Chelsea’s Picks: 3 Paint Colors That Work for Any Accent Wall

Chelsea’s Picks: 3 Paint Colors That Work for Any Accent Wall

Paint trends come and go, but some shades are timeless for any accent wall.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf has tackled countless home projects as co-host of “Today’s Homeowner.” She also renovated her first home and is quickly updating her mid-century ranch-style house.

She’s spanned the paint-color spectrum over the years, but she keeps coming back to these three tried-and-true hues.


1. Not Quite Black

Cracked Pepper is a go-to neutral that pairs perfectly with almost any color. This dark option from Behr is just a shade off from black.

“I’ve used Cracked Pepper from Behr on several projects. It looks good in natural light and artificial (fluorescent) light too!” Chelsea says.

Bookshelf wall with TV painted with Behr Cracked Pepper.

It’s perfect for when you need a dark color for an accent wall but don’t want a harsh black.

For instance, Cracked Pepper makes a wall bookshelf and TV center (pictured above) stand out in a bright sunroom we transformed for homeowners Chuck and Margy.

Shed in backyard painted with Behr Cracked Pepper.

Cracked Pepper also works well outside. In this backyard makeover episode, we gave the shed a major update with just a coat of the versatile peppery color.


2. Finding Your Zen

Zen, also from Behr, is a neutral bluish-green color reminiscent of seafoam. This natural hue creates a calming atmosphere in any room. 

Trim on ceiling in Chelsea Lipford Wolfe living room

Zen looks great in work and home environments. Chelsea uses this shade in her office at Today’s Homeowner and as an accent on the wall trim and ceiling grid in her living room.

Vanity in Chelsea Lipford Wolfe's hall bathroom

In fact, she likes this color family so much, she used Zen’s “Irish sister” Recycled Glass on her bathroom vanity. It’s slightly more green and one shade lighter on the color swatch. 


3. Forest Feels

Seeking something in sage? Chelsea likes to use Eucalyptus Wreath from Behr. This shade is just green enough to give you a forest feel without being too intense.

Chelsea Lipford Wolfe master bedroom with Behr Eucalyptus Wreath accent wall

Chelsea used Eucalyptus Wreath for an accent wall in her first home’s master bedroom. A bathroom addition left the room with only one window, so painting one wall gave the room a pop of color and complemented the natural lighting.

Accent wall in dining area painted Behr Eucalyptus Wreath

When we gave homeowner Barbara a cozy den makeover, we used Eucaplytus Wreath for an accent wall in the dining area. It enhanced the room’s design and complemented natural lighting streaming in from a large window. 

Want more tips to enhance your home? Check out CheckingInWithChelsea.com.


Further Reading

Modern Exterior Design for Chelsea’s Mid-Century Home

Modern Exterior Design for Chelsea’s Mid-Century Home

In this episode, we’re focusing on improving the exterior design of Chelsea’s ranch-style home. 

Several months ago, Chelsea and her husband Brandon bought a mid-century house. They have already done some minor updates before moving in with their three children, Gus, Mary Helen and Lucy. 

Now that they have been living in the home for a while, Chelsea and Brandon are ready for some bigger projects that will really make a difference. 

We’re giving the exterior of Chelsea’s home a facelift from the 1950s and bringing it into this century!


Chelsea's new windows
Chelsea’s new JELD-WEN windows add a huge difference to her home’s exterior appearance. 

Replacing the Windows

Chelsea and Brandon’s home was built in 1956, so replacing the windows — originals to the place— is a must. The old windows were rusty and leaky — keeping them was out of the question.

After we take measurements, Low-E, energy-efficient JELD-WEN windows are installed around the perimeter of the house and sealed.

The windows are sealed with Duramaster, a super-flexible new caulk, to keep them air and watertight.


Chelsea's new garage doors
Chelsea’s new garage doors she built with Danny give her garage some modern flare.

New Garage Doors

Just like the windows, the garage door was old, rusting and leaking. 

Chelsea and I built the new garage doors using wood planks in a diagonal pattern for that modern look. As soon as we install the new doors, Chelsea gets busy sanding and staining them. 

She chose a natural stain to bring out the grain in the wood as well as protect them from the elements.


Chelsea painting the new shutters for her home
Chelsea paints her new shutters to complement the windows of her home.

Painting the Shutters

By replacing the windows, we also needed some new shutters to complement them. Chelsea chooses to paint the shutters a warm brownish-gray color by Behr. 

Once Chelsea paints the shutters, we start installing the mounting hardware and begin to hang the shutters around the perimeter.


Production Thoughts

Chelsea’s house was built in 1956 and it didn’t look like much had changed since then.

The color was kind of “Blah,” the windows were rusty and leaky, as was the garage door, and the lawn and landscaping were a little out-of-control.

