Please Do It Right, or Don’t Do It At All – The Accent Wall

Seems to me that many people just can’t get enough of the “accent wall.”   Let’s discuss.

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I’m certainly not against having an accent wall, but you need to think about why you want one.  Sometimes I think people are too scared to paint the entire room the color they really love.  So they paint some wimpy neutral, then paint one wall the color they really wanted.

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It never ceases to amaze me just which wall people will choose to accent.  To accent is to draw attention to one thing – one wall, right?  So make sure you accent the right wall.  Why is this wall accented, anyway?

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Ignoring the architecture is always a mistake.  Let your architecture be your guide – which wall deserves to be accented?  The one with interesting architecture, of course.  Remember this room?  A team of designers created it on HGTV’s Design Star the year Antonio won.  Guess what – they accented the WRONG wall, in my humble opinion.   The fireplace should have been the wall that was accented.  So sorry, Antonio, but I did like the hot pink geese.

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Don’t be arbitrary with your paint.  Some of the right places for an accent wall include a fireplace wall, the wall that anchors your bed, an interesting nook, or a bookcase wall.

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 So, share with me your thoughts about the ever-popular accent wall.  Or, ask me a question and I’ll try to help you decide just which wall you should be accenting!  For more advice on just the right color placement, read my post on painting trim vs. drywall here.

(Update:  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 out.)

Subscribe to The Decorologist today for more insider tips about color and decorating.  If you want to learn how to choose the right paint colors and right color placement in your home, check out my online Paint Color Class!

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Dianne Tant
Dianne Tant
10 years ago

I love your term “wimpy neutral”! ha I saw that episode with Antionia…but I did not like the pink geese…however…that is what made him win that time…now he has his own show

Naturally Carol
10 years ago

I so agree with you about the accent wall…those pink geese would have looked amazing on the dark brown and they and the fireplace would automatically pull you into their warmth. The navy wall and bookcase are great in that bedroom.

Kelly, Restyling Home by Kelly
Kelly, Restyling Home by Kelly
10 years ago

I so agree with everything you said! Also, a lot of people will ask for an accent wall when their room is just too small to have an odd painted wall. I love, love that last picture! Do you know what color blue that is? Love the painted flower. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing- great post!

Erin Lussier
Erin Lussier
9 years ago

Hey, I really like the look of the blue and grey together, I was wondering if you had the grey color code?

Brenda
10 years ago

I agree, so right on about wanting to use a color and “wimping out”.

Danielle@freshquince
10 years ago

I totally agree…it has to be done correctly for it to work! I have friend who keeps on telling me he wants to do an accent wall of orange, but he always points to the wrong wall. Guess which wall I tell him would be best…yup the fireplace wall! I like it used a little bit, as an entire home with just accent walls looks a little too much to me. Have an awesome week!

traci zeller designs
10 years ago

I almost always dislike the accent wall … but there are times that it works … and you’ve pointed out one thing that *has* to be right for it to work!!

ehalvey
10 years ago

Not sure what that whole HGTV room looks like, but to me, in that photo, the white wall looks like the accent wall. It makes the fireplace stand out as the black wall recedes. Now if it was a different photo with all white walls except the back wall, I might think otherwise.

I think accent walls only work if you have no architectural details. Accent wall in a Craftsman bungalow looks weird, accent wall in a giant McMansion works since there’s nothing else working as an accent.

mistybrooke05
mistybrooke05
10 years ago

I have an accent wall in my bedroom. I have 3 light grey walls with a yellow accent wall behind my platform bed. I think it looks great! However, I don’t like when people choose to use accent walls in every room. It takes away from the whole idea or point of it and where I live it became more of a trend. It’s supposed to be an accent, it’s supposed to be special, unique even…so it should be done sparingly.

carolsmyth@thedesignpages
10 years ago

So true. Somehow people think they can just sneak in a little colour on that one wall and it will be like adding a pillow. It’s a tough one to understand that there needs to be just as much thought and planning as if the whole room had been painted that colour.

radhika navelkar
10 years ago

Love this article! If you like a color go paint the whole room with it! But I loved it on the fireplace wall.

