Adding An Accent Wall

By Kristen Castillo

March 16, 2016 5 min read

Adding an accent wall is a stylish touch for your home. Best of all? It doesn't have to be pricey or complicated to be pretty.

"Accent walls are very versatile and great in small or open plan spaces, as they can help to define an area," says Kevin Pleasants, do-it-yourself expert and operations manager at Handy, an on-demand supplier of cleaning and DIY professionals, noting you can use a bold paint in a corner to define a home office within a larger room.

"If you want to define a sleeping area, fabric or a tapestry can be hung on the wall behind the bed to create a cozy nook," says Pleasants, who recommends installing a metal or wire hanging rack, like one used for hanging curtains. "Just attach this to the top of the wall using screws, and hang the fabric using the tracks clips."

Adding paint is the easiest accent wall to create. The job is typically easy to do and low budget -- think a few gallons of paint as well as the right tools.

"The most common accent walls are a deep color in the same family as the color of the rest of the rooms," says Scott Specker, owner of Five Star Painting, mentioning the accent wall should "enhance and brighten" the room.

He recommends accenting a wall with straight lines that's a focal point in the room and says patterns work well in kids' rooms.

No matter what color you choose, invest in good supplies. Specker suggests using a quality tape that won't damage the wall and won't allow paint to bleed through when applied properly.

Plan your design, too, using real dimensions on a template.

"We have also used a projector to display the enlarged image on the wall," says Speck, who uses satin or flat-finish latex paint for accent walls and acrylic for murals.

One more paint tip from Pleasants: "If your paint isn't that bold, you may need to apply a white base coat first."

The concept of an accent wall may have started with paint but that concept has expanded.

"I recommend hand-painted murals, wallpaper and tile," says interior designer, Mikel Welch of Mikel Welch Designs, the set designer and on-air design expert for "Steve Harvey."

Wallpaper options include hand painted wallpaper, as well as removable wallpaper, which is great for rental properties and apartments since the removable paper is, "like a sticker that you can place anywhere and won't damage the wall when you take it off," says Welch.

He recommends installing antique mirrored glass to a wall to "add interest and character" to the space. Local glass and hardware stores sell 12-by-12-inch panels of glass that homeowners can install themselves.

"A mirror is a great addition to any room, as it will give the illusion of space, and hanging a mirror on an accent wall will give it even greater impact," agrees Pleasants, reminding homeowners to hang mirrors safely. "Hooks will need to be drilled into the wall for each 'D hook' on the back of the mirror to properly carry its weight."

In addition to mirrors, you can also install tiles on a wall.

These wall options, "can take less than a day to install and are so simple and easy that anyone can do it," says Welch.

*Tips for Acing an Accent Wall

--Set a budget. Highlighting a wall with paint, tile, wallpaper or other designs ranges from affordable to a little pricey. "It depends on the request and complexity," says Specker, noting that prices can range from $150 to over $1,000.

--Choose a focal point. Here's how you decide which wall to accent: "Consider where you want the focus to be in your room, or where the eye is naturally drawn," says Pleasants, suggesting walls with architectural significance like a fireplace, make great accent walls.

--Have a plan. It's easier to change a design before you've bought the supplies or done a lot of work. "Make sure you know what you want before you start," says Specker.

--Consider lighting. Play up your accent wall with clever lighting. Pleasants recommends installing a strip light along the bottom of the wall for soft lighting or mounting spotlights overhead to draw the eye to the wall's features.

--Know your wall materials. Want to hang mirrors, frames or artwork on your accent wall? Consider whether the wall is load-bearing or a partition wall. "Some interior walls or dry walls are there simply to separate the room and have no structural purpose, so are often not strong enough to support heavier objects," says Pleasants, mentioning that you might have to buy specialist drill bits and extra equipment to hang items on partition walls.

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