Over the last few years accent walls have frequently been falling in and out of favour. One year they are the only way to add character to a room, the next they date a room, sometimes the look is about paint, sometimes wallpaper or paneling or exposed brick. But what's the future looking like for this long-lived style? Is the accent wall still on trend for 2024?
Accent walls have had a bit of a glow-up in 2023, we've seen some wonderful examples using interesting finishes to add texture and depth to a room. They've started to evolve and have become a more permanent feature instead of simply a bold paint shade or a wallpaper, so perhaps in their new form accent walls do have a place in interior design trends for 2024. We asked interior designers for their takes on this controversial look.
Are accent walls still on trend?
'The term accent wall can conjure images of bold colors and garish wallpapers made popular by 90s television, but done well, an accent wall will create a focal point in a space,' says Tom Rutt, director and founder of TR Studio.
And we do agree. Accent walls aren't the flat, fail-safe way to add color or pattern to a room that they once were. They can be far more exciting and can be adapted to suit all interior design styles, so we explored how designers think this once dated look has been adapted for 2024.
1. Wooden slats – painted or bare
We predict that slatted wooden walls are going to be the next big thing when it comes to accent walls. They can be earthy and grounding one minute and bright and contemporary the next – all with a lick of paint.
This bold accent wall is painted in Farrow & Ball's India Yellow, it's vibrant, and striking and adds texture to another wise plain wall. It sets the scene for this creative dining room and also helps give the illusion of space with its vertical lines.
2. Painted brickwork
'The 'new' accent wall isn't about a bold paint color or a slice of wallpaper,' says Julia Miller, creative director of Yond Interiors. 'Accent walls are now more architectural, defined by framing and millwork details or a material shift like plywood sheeting or floor-to-ceiling tile.'
With color drenching being a key part of interior design trends currently, you can continue this on to your brickwork fireplace. It helps to blend it into the rest of the scheme whilst adding a tactile quality. It's a bold look even when used in the same shade. Keep the mantel simple and be sure to add in some contrast to ground whatever wall color you choose.
Yond Interiors founder Julia Miller is a designer whose work is anchored in the belief that interacting and engaging with intentional design enhances well-being. Her wide portfolio of residential projects, designed with her small team her Minneapolis-based studio, are underpinned by this foundational philosophy. Through consistent exploration of proportion, light, and balance they deliver honest and nurturing spaces built for daily life. Their values rest in respect for historical architecture and love for craftsmanship. Sourcing vintage and tailor-made pieces are the cornerstones of their work.
3. Bold and detailed wallpapers
Wallpaper has been the way not to do an accent wall for a while, but with the right pattern, in the right space, it can add so much to a room and yet not overwhelm the space. Kitchens and dining rooms are ideal spaces to add a wallpaper feature wall, they are practical spaces that don't always have a ton of room for adding in purely aesthetic flourishes, so a wallpaper can add in all the interest the room needs.
Just be sure to go quite large scale, dramatic even. Small fussy prints just don't work as an accent wall and it's this look that will most likely date your home.
‘There is such a breadth of scope for color and pattern and what began as one ‘accent wall’, which originated as design trend as a striking statement to add to a room, has evolved into a more considered and layered approach,' says Caroline Milns, head of interior design, Zulufish.
'From the more dramatic panel and large scale papers to richly textured grasscloths, elements of these wallpapers are now being woven across not just one wall, but also through the overall design scheme for a truly holistic approach with a sense of flow and rhythm, which ultimately will feel much more timeless.’
Caroline has over 25 years experience at the cutting edge of design and interiors. She began her career as a textile designer for Monkwell fabrics, before progressing to manage a team of designers for the John Lewis home design studio. In 2007, Caroline retrained as an interior designer, working for Helen Green and McVitty Interior Consultants on both residential and commercial projects, before launching the interiors arm of Zulufish in 2013, promising to ‘strive to create timeless design & inspiring interiors'.
4. Wall murals (if done right)
Wall murals are a very 2024 way to do an accent wall. A lot of trends for 2023 and going into 2024 are about creating homes with character, rooms that are filled with personality, and murals are a sure-fire way to do this. Unlike wallpaper, with a mural you can create beautiful scenes or large-scale artwork that bring so much depth to a room.
Plus they can be an easy way to blend styles - see how in this modern kitchen the more traditional mural creates an unexpected contrast. Again a kitchen is a great place for a mural as it breaks up all the clean lines and hard surfaces you often find in this practical space, adding color and pattern.
‘A wall mural is such an easy way to deliver an instant update to a room and a way to bring depth and dimension, as well as color, pattern, and texture,' says Philippe Desart, managing director, Arte .'Much as the choice of the actual design is a very subjective choice, as is the placement of the mural. It is also important to think about how you wish to view it and how it works with the rest of the space.'
Company owner and managing director Philippe Desart heads up Arte, a third-generation family business, rooted in creativity, craftsmanship, ingenuity and inventiveness, born out of a vision for beauty. Arte strives to create exquisite, innovative, and eclectic wallcoverings for sophisticated global interiors. Arte’s designs are more than wallpaper, they are exceptional, ground-breaking and truly original wall finishes.
Wall paneling as an accent wall has become more popular recently, it's ideal if you want to create a traditional finish mimicking the centuries-old style. In this contemporary living room, it's been taken further and used in a thoroughly modern way and with color.
'An accent wall can be created with a neutral that’s complementary to other walls within a space and used as a backdrop to showcase a piece of art, or it could be a wall of custom joinery that hosts your TV and provides shelving and cupboard space painted in a deep bold hue such as a navy or charcoal. Ultimately, your home should be representative of what you like, regardless of whether it is ‘on trend’ or not,' says Tom Rutt, founder and director, TR Studio.
Tom Rutt is the founder of TR Studio, a luxury architectural and interior design practice based in the City of London. Influenced by the likes of David Chipperfield, Vincent Van Duysen and Pierre Yovanovitch, Rutt has a crafted yet modernist approach to design, always paired with something that lifts it from minimalism in its purist sense to create something playful and uplifting. Working on high-end bespoke residential and commercial projects in the UK and internationally, the practice encompasses architecture, interior design and project management.
There's no doubt that accent walls are here to stay for 2024, but the approach is changing. The one wall of wallpaper is perhaps old hat now and what's replacing this dated look is far more exciting large-scale prints, wall murals, and 3D designs that add far more interest to a room than just a single wall of color or pattern.
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Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events. For H&G, she writes features about interior design – and is known for having an eye for a beautiful room.
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