Crystal
Crystal
10 years ago

The wall id like to paint as the accent wall (the one our couch sits against) is oddly connected to the kitchen… how do you decide where to end the color?

Also, in a small apartment is it smarter to choose a vibrant accent wall or paint the entire living area a more calm version of the color I love? Im afraid a vibrant hue will overwhelm our small space!

Lili @ Relatable Style
10 years ago

That was my first thought, too: They accented the wrong wall! They probably thought the dark color would make this wall stand back and let the white shine, but… No. It doesn’t.

In other news, I just found your blog and I think it’s great! Cool resource for my upcoming move and redecoration 😀

Relatable Style

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

Hi – I’m thinking of painting a bavy accent wall in my 2yr old son’s room. I was going to do the windowless/doorless wall that his headboard will be up against. This is his bedding, and he will have espresso furniture: http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/freeport-quilt/ Any suggestions for what color navy? I’m going to be using Benjamin Moore paint. Also, what color would you paint the other three walls (we have “white dove” Benjamin Moore woodwork). Thanks!

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

Hi – I’m thinking of painting a navy accent wall in my 2yr old son’s room. I was going to do the windowless/doorless wall that his headboard will be up against. This is his bedding, and he will have espresso furniture: http://www.potterybarnkids.com/products/freeport-quilt/ Any suggestions for what color navy? I’m going to be using Benjamin Moore paint. Also, what color would you paint the other three walls (we have “white dove” Benjamin Moore woodwork). Thanks!

Dominique
Dominique
10 years ago

Hello there,

I really like the wall decal on the photo with the grey and blue accent wall. I wanted to know if you could tell me where I can get that exact one please I would greatly appreciate it. I am actually trying to do something similar to the wonderful idea you have up there.

Coley
10 years ago

I agree with all of this! Accent walls are often done horribly wrong. I’m not going to like though, I do like the pink geese! ;D

surf hag
surf hag
10 years ago

Hi,
We are painting our daughters room. we are choosing a teal hue and also an off white hue. We are going to use the teal behind her queen size bed with headboard that also has a window on the same wall. My husband disagrees with us here. We want to also paint teal on the wall that has the closet door too. He thinks we should only have 1 accent wall. We think the two smaller walls should have the color and the other two walls in the off white. What is the rule here?
fyi, the room is an 11x 10″ room with the 11′ wall being off white, as well as the wall with the entry door being off white.
Thank you for your advice.

Terry
Terry
6 years ago

I was thinking of painting my 4 year old Granddaughters bedroom she wants pink.. Do I need to paint every wall??

Lori
Lori
9 years ago

We are painting our master bedroom, which is a long room with eaves and a small craftsman-style lead-glass window on the far end of the room, above the bed. The previous owner painted the room stark white; ceiling, eaves and the short walls. I would like the room to be gray and navy. The wall that I would like to accent is the wall with the bed and window (because of the eaves it is the shape of home plate) Would that be appropriate to paint the wall navy, and the short walls and ceiling/ eaves gray? Or, would that be too busy because of the architecture, and I should just paint the entire thing gray, and have navy bedding, etc. ?

ms checko
ms checko
9 years ago

My son wants to paint his room a bright blue but has this obsession with doing an accent wall. What is your opinion on doing sort of a reverse accent wall? There will be three bright blue walls and one “wimpy neutral” white wall (or another color if you have any suggestions…we aren’t sure on the color of this wall) where the bed is going to be. Any info would be appreciated!!

ms checko
ms checko
9 years ago

The wimpy white wall was actually being used for random quotes in a similar blue color but he does not know this yet. I have just told him I have something to put on the wall that represents his personality. I’m worried if I go with another intense color it will take away from the quotes.

Tricia
Tricia
9 years ago

I live in a small condo where the dining room and living room share one big space on the first floor. You enter into a small hallway from the front door. The hallway opens into the dining/living room area. I want to color all the walls asparagus green (BEHR paints), but am wondering if I should have an accent wall. If so I am not sure which wall to pick…since there are no seemingly interesting features in any of the walls. There is one huge blank wall that connects both the dining and living room area. Please advise.

