The Case for White Walls - 10 Elements That Make Them Work

The Case for White Walls - 10 Ways to Make it Work  -

How can you create a warm, inviting, and colorful home WITH white walls? 

Earlier today I was playing out in my mind an anticipated conversation with a client where I was making the case for the beauty in white walls. In my pretend conversation, my client's were mildly skeptic and asked to see some examples. I excitedly offered several and by the end of the conversation they jumped on board, selecting the perfect white hue. I decided I shouldn’t let those thoughts go to waste. Thus…this post. 

You see, even as I write this I’m in a room painted dark green. No really. Dark. Green. Which I love. Dark rooms are having a serious moment right now and they are not going anywhere anytime soon.  

Personally, I’m a fan of color. Period. But not end of story. 

Truly white walls (with white trim) provide a museum quality canvas for the rest room to shine. Understandably however, many people associate white walls with places that are sterile, cold, and hard to maintain. 

The difference between a well-designed home with white walls and institutional places has to do with what else is going on in the space.  Most schools, hospitals, or DMV's don’t have rugs, textiles, and art! THOSE are the things that make a space come to life!

Here is the secret. It’s important that you juxtapose the white walls with warm elements - and not just one - many.

Here is my list of 10 Warming Elements that will pair beautifully with white walls to create a richly layered, designer-approved space. 

Elements That Help Make White Walls work

1. Wood
2. Antiques
3. Textiles
4. Greenery
5. Art
6. Warm Metals (brass, copper, cold)
7. Rich Textures
8. Bold Patterns
9. Big Color
10. Architectural Details

And for your viewing pleasure, here are 20 rooms with white walls that are perfection. 

Here, we see a bold and graphic pattern in the rug, paired with a warm brass coffee table, and textured woven blinds. 

Nobody does white walls better than Amber from Amber Interiors. In this room, she juxtaposed a large scale wooden coffee table with her other signature - textured and patterned global textiles. The bold graphic rug and grand architectural details make this room are a home run. 

Color is the leading role in this room. You don't even have time to notice the white walls. That's the idea. 

Just about every warm element is employed here: pattern, texture, color, greenery, antiques...Well done. 

Architectural details are the star here. The co-stars are color (Hello beautiful blue velvet facing Chesterfield sofas!?), pattern and texture. 

I chose this vignette because the wood stood out so beautifully. Not to mention the nubby linen in the sofas, pattern in the rug, and texture in the basket. The room sings. 

Whoa!?  White on White on White? You're damn right and here is why. If they chosen a shiny sleek coffee table here, the whole room would be on its head. Instead, they selected a rustic wood table - topped it with a skull - and it works.  Add the greenery and wicker for texture and you've got a room that is at once clean and bright while also being warm, inviting, and loaded with character. 

I love how simple and approachable this room is. It still has a restrained palette of indigo and pink and the textural rug bring it all home. Well done. 

Here the bold pattern in the rug and rich sapphire blue velvet on the bed softens the look. Personally, I would have selected an antique/vintage wood dresser and maybe a little detail on the curtains. But all in all, clean, fresh and inviting. I'd sleep there all day long (like that's ever an option!?). 

White walls are the perfect canvas for art and photography. In this room, black plays well with the white for a modern feel. 

I've been obsessed with this room since the first time I laid eyes on it. If you want a sneak peek into my personal design aesthetic - this is it. The white walls give it a bright, fresh, and clean feel but the wood, wicker, brass, textiles, and marble all simmer it for a layered, sensual room that is perfection. 

I've seen so many white kitchens with white counters I could die. But here? It works. Here is why. Pattern in the floor tile. Wood on the island. Brass in the hardware, and black detail in the window. This room sings! 


Oh hey girl. Are you getting the hang of this yet? Marble. Linen. Black. Wood. Texture. Color. Greenery. Done! 

Again...I love the approachable look and feel of this room with white walls + leather, brass, shag rug, linen sofa, woven shades, wood side table, and greenery. 

Yes...even works in kid's rooms. 



And all throughout the house. 

If you can't bring yourself to do white anywhere else in the it in the laundry room.