Thanks to pandemic era stay-at-home orders and remote work situations, many of us have been staring at the same boring walls day in and day out for more than a year now. We might also be streaming Fixer Upper and Property Brothers more often than usual and feeling a serious urge to renovate (or paint) something, anything — like an accent wall.
But don’t grab a brush and bucket just yet. If you plan to sell your home or apartment any time soon, real estate agents and home improvement experts say to make sure your renovation project will add value to your home. And if you rent, check with your landlord or property agent before adding anything that can’t be easily changed or removed when your lease is up.
A great way to satisfy the desire to transform your space without spending a fortune is to focus on a single wall. Accent walls can enliven what might otherwise be a dull, ordinary room and create a focal point or visual interest, says Danny Lipford, host of the nationally-syndicated Today’s Homeowner TV and radio shows.
Lipford has spent more than 40 years in home renovation, sharing practical and affordable ideas for improving the places we call home. While accent walls may not provide a direct return on investment, the way an updated kitchen can, they can help set the stage for selling a home faster, he says: “Seeing a polished, styled look is certainly more attractive to potential buyers than a blank and boring wall.”
Lipford and others offer ideas for budget-friendly accent wall projects to make your home a happier spot for you home and more desirable for resale:
SHIPLAP STILL GOING STRONG
Shiplap, which are wooden planks applied to a wall horizontally, remains one of the most popular accent walls requested by homeowners and remodelers over the last few years, Lipford says. Originally done with full boards up to 3/4 of an inch thick, taking on a DIY project with shiplap a few years ago could be cumbersome.
“Now, you can achieve the same look with thin paneling strips, which are more affordable and easier to handle,” Lipford says. “A great insider tip is to use a nickel between boards for spacing.”
White, slightly distressed shiplap is a favorite among those seeking modern farmhouse vibes, including twin sisters Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis, hosts of HGTV’s Unsellable Houses. In the new second season, they create visual interest by adding white shiplap behind a double vanity in a bare bones bathroom. Two round mirrors hung above the sinks and over the shiplap ensure the horizontal boards don’t overtake the small space.
LESS IS SO MUCH MORE
While it’s hard to put an exact dollar value on accent walls, completing such projects can certainly help your home sell faster, according to Investopedia. When resale is the ultimate goal, opt for subtle accent walls with simple designs in neutral colors, such as off-white, navy or pale gray that will add to your home’s appeal.
Today’s home buyers prefer move-in ready and want to be able to see themselves and their things in your home. When presented with someone else’s out-there design choices, the idea of having to paint or remodel before moving in can make many potential buyers keep looking.
Over the last few years, designers and do-it-yourselfers also have embraced many whimsical approaches for accent walls using materials such as burlap, wallpaper and stencils, Lipford says. That’s fine if you plan to stay put in your current home. The key for retaining resale value is to remember that less is almost always more. Think tone on tone designs that can work with a variety of personal styles and tastes.
GRAY KITCHENS SELL FOR MORE
Research conducted by HomeAdvisor shows the best paint colors for selling your home are neutral colors and earthy tones such as warm beige, light gray, off-white that verges on yellow and pure white.
When selecting a shade for an accent wall in your kitchen, choose a light blue or gray paint. Research shows that homes with those color kitchens sold for nearly $2,000 more than homes featuring kitchens with white walls.
CONSIDER 3D WALL PANELS
Another way to add interest without turning off your target audience is to consider some of the new three-dimensional tiles and wall plates now on the market. They can add texture and dimension and can be installed in a day or less depending on the size of the project.
Fans of the TV series Good Bones know the mother-daughter renovation duo love to add accent walls in kitchens and living spaces that are often visible from the front door of their renovated homes in Indianapolis. In a recent episode, they installed three-dimensional wall panels similar to these Madrid Design 19-inch by 19-inch square 3D tiles sold in sets of 12 for $55 on Overstocks.com.
REMOVABLE WALLPAPER FOR THE WIN
Anyone who has ever tried to remove traditional wallpaper knows it can be a bear to take down without damaging sheet rock or other materials underneath. Plus, regular wallpaper is not always easy to apply and can end up making a room look as dated as wall-to-wall avocado shag carpeting if you aren’t careful.
So if you are going to choose a wall-covering for a single spot in your home, condo or apartment, decorators suggest opting for peel-and-stick wallpaper, the self-adhesive kind that doesn’t require paste or glue and is easily removable. Many versions are low cost and easy to take off and reapply if needed. When picking a paper, the same rules apply as with paint. Stay neutral and use shades and patterns that can go with anything, such as deep grays, off-whites and tasteful tone on tone designs.
More Real Estate Tips on HerMoney:
- Buying or Selling a Home Virtually is Both Doable and Popular
- Podcast: Stop Thinking Like a Seller and Start Thinking Like a Buyer
- Paying For a Home Reno Without Upfront Cash
- Smart Strategies to Save on Homeowners Insurance
- 4 Mistakes We’ll Never Make Again When Buying a Home
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