Going with asparagus green for the downstairs bedroom would also like suggestions on what to color the stairwell wall which is to the right of the small hallway. The stairs lead to a hallway upstairs.
I am also wondering if I should color the stairwell wall and the upstairs hallway the same color, since one does lead into the other.

Tricia
Tricia
9 years ago

I live in a small condo where the dining room and living room share one big space on the first floor. You enter into a small hallway from the front door. The hallway opens into the dining/living room area. I want to color all the walls asparagus green (BEHR paints), but am wondering if I should have an accent wall. If so I am not sure which wall to pick…since there are no seemingly interesting features in any of the walls. There is one huge blank wall that connects both the dining and living room area. Please advise.

Going with asparagus green for the downstairs dining/living area would also like suggestions on what to color the stairwell wall which is to the right of the small hallway. The stairs lead to a hallway upstairs.
I am also wondering if I should color the stairwell wall and the upstairs hallway the same color, since one does lead into the other.

harinii
harinii
9 years ago

Hi. That was a nice piece and something I’m very interested in at the moment. We just bought a house and neither my husband nor I fancy ourselves as interior designers. But the idea of accent walls really caught our attention. The previous owners of our house painted it a darker tone of butter yellow (if that’s imaginable!), but half of 1 wall has been painted to resemble red bricks in a country house. Now, we love the red brick bit. But we hate the yellow. Is there a light colour that would go with red brick?

lolalola28
lolalola28
9 years ago

Hi there! I wish I could send pics, however I’ll attempt to describe my bedroom as best as possible.

Room size is 10 x 13 with a vaulted ceiling. The door is to the left of the room, as you walk in. The wall directly across from the door is window wall which is where my bed is placed. Wall to left is empty, while wall on right of room has built in storage, TV and closet. Highest point of vault ceiling is wall above door.

I’d like to do an accent wall with some sort of cool, interesting wallpaper. Although the wall with window/bed seems to be the “correct” wall to do this, the wall to left has the vault that goes up to ceiling and seems like it would be an interesting choice. I might also consider installing a floating fireplace here. Help! Thoughts?

Lisa
Lisa
9 years ago

can you tell me what colors are used in bedroom looks like dark blue and gray love them what to paint my bedroom that cant find names of colors.
thank you Lisa

Kellie
Kellie
9 years ago

We have a very small house and I would like to paint my very small living room and maybe into the hall. My question is would it look weird to go from a red kitchen to a darker neutral color in the hall and living room? My bathroom is also painted a neutral color but it won’t be the same as the living room/hall. We just bought a new couch and it is a soft camel color. OR should I just do an accent wall where my fireplace is and do it a darker more brown color or I have some red left over form my kitchen. I just don’t know how to make the rooms flow into each other. You can’t see the kitchen form the loving room. Please help!!!

Christine
Christine
9 years ago

Hi: First, please think of ALL the pictures here as BEFORE. There are many things to work on so am looking for your honest feedback, but first, re accent wall. I was thinking of painting my long window wall and accent wall, perhaps with a circle geometric pattern I saw, as well as the small wall opposite (which is not pictured). Thinking of going deep, deep, navy blue. I have silk, ivory-cream curtains that I could hang on that wall, and perhaps even the two windows flanking the bed. One item I intend to purchase this year is an upholstered bed with tufted headboard in a pale fabric.

You mention that the accent wall should be the bed wall, but am wondering since you walk into the room from the 40ft-long hallway to see the 3-window wall, can an exception be made in this case? I think that a dark color on all 4 walls would be a mistake, but am open to suggestions. I also love the idea of a chandelier over bed to replace ceiling fan. So, please, help, help, help!!!!
http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/6812/photo3ho.jpg
http://img830.imageshack.us/img830/4852/photo2jc.jpg
http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/2228/photo1zd.jpg

Laura
Laura
9 years ago

Hello! I am debating an accent wall in my daughter’s room. We were given bedding and curtains that I plan to use (hence no say in the color choice) but am struggling with the color. The colors on the bedding are cream and a dark, rosey pink color – the curtains are Waverly fabric check and the bedding is a toile. I found a color that seems to match well with the dark pink but I think it is too dark for the whole room. There is only one wall with windows so I am thinking of the wall with the windows in the dark pink and the rest in cream (or a light pink). Am I thinking through this correctly? Any ideas? Also if anyone knows a dark rosey pink or cream they love, please tell me!! Thanks for the help!! Laura

Laura
Laura
9 years ago

Hi! Our headboard wall also has a window. Is that then spoor choice for an accent wall? Thanks!

