Does an Accent Wall Make the Room Look Smaller?

Adding special touches to one wall of a room creates a polished look.

Focal Wall Required

An accent wall might be painted a neutral gray.An accent wall might be painted a neutral gray.
Professional decorators often emphasize the importance of creating an "accent wall" for every room. Unique color or artwork will provide definition and eye-catching appeal to the room's decor. Even the tiniest room will look more beautiful with an accent color on one wall. But the chosen color is important so you don't reduce the visual size of the room.

Every room needs an accent wall. This design technique actually prevents the room from looking bland. With no accent wall to draw the eye, the room can look cluttered as well. If all walls are the same, the room won't look inviting. While a furniture grouping or bed can serve as the room's focal point, the wall behind that focal point needs attention.

Reasons for Focal Wall

Choose the accent wall to stand out in a room. For example, select a wall behind a fireplace. Paint the wall, perhaps using a light gray or taupe. Keep in mind that adding color to the accent wall, along with any special furniture grouping or artwork, pulls the eye to that area -- which is ideal from a decorator's viewpoint. An accent wall delivers the message that details incorporated into the room are well-planned, not just random choices.

Bigger Feeling in Small Spaces

A tiny room, especially, needs an accent wall. For example, a small bedroom in a cottage might only measure 7 feet by 10 feet. Your concerns for decorating might include: placement of the bed, where to place a chest or dresser, and how to add a chair. In this case, you might paint one longer wall lime green and other walls white. Using an accent wall in a tiny room provides opportunities to use artwork and fabrics that give the space a standard-room feeling.

Longer Wall for Accent

Using the shorter wall of a small room as an accent is not a good idea. For instance, say you paint a short wall in a 7-by-10-foot bedroom a bright color. As you enter, let's assume the 7-foot wall is facing you from the opposite side of the room. If you paint this shorter wall lime green, this will make the room appear tunnel-like in shape -- thus smaller. Always choose a longer wall as the accent wall, if the room is not an overly large one.

Exception to the Rules

The rules change for an oversize room. To create a focal point in a large room that's 18 by 24 feet, for example, it's OK to make a shorter wall an accent wall. You might want to draw attention to this less expansive wall -- which might feature a fireplace or dining table -- so go ahead and paint the wall yellow or bright blue. Because of the room's generous size, the accent wall will create a cozy feeling, rather than a cramped feeling that will reduce the space's visual size.

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.