There was a time when the feature wall was the coolest thing you could do in a room. Nothing said stylish like a single wall painted deep blue or covered in a statement wallpaper. But we can all agree, the accent wall, in its most simple form anyways, is starting to feel a bit done. With all the amazing wall finishes available and unique ways to add a focal point to a room, just relying on paint seems a bit tame.
But is there still a place for an accent wall? Is it still on trend or is it being replaced by far more exciting decor ideas? We asked designers what they think about the once every so trendy feature wall and what they think is starting to replace it.
Are accent walls still on trend?
Let us preface this with there are no hard rules in interior design, trends come and go, they stick for some and pass on by for others. So if you like a feature wall and they work in your home then great. And designers agree too, feature walls have a place, they work and there's a reason this tried and tested interior design trend has hung around for so long. We mean only to point out the potential to do far more interesting things with a wall, with a room.
'While feature walls stay popular, interior design is a constantly morphing field,' explains Artem Kropovinsky, founder and principal designer at Arsight. 'Nowadays, there's a trend towards comprehensive design philosophies. Rather than one distinct wall, there's a push for textured surfaces, attention-grabbing ceilings, and standout floor designs. Integrative designs that merge elements like wood, metal, stone, and cloth are on the rise. The aim has shifted from one dominant wall to creating a cohesive atmosphere.'
'Accent walls will always be a go-to design moment because many people want to add liveliness to a room but don't want it to feel too busy by applying that liveliness to all four walls,' adds designer Natalie Myers. 'Accent walls provide a focal point without over-committing. They are also a budget-friendly way to incorporate higher-end elements without having to install them across four walls.
Designer Gianpiero Gaglione agrees that 'although feature walls aren’t typically high up on my wish-list, when designing a space it is critical to think about what people are looking at and surrounding themselves with. For example, in a restaurant, the best seats are engaged with either viewing a bar or kitchen pass, whereas the worst seats are typically in an area with no identifiable feature. No one want’s a dead zone and the same is true for a home.'
So accent walls are still on trend, yes, but there are other options that can add a bit more to your home...
1. Create more interest with a wall of shelving
You'll notice a common theme here, what seems to be replacing the accent wall is more texture, more interest, more 3Dness. Paint and wallpaper on one wall doesn't cut it anymore when there are so many more exciting ways to adorn a blank wall. As Natalie Myers says, 'When an accent wall comes to mind, the days of painting one wall a different color than the rest are gone. Instead, people are pushing the concept in terms of materiality with one tiled wall, or wood slats, a dramatic wallpaper, a mural wall, built in cabinetry, or floor-to-ceiling shelves for displaying treasured objects.'
In this open-plan studio apartment, designers Arsight, turns the largest span of wall into an accent wall using floor-to-ceiling shelving, adding a focal point to this lofty space and allowing plenty of opportunity to add some character.
'If done with precision, feature walls remain an ageless interior element,' explains the studio's founder Artem Kropovinsky. 'In this particular loft in Chelsea, it's more than just introducing a color contrast or unique material – it's about intentionality. Given the open nature of the loft apartment, the feature wall serves as an anchor, tying the space together. It embraces the residents' love for art by displaying grand artworks that mirror their way of life. The design centers around voicing a personal narrative rather than just being trendy. Such intimate touches, in my view, never go out of style.'
2. Make the floor the accent
Statement flooring has just as much of an impact as an accent wall, and we think it's a far chicer and subtler way of adding a focal point to a room than just focusing on one wall. Going with a statement tile, or intricately patterned parquet flooring will add texture and depth to a room and it's far easier to bring in statement pieces elsewhere in the room too. Sometimes an accent wall can be really limiting as to what you can do elsewhere in the room as it really dominates all the attention, whereas, with flooring that's below eye level, there's less risk of this.
