Awesome Accents: 17 Ways to Make Any Space Pop with Color

Brilliant, bright, creamy, rich, dazzling color, whether used liberally or sparingly, can make a significant impact in a space. Much like a colorful scarf takes a neutral outfit in a bold new direction, an unanticipated design element, such as a juicy pink kitchen wall, high-gloss yellow dining chair, or a black ceiling, often steals the show. The accent wall is a familiar concept, yet partial surfaces, smaller architectural elements, and furnishings are ripe for color too. Color-phobes can rest assured that a pop of color is a way to reap all the benefits without belaboring the point. Here are 17 ways to make a space pop with color.

Powerful Pink

Pink Kitchen

Sometimes what makes an accent color successful is simply sheer surprise. Hot pink isn't typically found in a kitchen, and for that matter neither is a pink refrigerator. The two shades of pink turn a very neutral, hard-edged space into a more energizing spot.


Chalkboard Friendly

Chalkboard Paint

The designing women of Fiddlehead are all over black—even on ceilings. Slightly addicted to the shade's rich, elegant, unisex power, they also like using original black chalkboard paint. Here, in a large open kitchen, they used the paint as wainscot and created a handsome but kid-friendly area beyond the work triangle.

Related: 10 Reasons to Go Crazy for Chalkboard Paint

Fiddlehead Design Group

Red Energy

Red Accent Wall

Paula McHugh, painter, painting teacher, and interior designer at Belltown Design in Seattle, talks up the merit of a “well-placed explosion of rich vermilion color.” In small doses or larger swathes, McHugh uses vermilion to energize a space. “It makes everything come alive."

Related: Trending Now—Classic Red

Apartment Therapy

Blue Bed

Painted Bed

In order to keep the calm in a soft-colored room yet give it a memorable spin, interior designer Frank de Biasi had this antique Florentine bed painted a brilliant shade of cornflower blue. The color veers toward the mystical-spiritual-purple side of the spectrum while enhancing the soothing silvery and cream color scheme of the room. 

Related: Sweet Dreams—16 Inventive Beds You Can Make Yourself

Mark Rosskams

New Traditional

Painted Chair

“Yellow is happy,” says artist and My Old Country House blogger Lesli DeVito, “and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.” This sunshine hue, her husband’s favorite, injects a dose of fun into the formal dining room and has a way of taking years off of a traditional armchair

Related: How To: Paint Wood Furniture

Lesli DeVito

Green Beams

Painted Beams

Pistachio is one of Lou Kregel’s favorite colors. When the Athens, Georgia, product designer and painter bought a house already trimmed in the shade, it was meant to be. “I find certain greens calming and rejuvenating, and I never tire of them,” says Kregel, adding, “I never would have thought of putting that color on the ceiling, but I really like how it frames the kitchen when looking in from the den.”

Related: How To: Choose a Paint Finish

Lou Kregel

Cab Fab

Painted Kitchen Island

Painting kitchen cabinets or the base of an island is one way to personalize a kitchen. It also brings warmth and balance to a room that is often appointed with cool, slick elements in neutral-colored materials. Although this is not Lou Kregel’s kitchen, she’d cook in it in a heartbeat. “I like how the cabinets, wood beams, and concrete floors echo grass, bark, and rock—the dominant colors in nature.”

Related: Painted Cabinets—10 Reasons to Transform Yours Now


Light Pink

Painted Pendants

Pink, often reserved for girls' rooms, is making its way into other parts of the home. Julie Holloway of Milk and Honey Home funked up a pair of traditional lanterns with a can of watermelon spray paint. Holloway explains, “The homeowners are young, lively, and bold. She wanted some pink and we couldn’t do a pink wall, so this was a compromise!”

Related: Hue Cues for 2014—11 Color Trends to Follow

Milk & Honey Home

Lime Liner

Painted Trim

Walk into a room with white or off-white trim and there are no surprises. Walk into a space where a vivid hue delineates the walls, and the senses will be enlightened. Painting trim a bold color is like harmlessly going against the rules of decorating; remember: some rules were made to be broken. It is an adventurous design move resulting in a free-spirited space.

Related: How To: Paint Trim

Apartment Therapy

Shapely Accents

Painted Wall Shapes

While moldings and room breaks often dictate where to add color, sometimes the painter purposefully wants to determine her own boundaries. From simple circles and other geometric shapes to stripes, swirls, and even words, the application of an accent color is in the hands and mind of the one holding the brush.  

Related: The Perfect Paintbrush—and How to Choose It

Seventy Nine Ideas

Case Study

Painted Bookcase

The back panels of a bookcase or shelving unit are excellent candidates for a color accent. Tie the color into a textile or object, or choose a hue that simply makes you happy. The contrast between the rich color on the back and the lighter face gives a custom flair to a built-in or store-bought piece and accentuates the objects on display.

Related: 10 Unexpected Spaces for an Accent Color

Centsational Girl

Color Rise

Painted Staircase

Accenting a white staircase with a dark paint color is as decorative as it is functional, because a dark color tends to mask scuff marks. While tastemaker Emily Henderson chose to paint these treads a deep blue, Kelly-Moore's color expert Mary Lawlor favors the application on risers. Either way, a stair with all its parts—treads, risers, balusters, and posts—is a prime place for color.

Related: Trending Now—Painted Stairs

Emily Henderson

Open to Color

Painting Interior Door

Painting an interior door in an accent color is akin to color blocking. Rectangular and self-defined, a door makes it very clear where to stop and start painting. At the end of a long corridor, a painted door beckons the eye and not only gives focus to the space that it faces toward, but also provides a boost going into the room that it marks.

Related: How To: Paint EVERYTHING

Benjamin Moore

Outside Oomph

Painting Exterior Wall

Much like the impact a bold-colored front door has on a home’s curb appeal, an exterior accent wall, depending on the architectural style of a house, can also cause a lovely stir. While just about any color would command attention out here, green offers a nice contrast to the stone and neutral elements, and connects to the outdoors.

Related: The Do's and Don'ts of Choosing a New House Color

Designed for Life

Canvassing for Color

Turquoise Wall Decor

Another way to get that desired pop without the commitment is with wall decor—art, mirrors, and picture frames. When Myquillyn, aka The Nester, was hankering to tweak her living room decoration for summer, instead of investing big, she took a cheap thrift shop artwork and repainted it in eye-catching shades of cool turquoise. “It feels so much cooler with those colors over the mantel.”

The Nester

White's Might

White Accent Color

In a color-soaked space, white assumes the role of a strong accent color. It becomes important negative space, and its presence makes design details more legible. Quiet yet self-assured, white has a way of rejuvenating a space and leaving room for a deep cleansing breath.

Related: 12 Reasons to Embrace the Elegance of Black and White


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