VOLUME 1RAccent Walls: Yay or Nay?By Jasmine RamirezShamontiel L. Vaughn contributed to this report.The housewarming party is about to start. Guests walk in and see a freshly painted accent wall. The hue has a modern, calming feel. During the rental shopping stage, it was the one place among many that stood out. (After a few walk-throughs, some available rentals may all start looking alike.) But this accent wall left a lasting impression—and the landlord knows it, too.

But what if the wall isn’t there already? How much would it cost for tenants to do this on their own? It’s actually fairly budget friendly. Homeguide guesstimates paint jobs at $1-$3 per square foot, or $350-$850 per room. For one accent wall, that’s less than $200.

What should tenants do if they want to create an accent wall in a new residence, but the landlord doesn’t like the color? A temporary fix like tempaper (peel-and-stick wallpaper) can resolve this and be a happy medium for both.

However, if the tenant really wants a full paint job anyway, some bargaining may be required. Retain a color sample and code of the original wall color, and ask the landlord to write in the lease whether the renter can have a paint “redo.” (It’s also wise to specify if a landlord will allow accent walls in multiple rooms.)

The landlord will more than likely set ground rules for certain colors, even if the answer is “yes.” For example, a bright neon wall or black wall may be difficult to paint over. Tenants should also get clarity on who does the repainting or touching up if/when the lease expires.

Ideally, having a bit of creativity will make this rental feel more like a permanent home, which means the likelihood of moving may decrease. For a landlord with a quality tenant, not shopping around for another tenant is usually a relief—even if it comes with some interior design evaluations.
In the end, it’s up to the property owner to decide what’s best. The painting and repainting may not be worth it for them, and the tenant can choose to personalize the place with furniture or paintings if an accent wall is off the table. Or, find a landlord who is more open to the idea. Whatever decision is made, just make sure both parties have clear verbal and written documentation on the painting terms now and later.