6 Steps to Accent Wall Design

But corny metaphors aside, painting an accent wall is just about the no-brainer-easiest and fastest things you can do to spiff up a room, in less than a couple of hours.

But before you go out and buy $45/gallon Ralph Lauren Orange Frenzy (or whatever) for that accent wall of yours, you’ll want to observe a few conventions:

1. Most Prominent Wall

You’ll want your accent wall to be the first, or one of the first, things you see as you enter a room.  This is not a you’ll-die-if-you-don’t-do-it type of rule, but rather nice to observe.  At the very least don’t make it the back wall.

2. Anchoring

What area of the room do you want to highlight or define?  An accent wall is great at separating areas within larger areas, such as a family sitting area that happens to be within a larger room.  Think in terms of sub-rooms, not just rooms.

3. Focal Point

Do not put make your accent wall a blank wall with nothing around it.  You’ll want a fireplace, music center, flat-screen TV, bed, fountain, or something of this nature to highlight.

Accent Wall

4. Bold Against Neutral

The most common method of painting an accent wall is to make the “target wall” something vibrant (red, pink, orange, dark green or blue) and to make surrounding walls neutral.  But you can also make the surrounding walls a lighter, paler version of the accent wall.

Color coordinating your accent wall doesn’t necessarily mean matching.  It can mean complementary colors.

5. Color Coordination

Coordinate your accent wall with a few key items in your room:  sofa, pillows, throw rug, etc.  Don’t go overboard, though.

6. Media Other Than Paint

Paint isn’t the only material you can use for your accent wall.  Think:  tile or wallpaper, too.  In addition, you can frame your accent wall in molding.

Removing Plaster Wall without Removing Too Much Plaster Wall

When you’re taking down part of a plaster wall, that’s exactly what you want to take down—part of the wall. Not the whole thing. But plaster walls have the unfortunate characteristic of crumbling and crumbling, until nothing is left. You may have planned on taking down a 4 foot square section, but that section just keeps on expanding and expanding. Before you know it, you’ve taken down the whole frigging wall.

Limit the amount of plaster and lath that you remove with some of these techniques:

  1. Apply two layers of painter’s tape (i.e., expensive masking tape) in a perimeter around the area of plaster to be removed.
  2. Use a straight edge to score through that layers of painter’s tape, and down into the plaster itself. You don’t want to score all the way down to the lath (that’s pretty impossible anyway), but just about 1/8 inch down.
  3. Chop out the inner part of the square with a flat prybar. Go easy on it.
  4. When you get near about a 4-inch border near the outline, leave it be.
  5. Use the broad side of a piece of 2×4 as a buffer, and tap along those perimeter plaster areas with a hammer. This should help separate the plaster at the score lines. Do this until all the plaster within the masking tape square is gone.
  6. This may seem ass-backwards, but if you have any loose pieces of lath—nail them down.
  7. Cut out the lath with a reciprocating saw. The reason you nailed down loose lath is because the vibration from the saw can transmit to the lath…and knock out pieces of the “good” plaster outside of the masking tape square. You want to contain your operations to the center of the square.
  8. Pull out the remaining lath by hand, hammer, or with the pry bar.

Remove Plaster Wall
In the picture shown here, the technique is right for removing all of the plaster from the wall, but wrong for removing only a section of plaster.  The green dotted line shows where the masking tape outline would go if you were just removing part of the plaster and lath.