What Color Goes with White Walls? What Color Doesn't!

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

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.

Color Fanatic's Foundation

living room

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 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.

Ode to Architecture

Roman Shade

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.

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 is certainly not a new technique, but it proves itself over and over again.

White on White

white bedroom

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 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.

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