The Best Paint Colours and Placements for Feature or Accent Walls
It’s funny, I used to say that I totally despised feature walls, however, if you look at EVERY HOME we’ve lived in – I’ve always had feature walls (and let’s not start counting how many homes I’ve lived in…). I am a strange lil’ Ginger, aren’t I? What I’ve realized is that I actually love feature walls, I CRAVE feature walls – what I dislike so much are MISUSED and abused feature walls. And in my decorative travels, I’ve seen WAY too many of them.
So, what is the difference between a bad feature wall and a good feature wall? Excuse me while I twitch a bit here…
A Bad Feature Wall
- Is on the wrong wall
- Is on too MANY walls
- Has the wrong finish on it (too shiny)
- In the bathroom
- Doesn’t relate to anything in the room. These walls are often a reflection of the homeowner’s personal tastes, without considering the needs of the room and its products/furnishings
A Good Feature Wall
- Highlights a room’s natural architecture
- Adds fake architecture or personality to a room that is lacking interest
- Picks up on a colour that is already existing in the room either in hard surfaces or on linens/artwork/dominant decor
- Nicely contrasts a colour that is already existing in the room
And you might be surprised to hear that I have 5 feature walls in my own home – that’s right, 5. But you wouldn’t know it because they work off of the home’s natural flow and suit the rooms that they’re in. It’s like I know what I’m doing or something – wink wink.
Now, before we get into great feature room COLOURS, let’s talk about placement.
Where Should You Put a Feature or Accent Wall?
The Headboard Wall in a Bedroom
This is ‘usually’ the main long wall that you first look at when you walk into a room. It’s rarely the closet/door wall and isn’t the window wall very often either (contrary to a few of my photos). It’s also not ideal if you have to walk into the room and turn around to see the headboard/feature wall.
The Fireplace or TV Wall
This can be the area ABOVE the fireplace or the walls on either side of the fireplace. You won’t often find the feature wall colour on the walls beside AND above the fireplace – only when the drywall is one continuous piece beside and above the fireplace, rather than having a bump-out above the fireplace.
The Back Wall of a Hallway
Sure, it won’t brighten the hallway, but it WILL add personality and depth!
The Main Wall in the Living room or Family Room
This is usually the wall that the longest piece of furniture is on.
On a Unique or Interesting Part of the Drywall
This can really vary depending on the home and the layout.
The Main Back Wall in the Dining Room
This often works best when the remaining dining room walls are painted the same colour as the adjoining rooms, just so the palette doesn’t get too busy.
In a Staircase
This can be the back wall of the landing area (on a 2 part staircase) OR the main wall that runs along one side of the staircase from top to bottom.
Now, are you ready to get into the juicy stuff? No, we’re not looking in my side table drawer, we’re looking at paint colours!
Not sure what to paint the other walls in your room? The Best Off-White Paint Colours
The Best Navy Blue & Gray-Blue Paint Colours for an Accent Wall
Blue or gray with a blue-undertone is one of my FAVE choices for a feature wall as it can suit both warm AND cool paint colours.
Benjamin Moore Hale Navy HC 154
Oh, Hale yes! Hale Navy is definitely the King of the navy world. Why? Well, he’s that fine blend between committing to navy blue, without going primary OR graying out.
Benjamin Moore Anchor Gray
Anchor Gray will give you a blue, but subdued approach compared to the strength of Hale Navy.
In the above photo, while this colour actually wrapped around the room, the idea is to show you the colour beside the fireplace to accent the colours in the stone.
Sherwin Williams Cyberspace SW 7076 and Web Gray SW 7075
Cyberspace comes in a HOT second place to Hale Navy. Same idea – but a bit grayer, while still leaving a great shot of navy on the table. Web Gray is like a slightly lighter version of Cyberspace and can come across just a touch grayer.
Benjamin Moore Steel Wool 2121-20
Steel Wool is a subtler, softer approach. It’s more of a soft, medium depth and leans considerably grayer, with more of a blue-purple undertone to it.
The Best Dark Gray & Charcoal Paint Colours for an Accent or Feature Wall
While I might lean hard into the blues and grays with blue undertones, I have to say that the request I get the most often HAS to be gray – just good old gray. But, as you may or may not know, gray has undertones, so make sure you pick the RIGHT gray for your room!
Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray
Chelsea Gray is a VERY solid medium-toned charcoal gray with a softness to it, so it’s not an icy cold gray. It can pick up a vague green undertone.
Benjamin Moore Amherst Gray
Amherst Gray is along similar lines to Chelsea Gray, but it has more depth (more in the med-dark range) and can also grab that wink o’ green.
Sherwin Williams Dovetail SW 7018 and Dorian Gray SW 7017
Dovetail is a popular one. It’s a medium-toned warm charcoal. It favours a vague purple undertone and can grab THE TINIEST touch of green, but it really rarely shows up to the party. Dorian Gray is a lighter version and is just slightly more likely to grab that wink o’ green.
Benjamin Moore Escarpment CC 518
Escarpment is a beautiful, considerably warm gray with a decent purple undertone in it.
Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray SW 7019
Gauntlet Gray is the med-dark version of Dovetail, so it has more body and visual weight to it.
Sherwin Williams Classic French Gray SW 0077
Classic French Gray is a more standard ‘charcoal’ that can grab the faintest touch of green (vague).