Lindsay
Lindsay
9 years ago

Hi!
We are currently redoing our bedroom and have picked out a bedspread and side table lamps that we love (website for each of those items are attached). I am just stuck on what color to do the accent wall. The wall is on the east side of the house where our headboard and side tables (with lamps) reside. I’d love to hear your input! Thanks!!!

http://www.westelm.com/products/organic-ironwork-duvet-shams-b675/?pkey=cduvet-covers
http://www.lowes.com/pd_338350-32435-S-2479_4294798238_4294937087_?productId=3343310&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr|0||p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl_Lamp%2BShades_4294798238_4294937087_%3FNs%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=

Glennis
Glennis
9 years ago

Hello,

That last design with the blue wall and gray flowers looks amazing!! Would you happen to know that color of blue and where I can get those flower decals or is it hand drawn??

Karen
Karen
9 years ago
Reply to  Glennis

OMG! I just happened to find these conversations and I love Kristie’s advice! My 9 year old daughter is wanting an updated and bigger kid room, and she picked out a loft bed (metal and black). It doesn’t really match anything we have in her room (white shelves, white desk and chair, all traditional sort of even classic kid style furniture.) I figure she will probably change her mind a million times between now and high school, so we got the loft, but kept all the other stuff too. We did her bedding and some accents in zebra print (to help bring some black into the room). It looks great. My question lies in her wall color. Her room is currently a beautiful shade of light lavender (my favorite color purple ever!) She wants to go a little darker purple with (get this) a turquoise (or teal or aqua) accent wall! Can this be done without looking completely hideous??? If it can be done, could you please provide names of paint colors and where to buy them? Please help!!! Thank you!

K
K
9 years ago

Alright, Kristie, I’ve got a bit of a conundrum I’d like to ask you about—

I love color and I’m definitely not afraid to use it; but my new apartment has small bedroom, practically no natural light, one wall of smooth-surfaced sliding closet doors, and three terrible popcorn covered walls that I am powerless to do anything about. I got some tall vinyl decals of birch trees (thinking the vertical pattern of the trees would help to visually lift the ceiling), but I can only adhere them to a smooth surface, a.ka. the closet doors…so I’m going to have a big graphic statement on a wall *adjacent* to my bed instead of behind. So, should I paint the wall the headboard is on in an accent color to anchor the bed? Or will it just compete with the decaled wall of closet doors? Is it ever okay to have the accent wall be a wall other than the one on which your headboard sits? Thanks in advance for your advice! 🙂

K
K
9 years ago
Reply to  K

Oh! Just to be clear, the birch decals are white, so the closet doors have to be a color that provides some contrast. The wall opposite the bed has a long, awkward window in the corner adjacent to the closets, and my silvery dresser is on that wall. The wall opposite the closets houses my mahogany desk and bright white shelving. My headboard is also mahogany, and I MacGyver-ed some white floating drawers with gray drawer fronts as nightstands. I wanted to do the room in a palette of turquoise, green, gray, and white, but I’ve painted the room twice already and can’t seem to hit the right saturation. So in addition to knowing which wall (if any) to accent with color, I’m also open to suggestions on color. Thanks again!

Angelica
Angelica
9 years ago

I’m having the accent wall debate. My accent wall is a wall paper will a silver shimmer: http://www.houzz.com/questions/83081/

Eric
9 years ago

Hi – I am wondering what the name of the blue accent wall paint is that is in the bedroom pic you have possted? Thanks

Kim
Kim
9 years ago

Hi! I am having a little bit of a situation! My bedroom currently has one wall with sliding doors on to the balcony, and the opposite wall is all closet doors. I want to do an accent wall because my walls are all white and the room doesn’t feel warm enough – but I want to paint the wall opposite my bed because it is a longer wall! Is this a silly idea? Everything I have read has said the wall behind your bed should be the accent wall, but then I’d still be stuck with a big white wall opposite… Any ideas?

