Repainting? Don’t think too hard, why not go with all-white walls?

Living room

The colour of your living room walls has a huge impact on the people using it.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • The colour of your living room walls has a huge impact on this function.
  • Complement the white walls of your bedroom with some all-white bedding.

The standard colour for the walls of any ready-to-be-occupied house is usually soft white. (Soft white is often mistakenly referred to as cream. Or worse, landlord cream.)

Soft white is not a terrible colour, to be fair. It is simple, versatile and hard working. It however tends to get boring after some years of the colour staring back at you while you go about living in your home. You will especially notice it’s boringness if you have run the extra miles of updating the styling of your home: these soft walls will beg for some colour.

Paint companies have a colour chart that you can choose from, with over 7,000 colours, each with an idyllic sounding name such as ‘Quarry pebble’, ‘Grecian olive’, ‘Cloud mist’…

A colour chart with over 7,000 colours is more colours than your mind can conceive. Granted, it may seem counterintuitive to move from soft white walls to brilliant white walls, boring even, when there are all these countless colours available, yet there is something about brilliant white walls that is anything but boring.

Here are four instances when an all-white space is what your home may need:

In a small living room

The colour of your living room walls has a huge impact on this function and, ultimately, on the experience of the people using it.

Dark-coloured walls make the room seem more compact, more closed in, but light-coloured and white walls make the room seem bigger, more open.

Living room

A small living room benefits from brilliant white walls.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A small living room benefits from brilliant white walls. These white walls will visually expand the room, making it seem bigger than it already is. Complement these white walls with light sheers instead of heavy drapes – this allows more natural light to pour in, bounce off the walls and illuminate your small living room until it feels like an infinite tableau.

Also use light-coloured furniture and a few dark-coloured accessories to complement the other pieces. A black sofa set, for example, is a no-no. Tie all these hacks in with some smartly placed sources of lighting; a floor lamp in that corner or a table lamp on that end table.

In a toilet with little to no lighting

In all the directions architecture and urban planning is heading, you may find yourself living in a house that has a guest toilet with a small window or no window at all. Or it may be adjacent to another tall apartment block, which gets in the way of natural lighting. Such a scenario will leave you with a guest toilet that feels like a jail cell.

To fix this problem, paint the walls of the guest toilet a brilliant white. If it has only tiles, then stick on some brilliant plain white wallpaper. Change the overhead bulb to a gentle warm white, which glows in yellow (cool white will burn your eyes).

Keep the decor to a minimum with a few strong pieces. A faux houseplant for the greenery. A floating shelf installed two feet, some inches above the toilet tank, to display your decor. Some light-coloured toilet mats, the comfort of your feet. And lastly, burn a candle in there, for the scent and ambience.

In your bedroom

You can never go wrong with a white-walled bedroom. Yes, there are other colours on the colour wheel that have the same calming, modern and minimal effect as white does – the gentle tones of grey, green and blue come to mind. But while you may go wrong with the undertones of these colours – operative word ‘may’ – you can never go wrong with white, whatever the tone, no matter how colour blind or indecisive you are, whatever your personal style.


Complement the white walls of your bedroom with some all-white bedding.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Complement the white walls of your bedroom with some all-white bedding. Contrast these whites with accessories that have the gentler tones of the colours you like, this will ensure that the balance and harmony is not upset, and your personality is expressed.

On a very busy gallery wall

A well-styled gallery wall can be an eye-drawing area for any home. By well-styled, I mean that it has your family photos plus other framed or mounted pieces that beg for anyone to stand in front of it to appreciate its unexpected and surprising variety: painted art, print work, newspaper clippings, mirrors, a wall clock, abstract metalwork, African wall baskets, heck even a cowhide.


Soft white is not a terrible colour, it is simple, versatile and hard working.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Visually, this wall can be a shock on your senses, maybe even over stimulating, if not clutter-like and maximalist. To balance things out, consider having an all-white wall.

Simple, clean and fuss-free: this all-white wall will be the canvas for which you will bring your very busy gallery wall to life, without drawing any attention away from it and without limiting the adventure of your styling spirit. 

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