It doesn’t matter whether you live in a small city apartment or a sprawling country estate—or whether your personal style skews minimalist or maximalist—everyone is eventually confronted with the difficult decision of what to do with that large, windowless wall. Admittedly, many people have a complicated relationship with blank walls. Sometimes, a bare wall can feel refreshing—especially when a room is filled with bold furniture, printed area rugs, and plenty of objets. But more often than not, a blank wall can appear neglected and, let’s face it, boring. So do you want to bring style to every square inch of your space, walls included? Check out these designer-approved ways to give all of your walls the attention they deserve. From statement-making artwork to whimsical wallpaper and everything in between, every idea here is packed with visual intrigue.
Turn Family Photos into Art
No wallpaper? No problem! Memphis, Tennessee–based designer Sean Anderson used his collection of Polaroid photos taken on family vacations and events to cover the blank space surrounding the door frame.
Paolo Castellarin and Didier Bonnin used two “portholes” in a dividing wall between the living room and dining room to open up the space in their Milan apartment. The vases on the piano are by Gaetano Pesce.
Paint a Mural
In the Palo Alto, California, home of Florie Hutchinson, designed by Atelier Davis, the family commissioned the artist Mariel Capanna to paint a wall mural in a narrow hallway. The mural includes depictions of the family and their day-to-day life.
Lacquer the Walls
Milanese designer Fabrizio Casiraghi used a custom green color to lacquer the walls throughout a Parisian loft. The artworks, which include paintings by H. Craig Hanna and a 19th-century club from Fiji, add even more intrigue.
Go Crazy with Prints
In the upstairs kitchen of designer Ramsey Lyons’s Pittsburgh home, patterned Schumacher wallcovering gives the garret a maximalist garden feel.
In lieu of a flat paint, designer Augusta Hoffman covered the walls of her Manhattan bedroom with a tweed wallcovering by Phillip Jeffries.
Designer Jacques Grange applied resin wall art by Jean-François Fourtou to otherwise blank walls in a home in Portugal.
If the walls are blank, don’t be afraid to go bold. Designer Delia Kenza painted the blank walls and ceiling of a Brooklyn bedroom an inky black.
Mirrored wall panels not only enliven a blank space, but also enhance the natural light from windows. Gabriel Hendifar used bronze mirror panels in the dining room of his Manhattan apartment.
Try Some Color Theory
Daun Curry brought some childish wonder to a girl’s bedroom in this home in the Hamptons with a painted mosaic, complete with varying shades of pink, purple, and blue. When paired with floating cubbies and pendants by Tom Dixon, this once-bare wall is transformed into an optical illusion.
Add the Midas Touch
Fancify your bare walls with opulent accents. When ELLE Decor A-List designer Jean-Louis Deniot restored this French manor, he festooned the walls with an ornate gold-framed mirror and matching bronze Empire sconces.
If you want to add some visual interest to your bare walls—but don’t want to sacrifice that crisp, versatile look—consider a stenciled border. Let this Manhattan apartment by ELLE Decor A-List designer Stephen Sills show you how it’s done.
Contrary to popular belief, embroidery isn’t solely reserved for throw pillows and upholstery. In her London home and studio, textile designer Nathalie Farman-Farma adorned her walls with embroidery by Namay Samay. Rounding out the look is artwork by Léon Bakst and a Napoleon III slipper chair in a Décors Barbares linen.
Rediscover Old Roots
As in this Art Nouveau townhouse in Tbilisi, Georgia, a home’s foundation can often provide all the inspiration you need. The frescoes, which depict scenes of Venice, were uncovered during a restoration; while they make a good case for leaving the walls au naturel, the sleek brass sculptures seen at right add a measured dose of modernity.
Mix and Match
When it comes to adding prints to your bare walls, more is always more. In this townhouse in London’s Belgravia neighborhood, designer Thomas Hamel juxtaposed the agate-inspired backsplash with de Gournay’s Coco Coromandel wallcovering.
The Textured Treatment
Marie Flanigan gave this Houston bathroom a hint of texture by affixing hand-molded plaster dogwood branches on the wall. The result? The feel of a plush tapestry combined with the subtlety of a dainty wallpaper repeat.
Build a Bar
Remember that your walls don’t have to be impractical. If you’re willing to get a little crafty, you can convert your empty space into a home bar. The built-ins seen in this Pittsburgh study double as the room’s focal point.
Wow With Tiles
As Antonio Martins’s San Francisco home proves, your walls can be anything you want them to be. So he made a statement in his stairwell with enlarged reproductions of 18th-century Portuguese tiles, custom painted by Linda Horning and Katherine Jacobus.
Strategically Placed Sculpture
You can break up a negative space with a slim sculpture; the key, however, is where you choose to place it. The linked sculpture Antonio Martins added to his San Francisco kitchen is both effortless and edgy in equal measure.
