Get inspired with these affordable DIY accent wall ideas, from paint, to wallpaper, to wood planks and hand-painted murals.
I am a huge fan of accent walls, which you’ll notice the moment you walk in my front door and see the giant jungle mural in my entryway! Let’s talk about this fun and versatile interior design trend and how you can use it in your own home, even on a tight budget.
And finally, we’ll look at some gorgeous DIY accent wall ideas for inspiration. I’m seriously blown away by my fellow interior designers & DIY bloggers’ fabulous ideas! If you want to pin their ideas, please follow the links to their sites and pin from there.
What is an accent wall?
An accent wall is a single wall that’s a different color, pattern, or material from the others in the room to create a focal point. They can use paint, wallpaper, murals, wall stencils, wall decals, brick or stone, wood paneling, ship-lap, or even upholstered panels.
Why use an accent wall?
There are many reasons to use accent walls in your home. In the US, most of us live with relatively plain sheet rocked walls, and things can get a little boring. A well-placed accent wall is one of the best ways to add drama, texture, and dimension to a space. It can also make a room feel more expensive and put-together.
Some of the most popular accent walls right now are wallpaper and murals, which I absolutely love. But unlike in the 70’s, the trend this time around is to just paper a single wall. And this is better than papering a whole room for so many reasons, not the least of which is you only have to buy one wall worth of wallpaper, instead of several.
And it’s important to keep in mind that no color or pattern will be in style forever. A single wall is a much smaller commitment. And as lovely as that cool mod orange wallpaper is, you probably shouldn’t make a life-long commitment to it.
Which rooms lend themselves to accent walls?
While you can create an accent wall pretty much anywhere in your home, there are some rooms that tend to work better than others. Bedrooms, kids’ rooms, living rooms & family rooms, home offices, dining rooms, and powder rooms are some of my favorites.
If you’re new to this trend and want to start with a small-scale and relatively fool-proof project, I suggest creating your first accent wall in a small bathroom or powder room or a nook. This will give you the chance to practice on a small wall.
Now the question I get asked the most: Which wall should be the accent wall? Accent walls are most often used to highlight an important architectural feature in your home, emphasize an important piece of furniture (like the bed in a bedroom), or to create a focal point where none existed before.
Architectural Focal Points
- window with a view
- a wall with paneling, interesting texture, or moldings
- a built-in bench or alcove
Furniture Focal Points
- the wall the headboard is against
- bathroom vanity wall
- the wall a desk sits against in a home office
DIY Accent Wall Ideas
Now let’s look at some inspiration. Most accent walls are created with paint, wallpaper, wood molding, or paneling. You can find full tutorials for most of these DIY accent walls if you follow the links to the creator’s site.
Solid-Colored Accent Walls
We’ll start with cheapest, easiest to DIY, and most basic accent wall: the solid-colored accent wall.
One of my favorite trends right now is a room with white walls, and one accent wall in a bold color. Grey is over and done with. Yes, you read that right. I said grey is out (at least as a wall color). We’re painting our walls white now, folks!
Almost every client I talk to asks me to help brighten up their home. Often the very first thing we do is paint the walls white to make the most of the natural light in the room.
But sometimes an all-white room isn’t very interesting on it’s own, especially if the space doesn’t have a natural focal point, like a fireplace or bank of windows. That’s why I like to paint one wall a different color.
I painted this green accent wall (Beta Fish, from Behr) to make a bold statement behind the kids’ homeschool desk. The desk wall and decorative floating shelves are the main event in this room, so this wall was the obvious focal point.
I love how this navy blue feature wall make s the curtains and bed pop, while the remaining white walls keep the room feeling bright and airy.
Hand-Painted Accent Walls
I also like to use wallpaper and faux wallpaper in rooms. A bold pattern can be overwhelming and make your head spin when it’s plastered on every wall. But a single wall makes a big statement, while leaving room for the eye to rest.
Many of the modern geometric and abstract patterns that are popular right now are just not that difficult to create yourself. So depending on your budget, time, and DIY skills, you might consider painting or even hand-drawing one.
I painted this accent wall behind the desk in the closet office. It’s just a bunch of brush strokes. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Here’s a tutorial for a simple DIY herringbone patterned wall from Zoe Hunt:
When my girls were younger, they couldn’t agree on a wallpaper pattern, so I drew a whimsical floral pattern on the wall with sharpies. And of course they got to help too!
You can also create a fun modern accent wall, or even an accent corner with color blocking. Stephanie Watkins painted this cool accent wall of geometric shapes for her son’s bedroom using painter’s tape.
