework by painting a beautiful color around it. Accents painting can make a bland space much more interesting. 

What is the Impact of an Accent Wall?

An accent wall will draw the attention of anyone in the room. This is especially true if the surrounding colors are soft and neutral. Accent paint can help unify the blankets, upholstery, and furniture in a room, too.

Accents painting can define a space, too. For homes where the living and dining rooms merge, you might want to give one room an accent wall. This could be the wall behind your sofa or the wall behind your dining room buffet.

Consider Your Surroundings

Take a look around the room before committing to a color. If you’ve been living in your space for a while, you’ve probably established a style and color palette you prefer.

Look at Your House’s Color Palette

Ultimately, your aim should be to have a cohesive color palette and design sensibility in your home. In other words, if you’re keeping things fresh and light with lots of white and blue, hot pink might not be the best accent paint choice.

Similarly, pay attention to your home’s floor plan — and how the colors move through it. For contemporary homes with a more open feel, stay away from painting bold accent walls that stretch over multiple floors. You might create too much intensity that doesn’t look good with furniture or colors on both floors.

Look at the Room’s Furniture

What furniture is in the room? How can you coordinate your accent wall to complement existing decor? Consider whether you’re currently going with a look that’s farmhouse chic or formal.

For instance, you may have a home that has lots of wooden Mid-Century Modern furniture. In that case, you may want to go with green or pumpkin accent colors to tie in with the vintage style. With the clean lines of the furniture and some wooden floors, either color would be bold and stylish.

Target the Right Wall

Spend some time examining which wall is the best candidate for a splash of paint. You might want to avoid using an intense color in a room that’s already small or loaded with furniture. But in bigger rooms, you can help the space feel more intimate with some color.

Spotlight Your Best Decor

The best choices are walls that feature a piece of furniture, artwork, or built-in that you want to show off. If you have a cluster of wedding pictures or family photos, a blue-gray accent wall behind white frames would look great. A wall with some family heirloom furniture in front of it also would be a strong candidate.

Do you have some existing molding, beadboard, or other ornamentation you want to preserve? Hiring professionals to handle the painting ensures that your accent wall will complement architectural details. You’ll keep the edges crisp!

Determine Your Goal for an Accent Wall

Is your home draped in nothing but beige? If your goal is to make your home’s color scheme a little less monotonous, an accent wall can do the trick. Similarly, accent walls can define spaces within open floorplans.

You can make spaces with high ceilings feel more intimate. And you can make rooms with knotty pine panels feel cozier. Douse an adjoining white wall with a rich green or brown paint color. You’ll cut down on the contrast and craft the perfect gathering space.

Know a Little Color Theory

If you understand even just the basic terms and concepts of color theory, you can make better visual choices. From tints to shades, color theory can guide you to the perfect solution. 

Understand the Roles of Saturation and Value

Saturation refers to how intense a color is. Pastel colors commonly associated with springtime tend to be lower in saturation. Since highly saturated colors stand out, they are effective choices for fire trucks and caution tape — but not always accent walls.  

Value refers to how light or dark a color is. To go a step further, a tint is a color with white added to it, while a shade is a color plus black. Finally, a tone is a color with gray added to it.

With home decor, you may want to use select accents of saturated colors in an area rug or ceramic vase. But most of the time, choosing accent colors for your walls that have been diluted with white, black, or gray makes the most sense.

Colors Can Be Warm or Cool

When you look closely at similar colors side by side, you’ll start to see what separates them. For instance, one yellow may veer closer to green on the color wheel — and appear more acidic. Conversely, another yellow may veer closer to orange on the color wheel and appear richer.

A cooler red may blend better with blue upholstered furniture. An orange accent wall that leans closer to red might not look good with lemon-yellow wing chairs. When in doubt, test out your options first!

And check out color wheels online. When you’re choosing color swatches, consider what colors neighbor the color you have in mind. In other words, to find the perfect green, consider whether it should be a cooler blue-green or a warmer yellow-green.

Try Some Swatches

Use paint swatches to test the waters before committing to a color. You may even be able to put bigger test areas directly on the accent wall to get a better sense of what to expect. 