Use Your Nooks and Crannies
Make the most of your space by adding artful touches to every square inch of your home—literally. While the area above an archway often gets overlooked, the owners of this Mumbai home incorporated a botanical mural, hand-painted by Prashant Miranda, into their attic.
Play With Proportions
Large frames, or small? Why not choose both? Designer Hubert Zandberg upped the visual interest on this wall in an opulent Tuscan villa by experimenting with frames of various sizes, a round mirror, and equestrian accoutrements.
In the dining room of this Milan abode, the table is complemented by two oil portraits and antique plates. Though the matching configurations create the illusion of symmetry, the subtle difference offers the right amount of visual intrigue.
A Metallic Moment
Want to make your bare walls shine? Take a cue from Samuel Amoia, who covered a girl’s Manhattan bedroom in a metallic wallcovering from Calico Wallpaper. He rounded out the room with eye-catching pendants from Tom Dixon and an iridescent rose plaster.
Add a Workspace
If you’re looking to make your WFH office a permanent fixture in your home, consider installing a wall-mounted desk. In this Baltimore loft, designer Laura Hodges offset the crisp white walls with a sculptural floating workspace.
Aim for Three
Grouping artwork is a surefire way to make a big impact in a room. Here, three Andy Warhol pieces add personality to Hamptons dining room designed by Brigette Romanek.
A Black and White Photograph
Sometimes less is more. A black and white photograph by Malick Sidibé serves as a focal point in Patricia Greene’s Upper East Side living room.
Hang it Low
Hanging art low can make it even more impactful, especially in a high-traffic area like an entry. For a Miami Beach getaway, designer Lee F. Mindel opted for a vibrant piece to complement a sleek console table.
Create a Statement Hallway
In addition to being sheathed in mattress ticking, event planner Bronson Van Wyck’s Manhattan hallway features a selection of black and white photographs that bring the space to life.
Looking for a way to experiment with the principle of symmetry? Hang a large-scale piece of artwork directly above your console, then set a pair of table lamps on top. It’s a failsafe approach to inject personality into your space.
Combine Ceramics with Prints
Architect Peter Marino loves nothing more than putting his impressive French porcelain collection on full display. His Southampton retreat features a floral print surrounded by Théodore Deck porcelain and earthenware.
A tall potted plant, as seen in this living room from Los Angeles-based interior designer Wendy Haworth, is one of the easiest ways to add interest to a wall area. Position your favorite type of greenery directly next to a piece of large-scale wall art for even more of an impact.
Consider a Cabinet
A painted breakfront topped with Spanish terra-cotta pots from the 1930s adds interest to the entry of the Bedford, New York, home owned by Eric Hadar, a Manhattan real estate executive.
Frame All Your Art In Gold
Mix and match your favorite pieces of art, regardless of style or era, and display them using similarly gilded frames. In the master bedroom of a Los Angeles home, for example, the owners hung a wall of artworks from the couple’s collection above a decidedly feminine Italian giltwood settee.
Use a Picture Ledge
A picture ledge is a simple—and inexpensive way—to display your art collection. Whether you opt for a single ledge or decide to group them, they’re the perfect solution to fill a blank space.
Hang Dangling Frames
In Steven Gambrel’s Chicago apartment, a troika of framed artworks hang at varying lengths in a narrow wall niche, livening up the narrow recess between the chimney and the entrance.
Use A Sculptural Mirror To Catch The Light
In this airy California living room, an antique mirror from India hangs over the fireplace, catching light to expand the room and illuminate the relaxed modern decor.
Cover Every Inch In Art
In the living room of a PR maven’s maximalist New York City apartment, a blank space is brought to life with an extensive gallery wall. Divide your stark wall into sections, including a small collage of art and mirrors and an array of larger paintings. The portraits shown here are by Kimberly Brooks.
Try A Statement Fireplace
Andy Cohen’s Manhattan duplex doesn’t have many bare walls, but this one in his sitting room is dressed up with a statement-making fireplace. A Roy Lichtenstein lithograph hangs above themantel in Nero Bilbao marble, which is a piece of art in its own right.
Style It With Simple Antiques
For a rustic feel, take a cue from this historic Long Island farmhouse and hang up a few antique pieces that you adore, whether they match or not. These 19th-century mirrors were found in Antwerp and give the entryway an eclectic feel.
Flank Artwork With Sconces
Prop A Mirror on the Wall
Perhaps one of the easiest ways of dressing up a blank wall is by propping a mirror up against it. Mirrors have the power to open up a space, and as shown in a guest room of Amanda Seyfried’s Catskills retreat, opting out of hanging it gives the room a relaxed feel. The walls here are painted in.
