Accent Wall Ideas: How to Choose the Best Wall & Design

Today, we're going to talk about five ways to create warm and natural focal points using accent walls. I recently received a great question from one of the members of the design community about adding a feature wall and whether or not they're still in style.

I would say, yes, they are still in style, as long as they serve a purpose, and the accent wall ideas I’m sharing with you today all serve a noticeable purpose.

Accent wall designs

In commercial projects, I use accent walls a lot, one in almost every main space. This is integral to the client's branding, and it also helps draw attention to design features they would like on display.

Residential spaces have different needs, but every room still needs a focal point, something that draws you into the space. Some spaces have natural focal points, like fireplaces or a beautiful view, and some spaces are more generic and need a little help.

Adding some visual interest in the form of color, pattern, or texture not only helps us know where to focus, but it enhances the beauty of the space and emphasizes the design style.

Accent walls with architectural features

Accent wall considerations

To determine which wall should be the focus, think about the following. If there's an architectural detail like a fireplace or recessed area, that would most likely be where you would want to create focus.

Wall in the natural line of sight

In the absence of some type of architectural cue, it could be the wall in your natural line of sight as you enter a space.

The wall with the TV as an accent wall

For living spaces, it could be the wall that will hold your TV.

The longest continuous blank wall as an accent wall

In the dining room, it might be the longest continuous blank wall.

The wall the bed is on as an accent wall

And in the bedroom, it would most likely be the wall that the bed is on.

How to choose the right wall for an accent wall

Regardless of the location, pick symmetrical walls that are rectangular or square and preferably without doors, windows, or built-ins.

Accent wall ideas

Now, with location in mind, let's jump into five ways to add an interesting focal point to those spaces.

Black painted accent wall

1. Accent wall paint ideas

Option one is paint and art. This option is by far the least commitment, least expensive, and easiest to do. The best accent wall paint ideas include pulling your color palette together ahead of time and including artwork in them.

Using artwork on an accent wall

A good way to use this strategy is to select the artwork first and use it as a color inspiration for the space, selecting your main wall color and the accent in a deeper tone from the piece.

The more contrast between your main and accent color, the more dramatic the effect. If you want to keep it subtle, pick closely related colors that harmonize with each other.

Flat or matte finish vs eggshell or satin

I like to use flat or matte paint to minimize the look of texture and imperfections in the wall finish.

Wallpapered accent wall

2. Wallpaper accent wall ideas

Option two is wallpaper or some type of graphic wall covering. Wall coverings of all kinds have made a big comeback in recent years, and it's a great choice for adding personality to a space.

Peel-and-stick wallpapered accent wall

Design options range from traditional to bold and graphic to calm and serene. This type of wall treatment was once a big commitment, but there are many beautiful and removable peel-and-stick options on the market, so you can change it up easily.

This is great for renters because you can customize your space while you're there and leave no trace when you move.

Matte graphic on wallpaper

However, do consider the texture of your walls. If they're smooth, you're good to go with any option, but if they're textured, consider a thicker vinyl wall covering with a fairly matte graphic print to minimize the texture.

Textile accent wall

3. Accent wall textile ideas

Option three is natural textiles. Closely related to wallpaper and vinyl wall coverings are natural textile wall coverings.

Natural fibers for an accent wall

With these, you can bring in nature in the form of natural fibers like grasscloth, jute, paper weave, sisal, and string. These can be hung the old-fashioned way with glue, but they also come in peel and stick.

Textured accent wall

Because these options are thicker and more textured, you don't need to be as concerned with wall texture as long as it's not very heavy.

Wood accent wall

4. Wood accent wall ideas

Our next option is wood. Wood adds warmth and texture to a space, and there's an option to fit any style.

Board and batten vs shiplap accent walls

There is a wide array of choices, from traditional wainscoting to the more casual board and batten then shiplap, rustic reclaimed wood, and modern and minimal zen-like wood slats or open geometric patterns.

Peel-and-stick wood details for an accent wall

Depending on the installation, it's a bit more of a commitment than paint or wall covering, but there are also peel-and-stick products for the wood too.

Open wood strip design

If the wood will cover the wall entirely, there's no need to worry about texture and imperfections, but do consider these if you're creating an open wood strip design that will be painted and go for the flat or matte options.

Natural stone accent wall example 1

5. Accent wall natural stone ideas

Our fifth option is natural stone. Natural stone can really make a statement and gives a space a natural and elevated look. It's definitely more of a commitment and more costly, but the results can be stunning.

Natural stone accent wall example 2

Since this is a more permanent solution, it's best to look for neutral options in simple yet elegant patterns that will stand the test of time and combine with most styles, like a linear white stacked stone.

Accent wall ideas

This design offers texture and some subtle variations of color in the stone, which gives you a lot of flexibility when integrating it into your designs.

Accent walls

As long as your accent wall serves a purpose, it is still in style. Using any of the five accent wall ideas I’ve shared today will help you design an accent wall that is both intentional and pleasing to look at.

Which type of accent wall is your favorite? Share your selection in the comments section that follows.

Join the conversation
  • Kathy R. Kathy R. on Jan 30, 2024
    Great tips! Since I didn't want to do something permanent because I get bored with things easily, I painted my textured backsplash to look like brick. Was wondering if you think it would be too much if I also painted the backside of the peninsula and the backsplash in my bathroom with this same look. The entire house is the same beige color and texture. Thanks ☺
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    • Kassi Kassi on Jan 31, 2024
      You did a fabulous job on the kitchen backslash! It looks real. In my opinion this brick look should be very pretty as a backslash in your bathroom. I love the look of brick or stone on walls. Personally, I would not add it to the back of a peninsula. But with your talent, I'm sure it will look real if you do.