10+ Ways To Give Neutral Walls Some Style

Yesterday I shared my plans for my breakfast room walls.  In my search for the one perfect (to me) idea for that room, I came across so many amazing ways to add interest to neutral walls.  I’ll be using some of these in other areas of the house, like the hallway, music room, and eventually the family room.  I haven’t decided exactly which ones I want to use, or how I want to use them, but all of these prove that neutral walls don’t have to be boring!

I love just about anything with nailhead trim on it, so this entryway really caught my eye.  The trim (looks like twill tape) and nailheads really add some amazing style to this small wall, which could have looked pretty unremarkable without that added detail.

beautiful neutral walls - twill tape and nailheads to create design, via Lucy and Company Blogvia Lucy and Company

A great alternative to wallpaper is a fabric, like burlap.  This wall was covered in burlap, and then the edges were covered with twill tape and nailheads.  I think this looks amazing used on the upper part of the wall with wainscoting on the bottom portion.  The neutrals keep everything light and bright, but the different textures give it a designer touch.

beautiful neutral walls - burlap covered walls with nailhead trim border, via Kara's Kottagevia Kara’s Kottage

Or you can skip the wainscoting altogether, and use the twill tape and nailheads to outline your walls and doors.  You can use this idea in combination with grasscloth, burlap, or even just plain painted walls.

beautiful neutral walls - border with twill tape and nailheads, via Womack Interiorsvia Womack Interiors

Or if you’re like me and you really, really love nailheads, you can use them to create a design on the main areas of your walls.  This is actually Phillip Jeffries Rivets wallpaper, but a similar design (or any other design your imagination can come up with) can be created with nailheads.

beautiful neutral walls - Phillip Jeffries Rivets wallpaper, via HGTVvia HGTV

Of course, if you don’t quite love nailheads as much as I do, there are plenty of ideas sans nailheads to spruce up your neutral walls.

White wainscoting with a soft neutral color on the top portion of the wall is always a great choice.

beautiful neutral walls - white wainscotingw with painted walls, by Kathy Daukant Interior Design, via HouzzTraditional Bathroom by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators kathy daukant interior design

Or you can take the wainscoting right up to the ceiling, like this board and batten treatment that covers the entire wall.  There are countless ways to add trim to your walls to add architectural detail, while keeping your walls neutral and bright.

beautiful neutral walls - whole wall board and batten, via Life On Virginia Streetvia Life On Virginia Street

Stencils are another great way to add interest to a neutral wall.  You can use white along with another soft neutral to create an allover design that adds interest to the room without demanding too much attention.

beautiful neutral walls - tone on tone allover stencil design, via Design Indulgencevia Design Indulgence

A large gingham design in neutral colors can also add an unexpected design element to a room without being too overpowering.

beautiful neutral walls - gingham wall paint treatment, via Southern Hospitalityvia Southern Hospitality

And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without my all-time favorite — stripes.  I love stripes any way they come, whether vertical…

beautiful neutral walls - vertical striped wall, by Muse Interiors, via HouzzBeach Style Hall by New York Interior Designers & Decorators MuseInteriors

…or horizontal…

beautiful neutral walls - horizontal striped wall, by CDA Interior Design, via HouzzTraditional Bedroom by Dallas Interior Designers & Decorators CDA Interior Design

And of course, any of these ideas can be mixed and matched for a virtual endless list of options — horizontal stripes above white wainscoting, burlap with a nailhead design above wainscoting, full wall board and batten with nailheads outlining the squares.  The possibilities have my mind on overdrive lately!  :)

So I’m on a mission — neutral walls in the main “public” areas of my house, but no boring neutral walls.  I’m in the process of working on the music room walls.  Hopefully my idea works out like it looks in my head.  I hope to share it with you soon!

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  1. kristin says

    I loved your sample grasscloth from a few posts back. Will you be trying out more sample ideas in other rooms as you narrow in on your final choices? It really changed the feel of the room even if it wasn’t a ‘love it forever’ change. It might even help you feel more creative as you tackle the tough projects that take more time. I really enjoy your posts and congratulations on your ‘healthier you’ journey. :)

    • says

      I’ll definitely be trying out more wall treatments in other rooms. In fact, I’m working on one now in the music room. The grasscloth painted wall was just for me to try it out. I never meant for it to be a permanent fixture in the music room. :) I’m doing stripes…with a twist.

