Make A Statement

Transform your barren wall into your next conversation starter
Accent wall
Homeowners and designers have assorted options for transforming walls from muted spaces into statement-making places that demand to be heard. Enhancing elements may include paints, wallpaper, laminates, paneling, tile, wood, art and photographs. Photo by Greg Riegler courtesy of In Details Interiors

Everyone has one. That big, blank, boring wall may be in your bedroom, living room, kitchen or even hallway. You could put up some family photos or a piece of art, but the whole effort feels daunting, and up until now, you’ve left well enough alone. No more. A delightful trend has emerged, proving that with a bit of creativity and elbow grease, even these windowless, doorless stretches of paint and plaster can become the focal point of a room.

The popularity of statement or accent walls saw a meteoric rise about 10 years ago, thanks to websites like Pinterest. Put simply, an accent wall uses elements like paint, wallpaper, laminate, paneling, tile, wood, art or photographs to draw the eye and add personality to a room. Consider bringing in a pop of color, covering an entire wall with reclaimed barn wood or creating a modern textural pattern with carefully placed paneling.

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“We have done many fireplace rehabs lately,” says Liz Logan, the operations manager at the In Detail design firm in Pensacola. “This steel geometric-patterned tile (photo) was a bear to work with,” Logan notes, but produced a beautiful result. Photo by Greg Riegler courtesy of In Details Interiors

Liz Lapan is the operations manager and, as her boss likes to say, “VP of everything” at Pensacola’s In Detail interior design firm. Unlike some firms, which rely on furniture to do the heavy lifting in designs, In Detail invests in the architectural personality of the space, often with accent walls.

“There are a lot of different ways you can treat it depending on your personal style and the overall feel you are looking to establish in the space,” Lapan said. “If you’re looking to add texture or some interesting architectural interest, restored doors, beams and mantles are an awesome resource and sometimes can be found for a great price. We have a lot of good resources in our area for this, and there’s always a story and history behind repurposed pieces that adds so much charm.”

There are three main things to consider when creating an accent wall: personal style, budget and how much you can do yourself. The latter two, as you might expect, are directly linked. DIY projects can be both fun and economical, but it can be easy to get in over your head.

Elements like tile backsplashes or large paneled designs are beautiful, but they require special equipment and a deft hand. Tile is expensive and tricky to install without expert help. Installing paneling on your own requires a miter saw, nail gun and high-quality glue.

“Tile backsplashes or large paneled designs are beautiful for an accent or feature wall, and we have done many for fireplace rehabs lately,” Lapan noted. 

Paint is arguably the most popular approach to accent walls for several reasons. It’s simple, inexpensive and easily covered if you decide to refresh the room. In the 2010s, the trend of painting one wall a different shade or color took off, but in some cases, the theory behind this design was lost in the excitement.

“We tend to avoid the single-painted wall as an accent,” Lapan said. “There have been instances where it was the right fit, but it can be tricky because you want to have some visual flow with what is adjacent to that wall. A lot of times, if we are trying to make it stand out, we find that texture or pattern can help deliver that in a more cohesive way where you can color match with nearby walls.”

If you choose to take the paint route, try incorporating similar pops of color throughout the room for a more cohesive design. Use lamps, throw pillows or curtains to coordinate your color scheme, but avoid permanent features like flooring or countertops. Stick with things that can be changed or rotated out if you decide to repaint. This principle applies to other accent wall mediums, as well. Wallpaper had a major resurgence in recent years, particularly once peel-and-stick products hit the market, cutting down on the hassle of application and removal.

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In the 2010s, a trend toward painting one wall in a room a bold color gained popularity, but enthusiasm for that approach may be waning. Designer Liz Logan finds that the use of texture or patterns can be a more subtle, but effective, way of setting a wall apart. Photo by Greg Riegler courtesy of In Details Interiors

“We’ve done a lot of walls that divide one space from another with wallpaper,” Lapan said. “We use a lot of wall-covering materials and wood cloths, as well as grasscloths in our interiors. Sometimes their purpose is more about the unification of a space — I love something bold for a feature headboard wall in a bedroom or in a powder bath — and sometimes it’s about really delivering something striking and solid like bold midnight grasscloth in a kitchen or soft blush in a living room. We just love wallpaper and believe that soon that will be the thing, rather than texture sprayed on your sheetrock.”

A statement wall does not have to require power tools or hours of dry time. Arranging a gallery wall with family photos, landscapes and artwork is a great way to display your creativity and cherished memories.

“Mural wall coverings are very in now, and we have used these as accents for creating a gallery space or feature nook in common areas a lot recently,” Lapan said. “I love the story they can tell and the way they can transform a large wall that has good scale. 

“Unique art paired with great accent lighting is another way to treat an otherwise lifeless wall and really make it its own vignette and feature — great for entryways or focal points along a hall or up a stairwell.”


Categories: Decorating