tips, tricks, & tuts: a creative approach to painted accent walls

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 2 Permalink 9

accents walls can be a great, easy, and inexpensive way to add color or interest to a space, so today, in conjunction with my studio 5 segment, i wanted to share a few of my go to tips when it come to creating accents walls as well as some tried and true painting tips and techniques. feel free to ask any questions and i will do my best to answer your accent wall and paint questions. but most of all i want to introduce you to what i call “mini accent walls”. these focus on only a portion of the wall and are usually super quick to create, which i love since i can easily switch things up without a major commitment of time, materials, or money. also, depending on how you design your mini accent wall, you may not even need to do any cutting in around windows, doors, or baseboards, etc. now that is my kind of painting project!

consider your specific room and architecture when planning your accent wall. for example does the space or wall you want to paint have odd shaped wall or voids (windows, doors, etc)?

the bookcase accent wall in my daughter’s room would’ve been an odd shaped “t” if i had painted the entire wall, that inspired me to create a design that stayed within that central, rectangular area keeping a boundary that didn’t extend to the ceiling so it felt intentional and didn’t accentuate the remaining “unpainted” wall area.

bookshelf accent wall final

if you have a room with odd shaped wall, remember that you don’t have to paint the entire wall, (less your goal is to draw attention to unique wall shape). use the paint to create new shapes and lines to help visually balance out the wall shape.

betterhomelifestyleblog odd shaped wall alternative

be thoughtful with high contrast paint colors. high contrast colors can make a space look smaller or disjointed, so be careful when using a paint color that is significantly lighter or darker than the other walls in the room.

my living room wall color is a very light gray that reads as white, and i wanted to conceal the black tv that we were going to mount above the fire place by using a dark blue paint color. but i didn’t want the blue paint color to feel too random or out of place, so i taped off a pattern that would allow a bit of the room color to show through and cohesive blend the two dark and light colors.

think about what you are trying to achieve in the space. maybe you want to conceal undesirable elements, for example conduit or pipes an old laundry room or even a modern loft space (if you’re not into the exposed, industrial look). paint them to create a work of art to downplay them or paint them in a contrasting color to accentuate them like they’ve done here.

painted pipe

add interest like the painted “ribbon” over crib area was used to join the area of the crib to the lower hung art and mirror so that the art and mirrors didn’t feels strange on the wall with a bunch of “white space” over head. it also helps make the crib and more prominent focal point in the room.

over crib ribbon cor have a little fun with it like the fos group that painted the yellow “ray of light” on that restaurant in spain.


accent walls can also be used to define an area. i used this concept for the “playhouse” painted out as a silhouette of a house. the client’s play kitchen, a table, some chairs, and a rug complete the effect while still keeping the space bright and open. or, for a fun, freehand approach, check out justina blakeney’s gallery wall art installation approach.

playhouse f

a few painting process tips and || accent wall and paint tips

  • here is my 4-step, fool-proof approach to a clean and even painter’s tape line:
  1. create a level line. i use a laser lever that suctions to the wall (it’s hands free and great for the solo diy-er)
  2. use one continuous piece of painters tape to for each line you’re creating and press into crevasses as you go (for highly textured walls, if you press down the tape after you’ve pulled it taut you won’t have enough tape surface area to create full contact.
  3. press the tape down firmly long the entire edge to be painted.
  4. always brush away from the tape and always with a drier brush.

(tape pressed into the crevasse versus tape that was not)

photo 5 (1)

  • for clean edges when painting freehand, make sure your brush is well loaded with paint. a “dry” brush lays down paint sporadically and creates a rough edge. take a loaded brush and start a bit shy of the final boundary and ease up to it to make sure you don’t end up with a drippy blob of paint

photo 2 (2)

  • think outside the painters tape to create unique and/or non-linear shapes (mixing bowl, freehand, stencils, cardboard cutouts, string and pencil compass, etc.)
  • color match paint to existing finished material instead of the other way around, it will make for a more durable finish. for example, the store bought white shelves for the clouds were color matched to create the paint for the clouds so they would match seamlessly and the shelves would keep their “factory finish”.

ashleyrachelle clouds

  • painting with a paint brush takes longer but uses less paint (depend on the quality of paint and size of the accent area, you can get away with a pot or two of tester paint. less paint waste and less of a cost.
  • use a small craft or artist brush to touch up any paint bleed through
  • invest in quality paint brushes, even if you are not a big diy-er. there is not more annoying that continually fishing loose bristles out of wet wall paint. but you don’t have to take my word for it… ;)

any other fabulous painting tips that need to be added to the list? do you have a favorite tool or supply that you swear by? i’d love to hear all about it! or feel free to ask any questions!

and as always, follow along on instragram for more up-to-date projects, inspiration, and behind the scenes like this project that i will begin blogging about later this week! here’s a peek from instagram. xoxo

  • J
    April 15, 2015

    I have been wondering how to make sure to get straight lines painting on a textured wall – in our case, white textured wallpaper (standard on German concrete walls, to give texture). Our last attempt ended in “bumpy” lines …

    • ashley stephens
      April 15, 2015

      hi j, if you check out the “4-step process,” especially #2 & #4, it addresses how to get a nice clean line, even on highly textured walls such as mine. included under the 4 steps is a photo of the tape pressed into the large textured area. if your walls are far too textured for that tip to be useful, step #4 is really going to be your best bet. it’s kind of the end all, be all painting tip, for me at least. :) hope that helps, good luck!

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