White and neutrals are the perfect backdrop for minimalist perfection. Take a look at those clean, modern, Scandinavian inspired homes that feel warm and welcoming in spite of the blustery darkness outside. Done right, white walls fade away, revealing the details of the architecture and the careful curation of the things they encompass. But what can you do when your white walls are feeling simply boring and lifeless? Perhaps you are a color lover who rents and you’re stuck with boring white - or worse, beige - at the moment. How do you make your white walls more clean, modern, warm and welcoming and less, well, sterile? Lets take a look at some white-walled rooms that have that warm and welcome feeling to glean some tips on how to make white walls feel like home.
Nothing warms a space like wood tones - Nothing! Think of a forest after a fresh layer of snow. The warm, natural wood tones of the tree trunks among all that white are what make the scene so striking. Don’t think the warm tones have to come from just wood either - terra cotta and other pottery can do the trick too. What you’re after is some elements to warm up the color palette and provide some much needed contrast.
The combination of green and white is as natural as a forest of evergreens in winter. Plants add both color and texture to a white canvas, and they especially stand out in a white space. Choose a small collection of small, medium, and one or two larger plants to vary the size and height of your indoor garden. Succulents, ferns, clover, and fiddle leaf figs are all great indoor plants that will add a bit of life to your white space.
When you want to create a warm and welcoming space, texture is where it’s at. Pillows, rugs, blankets, curtains - pick ones that you just want to run your hands across. They don’t even need to be bright or warm colors either. Muted tones or white on white work equally beautifully when you vary the textures.
Adding some black or dark grays to your white canvas create interest through contrast. That contrast works by pulling your eye to different focal points around the room and as such keeps you interested. The contrast trick works best by drawing your attention to architectural features like fabulous Eichler beams, a fireplace, window frames or even doors.
I saved color for last because it’s a touchy subject when discussing all white rooms. Purists can feel free to gloss over this part, but sometimes color can do wonders for an all white room. Some methods for adding color are more unobtrusive than others, so keep these in mind if your landlord’s on the inflexible side: colorful throw pillows, blankets, rugs, bedding, flowers, candles, books, and art are probably the quickest and least invasive way to add some color to your blank canvas. Lets not stop there, though. Changing out your boring lamp and pendant cords with bright fabric ones will create little smiles throughout your day.
A more ambitious way to add color is the accent wall. Now, I know what you’re thinking - Trading Spaces convinced you that accent walls never look as cool as the designer says it will - like, never. I’m in the same boat. Believe me when I say that white walls are my go-to. I’m the first to caution that not every room can pull off the accent wall, but I’m convinced they can provide that necessary warmth and interest to a room that’s begging for a little more. My favorite accent wall ever is what Fog Modern did in their living room. Their lovely Eichler had gorgeous details and furnishings, but all of the white on the walls and floors left the room feeling a little lost. The shade of green they chose is just the right amount of color - not too bright, nut not too muted either. It really pulls together the whole room. I cannot believe I’m saying that I actually like an accent wall, but this one works!
So there you have it! White walls don't have to be sterile. You can warm them up with natural wood tones, introduce some plants for that natural element, play with different textures, add some contrast, or break the mold with a pop of color. Take it slow by adding a small succulent here and there or go all the way with an accent wall. The possibilities are endless!