Hang Antique Plates
Hang an array of antique plates on a blank wall for an unexpected collection for guests to admire. In a corner of a kitchen in a Connecticut country house, the walls are hung with Dutch plates purchased in Sri Lanka and turbans that the designer had made in India as gifts for friends.
Try Minimalist Bookshelves
Install simple, minimalist shelving and display a few of your favorite books and objects to maintain a modern look. This Central Park apartment made use of an empty wall in the dining area by adding shelves that perfectly match the white walls.
Choose A Bright Wall Hanging
A wall hanging brings relaxed, seaside charm to this guest bedroom in a Portuguese home. The beds are topped with crocheted-cotton coverlets from Bulgaria and the tile floor is original to the house.
Statement Wall Sculpture
In a San Francisco home with art gallery sensibilities, a moon-shaped sculpture by Manuel Neri brings pops of color to a blank, white wall.
Celebrate Your Favorite Animal
In the bedroom of a Paris pied-à-terre, animal drawings cover the blank wall and include works by Paul Jouve, Georges Lucien Guyot and André Margat.
Incorporate Large-Scale Mirrors
These large, window-like mirrors will add depth to the living space, while reflecting off of bright, neutral walls for added light.
Set Up An Artsy Bookshelf
Inside a sophisticated New York apartment, a blank wall is given a museum-like quality with a bookshelf filled with reading material and collected treasures. Custom steel-and-oak stairs lead to the mini library.
Hang A Tapestry
This Mexican treehouse has a living room with worldly charm, distinguished most notably by a tapestry created from a traditional Bhutanese man’s robe and hung on the wall.
Split A Photo
A painting of a 1970s plane split into three canvases makes a dramatic statement in retail guru Jeffrey Kalinsky’s minimalist New York apartment. The painting is from Wyeth and the walls are sheathed in Venetian plaster.
Textile Wall Art
Designer Kathryn M. Ireland adds a vintage hanging textile to her massive white living room wall to balance out the vibrant space.
Brick it Down
If you love the look of crisp white walls, consider adding a textural element to your space. This beautiful brick wall is a subtle pop, adding flair to the minimalist space.
Neatly Arrange Frames
This jewel-toned London townhouse turned blank walls into a cohesive gallery of artwork with numerous frames of the same size. The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light and Elephant’s Breath, and the bronze lantern and marble floor are both original to the house.
Make It Reflective
One wall in this lively São Paulo duplex is covered with mirrors that reflect the room’s vibrant pieces. The artwork on the mirrors is by John Grant, the 1940s sofa is upholstered in a Rubelli velvet and the Louis XV-style armchairs are antique.
Cover The Wall With A Collection
Use a blank wall to showcase your collectibles, as in this morning room’s floral china collection by Royal Worcester in a historic English estate.
Hang A Massive Photograph
Two brass-and-alabaster pendants by Humbert & Poyet flank a photograph by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre for added dimension in this Monaco apartment. The artworks at left are by Alex Perweiler.
Add a Vintage Wall Covering
Give your walls a romantic, antique feel with a high-impact wallpaper. This 19th century wall covering in this Milan apartment gives a traditional vintage space a cool wow-factor.
Displaying artwork isn’t your only option for livening up a blank white wall. This stunning home in India showcases a large branch for a natural, earthy aesthetic in the sitting room.
Even if you’re not literally dividing your rooms, a wall divider is a space-saving accent piece that easily covers a boring wall.
Select A Single, Eye-Catching Painting
In a San Francisco home, a single piece of artwork by Joan Mitchell is enough to make a statement on the blank walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Super White.
A built-in bookshelf stocked with framed art is an easy way to simultaneously display your favorite pieces and cover a boring wall. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about eventually covering up nail holes from hanging art.
Create a Curtained Backdrop
Add texture and comfort to your space by hanging a curtain over a dull wall. The draped look creates a cozy space and can easily be moved if you ever get bored.
Select An Experimental Piece Of Art
In William Frawley’s SoHo apartment, the photograph of a rib cage is by an unknown artist and once belonged to a San Francisco museum.
In this rustic game room, a bold black and white painting contrasts the wood-inspired space, serving as a focal point on a neutral-toned wall.
Cover The Wall In An Iconic Wallpaper
Brian Atwood and Nate Berkus brought a splash of Southern California to their former Milan home with a palm-print wallcovering. The solid-brass dining table is from the 1970s.
Combine Different Shapes
Add a round piece of art to elevate your wall with atypical geometrics. As designer Summer Thornton puts it, “You can use plenty of traditional pieces as the core, but always intentionally do something that throws it off just a bit!”
Try Rustic Reclaimed Wood
A wall in the living area of Hilary Swank’s Manhattan home is clad with planks of reclaimed barn wood; the photograph is by Jackie Nickerson, and the painting is by Carlos Vega.
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