A wood slat accent wall is a simple DIY that really pops! Get this gorgeous modern look and transform any room for about $20!
Apparently, paint isn’t good enough.
Nor is wallpaper, for that matter.
I guess the problem is that paint and wallpaper are just too…too…two dimensional, ya know?
I know, I know, when it comes to wall coverings and colorings, we’ve lived in perfect harmony with 2 dimensions since the dawn of time. Don’t get me stared on textured walls – I know they are technically 3-D, but I’m ignoring their existence for the moment. But in this age of Instagram, Pinterest and the burning need to out-Jones the rest of the universe, the DIY set have been throwing whatever they can against their walls to up the interior design ante and show the world just how fabulously three dimensional they are.
Perhaps you think I’m kidding about the whole “throw a bunch of shit against the wall and see what sticks” thing (well, duh, I kid about pretty much everything), but this time I’m totally serious as well! I remember a few years back, someone chopped up some old chairs and stuck the pieces to a wall. If that weren’t enough, someone else sliced a few chairs in half and hung the half chairs on a wall! And if that’s not 3-D enough for you, another intrepid soul said, “Half chairs? Pffft! Hold my beer!” and then proceeded to hang a series of whole chairs on the wall.
Because 2-D is for troglodytes.
3-D is where it’s at!
I can’t even walk by a wall anymore without thinking, you know what that wall needs? You know what would make that wall really stand out from all the other loser walls?
Another freaking dimension!
So of course, with Baris’s young adult bedroom makeover in full swing, my babes thought his room would be the perfect place for me to try my hand at converting the wall behind his bed into something a little more…three dimensional.
And hey, if my babes wants The Boy to have a multi-dimensional accent wall, who am I to say no?
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We put our heads together and decided that some wood slats on the right side of the accent wall would look modern and cool, and the warm tones of the stained wood would perfectly complement the blue/gray of the wall.
But moreover, we’d have our very own three-dimensional wall that would finally allow us to hang out with the cool kids on Instagram.
My first order of business was to paint the wall behind Baris’s bed to something dark. We considered Coffee Nook by Magnolia and a couple of dark blue/grays we had samples of from Lowe’s, but in the end, we decided on a color called Sea Serpent from our local Sherwin-Williams store.
By now you should know my feelings about the green color half this house was painted when we moved in. Literally any color would be an improvement, and I couldn’t wait to banish the last of it from this room.
There are few things in life as satisfying as painting over a bad color with something awesome.
This green was persistent – it didn’t go quietly and easily but instead insisted on two coats to cover. But no ugly paint can resist The Disco Painter!
While the Sea Serpent got familiar with its new digs, I headed outside to cut the slats.
Now, as we all know, wood has become a luxury good like a Rolex or a super yacht, so we had to think carefully about how we approached this wood slat accent wall. Sure, we could have bought oak or maple strips, but then we’d have to withdraw Baris from college and put him to work in the salt mines to pay for it.
Alternatively, we could have gone with a fancy, high-grade pine, but I would be forced to sell a kidney on the black market, and honestly, I don’t know if I trust the black market surgeons in this area yet. They did make a good offer on my liver, but I told them I needed that for my nightly martini.
So that left furring strips, the last (relative) bargain left in the Wide World of Wood. Now here’s the thing – as with all wood, there are differing grades of furring strips. I used the cheapest, and honestly, you really don’t need anything fancier. A single 1-inch by 2-inch by 8-foot furring strip costs $1.98 in these parts, and I used 10 of them for this wall.
Assuming you have already have a saw, sandpaper, stain, and some sort of nailer, a hammer or screws, this wood slat accent wall is a $20 DIY! Go out and find me anywhere in this country you can get such an astonishing transformation for so little money!
The idea was to cut a bunch of random lengths for the wall. We decided to range the pieces from 10 inches up to about 30 inches. I cut them with my power miter saw, but furring strips can be easily cut with an inexpensive miter box.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love working outside in the Florida sun!
There are two tools I can’t get enough of: random orbit sanders (I think I have 8, including a square palm sander and 2 detail sanders) and tape measures. I don’t know what it is about tape measures, but when I feel the right one in the store (the right one has a certain heft and the tape pulls out just so…) I simply must have it. Doesn’t matter how many are at home – I must have it. Recently, I picked up a measure from a brand I’d never heard of – Komelon. It was the cheapest one in the store, but it had the heft, the tape slid in and out just so, and best of all, it had this totally rad self-locking tape, meaning the tape locks as you pull it out. No silly thumb levers to contend with! I bought it thinking it would make a good backup, but it has since become my go-to measure for almost everything around the house (and in the yard).
