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Should A Feature Wall Be Lighter Or Darker?

dark grey feature wall in living room

How To Choose The Right Shade For An Accent Wall

Whether you call it a feature or an accent wall, it's a fabulous way to create a focal point in a room & can add interest or a splash of colour to any space in the house.

Accent & feature walls have been a décor option for many years & are still very popular.

An accent wall can simply be painted, but these days we're seeing much more creativity with the types of materials used.

Should an accent wall be lighter or darker than the remaining walls? A general rule is an accent wall can be a few shades lighter or darker, providing it's the same or a complimentary colour.

Ideally, it should be the focal point & the first thing the eye is drawn to when entering the room.

An accent wall can be just that, a different shade or colour to create a .. well .. accent in the room.

Feature walls can be created using texture, as well as colour, to create an expressive addition to a room's décor.

Which Wall Should Be The Accent Wall?

Rooms can come in different shapes & sizes, so an accent wall can also be used for defining a space & changing the visual perception of a room's dimensions.

So before choosing the shade or colour, you first need to decide which wall be best suited for a feature.

So how do you choose an accent wall?

Glad you asked! Here's an article to help you find the appropriate wall for the desired effect you want to create: How To Choose A Feature Wall

Does An Accent Wall Need To Be The Same Colour?

coloured accent wall

Painting is a relatively easy & affordable way to create an accent wall.

But an accent or feature wall doesn't have to be the same colour as the other walls, using a different but complimentary colour is a fabulous way to add some interest to a space.

A bright & bold colour will obviously inject some liveliness & energy into a room, whilst a different, but subdued colour, be it a warm or cool shade, will create the opposite effect.


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The chosen wall can also be the same colour, but a few shades lighter or darker.

Again, this is a more subtle approach & can also be easier for matching to, or creating, a more uniform decor palette.

Will An Accent Wall Make A Room Appear Larger Or Smaller?

There's some simple décor concepts & advice from interior designers, that when applied, will create the best look & visual balance for a particular space.

It is possible through the use of colour & shade, to alter the perception of a space so it appears larger or smaller than it actually is.

The Effect Of Dark Walls

If the room already has dark walls, then it makes sense for the feature wall to be lighter.

The size & shape of the space will dictate which wall to choose.

With a smaller space, keeping the 2 longest walls dark & an end wall lighter will emphasise the length of the room & make it appear larger.

If you have a voluminous space, you can use the same principal in reverse to create a more cosy & intimate area.

The Effect Of Light Walls

A room with light walls will most likely benefit from a feature wall in a darker shade.

But this isn’t a hard & fast rule.

Again, it comes down to the shape & size of the space & what you’re wanting to achieve.

If the room already has light or neutral colours on the walls, then an accent wall in a paler shade can create a lovely sense of airiness & space.

The same as with dark walls, let the shape of the room guide you.

Defining A Space With A Feature Wall

Painting a wall darker makes it visually come forward.

So too with light walls, they appear to recede.

So you can use this principle in whatever room size & shape you have in order to create the desired effect.

If you have a wall that’s less than perfectly straight, (maybe the brickie was having an off day!) painting it a dark colour will pull the wall in.

Walls that are out of square to each other can also be disguised.

By having the 2 adjoining walls in a darker shade, it will visually pull them forward.

If you have a small space, you don’t need to paint the entire wall.

Whether you choose a light or dark shade, you can define an area as a reading nook, meditation space or home office.

wood panel feature wall

By choosing a lighter feature wall, the remaining darker walls make the rest of the room feel cosier.

If you don’t have a TV or fireplace, try creating a darker feature wall & arrange seating nearby to create a sense of gathering.

dark accent wall in spacious room

Sometimes small apartments don't have a separate dining room & an accent wall will define the space.

Making this the feature wall will also create a feeling of an area to gather in.

Can A Feature Wall Have A Window?

It’s a good idea to avoid walls that have air-con units, vents or other distractions.

It’s also preferable to avoid walls with doors or windows.

But if the layout of your room isn’t ideal, then you can only work with what you’ve got & it's possible to use windows to your advantage.

dark grey accent wall with white window frames

Using a light colour on a windowed wall tricks the eye into seeing the whole wall as a light source.

A clever effect if you want to create a sense of more light in a darker room.

A dark windowed wall with remaining light walls is another way to help reflect light around the space.

On the other hand, if the room is already too bright for your liking, paint the opposite wall in a dark colour to absorb light & prevent it bouncing around the room.

accent wall in white bathroom

Inspired Ideas For Creating Your Feature Wall

When we think of accent or feature walls, paint usually comes to mind.

You can experiment using paint to create stripes or patterns or mixing of colours & shades together.

stylish feature wall

But whichever shade you decide on, be it a dark or light wall, there are many other materials at your disposal that you can be super creative with.

There’s panels made from wood, pressed metal, PVC & other materials.

There’s also brick & stone panelling, mock concrete .. the list is almost endless.

The whole wall doesn’t have to be one colour or texture either.

Wallpaper & other wall coverings come in so many designs, you can pick one that is a mix of light & dark patterns.


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Wall coverings are also available as faux wood, brick & many other textures.

Need storage space for ornaments or books?

Why not create a feature wall using shelving?

The wall could be dark with light shelves so they really pop, or vice versa.

If you don’t want to commit to anything permanent, one large artwork, or an arrangement of artworks such as a gallery wall, is fabulous way to turn the wall into a focal point.

Canvas Cultures have prints as large as 72 x 54 ... a fabulous range of different styles too. I like to promote them as they support independent artists.

Matching The Feature Wall To Your Décor

Once you've decided on a lighter or darker accented wall, it will still need to tie in with the décor.

They're called feature walls because .. well, they're a feature.

So a wall could be painted a unique colour to the rest of the room providing it's a complimentary colour.

A textured wall, like wood or brick for example, can look really wonderful.

But the choice of style needs to suit the room it's in.

A modern interior may not sit well against weathered wood panelling, whereas a coastal style or industrial décor will look amazing.

But I don't feel there's any hard & fast rules, as often the juxtaposition of having different styles along side each other can also be really effective.

A space with modern décor & a contemporary styled feature wall could look wonderful with the occasional piece of vintage furniture.

Final Thoughts

As with many decorating projects, there are certain “rules” & guidelines.

Although useful, this doesn’t mean your choices are limited & you're restricted to abide by them.

If we all stuck to "rules" nothing new would ever be created!

Rather than repainting or redecorating the entire wall space, feature walls are a fabulous way to not only uplift a rooms décor, but not be as time consuming or labour intensive either.

I hope this article was helpful & I'm always appreciative of a share.

If you're shopping for furniture or home décor, check out Casagear's amazing catalogue of homewares.


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