Skip to Content

Which wall should be the accent wall in a dining room?

Which wall should be the accent wall in a dining room?

An accent wall can be a great way to add visual interest and personality to a dining room. Choosing the right wall to accentuate can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the space. There are a few key factors to consider when deciding which dining room wall to make into an accent wall.

Consider the Focal Point

In many dining rooms, there is a natural focal point that draws the eye, usually where the table and seating is located. If possible, the accent wall should complement or enhance this existing focal point rather than compete with it. For example, if the dining table faces a fireplace or large window, painting or wallpapering the wall behind it can really make those architectural elements pop. The accent wall will frame the focal point beautifully in this arrangement.

Evaluate Traffic Flow

Look at the layout of the dining room and how people naturally move through the space. Placing an accent wall in a high traffic area or on the wall where the entrance is located can be distracting and make the room feel smaller or choppy. It is better to choose a wall that sees less circulation, such as the wall behind where the table is placed or on the adjoining wall. This allows the accent to be appreciated without creating bottlenecks.

Consider Adjoining Spaces

Take a look at any spaces that are open to the dining room, such as a adjoining kitchen, foyer or living room. You generally want the accent wall to feel cohesive with the color scheme and style of these adjoining spaces. For example, if your living room and dining room are one large open concept space, choose an accent color that complements the colors already used in the living room. Or if the dining room flows into the kitchen, pick an accent wall that incorporates kitchen finishes like subway tile or reclaimed wood to tie the spaces together.

Analyze the Architecture

Study the architecture of the dining room itself – are there any distinctive features like wainscoting, trim, columns or windowsills that would look best left as is? Keep these existing architectural details in mind so that the accent wall does not end up clashing with them. Often the wall with the fewest architectural elements is the best choice for an accent wall since you have more creative freedom.

Factor in Furniture Placement

Consider the location of any furniture, cabinetry or serving stations in the dining room. For example, if your dining table is placed in front of a built-in buffet or china cabinet, you likely don’t want to paint or paper the wall behind it. An accent wall is better placed on a wall that is not disrupted by large furnishings. Also look at any art or mirrors on the walls and where they are placed – you want your accent wall to complement these as well.

Lighting Considerations

Proper lighting can make an accent wall look its very best. Be aware of any existing lighting fixtures like overhead chandeliers or wall sconces and how their placement interacts with the wall you choose. Accent walls tend to look best when illuminated properly. You may need to add extra lighting to spotlight a dark accent wall or dim other lights so a bright one doesn’t get drowned out.

Privacy and Function

If your dining room has windows or glass doors as part of the wall, keep in mind privacy and glare. For example, an accent wall with glass doors looking out to a patio could let in excessive light that washes out the wall. Or passersby might be able to look directly at the accent wall, which reduces privacy. In general, a more solid wall without windows allows you optimal creativity.

Create a Focal Point

One of the main objectives of an accent wall is to create a focal point. So if one dining room wall has a distinctive feature like a fireplace, built-in cabinetry, or statement light fixture, accentuating it can help achieve that goal. Turning this kind of distinctive architectural element into the accent wall draws the eye naturally. Useful accent wall ideas include painting the wall around a fireplace or built-in bookcase a bold color or adding wallpaper only to that wall as a frame.


Some accent wall ideas like wallpaper or painted murals can be difficult to apply over hard-to-reach surfaces. It is wise to choose an accessible vertical wall surface that does not require scaffolding or tall ladders. Accent walls are best placed where you can comfortably reach the entire surface to decorate it properly. Walls with architectural elements like tall ceilings, mezzanines or atriums present more limited accent opportunities.


Depending on the material, creating an accent wall can range from inexpensive to quite costly. Paint is generally an affordable option, while wallpaper, 3D panels or tile accents may require a heftier budget. Consider how much you want to spend when choosing which dining room wall works for your accent idea. A smaller or simpler space may suit a lower budget accent, while a large luxurious dining room can handle a splashy statement.

Wall Size

The dimensions of the wall itself influence which one works as an accent. Oversized walls like very long or tall ones can be challenging to decorate effectively. They may make the dining space itself feel off balance if one massive wall is accented. Try to choose a wall size that makes sense proportionally – not too imposing or overwhelming. Standard wall heights under 9 feet tall tend to work best for most accent wall applications.


The desired texture of your accent wall should inform your choice of wall. If you want a heavily textured effect, like rough wood planks, the wall you choose needs to be able to accommodate this. Very bumpy or tactile accent textures don’t always adhere well to certain surfaces. Make sure to pick a wall without impediments to the texture you want to achieve.


Your existing decor style should guide your accent wall selection as well. For contemporary spaces, geometric patterns, metal and glossy textures often look best. Rustic dining rooms tend to feature wood or reclaimed materials. Traditional eclectic spaces can often handle busier patterns like wallpaper. Choose a wall that fits the look you want and complements what’s already in place. An accent should enhance your style, not work against it.

Wall Condition

Before selecting an accent wall, inspect the condition of the walls themselves carefully. Things like cracks, uneven surfaces, moisture damage or flaking paint can impact how well accent materials adhere. Stains or faded areas will also show through after installation. Be sure to prep or repair any damaged walls before applying special finishes. Choose the most flawless, pristine wall available for best accent wall results.


Choosing the best wall to accentuate in a dining room involves assessing focal points, architecture, layout, style, lighting and more. Seek a wall that complements the space but doesn’t overwhelm. Make sure it aligns with your budget and decor as well. Prepping your chosen wall properly before applying any special finishes helps ensure accent success. With some planning and forethought, your dining room accent wall can become the stunning focal point you envision.

Factor Best for Accent Wall Not Ideal for Accent Wall
Focal Point Behind dining table or seating Across from fireplace or windows
Traffic Flow Low circulation wall High traffic area
Adjoining Spaces Complements color scheme Clashes with adjoining rooms
Architecture Few architectural details Distracts from built-ins
Furniture Clear wall space Behind cabinets or buffet
Lighting Well illuminated Overshadowed or washed out
Privacy Solid wall Glass doors or windows
Budget Affordable paint or paper High end tile or 3D panels
Wall Size Standard 8-9 ft height Oversized or tiny wall
Texture Smooth surface Uneven wall surface
Style Matches existing decor Clashes with current look
Condition Flawless surface Damaged, cracked or stained