Which wall is best for a painted accent wall?

I recently received this question from a reader who was painting her family room and wanted to know which wall would make the best accent wall. She was confused as to whether she should pick a solid wall that was a side wall, the fireplace wall, or the wall behind the sofa which had a window and a door.

Regardless of how you feel about accent walls (many designers and decorators see them as dated) they are still very popular here in the north east and quite a few of my color consulting clients ask for them. When choosing an accent wall, remember it will be a focal point in your room, so be sure there is a good reason to draw attention to it. A random “side wall” doesn’t make for a good accent wall just because it’s a solid wall. Also, don’t default to an accent wall just because you don’t have the courage to paint all four walls your accent color, otherwise it will just look like you haven’t finished painting.

So, which wall is best for a painted accent wall?  Here are the three things I look for when deciding on an accent wall.  

1. A solid wall with no breaks or interruptions. A solid wall behind a sofa or a bed is always a good choice. It is a great place for a pop of bold color that adds visual interest to an otherwise lack luster room.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

2. A symmetrical wall. If you must use a wall with windows or other architectural features it will look best if the wall is symmetrical.  A wall with various sized windows or windows and a door is not the best choice.

symetrical accent wall

In the photo above, the accent wall is symmetrical with the two matching windows and sconces. The dark gray also relates to the sofa and draws you visually through the room while adding some interest to what looks to be a long narrow room.

3. The ceiling. Painted ceilings are very on trend right now and since the ceiling is the 5th wall it is a great place to add a pop of color.

blue painted ceiling

image via Apartment Theraphy

Similar to solid walls, a painted ceiling works best if there are clearly defined boundaries. In other words, if you live in open concept house, a bold turquoise ceiling may not work for the whole house. Bed rooms and bath rooms are my rooms of choice for a painted ceiling.

The Novagrats via Apartment Theraphy

The Novagrats via Apartment Theraphy

This morning I stopped by a client’s home who I had helped with choosing color a few weeks ago. She had recently moved to a beautiful new condo and her main floor was one very long and narrow single room (approx. 60′ x 20′) that was kitchen, living room, dining area.

We decided on an accent wall for the far back wall for two reasons. She wanted to tie in the orange accent from her rug, pillows, fabric and art work and we also wanted to visually shorten the room with the advancing orange wall. Here is the result.

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

Here is another view of just the wall

Linda Holt Photo

Linda Holt Photo

She told me it is her favorite thing about the condo and just loves walking in and seeing the pop of bright color.

As always, I love feed back…What do you think of accent walls?  Do you have an accent wall in your home?

Wallpaper: Thumbs Up Or Down?

The first house my husband and I bought had 7 rooms of dated, hideously ugly wallpaper. Every room was covered in a busy print of  flowers, birds, or fruit. It took weeks and weeks of labor (steaming, scoring, scraping) to get it off. I still remember the agony and saying at least a hundred times how I would never, ever, have wallpaper again.

Well……fast forward 17 years….I recently found myself flipping through a few wallpaper books and I didn’t see a single Rooster, Cherry or tiny Floral pattern in the book. What I did see was fabulous colors and patterns.  It was a far cry from what I stripped off all those years back. Although I am still not ready to pull the trigger and wallpaper an entire room, I must admit, I have had moments of weakness. I continue to see wallpaper showing up in design magazines and I must say I have become a little more open minded.

It got me thinking… maybe I will use a little wallpaper and line a china cabinet.



I love this painted side board lined with this black and turquoise wallpaper.


I’m not a fan of an entire room covered in wallpaper unless the paper is very subtle or textured such as a grass cloth.




I do like the look of bright and colorful wallpaper when used as an accent.


Notice the same paper used as the art on either side of the panel.

This red paper accent wall adds a nice pop of color to brighten up this bed room.



I love this black and white graphic used as an accent wall in this dining room.



Another fun idea is wallpaper on the ceiling. Although I couldn’t imagine the labor getting this off  when you tire of the look.



I think this blank frame wallpaper by Graham and Brown is genius…your child can color right on the wallpaper. My kids would have LOVED this when they were little.



I absolutely adore the hand painted wallpapers from Black Crow Studios. This one would look so beautiful in my dining room or in my entrance way…just beautiful!  Not only do I love the colors but I love the whole watery feel.


hand painted wallpaper by Black Crow


Then problem with wallpaper is that just like fabric, it is such a personal choice. What I love, you may not; and since we plan to sell our house and downsize sometime within the next 5-7 years I think of the pain of taking it off. But then again…

So what is your vote on wallpaper?  Thumbs Up or Down?


If you would like some help with decorating, staging or color, give me a call.


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