And then there are the best rugs too. A super easy, low-commitment option to have a focal point. We are obsessed with everything going on in this living room design by Purple Backyard. The real mix of shapes but all in the same neutral color palette is so chic and then the living room rug as the colorful focal point gives this very sophisticated space a hit of playfulness.
When it comes to accent walls the studio's founder Kumpal Vaid, says, 'We have come a long way from only walls being referred to as features, anything and everything in a space can be the hero just depends on the context and the narrative one wants to convey.'
'I think the floors are a big piece but also the ceiling or furniture/art, even the greens/landscaping details make for a great feature. In this project, the flooring throughout is mainly Italian marble sprinkled with green stone inlay and then we have area rugs adding more depth and lifting the spaces individually.'
Our guide to the best graphic rugs will help you here.
3. Layer up an accent wall with other finishes
Accent walls can work in space, as this living room designed by Chinotto House proves, especially if there's a lot going on elsewhere in the room so going bold on all four walls would be too much. The key to making sure an accent wall feels chic is to make it less of a stand out feature, it should still feel cohesive and blend with the rest of the room. See how in this boho living room there so much going on in terms of texture and finishes, the feature wallpaper doesn't stand out awkwardly but feels just like an extra layer in the room.
'The wallpaper is a Kelly Wearstler Griffito grasscloth and it's installed in the "theater room" of a mid-century modern architect-designed home with a Palm Springs flair. Famed Italian designer Gio Ponti was an inspirational touchpoint for us on this project and so we used a lot of Ponti-esque bold colors and patterns in the other spaces of the home. However, the theater room was intended to be a relaxation space, so we leaned into a neutral palette here while still bringing the punch via the feature wall,' explains designers Chelsey Cox and Rachel Rector.
'An accent wall is never out of style if you do it right!' they add. 'In this case, the whole room in wallpaper would have been overwhelming to the eye so the wood beams on the ceiling and the flanking black walls really help to ground the space and draw your eye to the original architectural features: the fireplace and Ocala brick. Currently, we are loving a statement ceiling too.'
4. Add texture to the walls
Textured walls, whether it be just as an accent or taken over the whole room, have been a slow growing trend for years now. And the options just keep getting easier and more accessible. Not so long ago, plaster walls were reserved for modern homes with bug budgets, but now there are loads of treatments you can even DIY.
'Textured walls are the new accent wall,' says Ginger Curtis, founder and CEO of Urbanology Designs. 'Plain painted walls might take a backseat to textured wall treatments. From textured wallpapers to textured paint finishes like Venetian plaster or stucco, these add depth and interest to rooms.'
Victoria Holly, principal and founder of Victoria Holly Interiors agrees, 'We’re seeing a huge shift away from paint-grade walls, and a move towards either wallpaper (an older trend), plaster walls, mural walls, or textured walls such as fluting or millwork. It’s a subtle way to show the amount of detail and customization that clients have put into a home. And it complements gorgeous furniture and accessories!'
As well as plaster effects, plaster details are a more on trend approach to an accent all. Eddie Maestri, principal Architect and founder of Maestri Studio says, 'We’re seeing an increase in a lot of custom plaster details, including fluted details, moulding, and medallions. Plaster is making a comeback along with all other natural surfaces because of the character it adds to a space and the character that it adds over time as it lives in a space.'
5. Put focus on a statement piece
An accent wall can often mean you have to play it safe elsewhere in the room, avoiding clashing colors or patterns, but why not make the furniture an accent instead? A larger statement piece like this corner sofa adds so much more to a room that a painted wall, and you can still throw in smaller accent prints and colors because you don't have that dominated block of wall as the focal point – a piece of furniture, a patterned vase, a statement pillow or a bold rug is far more subtle.
'This Miami project evoked the warm and inviting colors of the surrounding wildlife, making the interiors feel exotic, yet refined,' explains designer Natalia Miyar. 'Curating a selection of pieces that bring both warmth and texture was important to me for this space as it is meant to be a place for relaxation and respite.'
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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