Accent Wall Alert – Don’t Make This Mistake!

Last week I got an email from a lady in North Carolina looking for approval on her choice of accent walls and color placement.  This is the layout she sent me of her kitchen:

She told me she planned to paint Wall A and Wall C in a very dark green paint color, with white trim and a white chair rail running through the middle of it.  Then she wanted to paint Walls B, D, and E in a beige/earthy tan color below the chair rail and a lighter tan above the chair rail.  She asked me, “Will this work???”

 

 

Why, oh why would someone want to do such a thing?  I know why, of course.  It’s because in an open floor plan like this, she believes that her only option for strong or dark color is to paint one or more accent walls, as the color would be “too much” for the entire space.  I certainly agree that dark green would be too much.  Since the ceiling runs unbroken throughout multiple areas of the house, I would NOT recommend painting the ceiling a real color besides white, even though a color on the ceiling works well the dining room I shared on Monday and in this kitchen:

via Pinterest

 

This is what I recommend:  a beige or gray neutral with a slightly green undertone (rather than fleshy peach or pink, which I suspect she meant by beige/earthy tan) on ALL the walls in this space.  The right color placement is as important as the right paint colors.  Where there is chair rail, apply this color above the chair rail only.  I suggest painting below the chair rail the same white as the trim and the kitchen cabinets, in the same finish (probably semi-gloss).

 Source

 

Now, what about the accent wall?  I do not recommend an accent wall in this space (and certainly not two).  What I would suggest is painting the kitchen chairs like this:

via Pinterest

 

 

and adding colorful, patterned curtains on the double window like this:

via Pinterest

 

 

and art on Wall A like this:

 via Pinterest

 

 

 and maybe some kitchen accessories like this:

via Pinterest

 

Your wall color can’t always be the STAR of the room, nor should it be in this particular situation.  The paint color on the walls should be a pleasing backdrop to your furnishings and accessories.   If you choose the right neutral one, you can apply real color any number of other ways in the space.  Do you agree with my suggestions for this kitchen?  What would YOU do?

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Andrea Brooks
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Andrea Brooks

Love your suggestions! I know it’s not easy to address every email but way to take a huge potential mistake and turn it into a plan with some real solutions! I’m sure this person will be very grateful!

Holly
Guest

Yes! I love your suggestions about adding the accent in forms of pops on the chairs, artwork, etc. I’m surprised how many people I know have accent walls, but I do think people who are a bit color shy think it’s the only way to get the color into the home. But you’ve shown how accents can bring in the desired color that a client is looking for. Nice post Kristie!

Alyson
Guest
Alyson

Great post. You gave that woman your expertise for free, but in sharing it here you helped us all avoid a 1980s mistake. I loved all the visuals.

Sherry
Guest
Sherry

You’re so smart, Kristie :> So many readers love this very kind of post. I bet that gal’s not the only one with these questions! I hope you find that your readership reflects that.

Donna Frasca
Guest

Are people still doing accent walls? Haven’t see that in a while – even here in NC. Great choice to bring in color with accent pieces. Love that cow!

Cherie
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Cherie

Yes, great post! Advice is perfect. Photos match your advice. She learned (I imagine), and so did I!

Paula Van Hoogen
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Paula Van Hoogen

Kristie, you made me laugh out loud with that “OH NO” slide :0) I love your sense of humor….and the beautiful and logical color choices. It’s like putting a great outfit together….NO dark green socks with white slacks and pinky beige sweater. OKAY!???

jodi seaton
Guest

LOVE the cow!

maria macdonald
Guest
maria macdonald

Hi Kristie I have just found this site and I think it’s great!!! I also have a question my living room is a rectangle shape its not very big; I thought about adding an accent wall but the wall that has a fireplace also has a door on either end (you have to access the kitchen via the living room) do you think it would draw too much attention to the doors if i accented that wall or should I just paint all the walls neutral and have coloured accents like you mention with the kitchen above. My colour scheme… Read more »

Paula
Guest
Paula

Hello Kristie,
Thanks for a very helpful and informative post with great pictures to illustrate your point! My daughter in law, who lives in Clarksville, TN, recently called you to get a plan for her living room. I recommended that she use your services since I have benefited so much from reading your blog. I thought you gave her a great place to get started. Thanks!
Paula

Kelly
Guest

I’m with you- fabrics and accesories are the best way to bring in color. I love all your pictures! The chairs, the window treatments, the cow! and the beautiful flowers on counter. So pretty!

