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How to Utilize White Walls and Space

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white walls

Design myth: white walls are boring.


Look, even this empty white room isn't boring!
Look, even this empty white room isn't boring!

Did you know that you don't have to paint your walls to add color to a space? You might be scared of white walls because you've been told that they're bare and boring... they're everything but!

Designing with white walls is a hot design trend, for both style and practicality.

White walls may be a must if you're living in a rented space and can't change a thing. But don't fret, for white walls CAN be beautiful, and anything but bland!

Yes, It's Possible: Vividly Colorful Bedrooms With Basic White Walls | Apartment Therapy:

White-walled rooms are a huge design trend right now because minimalism is IN.

So many design styles embrace simplicity, a prime example is Scandinavian design (which I explained last week in the ).

White walls create that minimalist look: clean, streamlined, fresh, and bright. Yes, white rooms can indeed be boring or dingy. If you choose a white that isn't the right shade, don't have enough lighting in the room, and/or accessorize poorly, white can be a bad choice.

white swatches
Elements of Style's is a very helpful source!

But if you choose the right white and add some easy touches, a white room can be the focal point of a home!

12 Ways to Spruce Up a White Room

1. Natural Light

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: natural light is an important part of ANY room!

Natural light in white kitchen with pops of color

Natural light is especially effectual in white rooms because white is already so bright. If a white room is darkened without natural light or toned down by ugly florescent lights, it definitely won't shine like it should.

Natural light in white rooms makes the bright color EVEN BRIGHTER!

white bedroom

Not only that, but if you have huge windows to let in all the natural light, it makes sense that you'll be able to see outside... so your yard will almost become a part of your room!

See how the big windows in the room above let in a lot of light, and show off the gorgeous scenery outside?

2. Display your Collections

White walls are the perfect base for color.

A large, busy, colorful painting may look like confetti vomit against an equally colorful room.

Against a white wall? That painting will pop and become the focal point of your space.

white bedroom 2

White walls are a great backdrop to display your collections, whatever they're made up of.

White walls are PERFECT for people who have accumulated a lot of pretty things.

Have a collection of tapestries? Succulents?

Graphic art? Paintings by your toddler? Sculptures? Pottery?

picture frame wall

Rather than slapping color everywhere, painting your walls white can highlight your collection.

White walls have the clean, streamlined look of a museum.

Loft Style Apartment Design In New York | iDesignArch | Interior Design, Architecture & Interior Decorating:


Have a particularly exciting piece of furniture? It might drown in a colorful room. In a white room, though, that piece of furniture you love will become the centerpiece.

How a Forgotten Piece of Furniture Found a Second Life:

The white backdrop in the bathroom above lets this unique vanity piece shine!

3. Layer Neutrals

If you chose white for a neutral look, you can continue that style by layering neutrals throughout the room.

Choosing various tones of warm or cool creams and tans creates a simple yet inviting space.

lounge wth fireplace

The space above utilized layered neutrals, with a warm cream sofa, light cabinets,

and white.

All of these colors work together to create a cozy space.

Farmhouse Bedroom:
You can custom order this rug here, or check out a similar rug below!
Multi Colored Peshawar Ziegler Rug
This 7 x 10' multicolored Peshawar Ziegler Rug is a beautiful neutral!

The bedroom above is particularly stylish and cozy. The bedding is made up of layered neutrals, from white to tan to camel. Each layer just makes the room warmer and more inviting!

4. Add Color to the Floor

A colorful rug in a white room looks modern, eclectic, and interesting!


The hallway above was already beautiful, but the addition of the colorful oriental runner adds a fun vibe to the space that would have normally been serious.

Same goes for the space above! The addition of the oriental rug against the rest of this white room gives it a modern, cultured look.

5. Natural Woods

White looks especially good against various grains of natural wood.

neutral living room /:

I personally love light woods with white. The room above is inviting and fresh, the mixture of light wood and white creating an airy feel.

wood beams

The kitchen above combines white trim and counters with white cabinets and walls, creating a simple yet modern space.

Young Home Love: Clean, White & Pretty…A Lovely & Simple Design For Your Young Home | Fab You Bliss:

That's not to say that darker woods don't look brilliant against white! They create a stark contrast, and give a space a more traditional, clean look.