The Best Greige and Brown Paint Colours for an Accent or Feature Wall
I do get a lot of Online Color Consulting clients wanting a dark greige paint colour. The thing with greige is that it really is only greige up to the medium range, after that it starts to favour brown, gray, green or purple – it can lose a bit of its ‘greige’ look. Keystone Gray (and Kingsport Gray below) are really on the boundaries of greige. Any darker and they start leaning into gray or brown more definitively with more noticeably undertones at times.
Sherwin Williams Keystone Gray SW 7054
Keystone Gray is beautiful. It’s a soft, medium-toned greige that slightly favours beige warmth over gray, but not by a bunch.
Benjamin Moore Brown Horse 2108-30
Brown Horse is brown, but not overly fudgy (a technical term) NOR grayed-out.
Benjamin Moore Kingsport Gray HC 86
Kingsport Gray is a pretty classic colour. It’s nestled nicely between gray and brown and is more likely to favour the brown over the gray, but not by a HUGE amount.
Sherwin Williams Anonymous SW 7046
If you aren’t afraid of green, Anonymous is WICKED gorgeous. It’s a solid medium to med-dark greige with a gorgeous green undertone.
While it’s not technically a ‘feature wall’, it acts as a feature of sorts as the powder room in our last home was small enough that I could wrap it right around the room!
Sherwin Williams Backdrop SW 7025
Backdrop is a brown, but it does have a REALLY nice dose of gray in it, making it ALMOST greige with a soft purple undertone.
Benjamin Moore Whitall Brown HC 69
Whitall Brown is a beautiful brown with a lower LRV. It’s a softer approach compared to the depth and richness of Brown Horse.
The Best Paint ‘Colours’ for an Accent or Feature Wall
Now, you might be in the mood for MORE colour, and I get it, I love colour too, but for the sake of mass appeal, I wanted to focus on the most popular colours that my clients are asking for. If you need help picking your fave colour, I’d love to take a look at your home via my E-design!
Benjamin Moore Tawny Rose 2173 20
Tawny Rose is a rich, rusty colour – not red, not orange, not brown, just a beautiful blend of them all!
Photo by Artez Photography
Benjamin Moore Smoked Oyster 2109-40
I love me some Smoked Oyster as it not only tastes great on crackers, but it also looks beautiful on the feature wall! Just be sure to not mix the 2 up or you could have some stanky walls and a terrible snack.
Sherwin Williams Grizzle Gray SW 7068
Grizzle Gray is a nice blend between gray and green. It is MOST definitely not a gray with a passive green undertone, but it’s also not a strong green – it’s right in the middle!
The Best Almost Black Paint Colours for an Accent or Feature Wall
I love dark paint colours, either on a feature wall or in an entire room – but, not EVERY room can pull them off, sometimes the colours with the darker LRV’s are just too much for a space. Make sure you have the lighting and decor before you commit to one of these bad boys.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Paint Colours and LRV
Benjamin Moore Gray 2121-10
You’ll have NO luck finding Gray by its name alone – as Pinterest will show you ALL of Benjamin Moore’s gray paint colours. You need the number/code to find this bad boy – and he’s worth looking at! Gray 2121-10 is a darned dark charcoal with a passive blue-purple undertone. Remember, blue can swing a few different ways, so make sure you’re getting the type of blue you like the most!
Sherwin Williams Iron Ore SW 7069
I really really like Iron Ore, like more than just as a friend. In fact…I love him. He’s deep, he’s dark, he’s moody and he’s a great way to get the contrast of a black without the stark/harsh look of it. He can also pick up a vague, almost slate green undertone. I painted our home office this colour in our last home, fondly referred to as
the home from Hell our ‘summer home’, but didn’t get a good shot of it as I was too wrapped up in my wine-infused misery. So while I don’t have a great shot of him in the room, you’ll get a glimpse on the interior of the front door below.
Benjamin Moore Raccoon Fur 2126-20 or Wrought Iron 2124-10
Raccoon Fur and Wrought Iron give me the warm fuzzies – but that’s because I love double d’s. Hey, not THOSE kind of double d’s (a girl can dream) but the OTHER double d’s – paint colours that are deep and dark. Raccoon Fur and Wrought Iron are similar to each other, being NOT quite black paint colours. They are just a fine blend of black, blue (with a purple undertone) and dark gray.
I have Wrought Iron (not shown above) in our master bedroom and it’s wicked gorgeous. However, Tim’s always leaving his undies around, so I haven’t been able to snap a great photo yet. You’ll find that Wrought Iron is just a bit more blackish and slightly less colourful than Raccoon Fur.
Benjamin Moore Kitty Gray 1589
This one is a personal fave, as shown in the hallway of our old home. Kitty Gray is a med-dark charcoal with a GOOOORGEOUS blue-green undertone. I can’t WAIT to get the chance to use this colour again somewhere in our new home.
Benjamin Moore Azure Water 677 or Gulf Stream 670
Here’s a nice pop of colour for you! Azure Water and Gulf Stream or both gorgeous teal colours, so they’re blue-green blends. They both have a bit of gray to calm them down, but Azure Water has MUCH more, whereas Gulf Stream has very little. Azure Water is a bit calmer and Gulf Stream is a bit more fun. Tim is Azure Water, I am Gulf Stream.
So, there you have it my funny friends!
Not sure what to paint the OTHER walls in your room? Not sure what YOUR best feature wall colour is?
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