Design DIY – Art Deco Accent Walls

A detail shot of the corner of the room, showing the corners of the light rattan pendant shades illuminated against the deep green faux palm. This contrasts with the right side of the photo where the varying height wood boards contrast against the black walls creating an art deco pattern accent wall.

Creating a statement wall is something all designers try to do, whether through wallpaper or paneling or a mere contrasting paint color there’s a lot of ways to achieve the look.

For this project I had a few goals I was trying to meet while redesigning my living room. The space I was working with is an incredibly narrow and long (over 20 feet) space. After deciding to upgrade to a larger sectional that would fill the end of the room better, the real challenge was getting the room to feel smaller, well thought out, and put together.

Initially, we had painted the entire room in SW Snowbound white. This color choice works, but with such a large space it definitely didn’t make the room feel cozy. My new sectional (I got this one from Albany Park) is a beautiful white boucle fabric, which absolutely doesn’t provide much contrast to the walls despite the way the scale fit better into the space. My solution was to go bold and go dark: more black walls.

Y’all know I adore my black walls.

I chose to do the entire 20 plus foot wall in addition to the shorter wall at the end of the room in the same SW caviar color that I have in my bedroom. The entry area to this room is actually a little nook where I have my office before the space widens to the actually “living area” but I was hoping to have some kind of separation of space between the two areas. (I didn’t accomplish this with paint but I’ll explain how I framed the living area a bit later.)

Painting Progress:

  • My living room pre paint set up. My white sectional has been pulled to the right side of the room leaving the far wall and the long wall to the left - both white - completely accessible. A ladder stands at the front of the frame.
  • View into my living room as painting progress has started, the edges of the once white walls are now done in black. The center of the longest wall has abstract black brush strokes across it where I got excess paint off my brush.
  • The living room still a mess, the walls now completely painted black and still drying.

Thankfully I already had a pretty full leftover can of the SW Caviar paint (approx $60 worth), but I did purchase a can of black primer for $20 to do as my base coat. The pros may tell you to use all the high end paint you can, but when doing a dark color like this that will definitely need two coats opting for a more inexpensive primer in the same color as the top coat saves a big chunk of money.

The white boucle sectional has been placed back on the left wall against the new black paint. It sits atop a brand new pink oriental patterned rug with two marble nesting tables atop it. My old small tiki three pendant floor lamp sits in the corner.

Once the paint dried, I moved the sectional back against the wall and positioned my new pink rug beneath it. I opted for pink because I’ve been eyeing this rug for a few years and it really adds a nice pop to the space without breaking the budget. This specific rug also pulls in the eggplant colors I’ve got in my pillows, which is a bonus.

The rug also serves as my much needed space divider designating the living space as its own “area” of the room separate from my office. Not visible from this picture, at the bottom right corner there’s a large nook area where my TV sits at that corner of the rug.

Now this already looked nice, but I wasn’t anywhere near finished and this is where my fun DIY wood paneled accent wall comes in.

I decided that for the short wall I wanted to do an art deco type geometric pattern using 1x2s.

First, I drew on the wall where I wanted the height to go – and then re-evaluated. 1x2s come in 8 foot lengths and in order to reduce waste, I decided to make my pattern variation add up to 8 foot pieces.

I got 20 pieces of nicer quality pine 1x2s for just under $50 at Menards.

I hand selected each piece, which when applying these boards to a wall you want to make sure they are in good shape. A few things to look for when picking out your boards:

  • Avoid any cracked pieces, the large splintering pieces might just snap the piece of wood and you’ll have a lot more waste.
  • Inspect the top and bottom edges, for this project I specifically wanted the square look at the top so I tried to avoid any imperfections there.
  • Avoid any large knots in the wood that go all the way through the board – this is an aesthetic choice, you may like the look of the holes, I chose to avoid them as much as possible.
  • If there are knot holes that don’t got through to the other side of the board, pick the board that has them limited to one side. The side with the holes can be what faces the wall so you won’t see it.
  • Check to make sure the boards aren’t warped. You can sight down the board and see if it seems to curve or bow, for this project any dramatic warping would not work in our favor.
  • Decide what grade of wood you want to work with, I opted for a middle tier quality, there are higher end options but each board goes up by a few dollars which is worth considering depending on your budget.

Next up, you have to cut your wood.

Your local hardware store will cut it for you, but that will require you measure and mark in store. It’s also a bonus to cut it in store if you have a smaller vehicle that won’t accommodate 8 foot pieces. Measure your car space before buying wood and bring a towel to set the wood on so you don’t get splinters in your fabric or cut your leather seats.

We have a table saw, so I was able to make all of my cuts at home.

I needed half the boards cut in half to account for my 4 foot tall boards and the other half cut at 3.5 foot/4.5 foot sections. You’ll want to plan out the exact pattern you’re doing and determine what lengths you need before you start cutting. Then, it’s best to lay out all the boards and inspect them to decide which pieces will be which – for example, some boards I picked out had imperfections on opposite ends but on opposite sides so the side that would be against the wall needed to be marked. That may be the most difficult part of the project.

Before cutting my pieces I sat down and removed all of the staples and tags from the store.

  • Three sections of 1 by 2 pine boards lay across my driveway sorted by height. The three groupings are respectively 4.5 feet tall, 3.5 feet tall, and the largest one being 4 feet tall boards.
  • A dozen 1 x 2 boards have been laid across two stands in preparation to be stained
  • A few dozen boards laid across their stands with a single coat of stain on them, they are now a darker warm toned color the notches and variation of the pine beneath still showing through adding character.
  • A single piece of 1 by 2 board that has been cut and stained is propped against the freshly painted black walls. The stain of the board matches the wood trimmed doors to the right and the wood trimmed baseboard perfectly. It's a warmer wood tone, perhaps slightly orangish in color which pops dramatically against the black paint.

