Top Tips for Feature / Accent Walls

Design Decorating Painting Walls

I get asked all the time about Accent or Feature walls. Should I? Shouldn’t I? How? Which Wall? Why? Hopefully this post will help you with these decisions. Remember, we are only a phone call away and can meet with you at your convenience to help and offer our experience, advise and knowledge.

Okay, the concept behind accent and feature walls (hereafter called a feature wall) is to change one wall colour, pattern or texture creating depth or space or interest without creating conflict in the room and overwhelming the space

The great thing about feature walls is that it’s a relatively less expensive way of changing your décor without having to barrel into a full house repaint. Consider the following;

Guiding Principles

First, let the rooms architecture and light be your guide – make a statement and highlight interesting angles.   Remember that light and its effect change constantly throughout the day (and also the seasons!). So let us help you with a few test pots and trial runs first!

The feature wall should be used to highlight the room's existing focal point i.e a fireplace, built in bookshelves or a the TV wall or the wall which the headboard of your bed lays against.

Don’t put a feature wall into an already crowded room or a small space

Use a feature wall to define a space – We have a lot of open plan living in the Wakatipu so a change in colour or texture creates and protects a space

Avoid walls with doors or windows if you can, as they’ll tend to detract from the effect you're trying to create.

Let your imagination go – rather than a wall, what about the inside of a featured cupboard creating an interesting game of peek a boo?

Scale is dependant on you. Whole wall, part of the wall, within a book case… the options really are limitless. Again, be guided by your rooms already existing architecture and built in features.

And don’t forget, feature walls are best used sparsely to create a greater visual impact


Colour is a very simple way of creating change, enhance light and bring balance into a room. There are many options here but consider that a neutral room is probably is better served with a bold dramatic contrasting colour, or for a more subtle change, use your primary first choice colour for all the walls and make your feature wall a darker shade of that colour. 

Warm colors (think orange, yellow, and red) have a tendency to pull the wall towards the eye, which can often make a room appear smaller so choose a wall that can handle being foreshortened.

Dark colors, on the other hand, tend to absorb light, making a room look smaller. To balance this, one trick is to paint your wall trim and moldings in a lighter color than your feature wall which will give the appearance that the walls is farther back, enhancing the space.

Pattern, Texture & Wallpaper

A common current trend is to add wallpaper to one wall in a patterned or textured finish. The possibilities here are endless.There are lots of patterns to choose from, including small repetitive ones, big bold patterns, geometric patterns or those with a metallic sheen. Vertical stripes will make a small room seem more spacious, as the ceiling will appear to be higher. You might want to use something that has a completely different texture. We are seeing a trend towards a clever mix of actual materials i.e. textured concrete and using different materials such as a wood panelled feature wall in a concrete finished room.

Other ideas can include stone, tiles, wallpaper, recycled wood, patterned concrete, using stencils etc.

Get Creative - Photo Walls

I have a house I painted in Quail Rise. They had a spacious stairwell that connected the family living space with the upstairs bedrooms which was flooded with tonnes of natural and feature lighting. The family themselves were well travelled and passionate about adventuring. Up one wall of the stairwell they had created a history of their family lives in black and white photos, in a variety of black, white and silver frames creating a feature wall that everybody took time to appreciate and investigate.   It was a clever use of the houses architecture and space and a very personal touch, well balanced by colour and objects. This can be achieved in a number of locations in your house – depending on your architecture, just be open to the possibility!

Furniture & Favourite Spots

Not all feature walls need to be obvious. Compliment your favourite or most well used ‘zones’ within a room by cleverly using feature furniture and a feature wall. I have a very special day bed which was a gift from my grandmother in front of a large window which looks out over The Remarkables, with a warm toned feature wall behind it. The combination of the feature furniture and the feature wall set within my bedroom has created a private world where I can pursue one of my favourite past times – reading.

Think Outside The Box - Blackboard or Whiteboard

Feature walls can also be fun and functional. I have a friend who has one whole wall in her kitchen as a blackboard wall. Initially I was skeptical – messy, dusty, ugly even…but now I can see how function has merged with fun and creativity to add a soul to this room.   One corner hosts the weeks shopping list, there is a space for the weeks calendar highlighting after school activities and ‘don’t forget’ sports uniform lists, and space for creative doodling. Why not your office? Why not one wall as a whiteboard if black is not your colour?

Sometimes, we need to see our spaces through the eyes of others. If you want to sense check your ideas, or need help with inspiration of final decisions, call us and we can help!



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