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Christian 04-28-2009 09:37 AM

Accent Wall in Office
Hi all,

I'm debating on putting an accent wall in my home office...and need some advice on which wall to use and also some color ideas. First some background info:

I have a bungalow style home, and the office is located off the back of the house, with an exterior door (white) out to the back yard. There is also 1 small window in the room.

Adjacent to the office, there is a small area with a linen closet and adjacent doors to the bathroom and a bedroom...will be a nursery with light/soft colors eventually. The bathroom is a light/medium beachy tan color. The area itself (connect to the living room) is the same color as the living room...Behr 'Sandstone Cove' (lightish tanish). All the trim is a light off-white, Behr 'Swiss Coffee'. The living room has hardwood floors, white ceiling, dark blue curtains. Very cool different shades of tan and brown vibe.

Now...the reason I went into such detail on the living room colors is because you will be able to see straight into the office from I don't want colors to be mis-matched or create a weird vibe.

As for the accent wall, we're not sure whether it would be better to use the back wall (with the exterior door, much more visible from the living room) or the left-most wall which has the window on it (not visible from the living room). Also, can anyone recommend any color ideas? I was thinking possibly a deep red with a gray-base on the other walls. Would that seemingly go OK with the living room colors (while creating a different vibe)? Should I use the left-most wall so the accent isn't visible from the living room?

Thanks all for the help. Sorry for such a long post!

Christian 04-30-2009 01:17 PM

Can anyone at least provide some insight on if an having an accent wall visible from another room (in general) is a good idea?

dakuda 04-30-2009 02:51 PM

I am awful with colors, but I see it these two ways if I understand what you are saying correctly.

If you place it on a wall that is visible from other rooms, does it not act as an accent for both rooms? That might be one way to think about it. Do you want that accent in both rooms?

If you use a wall that is only visible in that room, you almost hide the accent. That might enhance its impact while you enjoy that room.

Just a few thoughts. Never ask the colorblind guy about colors. You should see what color I painted my kitchen before I started to let people help me with the colors.

Christian 05-01-2009 08:52 AM

Thanks for the insight.

I think I may be better off 'hiding' the accent and keeping it solely visible from that one room. There really isn't anything in the living room that would be complemented nicely by that accent color...but it should give a nice feel solely for the office room.

Rocky_11 05-04-2009 10:24 AM

Have you considered going with a dark chocolate brown? We have done that a few times for clients and they absolutely love it! If you already have "lightish tanish" in the main room, might be a great choice. Can you upload a picture to help us see what you are talking about?

lenozhka 09-24-2009 04:03 AM

Hi Christian,

I have a tutorial on my site for choosing the right wall and color for an accent wall, you can see it at :

Painting Accent Walls - Accent Wall Painting Tips

Hope this helps,


mikeds 11-08-2009 05:00 PM

Christian's article has some good info, but it sounds like you have kind of a tough spot for an accent wall for two reasons: accent colors are usually put on walls with no windows or doors, and they are usually (but not always) on the wall a person sees first when they walk in the room, which, as I understand it, would make it visible from the living room. If you've already made a decision about this let us know what you did and how it turned out.

Nestor_Kelebay 11-08-2009 07:42 PM


I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain where paints get their colour from, and why some kinds of colours fade less than others. Most of what I'm going to be talking about are something called "inorganic pigments", which are much less vibrant in colour than organic pigments. So, inorganic won't give you the colour shock that some organic pigments will. However, knowing the advantages and disadvantages of inorganic pigments will help you make a decision on which colour to go with.

Paints, unlike stains, get their colour from "Pigments". Pigments are solid coloured particles suspended in the dry paint film very much like the raisins in raisin bread. Wood stains are really nothing more than brown dyes dissolved in either mineral spirits or alcohol, but both latex and oil based paints are a "SLURRY", which is solid particles suspended in a liquid. Both oil based and latex paints get their colour (and some to most of their opacity) from the coloured pigments in the paint. Most of the time those pigments are added to the paint in the form of a liquid colourant dispensed by the paint tinting machine at the place where the paint is sold, but you can still buy some factory pretinted paints, although they're becoming much less common than they used to be.

