Finding the perfect living room accent wall color ideas can be the difference between a pleasant space and one that wows. A simple coat of paint can take a room from monotonous to moody, or boring to brilliant, and without the time or expense of painting an entire room.
'Painting an accent wall in your living room creates an instant focal point, and it's a great way to experiment with color if you're commitment-shy. Because you're only painting one wall, if you decide to change it in a year or two it's not as daunting as if you were to paint all four walls, the ceiling, and trim,' says Lucy Searle, Global Editor in Chief, Homes & Gardens.
Of course, living room accent wall ideas needn't be paint-only; you can create drama with wallpaper and panelling, too, but for simplicity, we've demonstrated the drama you can create with a simple color switch.
Our top living room accent wall color ideas
There are lots of ways to create a living room accent wall with paint. You can keep accent wall ideas simple and paint an entire wall a single shade, or get creative with half-walls, trim, and color-blocking. This is a wonderful way to bring accent colors together, too. Try these looks we love.
1. Warming ochre and fresh white
Your living room accent wall color can remedy design challenges, whether you're looking for small living room ideas, or on the contrary, have an overabundance of space.
'High ceilings are always a bonus, of course, but if the room is north facing as well, it can feel like a big space to 'fill' and be a touch cold. Ochre is a great choice for combating this, it's warming and goes well with many colors – like this electric blue couch. Use it as an accent instead of all over for more of an impactful look,' says Jennifer Ebert, digital editor, Homes & Gardens.
Consider this your official permission to have fun with your living room paint ideas.
2. Eggplant is a perfect anchoring color
Looking for an unexpected alternative to neutrals? Try eggplant as an unexpected living room wall accent color.
'Eggplant is a rich color that will ground a room visually. It will also warm up a North facing living room and by only featuring it on the lower half of the wall it won't make the space feel too dark. It's a versatile yet under-used shade that goes with blush and oh-so-pale green, as well as turmeric and black,' says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief, Homes & Gardens.
3. Use gray to create depth in an otherwise white walled scheme
Create dimension in a bright, airy space with a dark-hued accent wall.
'As this room benefits from plenty of light, I felt I could opt for a bold gray accent wall,' says Henriette von Stockhausen, creative director at VSP Interiors. 'The color is Dark Lead Intelligent Matte Emulsion by Little Greene. Treasured paintings and antiques soften the industrial nature of the scheme to create a harmonious mix of old and new that I was determined to achieve.'
There are so many accent colors for gray that this is an easy shade to use as a living room accent wall color idea.
4. If you're a trend follower, then opt for sage green
Green is the it-color of the moment. If you want to try out one of the top living room trends without risk of getting in over your head, opt for sage green, painted below a chair or picture rail.
'Sage green is a calming shade that sits midway between light and dark greens. Reminiscent of the plants it's inspired by – woody stems and culinary herbs, it represents harmony and nature. It goes well with cream and look how fabulously it works with rose,' says Jennifer Ebert, digital editor, Homes & Gardens.
5. An inky blue adds a new dimension
Planning a little living room feng shui? An accent wall can help set a new ambience.
'For me, the purpose of an accent color is to lift a scheme, inject some personality, and bring some joy,' says Annie Sloan, color and paint expert at Annie Sloan. 'They can be used to tie a room together – especially if you pick a color from a well-loved artwork or fabric which you already own and replicate that shade on furniture or walls. It gives fresh perspective to a room, contrasts existing shades to bring out the best in them, and most importantly should make you smile!'
For a color that sparks joy and creates contrast go for a deep blue that's a few shades shy of navy. It'll add depth and a touch of drama to your space without veering into moody territory.
6. Add a brilliant zing with acid lemon
If you've been looking for an opportunity to make a daring color decision, the accent wall is it. Since you're painting a smaller area, almost anything goes, color-wise.
'Yes, this is uber bright, but if you use it sparingly it can look amazing – to add balance choose a crisp white for the rest of the walls, woodwork and ceiling and pick wooden flooring that has warming tones and texture,' says Melanie Griffiths, editor, Period Living.
7. Low ceilings can be helped with an accent of burnt sienna
If your living room ceilings are on the low side, keep the upper portion of the room a single, pale neutral color, ceiling included. This is one of our favorite bedroom accent wall color ideas, too. Warm spice shades make for wonderful living room accent wall color ideas, and are obvious choices for accent colors for beige.
'Keep darker or bolder colors on the bottom and lighter shades on top,' says George Miller, home designer at Neptune. 'In doing so, you’ll create the illusion of more ceiling height and ground your scheme. If you want to go the extra mile, a central border, painted in a third contrasting shade, will define the transition of your two color blocks and add an extra flourish to the design.'
If your home has a chair rail, paint it the darker color for a more contemporary look, instead of leaving it white.
8. Spin the accent on its head and use it high up
To break up an expanse of wall in a high-ceilinged room, add an accent color to the top 25 percent of the wall, or above a picture rail. A pop of color high up plays into the height of room, but the two-tone effect will also make the room feel cozier and less imposing that a single shade.
'We tend to think accent colors should be low down, on an alcove or chimney breast, but how about above the picture rail or ceiling? You can paint wherever you like, so be brave and break the 'rules', especially if the end result is like this living room,' says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief, Homes & Gardens.
9. Vibrant orange for a injection of color
For a playful, yet sophisticated take on the living room accent wall, pick one side of the color spectrum and incorporate a variety of warm or cool tones.
'I absolutely adore vivid, juicy, Vitamin C-packed orange with a soft pastel pink – it’s such a rewarding contrast. Both colors are playful and beautiful, so they work fabulously in a social space such as a living room,' says Annie Sloan, color and paint expert at Annie Sloan.
10. Go all out with entire accent wall
The most common living room accent wall color idea is to paint an entire wall a single shade, but you can up the drama by including the trim work.
'For a pure statement, paint one side of the living room in a single color – woodwork and all, from top to tail so to speak. It's dramatic yes, but doesn't it look fabulous? The other walls can be softer shades, blush pink would work well as you can see from the teapot on the side table,' says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief, Homes & Gardens.
What colors are good for a living room accent wall?
The best colors for a living room accent wall are the ones that will complement your decor scheme.
To narrow down your options, look at the accent colors that are already in your room. Pulling a color from your existing decor will tie your whole room together, and is a failsafe way to make the right choice. If you want an exact match, take an item you already own, like a throw pillow, vase, or area rug, to the paint store and have it color-matched. Or, if color-matching isn't an option, use the in-store paint cards to find the closest shade.
Should a living room accent wall color be darker or lighter?
Most often, an accent wall is a darker tone then the surrounding walls, because it's used as a way to liven up an otherwise monochromatic space.
But, that doesn't mean your accent wall can't be lighter. The key is to choose colors that complement one another, and to make your choice feel intentional. Painting three walls a sage green and leaving one wall white can look like you gave up before the job was finished. But, if you paint that fourth wall a rich cream color or a pale blush, you restore the intentionality, and the whole space works.
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.
Kitchen island ideas – 36 ways to create a fabulous and functional feature
These kitchen island ideas will ensure it’s a chic, sophisticated and practical element of the room
By Jennifer Ebert • Published
Why is my air conditioner not blowing cold air? Key problems to look out for
Why is my air conditioner not blowing cold air? Experts address this timely question – so you can stay cool through the heatwave
By Megan Slack • Published