Sharon
Guest
Sharon

I nominate this post THE #1 post of all decor blog posts for the entire year. Awesome.

Terri
Guest
Terri

Kristie,

I adore your website.  I came across it while searching for ideas on painting an accent wall.  Thanks to your recommendations and photos, my wall placement was confirmed.

I am desperately searching for that perfect "beige or gray neutral with a slightly green undertone" that you mentioned in your accent wall article "Don't Make This Mistake".  I especially admired the color you used on the dining room wall with the collection of white and bone colored plates.  Would love to know the name and manufacturer of that color, as well as other similar colors…

Will be visiting your site frequently!

Berenice
Guest

Hi Kristie,

I am thinking of painting an accent wall in my living room and I wanted it to be the one with the TV. This wall is continuous with the dining room with a door opening to the guest bedroom in between and I am worried that it will be too long of an accent wall! Do you think it will be ok or should I consider the wall behind the couch which is shorter and stays within the confines of the living room? Thanks!

Natalie
Guest
Natalie

I would love to send you a picture of the layout of my bedroom, because I'm not sure which wall to accent. Anyway I can do that?(:

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Oh my gosh, I am so glad I found this! I am in the process of choosing the wall color for my living room/dining/kitchen and was pondering an accent wall (which I secretly abhor and always have unless it is something really interesting like wood plank or something). My walls suck and I can’t go too dark so I plan to do light greige walls throughout. I ordered an L sectional with boxed cushions and track arms in a sandy beige and I have a large wood dresser I plan to paint a bold green convert to a media center.… Read more »

Shannon Kiger
Guest
Shannon Kiger

Great information. I love the green curtains. Where can I find those at?

Brittany Barr
Guest
Brittany Barr

May be too late now but I believe they have those at Lowes!

AN
Guest
AN

I hope I’m not too late to this discussion. I am planning to redo my bedroom which is currently in neutral beige and cream. We have a squarish room with a four poster and a window opposite the bed and another window at right angles to the bed. I was planning to use teal and red for the decor….warm white walls, teal curtains with a lovely print (Lassiter Caribbean by Pindler) and the red accents in the form of two small 12″ square paintings above the bedside lamps , a Turkish area rug and the bedspread as well as the… Read more »

Abhiruchi
Guest
Abhiruchi

Hello, I have a question for the kids room. Its a 10 ft – 12 ft room with built-in cupboards (covering half the wall) in the wall opposite to the door (entrance extreme right). I was planning to put an accent colour on the left wall (which is the wall you see prominently and doesn’t have any built-in’s, obstructions etc). It is university (rental) housing though (which means old style cupboards,, off-white colour throughout the house). Accent wall seems to be the way to go to bring some colour into the house and what can be more perfect that babies… Read more »

Paula
Guest
Paula

My accent wall has a cold air return vent about 8″ x 12″. It is about six inches from the ceiling. Should the vent be painted the accent color or remain white? Thanks so much!

Yilen
Guest
Yilen

I’m having an issue with my new home as well. As you enter you see the stairs/hallway/and living room at once and once you close the door you can see the dinning room. Its a home from ’86 so its rooms and rooms. I originally wanted grey all over the house and then I’d choose either an accent wall(some sort of blue shade) in the dinning room or living room and the room without the accent wall, i’d end up using accent pieces to give the room a little pop. My dilemma is which room to give the accent wall… Read more »

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[…]  since the writing of this article, I posted  The Right Wall to Paint an Accent Color and  Accent Wall Alert – Don’t Make This Mistake!  Make sure you check them […]

Laura
Guest
Laura

Are the green curtains custom made or can I buy them somewhere? I love them!

