A large shelf displaying a few decorative accents generates visual interst on a plain white wall.

How to Decorate a Big White Wall

by Mary Cockrill

Expansive white walls can be a bit scary -- similar to the cold, sterile feel you might find in a hospital. Give your bland wall some charming character, creating an inviting focal point for your family and guests to enjoy. From permanent wall coverings to home accessory items, there are many ways to provide your white wall with an instant decorating boost you'll love.

1. Paint

Paint gives you a budget-friendly way to spice up a big white wall. Transform your plain wall into a colorful focal point by applying a new coat of paint. Look to your existing furnishings and decorating style to draw out a complementary hue. A neutral paint color -- such as gray, taupe or ivory -- enhances almost any decor while softening your room's ambiance. Paint wide stripes on the wall to fashion a feature area with designer-savvy and kid-friendly appeal. Horizontal stripes create the illusion of a wider room with a lower ceiling, while vertical stripes generate the feel of a taller wall with a higher ceiling.

2. Kids' Artwork

Use your big white wall as a blank canvas to display your kids' artwork. Mat and frame the one-of-a-kind masterpieces in matching frames to create a pleasing wall arrangement. Large walls require big frames to keep them in scale with each other, so use wider mats to fill up the frames. Black frames provide striking contrast against white walls to enhance almost any decorating style. Surprise your kids by periodically updating the existing drawings or paintings with their most recent artistic creations.

3. Canvas Wall Hangings

Add intense visual interest to an oversized white wall with canvas wall hangings. Turn a favorite family photograph into a custom focal point by transferring the image to a sizable canvas hanging. Or fashion a single photograph into three or four smaller canvas panels for a fascinating split-image effect. Gather your kids together to paint several one-of-a-kind original abstract paintings by using paintbrushes to "throw" paint onto blank canvases. Group the abstracts into a cohesive wall arrangement where the intense colors add striking contrast against the lackluster white wall. Install wall sconces on each side of your single or multiple canvases to supply attention-grabbing illumination.

4. Other Ideas

Hang an arrangement of matching wall shelves on your expansive white wall to break up the space with dimensional color. Decorate the shelves with framed family photographs, attractive vases or decorative items your kids have crafted at school. Select wall shelves and accessories with enough volume to balance the wall's enormous size. You can also situate furniture pieces, such as a bookcase, armoire or sideboard along a white wall to add functional visual interest. Hang a mirror above low-profile pieces to expand the visual space. Top the furniture with potted greenery or a vase of fresh flowers to add height, color and energy to the ho-hum wall. Alternatively, hang a perky wallpaper print on the wall to jazz it up with color, or affix wainscoting halfway up the wall to give it textural interest.

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