I measured and cut 44 pieces, varying their lengths between 10 and 30 inches.
The furring strips have rounded edges, which we preferred to sharp edges, but since they can be a little rough, I still sanded each piece all over, except the side that would go against the wall.
I put a new rounded edge on the ends…
And since I already shamelessly plugged my favorite tape measure, I may as well tell you about my favorite random orbit sander – it’s my little Makita pictured above. You will not find a better and smoother random orbit sander for the money. There is only one sander I’ve owned that was smoother – it was a Bosch, and it was the smoothest. Unfortunately, after trying and returning 3 of them, I determined that they all suffered from the fatal flow of leaving excessive squiggly marks on wood. The Makita is only slightly less smooth, but the results are far better. I’m sure I’ll buy another Bosch one of these years to see if they fixed the problem, but until then, this little Makita has my heart. As a bonus, it’s also the lightest, and as I get older, that makes a big difference! More on that when we get to the brad nailing part of this project!
Okay, so pine does not stain evenly without a pre-conditioner applied first. My favorite pre-stain wood conditioner that is widely available is made by Varathane. You can find it in Home Depot for about $15. I don’t recommend buying it on Amazon, as their prices are outrageous. If you do need to order pre-stain from Amazon, I’d go with Minwax – it’s nearly as good as Varathane, and the price won’t put you in the soup line.
We wanted a color much lighter than our favorite – Minwax Special Walnut – so to get the lighter shade, I just applied MSW directly after wiping off the pre-stain. The wood was still saturated and not able to absorb as much stain.
To prevent the stain from penetrating too much, I wiped the slats immediately after applying the stain.
I set the stained pieces aside to dry overnight. The next day, I installed them. Since these slats are so light, we figured that 2 or 3 brad nails would be more than enough to keep them secured. I set up a laser level to mark the first stud. Whenever possible, I would shoot brads in the stud as well as the corner stud. Those slats shorter than 16 inches would be secured by a corner brad and one in the drywall – more than enough for how light they are.
I started at the top with a slat, a torpedo level and my brad nailer. As expected, the room wasn’t square, so I had to leave a tiny (but unnoticeable) gap between the left side of the slat and the crown molding.
Once I had the slat level, I shot the brads. I know you can see the gap in the photo below. It was my first board, and I must have had a nervous eye, because it wasn’t close to level when I checked it again after nailing it. Another great thing about brad nails – it was no problem pulling off the slat, removing the brads, and re-nailing it again when I had it properly leveled.
I used a spacer made from a scrap piece of 3/4-inch-thick edge-glued board. In the future I will make small shelves for the wood slat accent wall from the same board. Even though I used a spacer, I still checked the level of each new slat. A small error up top could magnify as I worked down the wall.
For the longer slats that stuck far past the 16-inch mark, I put a small dab of construction adhesive on their ends. I bought the cheapest and least-strong adhesive I could find. If we ever want to remove these slats, the small amount of adhesive won’t do much damage to the wall, if any. It might tear off a small layer of paper – an easy fix with spackle – or it may just peel off a bit of paint. Since this is Sherwin-Williams paint, I would hope that there would be no damage at all!
As I worked down the wall, I realized that I was getting too old to be power-lifting the Ryobi cordless brad nailer with the oversize battery. After this project, Handan and I went to Home Depot, and I finally joined the pneumatic revolution. I now have a beautiful and super lightweight DeWalt brad nailer and air compressor. [Ladies, this is the best hint I can give you: Get your babes the right tools, and he’ll love trying his new toys on the projects you want him to finish 😉 -Handan]
There’s really nothing to this project, and there are more complicated ways to install the slats, but brads and an occasional dab of glue works for us. No need to over-engineer things!
Get this man a shower and a shave!
Towards the bottom I took a seat and continued my work.
We miscalculated the number of slats we needed by one, so I quickly ran outside to make the final one from some leftover furring, not bothering to wait after stain.
Baris’s new wood slat accent wall looks amazing. I never would have guessed that such a simple and inexpensive DIY could have such a big impact!
And we’re not finished! This space will fill with more great stuff as I plug along with Baris’s bedroom makeover.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering – he’s home now, and he loves the wood slat accent wall and the room so far!