Christina
Christina
9 years ago

WOW, I know what I like when I see it…! Great advice style you have, Ms. Barnett. I have a 9X13 room, and have chosen BM Ashley Gray. Having a bit of the whimpy issue, only because I’m not sure if that room is too small for that dark (ish) color. There is a wall with an inset window at far (short) end that would make a great accent wall i.e., it takes the room back making it bigger, not narrower, and accentuates the window. I’ve invested in the whole gallon, so should I just paint it all, or seriously consider leaving accent, based on size of room, and possibility it will look cave -like with all walls Ashley Gray? Actually, there are three windows…so…dark paint on all walls would work fine..

Barbara
Barbara
9 years ago

HI I am moving into a house and I need to paint 3 bedrooms, hallway living room and dining room and I need ideas. i am not sure if I want an accent wall or not but I do need color ideas so can you please help me?

Annushka
Annushka
9 years ago

Hi we live in Amsterdam and are currently decorating our open plan lounge / kitchen at the moment. We are ‘zoning’ the lounge and kitchen by painting the kitchen green (our units are grey) and the lounge beige. I would also like to accent the alcove where the tv is and am considering wallpapering it. Is this a terrible idea?

Afrah
Afrah
9 years ago

I am planning to paint the wall behind my queen bed as accent wall,but I dont know what will be the best colour.Our bedroom is pale cream yellow color(this what I think?). our furniture is brown red tone.So please help me.What is the best colour?.Thank you

Amanda Ott
Amanda Ott
9 years ago

So we have a large vaulted ceiling in our living room…maybe 20 ft. The living room is a rectangle. On one end of the rectangle is a wall of windows with a fireplace. The other end connects the room to the rest of the house/foyer and staircase upstairs. Couch and nice art on one side of rectangle and tv on other…from your article…I’m guessing you would tell me to paint all my walls grayish blue rather than an accent because my window wall is my accent wall….no bright paint needed…right???!!!

Michelle
Michelle
9 years ago

I want to paint an accent wall to draw attention to a beautiful, large, black and white framed photo of hubby and I kissing on beach. I also have the words “Always kiss me goodnight” to put around it. The lettering is in black. I want deep red on the walls. Should I do a neutral accent wall or deep red?

Pam Burden
Pam Burden
9 years ago

I’m laying dark greycarpet and painting walls a lighter grey living room and dining room they are together.I want to paint the ceiling a different color they are white now. I have a fireplace and thinking about painting the wall black. I need some help what to do and what not to do!

Jasmine
Jasmine
9 years ago

I am moving into an apartment and I have the option of an accent wall. I was thinking a bold, golden yellow to brighten the apartment. The wall of choice is the that has the balcony & two large windows attached.. thoughts?

Amarili
Amarili
9 years ago

Hi, I have the smallest of 3 bedrooms in my house and I’m going to use it as an office-type of room as opposed to a bed/guest room. I had it painted a light sandy brown Ralph Lauren textured color for years, and now I chose a Behr color called Malted Milk (or something like that). I love the combo of the colors in the creme family with greys. Call me crazy, but I’m nuts about neutrals! I find them subtle yet elegant and often more powerful statements decor-wise than the pastels or even dark hues, though I love intense color as well. So…accent wall. Should I do one in a smaller room? And if so, which wall? I feel like the wall opposite the window will make the light from outside “lighten” any over-the-top intensity by shining on the accent wall, however you have to step completely into the room to see it. I like the idea of the accent wall being seen in contrast to the lighter color as you walk past the room, in which case it would either be the window wall (only 1), or the wall adjacent to the window which is the only “complete” wall. Wall opposite window has entry door, Wall on other side adjacent to window has closet door. Which do you think would have the best effect? Wall opposite window could also be a “secret surprise” only seen after you’re in the room…HELP! 8)

Halee
Halee
9 years ago

How can I have an accent wall without painting the wall? I have a retro gold couch that I inherited and I am moving into my first apartment. I don’t want to paint something that I will have to restore later. Any suggestions?