Pigments fall into two catagories: organic pigments and inorganic pigments.

Actually, that's a blatant lie; there are both synthetic and natural organic pigments and synthetic and natural inorganic pigments, for a total of 4 catagories, but let's ignore all the natural pigments since the pigments in house paints are all synthetic. BUT, keep in mind that the synthetic inorganic pigments used in house paints have properties identical to the natural inorganic pigments that artists have been using for hundreds of thousands of years. (Stone tools which appear to have been used to grind up coloured rocks have been found in Africa and dated to over 350,000 BC, and cave paintings of the same colour were found in that area.)

Organic pigments are made in laboratories out of chemicals, (usually with the aid of a hunchback and a bolt of lightning). Organic pigments are all the colourwheel colours; like red, blue and yellow (Napthol Red, Phthalocyanine Blue and Diarylide Yellow, respectively). They're called "organic" pigments because their chemistry invariably includes carbon atoms. Green, magenta, orange, and other bright colours can be made by mixing red, blue and yellow pigments, but there are in fact inorganic pigments that are Phthalocyanine Green, Quinicridone Magenta and Benzimidazilone Orange in colour, and these are used to make the Hunter green, magenta and orange colourants in paint tinting machines. Almost every paint company uses Phthalocyanine Blue and Phthalocyanine Green for the Navy Blue and Hunter Green pigments, respectively, cuz they're cheap and have reasonably good hide and colourfastness. Organic pigments look like little pieces of coloured plastic under a microscope. Depending on the pigment, they can look like clear plastic, transluscent plastic or opaque plastic.

Inorganic pigments are a whole nuther kettle of fish. These are the modern day synthetic equivalents of the pulverized coloured rocks that artists have been using for millenia, (hundreds of millenia, actually). Ever since the first cave men used carbon from a fire to draw a mammoth on a cave wall, artists have used natural inorganic pigments (most of which are coloured rocks pulverized into a fine powder) for artistic purposes. As far back as 2000 BC, the ancient Egyptians used different metallic ores (from which they made lead, copper and gold) to make coloured glass and ground up that coloured glass to make coloured glass dust (called "frit") which they used as a pigment to decorate Plaster of Paris (which is referred to in the Bible as "Alabaster"). Leonardo and Michaelangelo used finely pulverized rock dust like Sienna, Ochre and Umber mixed with walnut oil or poppyseed oil to paint the Sistine Chapel and the Mona Lisa. (Sienna is a yellowish rock found near the Italian town of Siena after which it's named, and when you pulverize that rock into a fine powder and mix that powder with a drying oil (like linseed oil, Tung oil, walnut oil or poppy seed oil), you effectively are making yellow oil based paint.

Now, not all pigments are equal.

The organic pigments (red, blue, yellow) used in house paints all have relatively poor hide compared to inorganic pigments. Also organic pigments all are much less chemically stable than inorganic pigments, so they fade more from exposure to Sunlight. (So, for example, yellow cars do not use an organic yellow pigment like house paints do cuz they'd fade to the colour of the primer underneath in a decade or so.) The yellow pigment used to make yellow automotive paints years ago (before they used clear coats over the paint on cars) was bismuth vanadate, which is a bright yellow INORGANIC pigment; a pulverized rock. Bismuth vanadate is a bright yellow pigment similar in colour to Canary Yellow. Special high performance pigments are expensive, so automotive paints cost several hundred dollars per quart, compared to $35 per gallon for a decent quality house paint.

Now, a little bit of common sense (that'll be easy to understand and remember):

Every kid knows that rocks are opaque. You can hide from other kids if you hide behind a big enough rock. So, if you pulverize a rock into a fine powder, the powder you get is the same colour and opacity as the rock was. Thus, pulverizing coloured rocks into coloured dust and mixing that dust into a drying oil to make paint results in paints with very good hide. That's cuz the pigment particles from which the paint gets its colours are quite opaque.

