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How to Paint an Accent Wall in 6 Steps

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Painting accent walls might just be the hottest home trend since shiplap. Everyone has one: your local coffee shop, your friend’s chic new living room, even your favorite restaurant. Accent walls aren’t just a trendy statement, they’re a cost-effective way to spice up your home that has a high impact, and is easy enough to do on your own. It’s no wonder so many are learning how to paint an accent wall. 

If you’ve been debating whether to hop on the accent wall train, break out your painting clothes and pick up some rollers. We’ve got step-by-step instructions to painting an accent wall that will bring new life to your home.

Step One: Know Where You Want It

As stunning as accent walls are, you don’t need them in every room, and having multiple in a home can feel a bit overwhelming. Before diving in, ask yourself which room would most benefit from an accent wall. Rooms with a consolidated palette that have a splash of color, or an undertone in need of highlighting, are good candidates.

Once you’ve picked the room, decide on the right wall. While each home and even each room is different, the general rule of thumb among decorators is to use the wall that first grabs your attention when you enter the room. For ease’s sake, you should also consider what’s currently situated on this wall before deciding to paint it: a wall with your TV and a collection of frames hung on it will require more work than a wall that’s currently bare.

Step Two: Determine Your Design Scope

Painting an accent wall might be the only thing you’re planning to do in this room–if so, you’ve got an easy road ahead. But if you’re considering a full room redesign, pump the brakes before you proceed. If you’ll be changing the colors of your furniture or decor, you’ll want to choose the color of the accent wall after you have the new room palette in hand.

Step Three: Find the Perfect Color

While it’s certainly not the most labor-intensive, deciding on the color for your accent wall might be the most difficult step. The painting experts at Wagner recommend following the 60-30-10 rule when picking out a color: 60% of the room should be your dominant color, 30% should be a secondary color, and 10% should be an accent color. With that in mind, you’ll want to find a very minor color in your current color scheme–likely something bold or bright that will differ dramatically from the other colors in the room–and work with that.

Once you have a color in mind, head to your local paint store and explore the selection for some ideas. Once you’ve narrowed down to two or three colors, buy sample cans–usually $10 or less–and some small paint brushes. Back at home, paint a small section of the wall in question with each color, let dry, and examine a few days later. You’ll get a true sense of what the color looks like in the space, letting you know what to expect before you buy the paint in bulk.

Step Four: Prep the Room for Painting

While you’re painting your accent wall, plan on having the room out of commission for a few days. You’ll need to remove everything from it, or at least give the furniture a five-foot berth from the accent wall so you have room to move around. Start by taking all decor off the wall in question, then move on to getting the furniture far away from any potential paint spills. If you need a hand with the heavy lifting, book a labor-only Dolly. We’ll connect you with trained Helpers who are ready to help move your furniture, whether it be across the house or all the way to your storage unit, all at an affordable price.

One last step of prep: the wall itself. Make sure the wall is smooth and free of holes before painting it. If you need to fill any smaller holes, a pocket-sized spackle pen can get the job done in just a few minutes and will save you plenty of headache in the long run. 

Step Five: Tape and Protect in Case of Accidents

No matter how precise you are, there’s undoubtedly going to be a few drops of paint spilled. So before you break out your brush, grab a roll (or two) of painters tape and tape down every edge of the wall: floor ceiling, and sides. Get a sturdy canvas and place it on the floor (trust us, you’ll want more than just a sheet). And if there’s any furniture or items nearby that can’t be moved out of the room, cover them with a canvas or tarp as well, just in case of splatters.

Step Six: Paint Your Accent Wall

Finally, get down to the actual painting. Start from the top and paint downward in long, even strokes. A roller will make easy work of the painting and keep the color even, though it’s good to have a few regular brushes on hand for touch-ups.

Once the painting is done, leave it to dry for one to two days, depending on how thick the coating is. After that time, take a look and see how you like it. Is it too light? Paint another coat. Too matte? Revisit the paint store and search for a polish.

Step Seven: Bring the Room Back Together

With your accent wall painted and dried, you can finally put your room back together. Bring the furniture back in first, then return the decor. With the new accent wall changing the color scheme of the room, you may find that some of the decor needs to be rearranged–another reason why the walls were spackled before painting. Restructure as you need, and remember the 60-30-10 rule as you add new decor to bring out the vibrant hues in your accent wall.

Now that you know how to tackle painting your accent wall, it’s time to get down to business and chip away at this list. If you need a hand with heavy lifting, get help from Dolly. Our Helpers are background checked and trained to help with heavy lifting, no matter how far your furniture needs to go. 

Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.

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