There was really nothing to draw your eyes or make you take notice of the place.

But NOW, the whole corner seems to be alive and begging for attention. The new color on the walls is cheerful and bright and the new windows have the clean, modern look that Chelsea wanted, plus a lot more efficiency.

New shutters continue that crisp look, and the new front door adds warmth and character to the house, along with the cedar shakes on the front gable and the new garage doors around the back.

The exterior updates of Chelsea’s house really took her curb appeal to the next level. It now has a welcoming feel to the home and has brought this mid-century home back to life. 


Further Reading

Painting Kitchen Cabinets: How to Do it The Right Way

Painting Kitchen Cabinets: How to Do it The Right Way

You can easily update your kitchen cabinets by painting them. However, a good paint job depends on a great prep job. Prepare the surface properly so the paint will adhere and not peel or chip over time.

While you can paint cabinets with a brush, a sprayer is faster and leaves a smoother surface.

Woman sands cabinet door before painting it
Sanding kitchen cabinets before painting them is important to ensure the paint will adhere to them.

Preparing the Surface

Before you can start painting the kitchen cabinets, you need to prepare the surface. Prepping usually is the longest part of the job, and it’s the most important part to ensure the finishing coats properly cover the cabinets.

1. Remove doors and drawers: Take the doors and hardware off the cabinet boxes and remove drawers and hardware from the cabinets. You will paint the doors and drawers separately.

2. Place the doors on sawhorses. Spreading the doors on two-by-fours stretched between sawhorses will allow you to prep and paint without moving the doors.

3. Clean the Cabinets: Clean all surfaces thoroughly with a household cleaner to remove any grease or grime.

4. Sand the Cabinets: Lightly sand all the surfaces. If the old finish is in good condition, you don’t have to sand it down to bare wood, just until it’s smooth and free of gloss.

A pad sander with 220-grit paper will make quick work of the flat areas and a sanding sponge is ideal for curved edges and recesses. The goal here is to rough up the surface enough to accept the primer.

If there is any greasy residue left after sanding, mineral spirits will remove it.

5. Remove the dust: Vacuum off any sanding dust, and then wipe the cabinets down with a clean, damp cloth.

“Today’s Homeowner” host Chelsea Lipford Wolf discusses painting safety with a homeowner on the set of Today's Homeowner.
Before you prime and paint your kitchen cabinets, make sure you know who’s doing what, if you’re working in pairs or groups. In addition, wear the proper safety gear, such as safety glasses and a respirator.

Priming and Painting the Kitchen Cabinets

1. Prime the cabinets: Apply an oil-based, stain-blocking primer to the cabinets. Oil-based primers adhere and block stains better than latex primers.

We’re using a high-volume, low-pressure spray gun to apply both the primer and paint. These sprayers are inexpensive and user-friendly but the operator should be protected by a respirator.

When you spray paint, it’s important to keep the spray tip a consistent distance from the surface and make slow passes back and forth. Each pass should begin and end beyond the edge of the door so there’s no buildup of paint on the edges.

We’re using the same sprayer on the cabinet boxes inside since the floors are covered and the room is sealed.

In this case, we’re painting the inside of the cabinets to avoid overspray marks or the need to mask each opening of the cabinets.

2. Cover imperfections. After the primer dries, fill any holes or dents with a two-part auto body filler. After the filler has hardened, sand it smooth with the surface. You also may need to putty nail holes or caulk cracks and seams.

3. Paint the cabinets: Use a high-quality woodwork enamel paint on your kitchen cabinets. You can use oil or latex paints, though they each have their advantages and disadvantages:

    • Oil-based paint has a smoother surface and dries harder than latex; but it requires a solvent like mineral spirits for clean-up, has a strong odor, and slowly dries.
    • Latex paint cleans up easily with water, comes in low and no VOC (volatile organic compounds) formulas, and dries quickly; but it shows brush marks more, is softer, and tends to imprint, allowing items placed on shelves to stick unless shelf paper is applied.

I prefer a medium gloss (such as semigloss or eggshell) paint for kitchen cabinets, though high gloss holds up well. Avoid using flat paint on kitchen cabinets, since it doesn’t clean as well.

Apply the paint, sanding lightly between coats. Spraying the doors horizontally reduces the risk of drips, which can mar the finish.

Allow the two coats of finish paint to dry thoroughly before handling the doors and replacing the hardware.

If you’re changing hardware, consider buying new hinges with the same footprint as the old ones. This will simplify installation and hide any indentations left by the old hinges.

Watch the video above to see the entire process!


Further Reading

Your Source for Beautiful Kitchen Cabinets and Organizers
Rain Chain: A Stylish Alternative to Downspouts