Q: I’m renting an apartment in an older house, and some of the walls are angled because of the roof shape. I’ve always thought you needed an accent wall to help with the decor, but with the funny angles, I can’t tell what is wall and what is the ceiling. What should I do?
A: Every room should have a primary focal point, something to “wow” when you walk in. An accent wall is when one wall of a room is treated differently than the others, and typically done with a bolder or a darker paint color than the rest of the room. Adding pattern with wallpaper or texture can also have the same effect. An accent wall is an easy way to organize a room if you’re missing a more interesting feature such as a fireplace, window, beautiful bed, or dramatic furniture such as a vintage armoire, or artwork.
Lighting can also create a focal feature or accent wall. Especially if you’re renting, simply adding some interesting, fun lamps, or even a string of holiday lights adds drama and provides a focal feature to a room without painting or drilling holes. Use adjustable lamps to highlight another feature such as a fireplace or dramatic artwork, or even play up the architectural shadows or backlight a big, bold plant. Lampshades with cutouts create amazing shadows, too. Look for Moroccan styles and vintage, perforated lampshades, or mirrors with small panes like a window.
However, an accent wall can sometimes disrupt the flow of a room and make it feel less cohesive. Especially in situations like yours when the room is more complicated than just four simple walls and a ceiling, or when you can’t decide which wall to accent, consider a quieter, more tranquil effect and paint the walls and ceilings the same color — a timeless warm gray or a creamy off-white. And enjoy the simple way the changing light will naturally emphasize the different shapes throughout the day and over the course of the year.
And then you can play with color in other ways, such as with your area rugs, lighting, furniture, accessories, and art. The best part about this strategy is you get to take your focal features with you when you move. At a minimum, use each color at least three times in a room, to help guide your eye through. Pull out two similar colors (such at two tones of blue) and a bolder color from a favorite area rug or art. It’s OK if things don’t match exactly. The idea is to tie in the colors rather than try to match.
When it all comes down to it, if you want an accent wall, go for it! It’s your house, and accent walls are an easy way to experiment. Good luck and tell me how it goes.