133 sq. ft. Amalfi Tiny House has beautiful wood floors and ceiling and white walls and cabinets. | Tiny Homes:

I love the look of the sunroom above! The mix of dark wood and white panelling creates something summery and beautiful!

6. Pops of Color

If you choose white for your walls, that doesn't mean that you're afraid of color! Like working as a backdrop for art, white is the perfect base for pops of color.

white office

The simple office space above has pops of wood tones, blue, and pink to create a cute, feminine space.

Rustic bohemian chic apartment with bright pops of color against white. living here would make me happy. :):

You can still be with white walls! The room above contrasts the simple white walls and furniture with bright, colorful pillows in various patterns, successfully creating that eclectic look without adding color to the walls.

crushing so hard on this interior. urgh, it's so pretty!:

Ok, I just noticed the crab on the coffee table and I'm not sure why it's there.

Moving on... I love the little living room space above, the pop of pink in the sofa is the perfect companion to the simple white walls. And I love the little stump side table with it's face!

7. Highlight an Architectural Element

Using white walls is a great way to highlight existing architectural elements in your home.


The beautiful white fireplace above pops from the wall, despite the fact that the built ins are white as well! The white chosen is crisp and beautiful, making the space feel fresh and new!

Beautiful staircase in a cob house!:

White is also great to highlight staircases, like the unique space above,

Loft in Paris kitchen and dining room in black and white. Love the spiral staircase in the middle.:

And this beautiful twisting staircase. With the white backdrop, this black metal staircase serves as a piece of art in itself.

This exposed brick wall would be swallowed up by a color on the wall. The white walls framing it, however, highlight its beauty and let it (and the sofa) SHINE!

8. Texture

If you're really afraid of creating a "boring" white space, just remember: INCLUDE TEXTURE! 

Texture brings in the interest that your room might be lacking.

Shades of Blue | Stylizimo blog

The painting and blankets in the room above layer texture beautifully. The room is interesting and soft, graphic and natural. Anything but boring.

Slaapkamer make-over | Bedroom inspiratie | Stek edition 1 - 2016 cover | Photo & styling: Bintihome:

The room above might be cheating a bit with the whitewashed brick, but I think it serves our purpose. The textures of the wood floor, brick, and blankets (not to mention the poms) create a bright, interesting, cozy space!

The bohemian room above uses texture upon texture upon texture in a beautiful way.

Shag, fur, leather, wood, patterned pillows, and plants make you forget that the walls are "just white."

Adding all of these textures and colors creates a charming space that is full of drool-worthy design elements! 

9. Pair with Black

One of the most classic color pairings is black and white. White-walled rooms look especially modern and  when paired with black accents and furniture.

Use a wall calendar to accent your space. // This could be useful for keeping my assignments and lesson plans organized. #office:

The simple office above comes off clean an efficient because of the crisp color pairing of black and white.

Black and white living room! Black furniture looks especially nice against white walls.

This black and white living room is simple, cozy, and relaxed.

Black, white ...

This bed looks like a great place to relax! The black and white create a neutral, comfortable space.

10. Floating Shelves/Built Ins

White shelves look great on white walls, and serve as a place to put those collections I mentioned earlier.

Pretty bookcase for the family room - just add baskets for toys:

The floating shelves above look beautiful with the white walls because they allow the accessories placed on them to really stand out!

Love the shaker style doors; note the middle "third" is larger than the two side panels; think squares.:

The same goes for the built-ins above.

I love it when accessories get their chance to shine, and white walls are the perfect way to achieve this!

11. Use Metals

Like natural woods, metals look great against white walls.

The copper chandelier above really stands out against the white backdrop!

{ white and gold powder room }:

The pretty gold accents in the bathroom above contrast nicely with the mostly-white room!

I love the minimalist look of this bathroom: it is clean, fresh, and bright!

12. Freshen Up

Last but not least, white walls are a great choice if you like to redecorate often.

pastel lounge

If you like to switch out bedding and pillows every season, white walls are a great backdrop for your changing style.

For that reason, white is a very versatile and practical choice!


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white walls


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