What Colors Go with White Walls? How to Decorate with White

Although technically the absence of color, white has recently infiltrated the design world as a top painting trend and trick to try.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

It's time to embrace white walls in living rooms, bedrooms, and other rooms in your home. Bland, boring, and blah? Think again! White has turned that bad rap on its head and has emerged as a favorite for color-lovers worldwide. Rather than being associated with a lack of personality, white is celebrated as a way to accentuate character. Here are four tips to make the most of this colorless color.

living room

Color Fanatic's Foundation

There's a reason graphic design elements are often placed on a white background. White has an unmatchable way of making the foreground explode into focus; the same goes for interior spaces. As shown here the white walls in this living room allow the rainbow of textiles (like you see in this selection of Better Homes & Gardens Blush Throw Pillows, $21, Walmart) and finishes to take center stage.

The other advantage is that colorful personalities have the license to go wild. White negative space allows the eye to rest between each dose of color, making the room feel balanced and poised, no matter how exuberant the styling.

Roman Shade

Ode to Architecture

Adding bright color to architectural wall details—things like crown molding, chair rails, and beams—has a way of bringing them into sharp focus. Yet bold hues also tend to become the focal point and mask the subtleties in form that allow the architecture to be a focal point in the first place.

On the other hand, white gives shape to each curve and heightens each shift in depth. The neutral, unassuming tone accentuates, rather than exploits, these architectural details. Pair white architectural elements with bright accessories (like this yellow Better Homes & Gardens Decorative Throw Pillow, $13, Walmart) and furnishings for a bold look without the commitment.


Wide Open Spaces

Look up! If a feeling of spaciousness is what you're after, try painting your walls and ceilings pure white. The classic hue is an easy way to amplify the grandeur of just about any space. For example, the white paneled surfaces in this dining room feel practically endless, and by keeping the accessories minimal and understated, the area feels much larger than it really is. This tactic also works well in making bedrooms feel more spacious and drawing attention to bedding (like this Better Homes & Gardens Solid Color Contrast Border Linen Flange Duvet Cover Set, $68, Walmart). This is certainly not a new technique, but it proves itself over and over again.

white bedroom

White on White

And finally, consider taking things to the extreme. Although frequently associated with mod Scandinavian design, the white-on-white craze has begun to take hold of trends worldwide. As demonstrated here, one popular evolution of the monotone look is to add dimension with different shades of white—anything from soft cream (like in this Better Homes & Gardens Arches Hi Low Area Rug, $96, Walmart) to muted gray will do. Admittedly, this strikingly uniform look can be a bit of a chore to maintain, but the results are often worth the effort. A white-on-white space is eye-catching and sophisticated when executed down to the most finite detail.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles