If you've been debating about adding an accent wall, this contemporary take on a classic might just convince you to take the plunge. In only a few hours, you can upgrade any room with this inexpensive statement wall. 

By Hannah Bruneman
blue wall close-up ottoman throw pillows

Put a modern spin on the classic board-and-batten wall design. This unique twist turns your wall into a grid using inexpensive trim pieces available at most hardware stores. We'll show you how easy it is to add depth to a flat wall—with just a little math and measuring on your part. We promise it's worth the work. When painted all one color, it's subtle enough to let the rest of your furniture and art do the talking. 

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  • Working time 5 hrs
  • Start to finish 2 days
  • Difficulty Kind of Easy
  • Involves Carpentry Skills, Painting

What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Frame Wall with Trim

Your accent wall will have trim framing out the sides and top of the wall (the baseboard will act as the bottom piece). First, attach a piece of trim at the top of the wall with a nail gun, nailing in 4- to 6-inch increments along the board. Use a ladder and a partner to help with this step.

After you’ve installed the top trim piece, attach the vertical trim pieces along the wall perimeter in the same manner.

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Step 2

Measure Wall

Next, configure the pattern you plan to make on your wall. Measure the width of the wall with a tape measure and divide that number into even sections. Our 16-foot-long wall was divided into 16 even vertical sections.

Step 3

Run Vertical Trim

Begin attaching the trim that runs vertically on the wall. Since each of the columns were 1 foot wide, we measured out 1 foot from the wall and made a mark. Attach the trim with a nail gun. Measure 12 inches from the trim and place your next strip of trim. Continue until the entire wall is filled.

Editor's Tip

Before you install your trim, it may be helpful to better visualize the pattern by laying out the pattern on the floor in front of your wall.

Step 4

Install the First Column

Once your vertical pieces are installed, you can start on the horizontal trim. Measure the distance between each vertical column, and cut your pieces to length. Know that not every wall is perfectly square and your horizontal pieces will likely vary in size. For best results, you should measure and cut each piece individually. Next, measure the height of your wall and divide that number into four even sections. Tack trim to the wall with a nail gun. 

Editor's Tip

If you have small gaps between the horizontal and vertical pieces, don't be discouraged. You can use wood filler or paintable caulk to fill in the gaps.

Step 5

Finish Horizontal Trim Pieces

For the next vertical column, stagger the trim pieces halfway between the previous sections (it will look like a traditional brick wall but installed vertically). Continue placing the trim in the columns, alternating every other column where the sections are placed.

Step 6

Fill Holes

Use a putty knife to fill nail holes with wood filler. Let dry and lightly sand off excess. Be sure to wipe with a tack cloth to pick up excess dust so paint goes on smoothly.

blue wall block pattern close-up
Step 7

Prime and Paint

The last step in this project is priming and painting the wall. First, tape the adjacent ceiling and walls, and lay down a drop cloth. Use a brush to apply the primer to the trim. Then, use a roller to apply the primer to the wall. Let the primer dry. Paint the wall your desired color using the same trim-first technique. Once dry, carefully remove the painter’s tape. 

We chose to use the same paint finish on this accent wall, but if you want an even more dramatic look, paint the trim pieces in a satin finish and the wall a traditional flat or eggshell finish.

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