Also, rock are extremely good at being old. There are few things you come across in daily life that are as old as the rocks in your garden. The exception would be the diamonds in your jewelry that are believed to have formed about 2 to 3 Billion (with a B) years ago, when all life on this planet consisted of single celled organisms floating in the primordial oceans.

In order for anything to even be 300 million years old (like rocks are), it has to be extremely chemically stable or it would have decomposed by now. The extreme chemical stability of rocks means that if you pulverize them into a fine powder and use that powder to colour paint, the chemical stability of the rock manifests itself as excellent resistance to fading from exposure to UV light from the Sun. This is an important consideration in a well naturally lit room (or in exterior paints) if you're ever wanting to repair and paint over nail holes in your paint (or repaint a window sill and hope the sill matches the rest of the window frame). Whenever you want the new paint to be the same colour as the old paint, that's best accomplished with a paint that uses any combination of inorganic pigments for it's colour. (Proof in Point: The Apollo IX astronauts collected rocks from the Moon that had been exposed to direct and intense sunlight for literally millions (prolly Billions) of years. But, there is no distinguishable "fading" in the colour on one side of any of those rocks. Such is the chemical stability of rocks. Over literally millions of years, there is no perceptible fading from exposure to intense UV light from the Sun, and that's even more-so on Earth which has a protective atmosphere. You can use that extreme chemical stability to make a more informed decision when choosing a colour for a paint that you don't want to fade.)

Alternatively, by knowing a little about pigments, you can be aware of some of the problems you might face in painting that depend almost entirely on the colour you choose.

This post is longer than 10,000 characters, so I have to break it up into 2 posts:

Nestor_Kelebay 11-08-2009 10:33 PM

Next time you're in a home center or hardware store, ask to see the colourants in the paint tinting machine. You will find 12 different colour colourants in a typical paint tinting machine. The organic pigments will be the colourwheel colours like red, yellow, blue, green, orange and magenta. The inorganic pigments that are typically used in a paint tinting machine are:

1. White - this is Titanium dioxide; the second highest hiding pigment used in paints. It's what replaced lead carbonate when they banned the use of lead in paints back in the mid-1970's. DuPont is the largest producer of Titanium Dioxide in the world with it's different lines of "Ti-Pure" pigments that are used in everything from paints to plastics to cosmetics.

2. Black - this, believe it or not, is ordinary soot, the same stuff as you find inside your car's tail pipe or coming off a cheap candle's flame. (Candles made from real bee's wax burn more completely at a higher temperature and don't create soot.) It's made by burning high purity methane in special furnaces with insufficient oxygen for complete combustion. The hydrogen in the methane reacts with what oxygen there is to form H2O and leaves behind copious amounts of soot. It consists of extremely tiny clumps of carbon atoms. The black pigment is the smallest pigment sizewise used in inks and coatings. It's typically 0.01 microns in diameter, compared to 5 microns in diameter for a red blood corpuscle, about 20 microns in diameter for the smallest thing visible by the naked eye and 100 microns in diameter for a human (Caucasian) hair. It's the highest hiding pigment used in paint, and it's also considered an INORGANIC pigment even though it consists entirely of carbon atoms.

3. Yellow Oxide - which is a mustardy yellow in colour. The natural equivalent is called "sienna". But, you can get natural sienna in various shades from "raw" sienna to "burnt" sienna in any artist's supply store. Yellow Oxide is always the same mustard yellowish colour so that paint can be tinted to a consistant colour regardless of when and where you buy it.

4. Red Oxide - which is rust. It's the reddish brown colour you see on your car where the paint is missing. Yep, the reddish brown colourant in the paint tinting machine has real rust in it, just like your car, only this is man made iron oxide; Fe2O3.