Brittany Barr
Guest
Brittany Barr

I believe they have them at Lowes.

Erica
Guest
Erica

Hello, I just found your website and love finding all the great advice and seeing your fantastic designs. I was looking into painting a accent wall and now realize it’s not such a good idea. We are purchasing a house with an open concept plan where the ceiling is open to all the common rooms. We are thinking of painting close to a revere pewter because of beige-y tiles. I love the look of the turquoise ceiling in another post, but understand I cannot do that. How do you think if will look to paint the ceiling a 50/50 white/gray… Read more »

Jenny B.
Guest

Hi Kristie! I know this post is old, but I got lost in the links under today’s post and just found myself here (I very much enjoyed my detour). 🙂 I am wondering… Do you still recommend painting the area below a chair rail the same color and finish as the trim? What if the drywall is textured? I have a chair rail in my breakfast nook and knockdown textured drywall, and I am not sure what to do. 🙂 Thanks!

clem griffiths
Guest
clem griffiths

I have to paint 5 upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom and on the negative side the house suffers from insufficient lighting. That being said I want to do something that is refreshing and pleasing to the eye for 2014. The floor is a medium dark brown to chocolate laminate , dark but not coffee dark there are some golden hues in there. I was thinking of a family of colors and using a color from the family of colors for an accent wall for each room. I really want to come away with a wow ! effect. Any ideas on… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

Hi Kristie!
I just signed the lease for a wellness center in my town and need help with painting. Here’s a pic of the office:
http://m.imgur.com/KJ2I1fh
I’m trying to decide what walls to accent. I’d like to use a light neutral color and a light green color to accent. Any suggestions? Thanks for all your expertise!!

Kris
Guest
Kris

I painted my kitchen a dark green. All cabinetry is shaker white with a black island. The family room has a large opening between the kitchen and family room and it is encased in white trimmed wood. The fireplace wall is at the far end and is on a 17′ wide wall, facing the kitchen. We are redoing the 6′ 8″ wide fireplace by drywalling over the top brick. We are dropping the mantle a few inches and replacing it with a new white mantle. In addition we are encasing the lower part of the fireplace in shaker white trim.… Read more »

Tina
Guest
Tina

Is it possible to do a light colored accent wall? My kitchen is open to the dining and living room. The kitchen cabinets are espresso so I wanted a lighter color backsplash to keep the kitchen from falling into darkness. I was hoping to use the same color on the wall surrounding my fireplace to tie the space together. I was looking at Olympic silverberry for the walls and a shade lighter for the backsplash and accent wall. Is this a mistake?

Kristie
Guest
Kristie

What’s your thoughts on black walls in a living room? Do you suggest all walls black, or one or two walls?

Darlene Bahr
Guest
Darlene Bahr

I have a large living room/dining room, all walls are a very light peach, one wall is all windows facing the lake, my accent colors for pillows and rugs are turquoise and brown, all furniture white. What would be a good accent color for one wall?

trackback

[…]  since the writing of this article, I posted  The Right Wall to Paint an Accent Color and  Accent Wall Alert – Don’t Make This Mistake!  Make sure you check them […]

Ellen
Guest
Ellen

I am painting my living room. When you walk in the front door, you see 8 ft wall with fire place and window. The wall opposite is 17 ft. I want to paint one of the walls camo blue and the other 3 seafoam white. Please advise. Thanks

Samantha
Guest
Samantha

So, when do you recommend an accent wall? Is it always a bad idea?

Annette Tillet
Guest
Annette Tillet

I need an accent wall in my living room which is 21 feet, is this too long for the colour red