You want to add a little something something to your space. Whether it’s wallpaper in the powder room, a painted accent wall in the dining room or tile that makes a bold statement in the kitchen, there are a ton of variables to consider.
Working these elements into your design doesn’t take magic, although sometimes it can feel like it with the insane number of choices out there for wallpaper, paint and tile.
So how do you choose what’s right for your space? We’ve got you — and your walls — covered.
Wallpaper accent walls
Once the bane of every homeowner’s existence — and likely still if you’re buying an older home — wallpaper is now back in good standing. That’s thanks in large part to it being easier to install and remove than it was just a couple decades ago. The wide array of colors and patterns also helps.
We love to use wallpaper in small spaces, like a powder room or water closet. The space is small enough that the wallpaper makes a statement and adds color, texture or both to the room, without being completely over the top.
When we’re designing a home, we look to wallpaper to do one of two things: either complement an existing space and its design, or be so out there that it makes people stop and say wow when they walk into the room.
In Project Miller Ave, we used a bright metallic gold wallpaper with a floral print in the downstairs powder bath. Paired with a large mirror, the wallpaper acts like art, so we didn’t add anything else to the walls. We tied it all in with a gold pendant fixture and gold accents on the vanity.
If you’re wanting less wow factor and a more subtle look, grasscloth wallpaper adds a nice organic texture to the walls. Most grasscloth is in more neutral tones because you want to see the texture and not be overwhelmed by pattern or color. One warning: Unlike wallpaper, with grass cloth you can see the seams so if that’s going to drive you crazy, it’s best to find a different material to work with.
One last designer trick: Wallpaper is not just for the walls. Shocker! A brightly colored or patterned wallpaper can add just the right accent to your glass cabinetry by installing it on the back. This gives a bold effect by adding a touch of color or pattern to more neutral cabinets.
Tile backsplash & accent walls
Tile is another great way to make a bold statement. You can use patterned tile as an accent or keep it simpler to allow other areas to grab the spotlight.
In Project Buckingham Drive, we took out a wet bar and transformed it into a coffee bar to better fit our clients’ needs. Using cement, patterned tile really helped make the space pop, but we only used it in that one area. The rest of the kitchen uses a far more subtle white and light gray tile that gives just a little bit of texture and lets the custom hood and custom shelves really steal the show.
We did something similar at Project Caulfield Drive: The white backsplash and white countertop help the accents, like the custom hood, wooden shelves and gold hardware, really stand out. Just remember to always take your backsplash tile all the way to the ceiling as this makes a much bigger impact on your space. (And don’t miss my guide to choosing the right backsplash tile.)
If subtly is not your thing, then you’re my favorite, and I’ve got a design tip for you. To make a really bold statement, use tile and wallpaper — in the same room. That’s what we did at Project Buckingham Drive in a powder room that just smacks you in the face — in a good way — the second you walk in, while still tying in with the rest of the home’s design. We combined a black and white triangle pattern wallpaper on three of the walls with shiny black penny round tile that not only covered the floor, but also ran up to the ceiling on one wall.
You want me to paint an accent wall where?
Painting a single wall a bold accent color has been a great way to make a statement in any room for quite a long time. But a room is not made up of four walls — there are actually five.
We’re not talking crazy here, we’re talking about the ceiling. That’s right, you can paint the ceiling in an accent color to make a bold statement. And double shocker, black can work great. We use black on ceilings when it’s an accent color in the surrounding spaces, and it can really make a room feel classy, elegant or edgy depending on the rest of your design and architecture.
Just be sure you use it strategically. If the ceilings are lower than 10 feet or you have dark wood floors, it’s not a good idea — that just too much of a Darth Vader look for your home. It’s also key to remember that black doesn’t have to be 100% black. There are many different shades that don’t have to look like, well, death. A blue or gray undertone in black paint can work wonders.
And it’s not just the walls that you should look at for adding an accent color. Built-in shelves and nooks are great spaces to add a touch of color that makes a statement and helps the room stand out. It especially helps here to stick with the accent colors you’ve chosen for your home.
Different accent wall materials: Brick, stone, shiplap & more
Thought those were the only three options to add to your walls? Think again.
Very thin brick, stacked stone, and yes, even Joanna Gaines’ favorite shiplap are great ways to add texture to a wall.
In one of our model home designs, we added a brick veneer to one wall in the master bedroom. This is not wallpaper, it’s actually very thin brick that gives the house an industrial chic look.
Shiplap worked great in Project Southcrest’s master bedroom. We wanted to add texture to one wall in the space and shiplap, painted white, complemented the rustic feeling of the beams in the room.
And don’t forget the fireplace. Instead of tile, you can use a slab of quartz, like we did in Project Buckingham Drive, or stacked stone, like we did in Caulfield Drive, where the back of the fireplace faces the dining room. Both the slab and stacked stone in these two spaces add texture and that organic feel we crave in our homes.
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