Phew, this project has been one for the books. And don’t write me off just yet because you think it’s too hard. Let me explain.
From the moment I came up with the idea for this feature wall, I was eager to get it done. We hit the ground running and got the feature wall up within a few days with no major issues (that’s a first).
The issues came when we tried to finish the built-in window seat that lives under the feature wall. You see, without the bench seat, the feature wall looked half-complete.
Flash forward a month, and we still hadn’t made any progress. Flash forward 3 months and we slowly started to get somewhere. We built the actual seat, but the frame looked pretty incomplete without the built-in drawers. Flash forward FIVE MONTHS later and we are finally ready to show this baby off.
So let’s start DIYing!
Fair warning: there are pretty much no in-progress shots. We started this wall before we knew we would ever have a blog!
- Miter saw
- Nail gun
- Stud finder
- Jigsaw (not needed if you don’t have outlets or things to cut out)
- Circular saw (not needed if you aren’t using plywood. See the note in step 2)
What You’ll Need
This will change based on the exact wall that you design and wall size. For our wall, we used 1x2s, plywood, stain, and sealer. If you are painting your wall, you will always want to add paintable caulk to your list.
How to make a wood accent wall
Before we dive in, this tutorial is just about making the feature wall. We are not including a tutorial for the built-ins with the drawers. We didn’t document that process and it dragged on for five months, so we don’t think we’re the best people to help you with that. If that’s what you’re looking for, this tutorial might be helpful.
Step 1: mark your studs
Measure and mark the studs. No matter what design you do, you’ll want to mark all of the studs so you know where to nail.
Step 2: cut your plywood
Measure and cut your plywood using a circular saw. Measure your wall in multiple places and at least 2 times since walls are not 100% straight. If you have outlets or window trim that you need to cut around, measure, measure, measure. Mark where you need to cut on your plywood and cut with a jigsaw.
step 3: sand and stain
Sand your plywood and 1x2s
Stain your plywood. If you are painting your plywood, you can wait to paint at the end since you will have to cover up the caulk. We opted to stain prior to putting anything on the wall so that we didn’t have to worry about the stain dripping or pulling out the step-ladder just yet.
We mixed special walnut and golden oak in a 50/50 ratio. When you’re staining plywood, it will soak up the stain faster than pine boards. Keep the stain on your rag light and apply in circles to spread the stain as thin as possible.
Step 4: install the plywood
Hang the plywood by nailing into the studs. If you need to nail into an area that does not align with a stud, you can cross-nail. To do this, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the left and shoot in a nail.
Then, angle your nail gun ~30-degrees to the right and shoot in a second nail. You do this so that the nails cross each other and then prevent the nails from popping out. You don’t need to cross-nail with studs because the wood stud will prevent the nail from popping.
Step 5:plan your design
This step is very important. Don’t just wing it because you have a “simple” design. You’ll want to plan to make sure your design doesn’t awkwardly hit outlets or awkwardly change spacing on the ends. My favorite way to plan feature walls and get good measurements is to plan it with Adobe Illustrator.
If you don’t have it, don’t worry! They have a free trial and we have a tutorial on how to use it to create a feature wall. If you don’t want to use Adobe Illustrator, you can plan using painter’s tape or drawing it out on your wall. Graph paper is also an option so you can draw to scale.
Step 6: stain your 1x2s
Stain your 1x2s or feature wall boards. Since we wanted a lighter color, we just lightly rubbed the stain on and right off with a rag.
Although you won’t need both sides, I would recommend staining both sides so that you can use either side of the board later. This comes in handy when you have angles that need to go a certain direction. If you are painting, you can wait to paint until the end.
Step 7: Cut your 1x2s
Cut your first 1-5 boards using a miter saw. You’ll want to make some initial cuts and hold them up to the wall to make sure sizing and spacing looks good. And if you’re creating a geometric pattern like we did, I would recommend working in sections.
Cutting 4-10 boards, putting them up, and repeating. This is just to make sure everything is fitting along the way. As I mentioned before, no wall is 100% straight, so your measurements for a section or two might be slightly off.
Step 8: Hang your 1x2s
If you are framing your wall or a window, I would recommend starting with these boards.
Nail your boards into the wall. If you have a plywood backing, you don’t have to worry about nailing into studs. If you don’t have a plywood backing and a board doesn’t line up with a stud, you’ll want to follow the tip in step 4.
Continue cutting and nailing until you have installed your entire feature wall.
Step 9: finishing touches
If you are painting, you need to apply caulk to all the areas that a board meets your wall. This sounds tedious, but it will elevate your accent wall from DIY to professional-looking results. Make sure you use paintable caulk!
Once your caulk dries, it’s time to paint your wall! Start by painting all of the seams, corners, and edges of your boards using a paintbrush. Then, go back and use a brush over the face of all the boards and your wall.
If you stained your wall, you have the option of applying a sealer, but it’s not required. We chose to seal our wall so that the sheen would match our window seat.
Was it worth 5 months of waiting for the reveal?? Now we just need to build a bed, find a love-seat, replace the light, and potentially build 1-2 more things for this room to be fully finished. We’re taking guesses below. How much longer will it be before the fully completed guest bedroom is revealed?
If you liked our pictures or found the tutorial helpful, we’d really appreciate if you share it with your friends!
Want more accent wall inspiration? Check out our roundup on the best accent wall ideas.