We’ve long preached about the decorative influence a vivid splash of color can have on a room, especially when it comes in the form of wall paint. Be it a trendy hue or not, the subtle contrast is the sort of low-effort design addition we can always get behind.  

But before you plan a complete overhaul, consider a slightly less daring alternative that can have a similar impact. Enter accent walls: The commitment-phobe’s hack to experimenting with a fresh dose of color.

We’re all for challenging the conventional approach to accent walls—you know, the all-white room with a vibrant pop of color. Instead, we’re looking to the rooms that take on the concept more daring in form, where unexpected color blocks and textured materials are of the norm. Ahead are the spaces that inspire us to rethink the traditional accent wall.

PHOTO BY JESSICA ANTOLA Photography by bon appétit

The accented surfaces in Angela Chrusciaki Blehm’s color-filled Atlanta home aren’t limited to the walls. While the majority of the home tends to embrace a generous chromatic profile, the ceilings, inversely, establish an opportunity for an element of contrast and added interest.

Photography by Meghan McNeer

The ceiling is just as acceptable of a surface for an accent wall as any, especially if you prefer to keep the walls a stark white. We’re swooning over the effortless simplicity of the charming pink and white stripes that deck this Caribbean bath.

Photography by Cydney Holm Photography by 100LAYERCAKE

In an open-layout space, an accent wall does not necessarily have to be confined to the four corners of the room. Instead, it can live within an adjacent wall that is still visible within the room. Take, for example, this surf shack–inspired Austin home, where the bright splash of peach that clads the entry also doubles as an accent wall for the dining room.

Photography by Genevive Garuppo For Homepolish Photography by MADELINE TOLLE

There are few mediums in design that can be as impactful and eye-catching as an intricately patterned wallpaper. An ideal decorative solution for spaces in need of a heavy-handed burst of personality—think powder rooms or dining rooms—a detailed print can instantly transform even the most tired or dated spaces. Designate a vibrant print for an accent wall and take the limited wall space as an opportunity to splurge on something fancy.

Photography by Heidi’s Bridge Photography by REPRORIGHTSZINE.US

Form and function combine in this eclectic room, primed for the little ones and their creativity. A chalkboard paint–covered accent wall doubles as the ideal surface for drawings, allowing for a versatile and constantly evolving decor scheme.

Photography by Nikole Ramsay

A saturated pop of color is one easy way to downplay the intensity of harsh surfaces such as concrete or untreated wood. Not only will it invite a touch of warmth to the space, but it will also evoke a sentiment of whimsy and charm. This dreamy seaside home, with its eye-catching lilac accent wall, is all the inspiration we need.

Photography by JOAQUIN TRUJILLO

If you’re still keen on sticking with the white room–meets–one accent wall scheme, consider a pared-back approach to the decor to establish a more noteworthy finish. This picture-perfect nook did it best with its intricate floor tile and the sliver of the dominant hue found within the lone beam.