More than Just Paint: Create an Accent Wall With Art

Color, pattern, texture — or art!  These are all fantastic ways to create an accent wall in your living space, whether it’s a living room, dining room or bedroom. Any space can have an accent wall because it does not have to be huge or expansive. Similar to a feature wall, which is usually larger or more open, an accent wall can be small or even in a confined area. The main characteristic is that its design differs from the other three.

It’s More Than Just Paint and Paper

Mention an accent wall and most people will automatically think of paint or maybe even wallpaper to distinguish the surface. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option, especially if the home is a rental. Sometimes, people don’t want to paint and in other cases, a coat of paint might not have enough personality or pizzazz to really make a big difference. Instead, how about turning to art to create an accent wall? Choosing a work that you love and that reflects your personality makes a more defined, personalized statement and it can be far easier. Even more, you can choose a piece that appropriately fits the size of the wall you want to highlight.

Here are some different types of art that are great options for an accent wall.

Colorful Art

Displaying a colorful piece of art is a bold and immediate method for jazzing up a feature wall, whether it is painted a different color or not. Works that are monochrome or that include many colors, like this one by Speedy Graphito are lively and eye-catching. Graphito  — also known as Olivier Rizzo —  lives and works in Paris. He is also a pioneer of the French Street Art movement and often incorporates images from of popular culture, such as Tweety Bird, in his works.

Graphito also creates sculptures, installations and videos, among other types of expression.View in gallery
Graphito also creates sculptures, installations and videos, among other types of expression.

This geometrically represented cat image by Angee Ferrin is another example of colorful artwork that can be used to create an accent wall. It’s a typical figure that has been rendered with a novel technique, and that, combined with the bright purples and abstract background make it very eye-catching piece – perfect for cat lovers too!

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Shades of Gray

While gray is generally considered a neutral, in artworks it can be used to highlight an accent wall. A dramatic piece that has an unusual feature, like this by Adam McEwen, immediately draws attention and become the dominant element. McEwen is a former obituary writer who started creating artworks out of mass media print. His works also include media media works, such as this piece.

“Phantom Limb” is a mixed media work, including an ink jet print on cellulose sponge and graphite.View in gallery
“Phantom Limb” is a mixed media work, including an ink jet print on cellulose sponge and graphite.

Called Electromagnetic Field, this work by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla is all about the gray scale of tones. In fact, it is made with iron filings on linen, which create the abstract, ink-blot style forms of the work. The duo says it approaches visual art as a set of experiments and that their hybrid works — often a mix of sculpture, photography, performance, sound, and video—”explore the physical and conceptual act of mark-making and its survival through traces.”

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Technological Art

Artists often turn to technology in the search for new ways to create and express vision, and these types of works are natural choices for an accent wall. Light-based works are particularly dramatic options for highlighting a space. This one is by August Muth, a pioneering artist known for his exploration of light through holography. This work is made of holograms laminated in glass and attached with steel wall mounts. The colors and changing visuals of the piece are intriguing and would be ideal on a smaller accent wall.

Much says that "Light, as we perceive it, gives us only a brief glimpse of the momentary realities in which we exist."View in gallery
Much says that “Light, as we perceive it, gives us only a brief glimpse of the momentary realities in which we exist.”

From neon to newer pieces that include all kinds of innovations, it was inevitable that art would start to incorporate elements of technology. This piece by Andrea Bowers reflects a societal sentiment and is made of cardboard and color-changing LED lights. LED technology has transformed the lighting industry, so it rightly can be used to expand artful options too.

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Wall Sculptures

Three-dimensional pieces are yet another excellent type of art for creating an accent wall. Lovers of texture and depth will particularly be drawn to an accent wall the features work that literally stand out. This ceramic piece by UK-based Artist Caroline Achaintre, who may be better known for her textile creations, has both depth and texture. It also evokes flow with its sinuous lines and undulations. The artist says that German Expressionism and post-war British sculpture influence her work and convey “the trauma of a war-time generation.”

Main of Achaintre’s works feature mask-like faces, and here you can just discern eye slits.View in gallery
Main of Achaintre’s works feature mask-like faces, and here you can just discern eye slits.

This piece by Miami-based artist Rafael Rangel is called Cups. Composed of stainless sleet cups and spray paint, the work is three-dimensional and shiny, radiating creativity. It’s a dramatic choice of art for an accent wall and would be particularly nice on a brightly hued wall. Rangel turns everyday items into symbolic mediums by removing their utility, hence they go from an everyday object to a more profound symbol.

Cups, plates and other utilitarian items are the artist's current materials of choice.View in gallery
Cups, plates and other utilitarian items are the artist’s current materials of choice.

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Intriguing wall sculpture is a fabulous way to transform a plain wall into a real accent, especially because you can find works of all sizes. This one is Lucidity and Volume from John Miller’s Structural Collection. It is crafted from imitation gold leaf and plastic objects, a form the artist has been known for since the 1980s. These works are said to “at first seduce the viewer with shimmering surfaces but ultimately present a quasi-apocalyptic vision of everyday life.” This is a piece that can be studied and appreciated from a distance as well as in closer detail.