  2. Margaret Martens says

    Love the wainscoting, the stripes, and the neutral stencils. They would all be gorgeous. Guess I can’t picture nail heads on walls, but I do love them on furniture. Would you consider using one of the stencils from your idea of black on black in your breakfast room? And you could totally dress up the wainscoting. Probably while you were sleeping. :-) I love seeing how you add little bits of trim and it goes from really nice to OMG gorgeous.

  3. Beverly says

    While I admire your penchant for bold color, I am a “neutrals” girl. Love these ideas! They really make a room special.

    • Camille says

      That is true! Something about fabric walls in a room for eating and next to all the cooking grosses me out – which is unreasonable. I like the walls to be wipeable. The play on gingham is so fun for a breakfast room, while being really sophisticated in neutral. Wainscoting would look great too.

  4. Sue says

    That is a load of great ideas you’ve put out there. Burlap? That was one I never would’ve thought of but it sure looked amazing. Can’t wait to see your finished breakfast room and condo. Lots to look forward to in 2015.

  5. Debra says

    Check out this Nate Berkus fabric called Indre Lynwood in dove grey. It’s a neutral mild cheetah-ish print. My friend is using it on her dining chairs with a beautiful deep coral on the master chairs. The coral has a woven geometric pattern. I could see the Berkus pattern painted on a wall.

    • says

      No, it’s not totally out of the question. Although, I’m not sure where else I could put it since my hallway doors leading to the bedrooms will all be black,so it might be strange to also have one of those rooms black. And my bedroom will be navy blue, so that only leaves two more rooms. Unless I do black in the hallway bathroom. Hmmm…

  6. kim says

    Wellllll…. I may be the lone voice here, but I’m sad there will be no black walls. I think you totally have the talent to pull it off, with other things in the light & neutral category to balance it.

    I think when most people hear “black walls” they think depressing,teenager-angst version. I don’t. I think of the interior decorator version.

    I guess it really might hinge on what furnishings you have in mind for the breakfast room and whether they+black would suck the life out, or could actually let the black be a back drop and the furnishings be what one would notice first.

    BUT… it’s your house, and mom, and husband….so I totally get it! But still sorry to see them go, I was looking forward to the dramatic outcome.

  7. kristin says

    Side note, these curtains seem similar to your patterns from several posts back.  http://houzz.com/sr/m=7/u=L3Bob3Rvcy8zNTA4MTUy

  8. Ellen says

    The burlap looks like a very fine texture. What I have seen at the fabric store is a rougher texture. I like the finer look for a little more sophisticated look. Any idea if it might be called something other than burlap in a search?

    • says

      I’ve wondered that same thing! All I’ve seen is the very large weave burlap, but I keep seeing projects with “burlap” that looks more like a heavy linen. Perhaps search “fine weave burlap”?

  9. julie says

    Yay! Although I can see dark walls in certain rooms, I feel a “breakfast” room just calls out for light, bright and sunny! Have you considered putting fabric on the walls in a neutral print? (like your zebra?) I remember Miss Mustard Seed did this in her bedroom w/fabric and starch. Once it dries it’s ON…but if you change your mind you pull it down and wash wall — presto change-o! Can’t wait to see what you do Ms. Inspiration!! :D

  10. Jane says

    Oh my, a lot of choices! This would be great fun! I love them all and I’m sure your walls will be amazing! I can’t wait to see the music room!

  11. Gloria S. says

    Kristi, I feel the neutral colors will be having your brighter colors bouncing around the room with no place to land. I also think the walls with the zebra stripes resembles the former kitchen floor stripes. Just my opinion, but I’ll wait and see what you do first! Always anxious till the end!

    • says

      Well if the zebra stripes don’t resemble the former kitchen floor, then the stripes I’m putting in the music room sure will. ;-) I loved my striped kitchen floor. I just didn’t like it right next to the green cabinets, especially after I added the gold leafing. But I love stripes. It wouldn’t feel like “home” to me if I didn’t have stripes somewhere.

  12. Bobbi Jo Thompson says

    Kristi, you mentioned yesterday that you were going to stencil your walls for the breakfast room. Do you have a go to website you check for stencils?

  13. says

    You have made my day with this post. I have been wanting to do something with a few neutral walls in my home. This is just the inspiration I need.

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