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How to Decorate a Room with White Walls

If you’re like me and you’ve rented for years in residences with a “no paint” rule, you know the look of the white-walled interior! In fact, you may begin to associate white walls with a lack of choices, but today we take a look at a few strategies for making your bright space shine! And I’ll let you in on a little secret… When I did finally move to a space that I could personalize with paint, I chose to keep many of the walls white. Why? Because there’s just something about a clean, crisp look.

In fact, white walls have a way of setting the stage for vibrant decor. Not to mention, there’s a refreshing vibe that results from a white space with white or neutral accents. Whether you choose to play up the neutrals, insert bright pops of color or create a gallery effect in your white-walled interior, we think you’ll find design inspiration in the images below…

Play Up the Neutrals

If your walls are white and you enjoy neutral tones, you can always take a soothing approach… Layering neutrals in a space with white walls can play up the clean, refreshing look we talked about in the intro. It’s also undeniably elegant, as shown in the space below, previously featured in Lonny:

Soothing living room

Then there’s the earthy neutral approach, created by warm wooden tones and other rich hues. A trio of framed pictures echoes the color of the reclaimed wooden dining table by Bob Card of Greenwood Bay, while wooden floors anchor this white-walled space. [from C O N T E N T Architecture]

Dining room of a Houston loft

Ready for another approach to blending neutrals with crisp whites? It’s the “dark and light” effect, created when the brightest of hues meets the richest of tones, as shown in this Manhattan penthouse dining room. Note how dark trim on the windows and the deep color of the furnishings contrast the white of the walls and ceiling. [from Shelley Starr Design]

Elegant penthouse dining room

We see a similar effect in this next living space from Lonny. Also like the space above, there’s an “earthy meets elegant” vibe created by touches like animal-themed artwork and a sparkling light fixture…

Living room with dark and light tones

 Accent with Bright Pops of Color

If neutrals are a bit too subdued for your taste, there’s always our next design strategy: accenting with bright pops of color. In fact, we begin with the striking technique of featuring one burst of color in an otherwise neutral space. This minimalist London bedroom makes the most of a bright orange pendant light. [from Beccy Smart Photography via Houzz]

Bright orange pendant light

Or you can select a dominant accent color and repeat it in your white-walled space, as shown in the next featured room. Radiant red is the color of choice, and it’s present on the deer-themed artwork by John Frechette of MADE, as well as the abstract art by the window. Fire red + bright white = design perfection! [from Tuck Fauntleroy Photography for Grace Home Design]

Red accents in a white bedroom

If you prefer a rainbow of color, don’t limit yourself to one hue. Choose a striking color combination for an accent palette and go with it! Mustard yellow, bright turquoise and vivid red shine in the vintage-meets-modern space below. An intriguing grouping of hues, don’t you think?! [from Etsy shop Handz]

Radiant bursts of color in a white living room

It’s not just about the color. It’s about the objects on which the color appears! Add doses of color in interesting ways… We’re loving the use of large artwork, a lean bench and exotic flowers as a way to introduce vibrant shades in the space below from Domain Designs:

Colorful details in a white entryway

Create a Gallery Effect

Did you ever notice that art galleries have white walls for good reason: to provide a clean slate for showcasing amazing artwork! You can create the same effect by highlighting interesting finds in your space. This Barcelona loft from Vuong Interior Design includes wall art by Rosa Roca, as well as a series of pillows that are works of art in themselves…

Artistic white living room with bursts of color

Hanging a plethora of colorful framed art pieces on the walls also contributes to a gallery-like feel, as does featuring an array of objet d’art, as shown in this next intriguing space. [from Lonny]

Framed artwork in a compact living room

It doesn’t have to be about color. Framed black and white photographs have a similar gallery effect, especially when presented as a group. Also note the use of greenery in this all-white space. Plants can provide a subtle yet much-needed dose of color in your crisp white interior. [from Rockefeller Partners Architects]

Black and white photos in a white living room

Don’t forget that galleries also showcase pottery and other unforgettable art pieces! Your collectibles can do wonders in setting a colorful, unique tone in your white-walled space. Hue, form, and display can magically align to create a one-of-a-kind showroom. Still doubting your white walls?… [from MGS Architecture]

Interesting objects in a white dining room

How have you made the best of the white walls in your space? Or perhaps you’ve purposefully chosen white as the backdrop to your interior design finds. Share your design tips by leaving a comment below…

Kate Simmons

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and design blogger with a love of all things decor. She spent her childhood writing stories and working on interior design-themed DIY projects. Kate’s published writing reflects her special interest in how design has changed through the decades. Her blog Mirror80 ( http://mirror80.com/) explores the fashion and [...]

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