Discover your ideal “special feature” wall. Accent walls work best when there seems to be a logical reason why a particular wall invites special treatment, compared with other walls in the room. A dramatic architectural feature like a fireplace or an antique armoire may be good reasons to make a special wall stand out with color. Determine the “reason” why a wall might be painted with a standout color by asking a friend to enter your room and then quickly tell you which wall attracts her eye first. In most cases, the wall chosen will be the inherently “special” wall in the room.
Define the “visual temperature” of the natural light in the room. If your room is located on the east or north side of your home, the quality of light entering the room during the day through the windows is cooler than the warmer light coming from a southern- or western-facing window. Rooms with warm-hued accent walls work best in eastern or northern rooms for this reason. Rooms with cool-hued accent walls are best for western or southern rooms. A western-facing wall painted orange will feel like an oven once you add light, while a northern-facing wall painted aqua will feel like an igloo.
Balance “color impact” with existing features and planned furnishings. A dramatic accent wall will lose much of its impact or “pop” if it’s mostly obscured behind a mass of floor-to-ceiling draperies or the wall is covered with art work, moldings or large pieces of furniture. In contrast, an accent wall that is almost fully exposed can bring too much “pop” to a room too. Choose an accent wall that won’t be too bare of or crowded with other design elements.
Consider basic “color theory” and how warm hues — Reds, Oranges, Yellows — play tricks on perception. Warm colors will tend to pull a wall towards the eye. If you paint a wall bright red, for example, that wall will seem closer to you than a white wall. Pick a wall that can tolerate being “fore-shortened” like this, perhaps the farthest or longest wall in the room. Using this color theory, painting a side wall red can make a room feel too narrow, but painting an end wall in a long, narrow room will make the room feel more balanced in size.
Harness the color theory effect of cool hues too — Blues, Greens and Purples. Cool colors have the opposite effect of warm hues as they push walls away from the eye. You can make a short room seem longer, or a skinny room feel wider, by painting an end wall or a side wall in a cool hue.
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