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Expert Tips on Choosing Paint Colors for Stunning Accent Walls

Painting an accent wall can be a polarizing topic.  For the most part, you either love accent walls or you can’t stand them.  Accent walls can help define a space, create drama or visual interest, and help tie a room together.  At Kind Home Solutions we tend to lean toward team accent wall but there are still a few important things we think you should know before diving into an accent wall project.

Choosing An Accent Wall Color

Selecting the color for your accent wall can be a little tricky.  It’s especially overwhelming if you don’t have a good starting point.  Our certified interior decorator, Whitney Sutton recommends finding a source of inspiration as a starting point.  Most of us at this point are well aware of Pinterest and how easy it can be to scroll through images for hours. The problem with solely using Pinterest as a source for inspiration is that it’s not really taking your space into account. The pictures you might find on Pinterest are always beautifully curated but they may not compare very well to the space you’re actually looking at painting.  So, the important thing to remember, when you’re decorating a space is that it’s a reflection of you, your space, and your taste.  

Determining Your Color Palette

You might be saying to yourself, “but I have no taste!” but you absolutely do.  We all have certain things we’re naturally drawn to, you just may not be comfortable with making decisions around that, yet.  The good news is that there are endless possibilities with color and there are colors that are right for you for your interior painting. The first step here is to take a walk throughout your home and make note of what you like or don’t like about what you already have.  Do this even if you’re just looking at painting an accent wall in one room because it’s going to help get an overall feel for how you already decorate. If this is a new home for you or you haven’t done much decorating yet then you’re really working with a blank canvas and you may just want to move on to the next step.

As you walk around your home write down or take pictures of things you really love.  This is not limited to paint color; take a look at furniture, fabrics, lighting, the openness of a space, even something singular like a rug or small decorative element.  There’s no right or wrong answers because this is just about determining what you like.  

Account for Fixed Features

This is a really important step so listen up.  When you’re considering painting an accent wall you need to do an inventory of all of your fixed features.  These are features that are not easily changed such as flooring, ceiling height, built-ins, tile work, backsplashes, architectural features, fireplaces, etc. Unless you’re doing a top to bottom remodel then these fixers aren’t changing and you’ll need to select colors accordingly.  Determine if these features are primarily cool or warm toned before moving on to color selection.

You also need to determine if you’re just painting the accent wall or if you plan to paint all of the walls within the space.  Obviously if you don’t like the current color of your walls you should repaint but if you like the color and are just thinking of painting the accent wall one thing to consider is how long ago your other walls were painted.  A fresh coat of paint next to older paint (think anything past 2-3 years) will make the older paint look dingier. If your paint is older than 3 years and that room gets a fair amount of light, you may consider repainting the entire space.

What Mood Are You Creating

Once you’ve completed some of the base work it’s time to look at some colors (finally!).  The psychology of color is an incredibly interesting topic. Basically, certain colors evoke certain moods.  For example; blues and greens tend to be very calming and represent nature. Oranges and yellows have a higher energy to them and they can promote communication, collaboration, and optimism.  It’s important to understand these associations as it will have an impact on how you and others feel within a space. You see a lot of blue and green bedrooms and bathrooms because those are generally places to escape and find peace and quiet.  You don’t see a lot of red baby rooms because red is one of the most aggressive colors and that’s not the feeling you want a baby to have. For more information on the different associations of colors check out our post on The Psychology of Color.  We’ll also get into more specifics about using color in our Creating Spaces Decorating Series. 

Find Your Inspiration

We’ve touched on Pinterest and how it can be a great source for color inspiration but let’s dial that in a bit.  The question is; where did the person on Pinterest get their inspiration? When we’re looking at painting an accent wall you;ve got to determine where you’re going to pull that color from.  It doesn’t make sense to just have one random color slapped up on the wall; it just isn’t enough. You’ve got to tie the elements together and one of the best ways to do that is to choose a large feature or furniture piece and build the room around that piece.  For example; if you have a rug that you absolutely love, take a look at the colors within the rug and see which ones jump out to you. Which color within the rug would you love to see more of? We’ve provided a few examples below so you can see what we’re talking about. 

painted accent walls

painted accent walls

Do you see how they’ve taken one of the colors from the rug and tied that element to the room with the accent wall color?  They both feel connected and like they belong together. You can do this with a lot of other elements; throw pillows, duvets, photos and artwork.  You just need to focus on one beautiful piece and build the room around that piece.

Neutralize Your Space

As a rule for interior painting and decorating you generally want the main color within your space to be neutral.  This is especially important with an accent wall. Imagine for a moment a bedroom with 3 orange walls and a blue accent wall.  We’re based in Colorado so maybe someone’s going to love that Broncos bedroom but in reality, that’s not going to work for most people.  We want to create inviting spaces so you do want to tone it down with a neutral “main” wall color. Neutral paint colors are white, beige, grey, and some browns.  Black is also technically a neutral, as it “goes with everything” but you can probably imagine it’s not a very common paint neutral. A good rule for determining which neutral base is best for you would be grouping like colors.  If you’ve determined that your accent color will be a blue, green, or violet then you should go with a light grey or white. If you’ve got a red, orange, or yellow accent wall then you’re probably better off with beige, white, or some kind of tan.  White’s universal here but definitely keep in mind the undertone of the white. Is it more of a creamy, warm base like Roman Column or does it have a cooler tone like Snowbound?  Keep in mind, this rule can absolutely be broken so always go with what you like over anything else.

Another fun way to “neutralize” your walls without sacrificing color is to go with a monochromatic option.  This is where you only use one color throughout the space. To create an accent wall you would do a lighter version of the color as the main color and a deeper or darker version of the color, within the same family, as the accent. 

painted accent walls

Test Your Paint with Paint Swatches

This may be the most important step yet.  You need to test out your colors before going all in.  A lot of times paint goes on darker than we anticipated so it’s important to test both your neutral and accent colors.  This ensures you not only love the colors but that they also work within your space. We recommend a 2’x2’ swatch on the appropriate walls with at least two coats of paint applied.  Review the space throughout the day and see what the colors look like under different lighting conditions before making your selection. When it comes to painting an accent wall, doing your swatches in a corner can really help you see how those colors work with one another. 

Final Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far we hope you feel more comfortable and confident with your ability to find the right accent color for your space.  The most important things to keep in mind when decorating your home are function, color, and your preferences. This is about creating a space you’ll love and that’s what’s most important.  For more decorating tips and tricks follow us on Pinterest and Facebook or give us a call at 720-370-3063.



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