Photographs

With today’s ubiquitous cell phone cameras and the visual focus of social media, it’s easy to forget the artistry and power that make for a great, expressive photograph. Dual meanings, social commentaries and expert skills make photographs a phenomenal choice for an accent wall. Framed and hung where all can see and contemplate, a photographic work is set apart from regular snaps. This shot is of an installation by Hector Zamora, a Mexican artist working in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and is titled “Delirio Atópico – Edificio Monserrate.”  Zamora’s works enhance or highlight particular patterns of social use of an environment, and this photograph captures his installation in this particular building. No matter what the photograph features, a large-scale print is always a conversation piece for highlighting an accent wall.

Zamora often involves the community in the creation of his installations.View in gallery
Zamora often involves the community in the creation of his installations.

Striking photos have always been a popular form of art for display and these can also be used for an accent wall. Artists today are using various techniques to embellish photos, which gives them added dimension both visually and in terms of meaning. This particular artwork starts with a dramatic portrait and adds physical antlers to the image.

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Textural Works

Just as adding a texture paper or other finish to a wall created interest, displaying a textural work of art achieves the same thing, only with more flair. Texture doesn’t always mean textiles. In this piece, artist Leonardo Drew uses wood and paint in different shapes and forms to create a textural, tactile work that has packs amazing depth and meaning into a smaller, black and white artwork. The two contrasting colors combine with the texture to yield a very dramatic piece that will immediately create a focal point.

Drew's work is influenced by his childhood as an African American growing up in a public housing project.View in gallery
Drew’s work is influenced by his childhood as an African American growing up in a public housing project.

Metal pieces are another style that coveys texture and becomes the dominant element on an accent wall. This work is by Belgian artist Michel Francois, who “claims no signature style but creates a web of shifting connections between his works.” The varying tones of the metal and extra dimension from the bent and meandering part of the grid add depth and cast an interesting shadow as well. Metallic artwork pairs well with any color scheme and can be very thought-provoking.

Artsy says that François' work shows "our conflicting desires to both create and destroy the world we inhabit."View in gallery
Artsy says that François’ work shows “our conflicting desires to both create and destroy the world we inhabit.”

Artists use lots of different media to create pieces that are enhanced with textures that help convey the purpose of the piece. Internationally known costume designer Nuria Carrasco Dominguez has taken her talents to the contemporary art world and is creating fabulous textural paintings like this one. Her works are closely related to the concept of textures through time and existence and aim to create “moral and sentimental reflection on nature and beauty.”

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Extraordinary Paintings

While any painting can help distinguish a wall, those that employee something unusual or an out-of-the-ordinary element help turn an ordinary wall into an accent wall. This painting by Nicolas Ceccaldi combines an upside-down crucifix on a prefab painting. Besides being a slightly eccentric piece, it is also a discussion of religion that will certainly provoke discussion among family and friends who visit.

Despite the rather simple elements, it is a very dramatic and evocative work.View in gallery
Despite the rather simple elements, it is a very dramatic and evocative work.

The best thing about paintings as art is that an endless array of choices exists within the styles that you like, so you can always find a piece that is ideal for creating an accent wall. While some people automatically think about oils or watercolors, there’s so much more to consider, like Phantophasm by Aaron Curry. The artist is known for blurring boundaries between abstraction and figuration, painting and sculpture, flatness and dimensionality, formalism and conceptualism. His works are lively and colorful, no matter which form.

Related: 35 DIY Wall Decor Ideas That Any Beginner Can Pull Off

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Novel Materials

Art that uses novel or unexpected materials as a medium is also a logical choice to display on a feature wall. Collages or assemblages that creatively make use of a material that isn’t often used in art is especially striking, like this work by Korean artist Ran Hwang. Originally trained as a painter, she shifted to using buttons, beads, pins, and threads to create her artwork. The painstaking precision required, combined with the elegant images that result, make for works that are excellent for using on an accent wall.

Hwang projects an outline onto the wall, traces the image and then fills it in with her materials.View in gallery
Hwang projects an outline onto the wall, traces the image and then fills it in with her materials.
A closer look at the exacting placement of the buttons.View in gallery
A closer look at the exacting placement of the buttons.

As you see, art is a great choice for creating an accent wall in your home. It is a highly individualistic way to design the wall in a way that expresses your taste and discernment more than just a painted expansive will do. Displaying art on an accent wall can create a focal point, serve as a conversation starter and bring an extra element to your enjoyment of your space.

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Things are not always what they seem, and this work by the collaborative art practice Troika is a prime example. What appears to be a pixelated black and white image is actually made out of dice, arranged like a mosaic. The trio that created it is especially interested in pieces that play with perception and spatial experience and works with all sorts of media. An artwork that uses novel or unexpected materials to yield the ultimate image is a great choice for an accent wall.