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How to Create an Accent Wall without Paint on the Cheap

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Maybe you have one of those plain walls that you just don’t know what to do with.  Maybe you rent your space and you are stuck with that “builders white” on the walls.  Or maybe you just want some “pizzazz” in the room without getting out cans of paint or blowing your budget.

It is nice to have a focal wall.  Think of this as something that expresses your personality and at the same time works with the room.  If you have very light colors in the room, you may want to spice it up with a punchy wall.  Below are some ways to add some punch and create that focal wall that draws your eye and makes you smile.

Depending on how large this space is, there are many affordable ways to create a focus wall that really adds to a room.

how to create an accent wall without paint

Peel and Stick Decals

These have come a long way from the sticker books you had as a kid.  These are phrases and sayings that can take that plain wall and add some meaning.  You need to have some patience when installing these as you don’t want your writing to go “down hill”.  Take the time to measure out where you want this phrase to sit and it can instantly turn a plain wall into a focus.  These also come back down without damage so landlords should be happy!

how to create a focus wall

Peel and Stick Wall Mural

This will take up a full wall from floor to ceiling.  It can be taken down at any time and even moved, but boy does it add to a plain room.  This one is a forest scene but there are many others you can get.  Just make sure it is “peel and stick” so you are not trying to scrape this off if you move or redecorate down the road.

This also works to cover up a bad wall where the surface is slightly marred,  such as you may get with kids and crayons or a wall that needs painting, this is an instant way to cover it up.  

how to create an accent wall
MCS Format Frame, 8 by 10-Inch, Black, 12-Pack
Amazon Price: $31.99 $23.88 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 19, 2016)

Frame it - With Lots of Frames!

If you want the room to have some symmetry, try using all the same sized frames and fit them perfectly on the wall with the exact spacing.  You can get these in bulk online and it’s a great way to frame pictures or even those random ones you have kicking around or maybe all black and white old family photos.  Come up with a theme and get out your tape measure and place these where you want in any pattern and instantly create a focus.  You could get a couple packs of these bulk black frames and fill the entire space.

You could also create any pattern you want if you get enough of them or even spell a word with them, so that the focus is two things, the framed prints and the placement of the frame.  If you keep all the frames black and the same size it can really pop.

how to create an accent wall without paint
MCS 65549 Trendsetter Poster Frame, 24 by 36-Inch, Black
Amazon Price: $26.90 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 19, 2016)

Poster Frames

Do you have some old poster collections kicking around?  Or have you seen some posters you think would look cool on your wall?  You can get really good looking poster frames online.  They are affordable and a great way to express your personality.  Get those posters out from under your bed or rolled up in your closet and put a few together on the wall to really pop.  This works well if the room is light and the posters are vibrant!

how to create an accent wall without paint
Darice Studio 71 24-Inch-by-48-Inch Gallery Canvas
Amazon Price: $37.60 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 19, 2016)


You don’t have to be an artist to create some 3d paint effects on your focus or accent wall.  You can get this 24 x 48 inch canvas online, maybe get 2 or 3 and paint the canvas the bold colors you love and then simply hang them on the wall.  You can get small jars of sample paint at the hardware stores so you don’t have to buy a whole can.  Then paint them solid colors and then simply hang them on that plain wall. 

Of course if you are even a bit creative you could create art.  But keep in mind solid deep colored canvas on a white wall can really add some pizzazz and you can get them online as above and they can be taken with you if you move. Try hanging 3 of them right under each other, this gives an awesome effect.

how to create an accent wall
Michael Miller Botanika Wing Study Ivory Fabric By The Yard
Amazon Price: $9.48 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 19, 2016)

How to Frame Fabric for Your Accent Wall

Framed Fabric Print

This is another simple way to create a bit of punch.  Find some vintage style fabrics that you like and you can take that same blank canvas and simply stretch it over and staple to the back.  Or if you are handy create frames using 1 x 2” wood and then simply stretch the fabric over the wood and wrap around and then staple it to the back.  It will look like a canvas with wrapped sides, if you make them yourself you could create large ones.

This can be an awesome way to add some color or go with the theme of your room.  

Thrift Store Finds

This is another great place to head if you are on a super tight decorating budget.  I quite like shopping for their old frames, especially the ones with glass still in them.  Ignore the color because you will paint them black. 

Purchase a few different style frames, and then take them apart and clean them and using a high adhesion primer, such as Zinsser, you paint the primer on them, let it dry and now you can paint with an acrylic black.  Make them all black and then frame your favourite pictures or prints.  So even though they are different style frames, they are all the same colour which gives them some unity and creates a really whimsical and awesome focus wall.

Hope you have become inspired to update that vacant and dull looking wall without paint or construction or repairs.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to express yourself!



Jul 13, 2016 10:55pm
Amazing, I really like the way you have suggested some useful and practical ways to create an accent wall without paint. Using poster frames and canvas is definitely a great way to add color.
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