The bold white and navy stripes on this bedroom accent wall are easy to make with painter’s tape as well.
Stenciled Accent Walls
Painting an accent wall with wall stencils is an easy way to get the look of wallpaper for a lot less money. Just be sure to get a stencil designed for walls. Most wall stencils are MUCH larger than other stencils designed for smaller projects, so they tend to cost a bit more. But trust me, that extra $10 will be well worth it once you’re elbow-deep in paint! Here’s a list of my favorite modern wall stencils if you need some ideas.
Here’s a quick tutorial: How to Stencil A Wall
This wall in the alcove of my master bathroom was begging for some visual interest, so I painted it with a wall stencil.
This black hand-stenciled wall behind the bed makes a big impact!
Another option is to paint a simple mural yourself. One of the benefits of painting your own is you can design the mural to work with the features and furniture already in the room. So you can ensure the most important features in your design won’t be covered up by a headboard or toilet.
I painted this botanical mural in my powder room. Here’s the tutorial: How to Paint A Mural
I have two more botanical murals I’ve painted in my new house. Photos coming soon!
Murals have become very popular over the past few years. The most common type you’ll see are peel and stick wallpaper murals that can be cut to size to fit your space. And tropical and botanical murals are wildly popular right now. So are other landscapes such as mountains and forests.
One of the great benefits of murals is they take the place of wall art. But keep in mind that most murals should be the main event in the room, especially if they’re bold and colorful. So it’s usually best to make the mural accent wall a backdrop for simpler furniture and accessories, such as a solid-colored sofa. Too many bold competing patterns can make a room feel chaotic.
Wallpaper is making a huge comeback. Don’t roll your eyes at me! If the very idea of wallpaper makes you twitchy, you can just keep scrolling. But you should know that the adhesives have changed over the years, and there are also many peel and stick wallpaper options available. Which means wallpaper doesn’t have to be forever. And let’s face it: no one should be making a life-long commitment to any pattern.
Let’s look at some cool wallpaper accent wall ideas.
Natural grasscloth wallpaper makes this bedroom feel luxurious.
I love the pretty tile patterned wallpaper behind the vanity in this chic powder room:
I used a fun peel and stick wallpaper in my powder room at my last house, and I still miss it!
This fun pink waves patterned wallpaper is perfect for a girls’ bedroom.
The pretty floral wallpaper accent wall in this dining room would probably be too much if it covered all the walls. But on one wall, it’s perfect!
Wood Molding Accent Walls
Whether you want to create an ultra-modern feature wall or give your home some old-world charm, using wood trim and panels on one wall is a relatively inexpensive way to make a space feel expensive and classy.
This classy DIY board and batten feature wall adds visual interest and provides a gorgeous backdrop for the bed.
DIY picture frame molding adds character to this entryway wall.
My friend Kippi created this class board and batten accent wall in her guest bedroom.
Zoe Hunt is the wood accent wall master, and this cool modern feature wall is just one of several amazing walls she’s done.
The dark paint color and board and batten create a beautiful gallery wall in this master bedroom.
My friend Julie created this budget friendly and renter-friendly board and batten wall in her small apartment living room.
Wood Accent Walls
There are some seriously amazing creative ideas in this category! This modern wood accent wall/ window seat combo by Zoe Hunt is stunning!
I love how Nick & Bethany of Reality Daydream cut plywood into geometric shapes to create this stunning pattern!
And here’s yet another cool DIY accent wall from Zoe Hunt, this time using shingles.
Wood Planks & Ship-lap
A ship-lap accent wall is a great way to bring a farmhouse or beachy feel to a space, without having to commit to it forever. We added ship-lap to the walls of the kids’ bunk room at my parent’s beach house.
Here’s a modern twist on traditional ship-lap.
This DIY herringbone wood plank wall by Tasha of Kaleidoscope Living adds the perfect amount of wood to this living room, without making it feel dark and imposing.
A single small ship-lap accent wall gives this entryway modern farmhouse vibes.
Cool 3D wall panels take this living room to the next level.
Concrete, Stone, & Brick Accent Walls
Stone and brick accent walls can add beautiful texture to a room, as long as they look real. If they don’t they can easily make your space look cheap.
Here’s a great example of a realistic faux brick wall. Chelsea & Logan Making Manzanita used German schmear to give it this gorgeous aged look:
And finally, Cara Newhart used grout to mimic the look of concrete on this cool accent wall in her guest room.
I hope you found some great ideas for your next DIY accent wall! Now be brave, start small, and remember it’s just paint (or wallpaper, etc.) and the stakes are just not that high!