How to Paint an Accent Wall

Want to bring a splash of color into your room, but afraid to take the plunge? Try an accent wall—it'll add a focal point to the space without overwhelming the whole room. Here's how to get started.

Accent walls add drama to a room—bringing in bold color that might be too much for a full room. Before you dive in, consider these ideas (and a few how-tos) to make the most of your design choices. Consider these options to create a wow-worthy look.

Accent Wall Tips and Tricks

Ready to dive in? Strengthen your accent wall game with these how-to tips.

Trim paint colors - color wheel
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Choose your perfect accent color.

Since an accent wall is often the focal point of the room, select color wisely. "I tend to work with accent colors that are within the same color palette as the space," says interior designer Abbe Fenimore. "That way, the space has depth, looks cohesive, and is tactfully layered. If a really bold color is used, it's important to incorporate that color around the room using art, accessories, or a great rug."

For the finish, interior designer Sara Story suggests choosing paint with a high sheen level (meaning it's shinier) to make the wall even more interesting.

How to Prep Walls for Painting, Clean
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Prep your accent wall well.

Preparation is key to a good paint job. "To prep, make sure the surface is clean—that means removing cobwebs from corners, dust, and grease or smudges if it's a kitchen wall," says interior designer Timothy Brown. "Then, lightly sand the surface."

Paint roller leaning on yellow-orange accent wall
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Be patient while you paint.

Even though it's only one wall instead of four, painting an accent wall still takes time and patience. "The number of coats depends on your desired saturation of color," says Brown. "Generally, that means one to two coats if you want a light color, and two to four coats if you want a dark, rich color. The best technique is slow and steady, especially with darker paints."

Zebra Scalamandre Wallpaper in red
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Take it to the next level.

If you like taking design risks, paint isn't the only way to create an accent wall. "Instead of using paint, choose a patterned wallpaper to add texture and vibrancy," says interior designer Amanda Reynal. "Then, paint the other three walls in either a neutral tone or a color from the wallpaper. The room will be unified and alive, and the wallpaper will act as artwork."

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Think about furniture placement.

After the accent wall is finished, determine how to incorporate furniture and accessories. "For a bedroom, I would recommend placing the bed in front of the accent wall," says Story. "For a living room, I would recommend placing the sofa in front of the accent wall."

Reynal is a fan of creating an accent wall in the dining room. "It's a place that's often hard to create visual interest," she says. "By styling the wall with a mirror, sconces, and a sideboard, it becomes part of the space and acts as a beautiful backdrop."

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