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June 04, 2010

500 Designer Favorite Colors: Just One Wall

Color exploration continues today with House Beautiful's new bookazine, 500 Favorite Paint Colors, available now for $9.99 at bookstores and news stands across the map!  Benjamin Moore's colors are everywhere in this great Color Bible, so read along for a few designer secrets.

Here's a peek into it's pages and a chance for you to win a copy yourself!  Answer(s) to my color question below that I think are most interesting will win a copy of this gorgeous publication.  All answers must be posted by 8am EST on Monday June 7, 2010!

Page 108.  House Beautiful asked Designer Amanda Kyser how she would treat just one wall.  Here's her answer:

P108_MerlotRed_Amanda Kyser

Amanda says the high-gloss red IS the artwork.  Do you believe accent walls work and what would you do to set it apart from the rest? 

Remember, the most interesting answer wins a bookazine.  You've got the weekend for this one, so poll your friends on your most clever answer and write in to win your copy of House Beautiful's 500 Favorite Paint Colors!


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Accents make everything a little bit better: walls, wardrobes, men... :)

@ Dot Quinlan: Your email addy is NOT working & bouncing back to me. PLEASE hit Contact Me on the blog so I can get in touch with you and get you your prize! Thanks!!! Sonu

Wow, thanks to all of you for commenting! There were so many great ideas and responses, it was hard to pick a few.

Here are the winners of the House Beautiful 500 Favorite Paint Colors Bookazine:

Robin Denker: I love the idea of a ceiling as your accent wall!

Dot Quinlan: Your imagination shows us how different this room could have been.

James Bacci: I admire a museum bold enough to become the art with colorful walls to highlight the collection.

Debbie Minarik: A bold reference to Hermes and color are simple and to the point!

Ashliegh: Your answer had both enthusiasm and humor (you're the kid in the class with your hand up!)

KinKent: You're instilling color and style independence in your kids- how amazing!!

Jan Kary: "Get ready for fun and excitement--it LIVES here". Need I say more?

Lisa Benninger: Bravo for the expert advice! Great ideas for all of us.

Linda Mathew: Your answer is so thoughtful and I think it will work beautifully!

Debra Kling: Love the accent color throughout and your persistence in making that photo "appear"!

The next post will be up SOON, so come back and tell your friends. Color is Calling!

The chinese red theme looks great for what could have been just ordinary. To get more of a theme going , first I would put a lighter coral on the ceiling going up the stairs to lend itself to more architectural detail to make the box part pop, 2nd I would paint bamboo shoots flowing slightly going upstairs. Interesting thought.
Love it , Love it. amazing how deep colors will make it look great.

Apparently, it is difficult to post a photo here. This is my last try:


If you still can't see it, I have posted it on my Facebook Fan Page-- it's the photo with the dog!:

Thanks again for your patience! --Debra.

Sorry, I am hoping you can open this link to the photo instead!


In this Entry Foyer, the "bookcase wall" and glossy sides of the staircase are the sculptural focus. The floor beneath the carpeting and the banisters and end posts are high-gloss Black, with lighter vertical rails, which is a more traditional approach, albeit with non-traditional colors, than in Amanda Kyser's modern space.

I use accent WALLS, per se, in limited circumstances-- only when it seems like the right, rather than gimmicky, solution. Often, it is more effective to bathe the entire room in what might otherwise be the "accent" color. The architectural features of the room must lend themselves to the idea of a one-wall accent, as they did in the photo Sonu posted (the red wall's horizontal boards, spare black and white elements and the stairwell's clean lines). Otherwise, I would prefer to use the "accent" color several times, or in several ways, throughout the space, as a unifying element. So, an accent wall is okay as long as it does not provide the designer with a "quick solution" which prevents her from thinking carefully and creatively about the space as a whole.

Sonu, I couldn't resist submitting a photo of an Entry/ Stairwell I recently did for a client-- an uncanny, more traditional take on the very concept you posted in Amanda Kyser's work:


Benjamin Moore 1302 Sweet Rosy Brown, Semi-Gloss Finish.

I could elaborate on my philosophy regarding accent walls (or, in this case, accent bookcases), but a picture is worth 1000 words.

Thanks, Debra.

I love accent walls. I think they can be used successfully in many places. As soon as one person says they're out... someone else will use them again and it will be great...In my home i did the reverse. When I repainted the living room I left the wall that separated the living and dining rooms alone. It was already a pretty light colour and I felt it didn't close the room in as much since I'd painted the living room a deeper turquoise colour. I think it works.

Accent walls, love them! It makes any room a conversation piece. It's interesting to hear what colors people like. Amanda's choice, and colors were right on. I love that she colored the staircase black.

I would choose a wall or a room in which there is something different about it. For example, if there are enclaves on one side of the room, I would accent the wall that it's on and keep the inside of the enclaves a neutral color. The color would have to be bold, different stands out. I would add pieces to the enclaves that bring that accent color out even more.

