10 Critical Accent Wall Mistakes You Should Avoid Making At All Costs

Some say the long-beloved accent wall is out, that it's tired, passé, and uncool. But, at House Digest, we know that accent walls still have the ability to add drama and intrigue, character and warmth, to a room, and they make for a creative way to decorate your wall space. Big mistakes often made with accent walls include using a too-trendy wallpaper print that doesn't really fit your usual style or choosing a wall that's too large and overwhelms the space. And, now, because these accent walls aren't really jiving, you're ready to throw the baby out with the bath water.

When it comes to accent walls, you want something unique but true to the overall aesthetic of your home. While you certainly don't need something fully timeless and classic — after all, the fun of an accent wall is that it's easy to change as time goes on as styles change and new colors trend — there are some rules to follow to lead to greater satisfaction with an accent wall. And, when done right, accent, or feature, walls are often the highlight of the room. Avoid making an accent wall faux pas to ensure this bold interior design trick works for you and your style. 

Choosing cheap paint

What's great about creating an accent wall with little more than paint is its affordability. Because you're only covering a single wall, you don't need a huge can of paint, so don't be tempted to maximize savings with the cheapest paint available. You'll regret it, as low-quality paint leads to peeling, dulling, and damage from daily wear and cleaning. Plus, you'll end up having to apply extra layers to get an even coating — equaling a waste of time and product — so always spring for a quality paint brand. 

Creating an accent wall you're stuck with

Battenboard, shiplap, and wainscoting have become incredibly popular in recent years. And, while we love the look for now, you don't see a lot of "how to remove indoor siding" often because it's nearly impossible to do. So, if you are someone who loves to regularly play around with design and color, do not install a feature wall, as you'll be stuck with it for the long run. 

Going too bold

Isn't the whole point of an accent or feature wall to make it bold and draw attention to the wall so it stands out? While that's true, you also don't want your accent wall to overwhelm the entire room. This is a common problem when choosing ultra-bold geometric wallpaper or super vibrant, contrasting colors for an accent wall. While it will certainly stand out, it can also be distracting. If you're a true color maximalist, save these choices for powder rooms or entryways where you don't spend as much time. 

Improperly using the color black

We were long told to never use dark wall colors because they can make a room feel dreary and small, but this isn't true if it's done correctly. If you want to use a charcoal gray or black paint shade for a dark accent wall, you need to be intentional about which wall you select; consider choosing a wall at the far side of the room so you feel drawn into the space or using the dark paint on a smaller, irregularly shaped wall to add contrast without it dominating the entire room. 

Incorporating a design fad as inspiration

If you find yourself scrolling through Pinterest or Instagram getting accent wall envy for every one you see, you may be prone to succumbing to design fads. That's not always a bad thing! Trendy designs become trendy for good reason, but, too often, folks replicate what they see on social media instead of considering their own unique style. So, take some time to consider what you like about the trending motifs or colors and whether they align with your overarching design style. 

Underestimating the power of texture

When you think accent wall, you may immediately jump to thinking about paint swatches. But you can add a lot of visual interest to a room with a textured wall treatment. Subway tile, brick or stone pavers, or fluted bamboo are all classic choices. Many of these looks can even be replicated in peel-and-stick wallpaper, allowing you to try the trend out before installing a more permanent fixture.

Forgetting the furniture

At their best, accent walls give you the opportunity to totally change up the look of a room by altering a single wall. But this means you need whatever change you make to work with the furniture you already have. So, if you have a lot of pastel furniture, you probably want to skip a gem paint tone. Along those same lines, if you've got mostly black furniture, skip the black accent wall because it will just make the room feel like a dark cave rather than a thoughtfully designed space. 

Featuring an accent wall in every room

Accent walls are high-impact features. So, when you fall in love with one, it can be tempting to put one in every room. But the accent wall is more of a one-trick pony; you don't want it to be the only design tip up your sleeve. By putting one in each room, the style becomes redundant and boring, making the point of a feature wall moot. So, be decisive about which one or two rooms would really benefit from the addition of a feature wall.

Pulling focus from other architectural details

We often put up an accent wall when we don't know what to do with a large, plain wall, but an accent wall can actually add more flair to your already-styled walls. Consider giving your mantel, statement windows, or built-in bookshelves a coat of paint to make them stand out even more. If you live in a new build that's, say, lacking architectural interest, paint a credenza or dresser in the same color as your wall for a unique design. 

Using accent walls to replace artwork

Accent walls are a fantastic way to dress up a wall without much interest, but this doesn't mean you should use them in place of hung artwork. Paintings and wall hangings should complement the accent wall color your choose, which means considering the overall color scheme of your artwork and furniture. If you don't have much of an art collection to speak of, go for a full-wall chinoiserie wallpaper to work as a stunning mural or focal point.