Skip to content

Which Wall Should be the Accent Wall? (How to Choose!)

    There are always rules in life (like no white after labor day) that no longer apply. Today we are a little more casual about things. Nowhere is this more true than in home decor, or specifically: Accent walls!

    White wainscoting wall background with three small photos down the side of various accent walls. Graphic reads "Which wall for the accent wall" ans below "How to choose the perfect feature wall for your space."

    Here are a few tips (not rules!) to help you choose the perfect wall to accentuate in your home.

    This post may contain affiliate links. Should you choose to make a purchase through one of my links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. I only recommend products that I use.

    Basics on Choosing an Accent Wall to Feature

    Before we hop into different rooms specifically, here are the easiest choices for an accent wall in any room (in no particular order):

    #1 – The Most Interesting Wall

    If you’re lucky enough to have an interesting architectural element in your space, this is a natural choice for an accent color.

    Cavern Clay in living room wall alcove
    Photo Credit: @sarahricedesign

    #2 – The Smallest Wall

    This is probably my favorite place for an accent wall. If you can’t decide, choose the smallest wall!

    Grays Harbor on a small hallway accent wall behind a console table

    Not only does this feel like less of a commitment, and make repainting down the road super easy, sometime less is more with accent walls! A color pops the most when it is in contrast to its surroundings.

    #3 – The Wall Opposite of the Main Entry Point

    This is the classic advice for choosing an accent wall. Theoretically this is the first place that your guests will look when they enter a room.

    Pewter Green on a geometric wood feature wall in a white living room with a cream sofa
    Photo Credit: @wood_visions

    How to Choose the Accent Wall in Your Living Room

    #1 – The Wall Across from the Main Entrance into the Living Room

    As I mentioned, the traditional placement for a living room accent wall, is whichever wall is opposite of the main entry point.

    The idea is to paint the wall that your eye immediately goes to, and make that the feature.

    Living Room Feature wall in Sherwin Williams Cascades
    Photo Credit: @houseon172

    This feature wall is in the color Sherwin Williams Cascades.

    #2 – Where You Want the Eye to Go

    An argument could be made that the wall you immediately look at, is whichever wall you paint as the feature wall (provided it’s visible from the doorway).

    If “opposite of the doorway” doesn’t suit you, or it’s not an interesting wall, choose the living room wall that you would prefer the attention go to.

    Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom on Living Room Walls with honey oak ceilings, floor, and trim.
    Photo Credit: @walnutandpinedesign

    This wall is painted in Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom.

    #3 – The Wall Opposite of the Best Light Source

    Often the entry point to a room and the largest windows are not on the same wall. If you really want to emphasize the color you’ve chosen, make the wall across from the best light source your accent.

    This is going to add a little extra oomph to anything you are choosing to display on the feature wall as well.

    #4 – The Fireplace Wall or Most Interesting Wall

    Sherwin Williams Blue Peacock in a living room with a white fireplace
    Photo Credit: @allisongee

    This wall is Sherwin Williams Blue Peacock.

    If you have a fireplace in your living room, this is a natural wall to accentuate! One popular idea is to paint the fireplace all the way to the ceiling:

    This fireplace is painted in Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze.

    If you don’t have a fireplace, but some other interesting architectural detail, make this your feature wall. This could be a vaulted wall in your entryway, a bay window, or a wall with built in nooks for display.

    #5 – The Entrance Wall

    One wall that doesn’t get a lot of accent love, is the wall that you enter your living room from. (Often via the front door.)

    Living Room with Cyberspace on shiplap back wall
    Photo Credit: @in_vest_homes

    This one is in the color Sherwin Williams Cyberspace.

    Many times this is the wall most likely to be seen from your furniture. Choosing this as your feature wall gives an element of surprise to your guests, and the front door is a natural focal point from inside your space.

    Don’t Forget Your Supplies!

    This little brush might look funny, but it’s my absolute ride or die!

    Rollers like these hold the most paint and make the job faster. Get a metal roller cage for easy on and off.

    DryDex is the fastest (and funnest!) way to make chips and dents disappear. (Make sure you get a small spackling tool that actually fits in the container, and a sanding sponge.)

    This tool will save your back and limit time on a ladder.

    Which Wall Should be the Accent Wall in Your Dining Room?

    #1 – The Longest Wall

    In the living room, the largest wall is often not the one that wins the feature wall, but the opposite is true in the dining room.

    Choose the wall that sits length-wise behind your dining table to really show off the furniture. This is especially great if you like to put a lot of seasonal decor on your dining table.

    A long wooden table with bench seat in a white dining room with a white bubble chandelier in front of an iron ore accent wall
    Photo Credit: @tararowemckenna

    This is in the color Sherwin Williams Retreat.

    #2 – The Most Interesting Wall

    This is a theme in this post, but if you have an interesting feature in a room: Feature it!

    This could be a half wall, some interesting windows, or really any unusual shape.

    How to Pick the Accent Wall in Your Bedroom

    Choosing the accent wall in your bedroom gets a little more straightforward than in other areas of your home.