Gather a Few Options

Even though you might be set on a cooler color, grab some warmer paint swatches, too. You never know how you’ll be surprised once you see a color in your space. Plus it pays to examine colors as they appear with your upholstered furniture, throw pillows, and bookshelves around them.

Choose at least a few colors, plus some subtle variations. You might try three variations on the same green. Keep in mind that colors will look darker when confined to a smaller-scale swatch. 

Check the Colors at Different Times of Day

If you’re adding an accent wall to a room with natural light, you should check your paint options at different times of day. The midday sun will have a distinct impact on how an interior paint color reads. By contrast, when you check your color option at dusk or night, you’ll get a different reading. 

At midday, your accent color will be at its lightest and brightest. For deeper colors, you’ll be able to see the base hue more easily. On cloudy days, however, deeper colors may lose their luster.

Consider how many windows you have, and what the general climate is like where you live. For areas prone to cloudier days, you might want to keep your accent paint a little lighter. For sunnier climates, saturated or sunny colors will shine.

Take a Bold Approach to Accents Painting

As the saying goes, Go big or go home! You don’t have to pick the boldest color in the line-up, but sometimes it pays to take a color risk. 

Go Big with Bright Colors

Color has the capacity to make us feel happier and more energized. As an example, over 60% of Americans tend to think of yellow as a youthful color. On the other hand, too much intense yellow can be taxing for the eyes and even frustrating. 

Sunnier colors tend to promote a healthy and alert quality. They are particularly good choices for kitchens, sunrooms, and living rooms. And they can add lightness to drearier climates. 

For a dining room, try a punch of red. Or for a master bedroom, a cool blue will create the calm quality that helps you get a good night of rest. 

Try a Complementary Color Scheme 

For guaranteed intensity, you can opt for complementary colors — at full saturation — in your room decor. Be aware, however, that you need to be cautious.

What if you paint a bright red accent wall against green uppholstered furniture? That combo might fatigue your eyes pretty quickly. Complementary colors can go together, but it’s advisable to tone down the saturation most of the time. 

An orange-red accent wall with vibrant green houseplants in front of it will be eye-catching. Place those ferns or spider plants in a purple pot for the ultimate color triad. Orange, green, and violet will make for a pleasing and punchy combination.

Create a Splash with Metallics and Patterns

There are no rules stating that accent walls must be solid colors. In fact, accent walls often have more impact when you add flash or intricacy. Look to shimmery paints and chevron patterns for unique twists on an accent wall.

Go for the Gold

Consider looking into a metallic paint color to complement Queen Anne furniture, for instance. Luminous gold paint will suit the curvy legs of this antique style. If you have a sofa, coffee table, or high chest reflecting this style from the 1700s, go for the gold!

On the other hand, if you have a tufted headboard with elegant ornamentation around the edges, try painting silver behind it. The lightness of silver will keep the room light and airy. It will add a touch of refinement and highlight your headboard, too!

Pick a Pattern

Do you like stripes or a damask print? If you think your accent wall needs a little more punch, use patterns or a two-tone look. A few bold zigzags can add focus to a bigger space, while a pattern can establish elegance.

Consider adding some vertical gray stripes to a blue wall. Thin stripes carefully spaced will mimic the look of wallpaper. You can keep the colors keyed to the same value so the stripes aren’t overwhelming.

Alternatively, go for high-contrast stripes, waves, or zigzags to make a big impact. This look can liven up a child’s bedroom or den. Just be sure that the colors and shapes don’t make you dizzy.

Add a Muted Accent Wall

If you want to set your wall apart without getting too extreme, keep the colors muted. You can still spice up a room without reaching for a dramatic color!

Channel an Earthy Vibe

Are you hoping to conjure a forest vibe in your living room? Go with a muted green accent to pair with your ivory or white upholstered furniture. This will strike the right balance between elegance and earthiness.

Or if you have shiplap walls and rustic furniture, you can channel your favorite cabin by the lake. A green wall, brown shiplap, and some blue throw pillows would work well together. 

Muted greens, browns, and blues ar the perfect way to introduce the outdoors to the indoors. You could even try a two-tone wall with a lighter and darker version of the same green.

Tone Down the Hues

Recall that tones are colors with gray added to them. While you may love cobalt blue or royal purple in the form of a crayon or marker, these colors could be too punchy for your decor. Look for softer versions of them that have been diluted with gray.