After cutting and sorting into the proper lengths to ensure I was getting evenly cut pieces, everything needs to be sanded.

If you’ve had the wood cut at the store you can buy sandpaper and do the rest at home. Just don’t forget to take out the staples.

Depending on the look you want you can send down the corners to have a slightly rounded edge, I didn’t want this so the sanding was mostly on the faces of each board and gently on the edges to remove any splinters that may pull once stain is applied. (Also important if you’re applying paint rather than stain.)

My mom helped me with the sanding aspect as I was still actively managing Lyme symptoms so my hands couldn’t handle it.

Once sanded, we propped up the boards onto saw horses. For the staining process each side and the face of the board plus the top needed to have stain applied to it. Because each board has a green strip on one edge, I had to ensure that strip would be the one that faces the floor and therefore isn’t visible once installed.

The stain color we had matched up perfectly to the existing trim I have in my space and after a single coat I decided I didn’t want to go any darker – darker stain would’ve made the contrast between the wood and the black paint a little less stark.

Finally, for the install process we needed a staple gun plus an adhesive for additional stability. We lined up the first 4 foot board in the center of the wall to start the pattern. Installing the first board perfectly straight was the most difficult part, but from there on out we used an additional 1×2 as a spacer to line up the next board. Aside from an outlet we had to cut around and it being difficult angles on the ground to work from, it was a pretty straight forward install.

To finish off the space, I got the IKEA Torared pendant shades ($19 a piece) and used a fabric spray paint on some IKEA fabric cords I’d already had. The cords were white and since they would be trailing down the newly painted black walls, painting them was an inexpensive upgrade that really helped finish the look.

For paint I used the Krylon All in One Indoor Outdoor spray paint with the add on spray can handle to make for easy application.

Since I have drop ceilings, mounting the fixtures was a little different. I don’t use my overhead lights as I find them too harsh, but we can’t disable the existing canned lighting. Using wall plug cords with the plastic hooks they come with plus these drop ceiling heavy duty hooks that slide onto the metal tracks I was able to easily hang the pendants. Keep in mind, these pendants are made from seagrass so they are light as a feather – if you’re hanging heavier pendants I would recommend additional hooks to keep the pendant hung at your desired height and making sure your ceiling can handle the weight. Each hook is only rated for 15 pounds.

The final addition to the space were new end tables – on the far end of the sectional I opted for a plain glass and gold metal sofa table that gives me some storage space, a place to set a glass, and isn’t too visible. On the other end I got the matching marble end table from World Market from the same collection as my coffee tables. I then topped this off with the fun Anthropologie knock off of their Pavo Lamp, a beautiful gold peacock base from World Market with an art deco patterned shade.

To get my faux palm to be taller it’s propped up on an upside down trash can.

I haven’t decided what to do above the couch, but this is the finished product for now:

A view of the completed corner of my living room, the far back wall has been completed with the wooden board art deco pattern, a palm tree sits in the corner where three large rattan hanging pendants drape across the ceiling and hang over the corner of the large white boucle sectional. A matching gold and marble round end table has been added to the near side of the couch to match the coffee table. A gold peacock lamp sits atop this end table with a white and gold art deco patterned shade. The space is pulled together with the pink oriental rug and deep eggplant colored Mongolian fur pillows and white pillows adorning the couch.

The wall upgrades cost: $73, noting that we didn’t have to buy one of the cans of paint and we already had the stain for the wood and things like sandpaper/painters tape/plastic to cover the floor/brushes. Even if you didn’t have everything on hand, you definitely don’t need more than a $20 can of paint, and cost would fluctuate depending on the length of your wood wall (the wood for 9 1/2 feet was just under $50) and the pattern you hoped to achieve.

I would estimate to DIY this project you’d want to set aside $100 – $200.

You can rent staple guns at Home Depot and of course can use a simple hammer and a nail, though I would absolutely spend the $30 on a single day rental rather than doing all that pounding myself. You can also rent a saw, though they’ll cut it in store for you so either options are available. And if you don’t want to sand by hand, they have hand sanders you can rent too!

The remaining project, not including the couch cost: Just under $600 to upgrade my end tables, light fixtures and add a rug.

If you’re interested in your own DIY project or have ideas you need help bringing to life, head on over to my design tab where in depth consults start at just $50. Just fill out the form at the bottom!


Albany Park Sectional, Right Facing with gold legs and boucle fabric – Albany Park.com

  • If you look up reviews, this honestly feels highly questionable, and I absolutely had lots of issues in getting my sectional delivered BUT we all know delivery and warehouse work are both clusterfucks right now and I can say the sectional itself is amazing. The fabric is soft. The frame is incredibly sturdy. The legs are of amazing quality. The park collection is a feather fill so you get the “lumpy couch” look, which I like and it is extremely comfortable. I endorse it as a designer, but cannot promise any kind of smooth or quick process when it comes to actually getting it into your home.

Gold Sofa Table – Amazon

Marble End Table – World Market

Marble Coffee Tables (new version) – World Market

  • They no longer sell the nesting table version of my coffee tables but this is the larger one.

Peacock Lamp – World Market

Shade for Lamp – World Market

The original Lamp from Anthropologie.

Pink NuLoom Rug – Walmart (available from many retailers, Walmart has the best price)

Tibetan Wool Pillows – Arhaus

  • pillow colors change periodically, in store always has more available than online

Torared Pendant Shades – IKEA

Creamy Knit Blanket was handmade by my mom.

Pink Coasters handmade by Jessica Abella.

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