White furnishings and fixtures help to brighten gray bathroom walls.

How to Brighten Up Gray Painted Walls

by Mary Cockrill

If your gray walls are giving you the blahs, perk them up with some happy decor. You can use one of a variety of easy, clever ways to brighten your ho-hum gray walls, and none of them require an expensive and time-consuming repainting project. Choose the professional decorating tricks that suit you best for injecting a cheery upbeat aura into your uninspiring space.

Ceiling and Trim

Paint your ceiling and trim, such as baseboards, window trim and ceiling molding, in a shade of white to brighten up gray-colored walls. Choose pristine white paint to create a stark color contrast and fresh appearance against the neutral gray walls, or select creamy ivory paint to add a softer brightening effect that helps to conceal dirt and grime. Choose a semi-gloss or glossy paint finish for a washable surface, so you can easily scrub off scuff marks, fingerprints and other blemishes from your trim. Cover the interior doors with the same white paint used for your trim to intensify the room's refreshing, feel-good ambiance. Apply a fresh coat of white paint to a dark-colored ceiling to add visual height and a bright, happy mood.


Introduce a variety of light sources to brighten your boring gray walls. Remove dark-colored curtains in heavyweight fabrics -- velvet, tapestry, brocade -- to take advantage of any incoming natural light while freshening up the room. Opt for white sheer curtains for a shimmery, transparent appearance, or a lively geometric print to add instant energy to your space. Hang the curtains higher and wider than the window frame to maximize the natural light impact in your room. Artificial light sources, such as floor and table lamps, wall sconces, track lighting and a sparkling chandelier, create layered lighting with bright room-flattering effects you’re sure to love.


Light-colored furniture can jazz up your lackluster gray walls. Apply a coat of creamy ivory, light yellow or soft beige paint to wood pieces, such as armoires, dressers and shelving units, to strum a joyful chord in a sea of gray. Select an easy-care microfiber upholstery for chairs and sofas to camouflage dirt, such as a taupe or ivory herringbone pattern, while brightening the space. Microfibers are also very durable, holding up well against the normal wear-and-tear from rambunctious kids and pets. Treat yourself to a chair upholstered in perky hues, such as sunny yellow, lime green and bright white stripes, to lift your spirits in a depressing gray bedroom.


Brighten up a room with dark floors encompassed by bleak gray walls with a light-colored area rug. Choose a funky white shag rug for a modern twist or a white sisal rug for a natural earthy vibe. Hang large artwork on the walls to lighten the mood without changing the paint color of the walls. Hang framed art prints encased by wide, white mats to contrast with lifeless gray walls. Incorporate a few sparkling gold or silver accessories, such as bowls, vases, candlesticks or framed photos, to your decor to give reflective, stylish bling to a room with gray walls.

About the Author

Mary Cockrill's education and certifications in interior design and home staging have allowed her to author numerous home-related articles. Cockrill has been a top design consultant for a renowned home store and is the owner of Starwood Home & Gifts, LLC, an interior design, decorating and home staging business. She holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with a comprehensive major in office administration.

Photo Credits

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