Pulling Off White Walls

By Kate Riley January 16, 2018

We’ve seen them in magazines and all over blogs for years now. The white walls trend is still going strong. Although when I look at them I don’t believe they’re much of a trend anymore, rather painting walls white is a calculated design choice to establish a calm backdrop so that the other elements in the room take the spotlight.

I painted the walls of my Las Vegas investment property a bright white several years ago, and I’ve always loved how fresh it feels. You can see several of those white walls on display in this older post about the DIY wood and white console. I also recently painted my living room white in my California home so that the artwork would stand out more.

The allure of the white walled room comes from our desire for natural light, it feels clean and pure. It’s also because of our repeated exposure to Scandinavian design (and IKEA) that we’ve wholly embraced here in the US. We definitely love the look of spaces with a white backdrop because we keep doing it.

This particular scene we’ve seen quite a lot: white curtains, basic gray sofa, mixed accent tables and throw pillows, white green plant, and area rug. It’s Scandinavian 101.



daily dream decor

As we head into 2018, is the design community as a whole over white walls yet? Nope. While we’re embracing warmer tones (that’s a separate post) we’re still just as crazy about our white walls. So what’s the trick to actually pulling them off? What is it that makes a white room work so that it doesn’t come across as stark and hospitalish?

It’s an analytical process. Simply study designers who’ve pulled it off well, and notice in particular the elements used in these spaces to make them feel inviting.


Textural Accents

Wood furniture and woven accents are key to any white space and provide necessary texture. Accent furniture that possess woven materials or wood finishes prevents a white painted room from falling flat.




three birds renovations


souk shop


Metals Make a Difference

Brass and chrome are always gorgeous, but black iron or dark bronze look especially amazing in white walled interiors and add much desired contrast.




coats homes

Hang Some Art.

Whether you arrange a gallery wall or choose a singular large scale piece, art is a necessary component to a white walled room. Not only does art personalize a space, art serves as an interruption to the vast amount of whiteness.


kvarteret makleri




three birds renovations

Luxe Leather

File this under the desirable texture category: rich leather furniture really stands out in a space with white walls.


front + main


the nest

Colorize with Textiles & Furnishings


three birds renovations




the glitter guide

Preserve Wood Details

White surfaces serve as a perfect complement to wood, the details are better appreciated. Instead of painting wood accents, maintain the character of wood doors, molding, floors, beams, and window trim by staining or leaving wood in its raw state.


cup of jo


magnolia market



Don’t Forget Botanicals

Green plants are another necessary ingredient to a white walled room (or any room in my opinion). Organic elements remove the starkness that white walls convey without them.




martin cederblad


Add Dimension

Kick it up a notch by adding molding or planks or any other architectural detail painted the same color.


neiman marcus


coats homes

For those of you who are on board, what tricks have you used to pull off your white walled room?

Weekend Reading

By Kate Riley January 14, 2018

Three day weekend greetings friends! It’s pretty gloomy here, lots of clouds and more rain to come. I’m going to clean my home office then snuggle up in my pajamas and start watching this show. Have you seen it? I’ve heard only good things. Tomorrow I’m working on a DIY project for my daughter’s room, I’ll share that when complete!

Favorite links:


Hardwood flooring trends.

I also love these kitchen design trends.

This light and bright house tour has some great tips for renters.

Thanks Emily for these pillow & throw combinations.

Weekend closet to home office transformation.

33 DIY ideas for a polished home.

Items at IKEA you may be overlooking.

Things I’ll do differently when I’m old.

10 underappreciated corners of Europe to explore.


P.S. I’m selling 8 of these 96” West Elm scribble curtains that used to hang in my studio! Before I put them up on Craigslist I wanted to offer them to any of you. Email me at [email protected] if interested!