Accent walls do work, they give dimension, personality and a mood to a room.
To set it apart from the others and add a further purpose, the right accessories, texture or lighting can be used to feature or bring more attention/focal point to the space.

Life would be so boring if we only get to use one color in a room-accent walls help to solve that dilemma. It gives you a chance to experiment and live it up!

As part of the team of Benjamin Moore Experts on Facebook, I was very surprised to see such a division in "expert" opinions when it came to the application of accent walls.

Me? I'm a fan! I don't look at an accent wall as indecision or being afraid of commitment. Rather, I consider an accent wall a strong decorating tool and a creative use of color.

Painting (or even wallpapering) one wall can help define a space, very much like an area rug would. Yes, I do agree that your eye goes directly to color and that the lines of the room are broken when you add a wall that gets noticed. But...THAT'S THE POINT!

I've always had great results from this application. It allows for some fun use of color. Paint is an inexpensive decorating tool and totally reversible, so it is much easier to mentally splurge on a bold and daring color for one wall.

Strategically placed in the right room on the right wall, an accent wall can create drama at it's finest!

I think accent walls that are done by a designer or one with a good eye can be magnificent, but I've seen many BAD accent walls. Like my sister-in-law's, who painted her bedroom a buttery yellow with a deep burgundy accent wall with matching border at the ceiling. Yes, I'm gagging!

I painted a staircase wall to my lower level with Ben Moore's caliente. I LOVE everything about this color - the name, the shade, the vibrancy. When people walk down this staircase to my comfortable lower level living room, the color sends an advance signal, "get ready for fun and excitement - it LIVES here!", I LOVE how Benjamin Moore colors can create a mood, feeling, and environment that can't be accomplished in any other way. I'm an evangelist for aura!

I AM UP AND DIGGING THIS BLOG-LOVE! Keep the ideas coming! ;)

A properly placed accent wall can be the anchor for your aesthetic, but color, for colors sake, can sink the ship. And the color, while making a big statement, needs to make sense, not come out of the blue, or feel completely incongruous. Whatever color you use, subtle hints, beginning with a complementary palate and subtle references to the color should be in place from the moment you enter the home with Simple touches like accessories, artwork, furniture: all of these things will communicate with the accent wall. My guess is that in THIS home, there are suggestions of this RED, from the minute you walk in the front door and that by the time you get to the RED ACCENT WALL, you are ready for it( no pun intended!). While I agree that in THIS home with THIS wall and THESE accessories, the High Gloss Red wall says it all, if you were to take away all decoration on the adjoining walls, then perhaps artwork on the red wall would be like the punctuation on a fantastic sentence. My ONE and only rule is this : IT MUST MAKE SENSE.

Hello im glad i foud you, im a painter and faux finisher mu mentor an artist from Boston tough everything i know about color, i moved from Houston Tx to the Gulf Coast Ms and he always said Omar Benjamin Moore is your paint store, i like the faux finish, my question is there a color guide about metalics and faux finish from Benjamin Moore, im glad i moved down here two years ago and im glad i did here in the south people were used to plain colors but now with the new movement of decoration theyre starting to like colors too., i love that wine red on the wall, love the contrast., thank you guys

I agree that this accent wall and its staircase works, making a strong, attractive shape. Following Amanda's lead, I looked at it as an artwork and a sculpture and realized what was bothering me about it -- not itself, but its frame or pedestal. This may be in part an artifact of the photography, but I get a queasy feeling from the out-of-true lines of the natural wood table and the cluttery look of its centred pile o'books and little knicknacks. Try this: put your hand over the bottom left quadrant of the picture and see how it suddenly becomes more serene. Fix that table -- swap in something cleaner and simpler in the same wood, and without the pile -- and you might even be able to keep the statue's head, so the picture on the far right wall can go on whispering into its ear....

There is a time and a place for accent walls. In rooms without a distinct architectural focal point, an accent wall is critical to give the room interest. Additional texture, like the horizontal slats in this case, add even more pizzazz. Without the texture, I say hang some artwork. But in this case-it's fab just the way it is. What would I do to make it stand out from the rest? Make it a focal point that makes a statement. Just don't over-do it. (Pick me, pick me!)

Obviously, accent walls appeal to a broad range of people. Think of all the homes (and offices), you've stepped into only to see a random wall accented with a weird color. You long to grab a paintbrush and "fix" it. However, used appropriately as in this instance, an accent wall can draw the visitor's attention to something that truly deserves their focus (eg. carved mantel, woodwork, brickwork, etc.). Or, as in this case, can turn a really mundane corner staircase (which was probably pretty dark and drab) into a a lively, sculptural piece of art. When we moved into a new home, both my daughters independently decided to paint one wall of their bedrooms a glossy black (score one for Mom, they shared a gallon!) to off-set white furniture. In the older daughter's case, it was used to give a very traditional white headboard and nightstand a little modern edginess. In the younger daughter's room, it makes a sleek white laminate and stainless steel desk set "pop" and really shows off the displays she has arranged on the shelves above it. Although used for very different purposes, it works wonderfully in both rooms.

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