Muted blues, violets, and yellows provide a softer transition to an accent wall. If you want to create a soothing ambiance to enjoy after a long day at work, go this route. Muted colors are good for larger accent walls, too, where there is more blank space to cover — or more going on in front of the wall. 

Punch Up Your Neutrals

Yes, accent walls can be stronger and more assertive. But neutrals are still fair game when you want to cozy up a room or give it focus.

Beige Doesn’t Have to Be Bland

For white furniture or softer tones in your decor, a deeper neutral tone can be an excellent choice. That way, you can keep the room’s ambiance soft but add a little more contrast. Try this look in a room populated by wicker chairs, a stone hearth, or light leather furniture.

Even in corporate spaces, neutral tones can be warm and inviting. A taupe accent wall at the front of a large, open office space can be effective.

The deeper natural tone will draw employees’ attention to the company mission statement, logo, or bulletin boards. It also can make an office space feel a lot homier. Set up a coffee bar there to encourage interaction!

Go With Analogous Colors

Consider one more nugget of color theory when plotting accent wall ideas. You can err on the safe side with analogous colors. Analogous colors are colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel. 

Suppose you have a sofa and wing chairs upholstered in lemon yellow. If the rest of your decor tends to stay in the warmer yellow family, stick with that approach in your accent wall. Try a deeper yellow-orange for added contrast — but not too much contrast.

What Else Is in the Room?

Don’t sign on to accent paint until you have considered everything else that is in the room. And if you’re upgrading your furniture or look in the near future, wait until you’ve locked in your choices before picking a color.

Coordinate Accent Colors with Architectural Features

Many older homes are lined with gorgeous trim work, wainscoting, or vaulted ceilings. On the other hand, newer homes might feature cleaner lines and less ornamentation. Be sure to look up and down before you commit to an accent wall color.

Will the wall go in a room with hardwood floors? If you have refinished oak floors in a light stain, keep in mind that you’re working with a lighter value on your floors. You might want a cooler accent wall that contrasts the warmer tone of the floor to make them pop.

Preserve existing woodwork around built-in cabinets or windows for sharper contrast. To create a more uniform and cleaner look, paint everything on your accent wall in the same color.

Check Your Throw Pillows and Rugs

If you’re committed to keeping your sofa and rugs for the long haul, factor that in to you accent wall ideas. The furniture should help drive the color choice. For a sofa that is white, you can achieve an airy look with a dove gray accent wall — or build more drama with deep gray or black. 

Likewise, look at your throw pillows, picture frames, and art. When you notice hints of burgundy, for instance, you might consider choosing an accent wall in a tint to help accentuate the burgundy. 

Know What to Avoid 

When it comes to accent wall ideas, there are some approaches you’re better off avoiding. If you’re feeling unsure about your natural inclinations, consult design guides or a trusted friend for guidance.

Don’t Be Too Cautious

It takes time to paint accent walls, so you want to hit the right tone on the first try, if possible. Paint is forgiving, however, so you can always paint over a bad decision. But you’ll save time, money, and effort if you get it right the first time.

Avoid being overly cautious with your color choices. Painting a black wall in an otherwise light room might be too heavy, but you can still go with a bolder color. It is called an accent wall, after all. 

Make sure you can tell a clear difference between your existing wall colors and accent paint. And if you start painting a swatch and it looks too light, level up with a bolder color.

Get a Second and Third Opinion

Asking a friend, family member, or painting pro for advice is a good decision. They might have other considerations that impact your final color choice. Best of all, they can help you steer clear of making a space feel too heavy or intense. 

When you’re planning accents painting, it’s also easy to think you should paint the whole room. By sticking with one wall, you can see if you actually like living in a space with the color. It’s an opportunity to take a risk without investing in painting an entire room.

Ultimately, you don’t want to overthink it. After all, you can always change out your paint down the road if you change your furnishings!

Find the Best Accent Wall Ideas

Accents painting is the perfect way to add focus and character to a room. While you don’t want to be too impulsive, you do want to be decisive when choosing a paint color. Consider the furniture, art, and other decorative accents that will be in the room, too. Then you can hone in on the right color to take your living space to the next level. Ready to get started? Contact us and we can provide the professional painting services you need!