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Mother Nature had some fun the other day, dumping several inches of heavy, wet snow all over what remained of our cranberry, pumpkin, and green apple colored landscape. Goodbye autumn, Hello winter. As if we needed another reminder that the holiday season is fast approaching! Time to kick things up a notch. Thanksgiving is a mere three days away, and with it sounds the opening bell for holiday madness. It’s time for making lists and prioritizing social events and projects.

Whether you are preparing your home for a large Thanksgiving gathering or want to fix things up for a December celebration to remember, there are so many things you can do within the realm of interior painting and decorating. Our focus is an area that can make a huge difference in the way an entire room looks and feels, something which is typically done in a shorter span of time, and, has options to support an endless range of styles and budgets – updating with Accent Walls.

The first great thing about accent walls is that in each room the “right” wall almost always stands out naturally, making your first decision easy. Just look around your living or family room and you will likely have one wall that has either a fireplace, built-in bookshelves or entertainment system, a wall of windows or another similar feature that already defines it as the main focal point in the room. This is typically the wall you will choose as your accent wall because it is already drawing your attention. In a bedroom a good choice is often where the headboard is placed, thereby making a sort of backdrop in this case. In a kitchen we often see a wall with a large hood vent or range being highlighted, or perhaps two smaller walls coming together in a breakfast nook.

One way to create a wall that really stands out is by using interior paint in a color, texture, or finish that is different from what you have on the other walls in the room. Examples of decorative interior painting techniques include everything from the more formal styles (also known as “faux finishes”) such as Venetian Plaster & Glazing, Marbleizing, Gold Leaf & Patina, and Wood graining, down to the less formal but still fabulous color washing, rag rolling, ombré and tea-staining. You can do patterns likes chevrons, herringbone, stripes, and florals. Or try a texturizing technique like strié, or distressing or weatherizing. And from there continue to play with color and sheen to create a rich sense of texture from denim, damask, linen, leather and suede to created surface illusions of concrete, pearl, silk, metal and lacquer. So many possibilities!

If you desire a change in color or theme but don’t feel decorative finishes are for you then consider other current design trends. One popular look right now is High Contrast. This pairs one or more bold, bright tones such as Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year “Ultra Violet”, Sherwin Williams’ “Oceanside”, or Benjamin Moore’s “Caliente”, against a darker background shade such as PPG’s “Black Flame” or a bright white like Benjamin Moore’s “Super White”. Swinging the opposite way, you have “the new neutrals”, more of a “color-less” trend that takes advantage of natural materials, eclectic shapes and interesting highlights. Start with a base of neutral toned wall paint color or a natural wallcovering such as grass-cloth, then choose accent pieces like 3-D or “Human Touch” Art (think hand-carved wood, hammered metal, blown glass, hand-shaped ceramics, and natural wood artisan accessories). Combine these with soft textiles like nubby knit draperies and a mix of chunky and soft knit pillows and throws all in closely matched shades of whites, creams, grays and beige.

Don’t feel like paint? No worries! There is a new revolution out there in wall coverings ~ and it’s not your mother’s wallpaper or your father’s paneling! First, you can add a plethora of wood accents to any wall – everything from shelving to wainscot, chair rail, shiplap plank and beadboard to a more rustic yet decorative reclaimed wood planking. Next, you can expose natural brick, masonry, or tiled walls, but that’s a bigger project than we’re discussing right now. An alternative is purchasing ready to hang faux panels that look shockingly close to the real deal! Seriously folks, if you have a little time next weekend before the tryptophan lulls you to sleep, look up wall and ceiling panels. If these are not the most creative – and cost effective – answer for so many design dilemmas, well, we don’t what is. Available in everything from bamboo to PVC to metal (to name a few) you can add a stunning decorative accent above a fireplace or inlaid in your tray or coffered ceiling…or finish your basement, home office, nursery or (music room?) with easy on the eye soundproof panels. And even if you don’t have time for that, they now make (fairly) easy to hang wall laminates and veneers that can rival a realistic photograph or hand-painted mural. Oh! The things you can think! We may actually have to revisit this topic in our next issue…

Listen, if you really want a noticeable change but only have a day or two to make this happen, look around the room you want to improve, and choose a color that’s already in your paint or décor scheme that you would like to use more. Search online for paint charts and choose a tone a few shades darker on the swatch than what you already have. Something that you like and can live with on one entire wall. Get a tinted primer if you are moving more than a couple shades from your current wall color and you should need fewer finish coats. If you truly only have a day, maybe choose a smaller wall section for now. For example, a corner fireplace wall or one set between two windows can often be done on its own without painting the entire wall as it should have natural start and end points separate from the larger wall.

Now prime and paint your wall (or clean it and hang a tapestry or decorative veneer) and your background is set. Choose a few new decorative items in complimentary shades to your chosen color, and given the season, using holiday décor is a logical way to set the right mood. Speaking of moods, don’t forget lighting. We love lightly scented candles in all shapes & sizes, colored bottles full of mini fairy lights and all other forms of soft & twinkling lights. Besides holiday-themed accents, you can personalize your space by creating a gallery wall and displaying family photographs and other favorite items or collections “salon-style”. For a smaller space like a mantle or entryway, you can create an unexpected vignette using a variety of items – mixing old, new, vintage, modern, shabby chic – everything from interesting lamps, classic cut vases, pillows with inspiring quotes, lanterns, table-runners, flowers and wreaths. Display distressed wood crates holding decorative covered books and small baskets full of – almost anything! Fill a clear jar with colored glass ornaments; add a modern glass bowl holding multi-colored sea glass. Wind a lighted garland of pine rope or natural jute twisted with raffia, and vibrant berries or beads. The lights will reflect off the vases, glass, ornaments & beads and will create a peaceful and beautiful display you might not ever want to take down. Until your next event, that is…

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