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'The New Old Thing': The Accent Wall

October 07, 2002|Washington Post

Recently we got hit by a swinging style pendulum: During an online chat on Washingtonpost.com, a reader asked what we thought about using a strong accent color on just one wall of an otherwise neutral room. We rather breezily dismissed the idea as dated.

A cyber-reader took exception. Two top shelter magazines had just pronounced the accent wall a "stylish way to personalize a room," she wrote. What's more, a designer had created a purple accent wall on HGTV's "Designing for the Sexes" show. "The results were incredible."

Like Marimekko, Pucci prints, the miniskirt and other icons of the '70s, the accent wall has staged a comeback. "It's the new old thing," says Kenneth X. Charbonneau, a New York-based color consultant and something of an industry oracle on the subject of paint. "It went away, but it came back because white walls came back and designers were getting bored."

He points out the advantages of the one-wall approach: "Experiment with a space you don't spend much time in.... Put the accent color on the stair wall, or the wall you pass on your way to the living room. No one's asking you to sit there and look at it full time."

Well-chosen colors can help relate one room to another. "Look into the living room and pick the most gorgeous color in it, like a silk throw pillow in citrus green, and put that color on your accent wall," Charbonneau says. "In small doses it's delicious."

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