Colors Perfect for One Wall

Eleven of our favorite colors, perfect for an accent wall.

staircase with black rail and deep red wall
Ngoc Minh Ngo
Some designers love painting an accent wall. Others would never even consider it. Whose side are you on?
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staircase with black rail and deep red wall
Ngoc Minh Ngo
Chinese Red Wall

"I painted this staircase black and the wall behind it a vibrant Chinese red (see the next slide) to make it as sculptural as possible. Every time I see it, I feel totally exhilarated. And I won't put any art on the wall. That crisp high-gloss red is the artwork." -AMANDA KYSER

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brownish red paint swatch
Merlot Red

MERLOT RED 2006-10

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dark royal blue paint swatch
Dark Royal Blue

"I did a dining room with three dove-gray walls and one dark blue wall, a royal blue with just a little, little bit of red in it. At night, with the shine from the silver on the table, it was sexy, sexy, sexy, without consuming the room. Dark colors always give you more depth. It looked fathomless." -PHILIP NIMMO DARK ROYAL BLUE 2065-20

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light orange paint swatch

"If you're painting one wall, it needs to say, 'Look at me!', because you want it to energize the space. I always go for the bold, like this orange. But it's not a Day-Glo, Howard Johnson's orange. It has subtle terra-cotta undertones — very sophisticated, and it radiates warmth, so everyone will look good." -JOHN LOECKE ORANGERY 70

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bright teal paint swatch
Harbourside Teal

"Pick a color out of your fabric and use it on one wall — much easier, because when you paint all four walls, the color vibrates off itself and multiplies and you end up with something you didn't expect. Just one wall gives you a strong element, without being overpowering. I like this pale turquoise, which makes me think of a beach I'm not at." -JASON BELL HARBOURSIDE TEAL 654

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deep brownish purple paint swatch
Bordeau Brown

"This brown has a lot of purple in it, like a color you'd see in a Rothko painting. So I'd do my own Rothko. Say you've got a 14-foot wall. Paint the center eight feet, floor to ceiling, in this brown, and then paint the remaining three feet on either side — and the rest of the room — in Powder Sand (see the next slide), which almost has a sun-glow. It would be exciting, and add depth — as though you could walk through that dark wall." -PATRICIA HEALING BORDEAU BROWN 154A

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light beige paint swatch
Powder Sand
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light sage green paint swatch
Slow Green

"This soft pale green is a little unexpected in a bedroom, but also very soothing and serene. It makes a nice backdrop for dreaming. Putting it on one wall was enough. It gave the room a focus. It looks so fresh, surrounded by white and with that beautiful glass door to the bath." -MICHAEL RICHMAN SLOW GREEN SW 6456

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bright red paint swatch
Spring Cosmos

"Painting an accent wall behind a seating group can define a living area — sort of like a rug, but on the wall. An accent wall can also stand in for windows or a fireplace that didn't make it to the party. Paint is relatively inexpensive and entirely reversible, so it's a little less scary to pick something bold and interesting, like this orange-red. Easier to change than a sofa in a similar hue." -STEVEN SCLAROFF SPRING COSMOS 115-6

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grayish blue paint swatch
Philipsburg Blue

"In a dining room in a 1960s building, one wall was flanked by columns and a ceiling soffit, which created a kind of frame. So I painted just that wall recess in this muted blue-gray, which has that sense of calm I look for in colors. The blue gave me a beautiful silhouette for the dark wood of the dining table, and also tied back to the colors in the living room upholstery." -MARK EPSTEIN PHILIPSBURG BLUE HC-159

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green paint swatch
"In my architectural studio, I've got white walls and white floors and one green freestanding wall. It's a green unlike any I've ever seen — not olive, not lime, not forest. It's deeper than apple, more like green tea ice cream. Everyone comments on it. It defines the space." — JOHN KEENEN
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light pink paint swatch
Pretty Pink

"Leave the other walls white and put the accent on the wall that gets the most sun. It will bounce back into the room and suffuse it with color. This is an amazing pink with a tiny bit of lavender in it. It will warm up the whole room. And if you're stressed, pink is known to be tranquilizing. Prisons paint the cells of the most dangerous inmates in pink!" -BENJAMIN NORIEGA-ORTIZ PRETTY PINK 2077-50

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