Wall Color Trends: Unusual Accent Walls (Hint: It’s Not Just About Color)

Yesterday I talked a bit about accent walls and where in your home they can best work to your design advantage. But what I didn’t mention is that some of the hottest wall color trends have almost nothing to do with color, and some of the most innovative accent walls aren’t made with paint. Designers are starting to use the idea of an accent wall to make more permanent art pieces in every room of the home, using wood, tile, or other materials to turn single walls into one of a kind artistic focal points.

Driftwood Accent Walls

Weathered Wood Accent Wall (by AMW Design Studio)

One trend I’m starting to see more and more is the use of reclaimed wood. Now, I’m seeing this in all areas of home design, from furniture to walls to flooring. There are even plenty of companies that produce intentionally heavily weathered wood products (like bathroom vanities) to give that rugged, rustic look. Now, you might think that artistically aged wood is the sole realm of exposed beams and maybe decorative flooring, but it’s actually frequently being used to create accent walls, too. Here, it’s used to add a sort of neutral natural vibe to a relaxed modern space, and is used partially as a backdrop for many multiple pieces of art.

Wood Accent Wall In Modern Dining Space (by Jordan Iverson Signature Homes, Photo by KaDa Photography)

Having a wood accent wall is a style that works in all kinds of settings. Obviously, it’s a twist on the classic log cabin wall, but because the wood is hand chosen for its unique visual characteristics (and because strength, durability, and structural integrity aren’t an issue the way they would be if used as flooring), there’s a lot more room to get creative. Driftwood and reclaimed wood are a great way to accentuate a seaside or beach house style space, as they help bring a little of the ocean inside. That said, I think rough-worn, knotty wood makes a great contrast in a highly modern space like the one above, too. The little pops of red – in the modern Nimbus chandelier, the chest, lamp, and vase – are quite eye catching, but the reclaimed wood accent wall gives the room a rich natural texture you wouldn’t get from just a coat of paint.

Unique Wood Headboard Style Accent Wall (by Stanislav Ermolenko)

That said, not all wood accent walls are made out of heavily weathered wood. This room in particular does two things that I like. First, it uses the accent wall to accentuate the oddness of the ceiling – it has a low slope and an odd geometric, but rather than trying to work around it, the wood accent wall brings it out in high contrast, giving the room a lovely modern profile and visually extending the decorative headboard of the bed. Secondly, though, the wood itself is a rich, warm, natural color that continues the floor all the way up to ceiling level. The use of one continuous layer of wood is an incredibly unique and eye-grabbing design feature that I think works quite well.

Tile Accent Wall

Tile Accent Wall (by Witt Construction, photo by Randall Perry Photography)

Shop Wood Look Porcelain Tile:

Another trend I’m seeing a lot of is tile accent walls – especially in the bathroom. I think this is an extension of the trend toward bigger and bigger tile backsplashes both in the bathroom and the kitchen, but it’s one I’m totally on board with. Essentially the idea is to have the entire wall behind your sink and vanity (and in some cases your toilet) covered top to toe in a single type of decorative tile. Now, this is in contrast to bathrooms that are wholly tiled, especially ones that have the same time on the floor, the walls, and/or the shower. It’s something more like the bathroom pictured above, where the tile mimics other colors in the room – in the floor tile and the paint – while helping draw attention to the main work area.

Bathroom Mosaic Tile Accent Wall (by Kerrie L Kelly)

Of course, many different types of tile can be used, and some thought should be given to which type is best suited to your space. The bathroom above, for example, utilizes a very small, patterned mosaic tile that creates an eye-catchin design that meshes well with the vanity and the surrounding wall color. But in a larger bathroom or on a larger wall, this same tile might be too busy and make the space feel cramped rather than decorated.

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Mosaic Tile Art Installation (by Patrick Sutton Associates, photo by Erik Kvalsvik)

Finally, mosaic tile can further be used to create an accent that takes up not quite the whole wall. Like small mosaics you’d find above a kitchen range, this bathroom transforms a blank, windowless wall into a canvas for this gorgeous stone tile panel. Framed in black and further offset by off-white walls and black crown molding, the tile accent wall here is it’s own piece of artwork, forming a beautiful backdrop for the freestanding tub and making excellent use of an otherwise relatively bland space.

Wallpaper Accent Walls?

Powder Room Wallpaper Accent Wall (by Lisa Goulet Design)

One trend I never thought I’d see make a comeback is the use of wallpaper, but even I have to admit, this isn’t entirely a bad thing. With fresh modern prints and often much improved designs that allow for easier application and removal, wallpaper is once again a viable option for your home decor. You can even find thicker fabric, textured, or even metallic papers for a totally unique design. Black and white prints are especially popular in modern spaces, but use sparingly, as they can be a little dizzying. I especially like wallpaper when used as an accent wall, because you only have to worry about the muss and fuss of application on a limited scale, but can carry one or more of the colors throughout the rest of the room, creating a patterned accent rather than a more traditional color accent.

Chalkboard Accent Walls

Chalkboard Accent Wall (by The Cross Design, photo by Janis Nicolay)

Perhaps my favorite trend, though, is the increasing popularity (and availability) of chalkboard paint. This is a very dark gray or black paint that, when applied, turns the surface into a fully-functioning blackboard – easy to write on and easily erased. Now, I’m a fan of bold, black accents of all kinds, and chalkboard paint is no exception, but this goes a step further, adding fun functionality to your space, and a child (or inner-child) friendly ability to write on the walls. Great for shopping lists in the kitchens, notes in the home office, or general wall coloring in any room you might want to save from your kid’s markers. Better still, the paint can take up a whole wall or just part, all the way to the edges, freehand painted, or inside a decorative frame (or your crown and base molding!).

What do you think of these trendy twists on the traditional accent wall? Do you have any favorite wall color trends?

One thought on “Wall Color Trends: Unusual Accent Walls (Hint: It’s Not Just About Color)

  1. Michael Coline says:

    Using wood panels for decorating your walls is really a good and interesting idea. I think that if there is a fireplace in the living room and such kind of wall it will look really great.

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