The Blank Wall Problem

The Blank Wall Problem

One of the questions I get asked most as an interior decorator is “What do I do with all these blank walls in my house?”

Blank walls can be daunting.  I know many people who have lived in their house for years and still have nothing hanging on their walls.  First of all, let me just say, there is nothing wrong with a few blank walls. Some people feel they need to hang something in every nook and cranny throughout their house. Please don’t give-in to this pressure, people.  It is important for your eye to rest, and have a little bit of “white space” if you will.

However, when all of your walls are blank, your house can look really boring or like no one lives there.  The hardest part in my opinion, is just getting started.  Here are a few ideas of what you can do in each room of your house to make those blank walls look a little more interesting.

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  1. Entryway

    Let’s start with the first area you see when you walk in your home. The entryway. This is your chance to give your guests a quick glance into who you are and what the feel of the rest of your house will be.  It is also an area that needs quite a bit of function. This is not a space to leave empty and blah.

Entryway Wall Space
Ballard Designs

There are a few staples that I believe belong in any entryway.

  • A console or storage unit to put things on as soon as you walk in the door, like mail, keys, or your purse.
  • A mirror above the console table to give yourself one last check before you enter the real world with Cherrios stuck in your hair.  I love this one from Anthropologie which resembles the mirror in the picture above.
  • A lamp or wall sconce that you can leave on while you’re out so your house doesn’t look creepy and haunted when you come back home late at night.
  • Wall hooks, either large or small for keys or jackets.

Below is one side of the entry way into my house. Our wall hooks and doormat for muddy shoes are both from Urban Outfitters but unfortunately were bought years ago and aren’t available anymore.

Entry Way
Photo by Serena Garofolo

Here’s another example of some entryway staples from Highland Custom Homes. 

Entryway details

 2.  Living Room

This is a room where you can really have fun with your wall decor.  You can add a fun gallery wall, a large piece of artwork, architectural elements, and shelving to take up space and add function. Here is a great example of styled floating shelves. Notice the different frame sizes, the layering of pieces, and the mix of decorative objects and plants. All the elements on these shelves stick to the same color pallet as well, making it feel really cohesive and intentional, while not being overwhelming.

Floating Wall Shelving
Brittany Robertson

Here’s a few more examples of using gallery walls or large art pieces. Notice below how the large painting on the right of the windows is balanced by the two smaller frames on the left.  Buying two smaller frames rather than getting an equally large piece to match the right side will also save you money.

Living room artwork
Studio McGee

A little side note on gallery walls: While some gallery walls work perfectly with symmetrical frames or uniform design, it’s fun to add in 3-dimensional pieces as well, like animal heads (this one for a kid’s room), shelves, or architectural pieces.

Nursery Gallery Wall

This gallery wall in my daughter’s room, while not completely symmetrical, feels that way because of the neat rectangle it creates on the wall.  This was also extremely inexpensive to create. The frames are all from Michaels and I made all of the art by hand. To make this project even more simple, use command strips to hang the frames. No nails or hammering, and if you want to take down the gallery wall in a few years, no holes in your wall to patch up!


Another tip for blank walls, remember to think about size and scale. Please forgive these iPhone pictures below but this was a project I worked on last year that we never had professionally photographed. This was a two-story living room with more drywall than the eye could see. It was overwhelming.

A gallery wall or wallpapered accent wall would not have worked here. It would have been too busy and cluttered-looking. Instead, we chose a large print from Anthropologie as a focal point and to save money, we framed two panels of grasscloth wallpaper to create some balance and pull the pale blue out of the painting.  These clients did not want built-ins, shelving, or any paneling which made things harder, but without spending a ton of money, we were really able to help out with the overwhelming amount of blank space on this wall.  Because of the size of this wall, scale was a huge factor here. The larger your wall space, the larger your items should be on the wall. Anything too small will get lost and not feel cohesive.

3. Dining Room

The dining room can be a great place for some family photos, should you choose to hang some in your house. Mirrors also work great in dining rooms, making the space feel larger. I love the idea of a sideboard or buffet with a gallery wall or large artwork above it and matching wall sconces like these on either side. Similar to what is shown below.

Home Decorators Collection  //  Buk & Nola

4. Bedroom

I prefer to keep bedroom walls more simple and serene. No gallery walls here, please, unless it is symmetrical and the frames have lots of white space in them. Nothing busy that will cause late-night A.D.D.  A few well-placed pieces that contribute to an attitude of calm will do.  This large piece from a bedroom I recently re-decorated in California was from IKEA and my head is still spinning from how inexpensive it was. That with the tall house plant took up so much of that daunting blank wall space without adding any furniture or breaking the client’s bank account.

California Bedroom Remodel

Below is another example of a single piece with lots of white space so your eye is not overwhelmed in a room meant for sleeping and relaxation.

Bedroom Wall Decor
The Home I Create

Like I mentioned in this post, leaning mirrors are also perfect for bedrooms. They take up wall space, AND add function without putting holes in your wall. This one from World Market is beautiful with a rustic and industrial feel.

Large Walnut Brown Wood Leaner Mirror with Live Edge by World Market

Where do you struggle the most with hanging things in your house?  Hopefully this post gave you some good ideas of ways to be creative and express yourself in each room of your home.  If your problem is not in HOW to hang, but WHAT to hang, buy yourself some inexpensive frames at Michaels and create a gallery wall of black and white family photos.  Or visit your local Hobby LobbyHome Goods, World Market, or a flea market for some fun artwork, signs, and architectural pieces to hang. Good luck and if you feel proud of your walls, send me a picture of the completed project! Get hanging!

Small Space Living!

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6 thoughts on “The Blank Wall Problem

  1. What if you just don’t know what to put on your walls, I live in an apartment and my roommate runs the decor of the whole thing, go to my room and I have nothing up im 41 (male) and stuff im into is childish and roommate says I need to be more adult. So my walls are bare because I have no clue.

    1. I think even if your tastes are more childish (maybe comic book/super hero decor), you can still make it look grown up with cool framing, a moody wall color, and keeping away from clutter. Choose some of your favorite pieces or find some retro versions (see Etsy) and create your own statement in your bedroom with things you love! Good luck!

  2. Can you show what you did on the huge wall with TV?? That’s what I’m dealing with and I’d love to see what you did

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