5. Brown Oxide - which, like yellow and red oxide is another iron oxide. It's chocolate brown in colour, and is probably the most attractive colour you can find in an inexpensive inorganic pigment.

6. Raw Umber - yet another iron oxide. This colour is a very dark brown that can be mistaken for black at first glance. It shows shades of yellow and green when smeared thin on white paper, just like good axle grease.

So, if you decide you want to paint your accent wall Chinese Red or Turquoise Blue, be aware that:

A) All things being equal, each coat of red or turquoise paint won't hide nearly as well as each coat of chocolate brown or reddish brown paint, and that's cuz rocks are more opaque. But, keep in mind that ALL inorganic pigments have very good hide and excellent colourfastness, so you don't have to pick a colour like mustard yellow or reddish brown. ANY paint tint formula that calls for only inorganic pigments will have very good hide and excellent colourfastness. (In my apartment block, the interior paint I use in all of my suites has a tint formula of 3 drops yellow oxide and 2.5 drops of black per gallon. It's a very light colour, almost white, but since the tint formula calls strictly for inorganic pigments, it doesn't fade, and that allows me to repair nail holes left by tenants almost invisibly. I say almost because airborne dirt gradually collects on the walls and ceilings with time, and that has the effect of darkening the existing paint. But, with my inorganic tint formula, the new tenant will only see nail hole repairs if they're pointed out to him/her. I can do that because I know where they are. That's how close the match is.)

B) All things being equal, the flatter the paint you use, the better it will hide an underlying colour. And that's cuz they use "extender pigments" which are clear and white powders (like chaulk, talc and pulverized silica sand) to reduce the gloss of paints, and those materials scatter light. Were it not for extender pigments, all paints would dry to a high gloss. Imagine trying to see through an aquarium full of clear glass marbles. The marbles scatter light and will obscure whatever's behind the aquarium very much more than air or water will. In the same way, extender pigments in paints increase it's hide. So, flat paints hide much better than gloss paints of the same colour.

C) Factory premixed colours (that is, paints that come pretinted from the factory to a certain colour like red or yellow) will hide better than paints that are tinted in a paint tinting machine (post again if you want me to explain why) and oil based paints will hide better than latex paints, especially factory pretinted oil based paints (post again if you want me to explain why).

So, if you do decide to paint your wall Chinese Red, or any other organic colour, then count on having to paint it several times to completely hide it's current colour. Also, be aware that if this is an exterior wall your painting, and it's cold outside and you don't have the best insulation in that wall, it can take a real long time for that paint to actually dry. Think 5 to 7 days. And, if you use a latex paint, there's no guarantee that it's actually going to dry properly. A latex paint might dry to a Chinese Red powdery film that you can rub off the wall with your thumb. (Post again if you want me to explain why.) (By contrast, oil based paints have a much more robust film formation mechanism. It's hard to stop an oil based paint from forming a proper film, and short of putting cooking oil or drain cleaner or battery acid into the oil based paint, I really can't think of any way to do it right now. You can paint a fence in the middle of a Manitoba winter with an oil based paint. The paint will remain tacky until spring when the weather warms up, and will then form a proper hard and solid film just like it would if you'd painted on a hot August night.)

Hope this helps in your colour selection decision.

PS: You can learn more than you need or want to about latex paints at:
Painting information and resources for home interiors and exteriors - Paint Quality Institute
The Paint Quality Institute was established by the Rohm & Haas Company, who are the largest manufacturer of the acrylic resins used to make latex paints in North America. The Rohm & Haas Company was recently purchased by Dow. The mandate of the Paint Quality Institute is to educate homeowners, contractors and architects about the benefits of using high quality latex paints. ("Acrylic resins" are really just tiny hunks of Plexiglas that are about 0.1 microns in diameter, or way too small to see with the naked eye.)

tlatrell 11-11-2009 09:22 AM

Don't limit your options to a single color accent wall!! Some of your challenges can be addressed by combining different hues. See some examples at Murals Redefined by

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