    #1 – The Wall with the Bed

    Whichever wall the head of your bead rests against, is the most popular choice for the accent wall in the bedroom.

    Iron Ore on a bedroom feature wall with woodwork and a white bed
    Photo Credit: @frommhouselove

    This bedroom feature wall is in the color Sherwin Williams Iron Ore.

    Think of it as an oversized headboard!

    Typically bedrooms are laid out so that the bed (and the bed wall) are the first place that your eye goes to, so this is another natural reason to choose it.

    Other Options for Bedroom Accent Wall Placement

    If the idea of a headboard wall just isn’t doing it for you, you can choose to highlight another area in your room instead.

    You already know what I’m going to say: If you have a reading corner, any kind of media nook, or an interesting window area, these are great choices for an accent wall.

    Peppercorn accent wall in an Accessible Beige Reading nook
    Photo Credit: @maisonwithavista

    If the color is just for you (it is the bedroom after all), you could also paint the wall opposite of the bed, so that you will see it the most.

    Consider an Accent Ceiling

    Colorful ceilings are very much in style right now, and if you have the guts, make that your accent “wall.”

    Alabaster dining room walls with navy blue grasscloth ceiling, and blue and gold accents throughout the room.
    Photo Credit: @mldesignskc

    Black seems to be the most popular, but a dark variation, a bright color, or even a textured wallpaper would be super bold.

    I have a whole post where you can see black ceiling inspiration:

    Graphic reads "Black Ceilings Slay or Nay" over a background of a Victorian living room with salmon colored walls and a high black ceiling

    Should Accent Walls be Lighter or Darker?

    Traditionally accent walls are darker than the surrounding walls. However this assumes that you have a light enough or neutral paint color to begin with.

    Light Accent Walls

    If you already have darker walls (or just want to) there’s nothing saying that your accent wall could not be lighter. A white or creamy accent wall would look amazing with a dark green or navy.

    Chantilly Lace wainscoting in a living room
    Photo Credit: @wood_visions

    This white wall is Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.

    You could also do a lighter variation of your wall color as an accent. Just make sure it’s a minimum two shades lighter. 3+ would be better, but one is not enough.

    Same Color Accent Walls

    Speaking of accent walls not needing to be darker, you can create an accent wall with texture instead of using a different color.

    Board and batten, shiplap, textured paintable wallpaper, and geometric designs in wood, are all ways that you can create an accent wall and not need to use a darker (or different) color from your other walls.

    Sherwin Williams Retreat on a beautiful wood feature wall in a dining room with Pampas grass arrangement on the table and boho chic cotton and wood chairs.
    Photo Credit: @deboeverinteriors

    Can You Have Two Accent Walls?

    While you can have two walls painted in a different color from the rest of your room, I would still choose one to accentuate. For example: Paint both walls in the feature color, but add shelving or a gallery wall to just one in order to draw your eye to it.

    But absolutely, you can use your accent color on more than one wall if you want to. It just doesn’t make both walls, accent walls.

    Favorite Accent Wall Colors to Use

    Here are a few of the most popular colors for accent walls:

    Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black

    Tricorn Black swatch

    Love it? Go read the Tricorn Black post.

    I also have a post: Are You Brave Enough for a Black Accent Wall in Your Living Room? (19 Successful Looks!)

    Black Living Room Accent walls, over a black wood slat wall with vines growing over it.

    Sherwin Williams Iron Ore

    Sherwin Williams Iron Ore paintbrush swipe color card

    Love it? Go read the Iron Ore post.

    Not sure on color?

    The fastest, easiest, and most affordable way to test your paint colors, is by ordering a peel-and-stick sample!

    Samplize will ship you a large “sticker” made of actual paint. You can reposition it to check out the color in every area of your home.

    The best part? It often ends up being cheaper than buying the test pots and sampling the old fashioned way. (Plus you can order all the colors you want!)

    Canadian? Hello Paint does the same thing, without the expensive international shipping.

    Sherwin Williams Retreat

    Paint swipe swatch of Retreat on color card

    Love it? Go read the Retreat post.

    Benjamin Moore Hale Navy

    Hale Navy brushstroke swatch

    Love it? Go read the Hale Navy post.

    There is no reason these are mostly Sherwin Williams colors, I just get the most requests for these. You can get amazing accent colors from Behr and Benjamin Moore as well.

    Final Thoughts on Choosing Your Accent Wall

    I hope that this helped you choose the perfect placement for your accent wall! I know there were a lot of options, but the most important thing is that you are happy with the look.

    There are plenty of people who break the rules and choose whatever wall they please.

    Black accent wall in a dining room with swiss coffee walls and accessible beige trim.
    Photo Credit: @nest_on_nightingale

    Before you go, you might like these posts:

    Graphic reads Spicy Black Interior Doors over a white kitchen with black pantry door
    Paint drop of Jasper over background photo of white dining room with a Jasper feature wall
    Paint drop of Homburg Gray over a living room with a mount on one wall and simple victorian Inspired furniture