CindyLoves2Paint
CindyLoves2Paint
9 years ago

I love the bedroom with the blue and grey. I am doing my daughters room in those shades, so thanks for the visual!

Julie
Julie
9 years ago

Hi,
I’m reading this and now backpedaling from a decision (and paint I just ordered) for my small bathroom. My house is 77 years old and I’m trying to be brave and “bold”. We have a small “master” bathroom with a tub shower, a built in cabinet that stands between the toilet and pedestal sink. The original tile still “graces” the room…yellow (mustardish, I actually have never found anything paint-wise that matches it) with a black border. I have a darker red, almost burgundy accent. I was planning on painting 2 walls gold and 2 walls in the red. After reading your article, I guess I need to rethink… we’re afraid of too dark (I originally was going red only to be daring) and hence the gold came into play…. It is rectangular and small, window on one short wall, door on the other, tub opposite the built in cabinet.

Am I making a mistake here?

Thank you for posting your comments above…this is really helping me as my art is aural, not visual sadly…

Julie
Julie
9 years ago

hmmm. Now that’s a different take. I’ve been milling over which wall should be the one to be the accent wall…. never thought about making it the ceiling. Will that bring the size down to have the darker color up there? Thanks for your suggestion…going to sleep on it. 🙂

Vicki
Vicki
9 years ago

OMG – have you met me before? I am sure you must be living in my house – I am that person who wants to paint her bedroom Benjamin Moore’s ‘Caponata’, which is a deep aubergine but hasn’t got the guts to do all four walls….so here I am thinking of an accent wall, googled it and up this article popped. I feel like you have exposed me as the coward that I am!
But I do have a dilemma and this is the reason for my hesitation. My bedroom is about to be renovated….so a window will be added and an existing one will be made bigger. I will have three nice sized windows in this room when it’s finished. At the moment there is very little light in there since it is north-facing….but my hope is that will change after the renovation because of the added window.
How do I know if this colour is just too bold/dark for my room, after it’s painted? Please say something to give me the courage to just go for it!

Vicki
Vicki
9 years ago

Thank you….sadly I think you’re right, that colour is too dark for all four walls. The colour you suggeted is close to the colour I currently have. I love it, but I fancy a change. Think I’ll go back to the drawing board with a fresh approach and choose a different colour scheme. Thank you

Kate H
Kate H
9 years ago

Hello!
I recently moved into a town home in Texas. I’m 22, in medical school, and its my first home, so I have no clue what I’m doing. The living area and bathrooms have stained concrete floors and a stone wall underneath the open bar/counter that looks into the kitchen, all-in-all, its a very “western” feel (I have mixed feelings about it)… But my question is regarding my bedroom. It’s 11.6 x 15 and has tan walls (I’m not sure of the exact color, but I believe its a Benjamin Moore sand color), tan carpeting, a white ceiling, and white crown molding and trim. Theres a small window on the shorter side, while the bathroom and closet are on the opposed shorter side. I have dark wood furniture and would like to paint one of the longer walls. I was thinking an olive color, which would keep within the theme of tans/browns, but I’m afraid that with dark furniture it’ll be too much brown. Like I said, I’m also in medical school and am looking for something calm and tranquil, but still with some color. (sidenote: My childhood home was entirely beige, so I’m really over all the tan.) Seeing that I intend to sell the house in a few years, is it wise to paint the accent wall? What colors would you suggest? Or should I try to use mirrors and bedding to add some dimension and color to the room?

Thanks so much!

G Moore
G Moore
9 years ago

On accent walls…decorating office…accenting wall in each space…accent walls depend on space…ie wall facing entry door in hearth room…total 6 spaces…neutral with pencil point, elephant skin, and pretty grape

kel
kel
9 years ago

I want my accent walked to be the wall with the entrance to our living room and also right Across from That the top wall Where the fireplace is, Good idea or too much?

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