Design Line

Advice & Expert Information from Local Design Pros

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 / 1:19 PM

Taking the Basic White Box to WOW

Taking the Basic White Box to WOW

Most of us love, or at least appreciate, architectural moldings and finishing touches in our homes. However, not everyone's home is "born" with these elements. I am often asked how to decorate a room that looks like a white box. Bare walls, no molding, basically a square. While seemingly uninspired to some, for designers this is a wonderful challenge. We get to create!  

Here are my ideas to help differentiate your space from every other "white box" on your block!

• First, you could experiment with adding simple elements such as a picture ledge.
These can be installed at various heights depending on it's desired function. In this instance, we did the shelf along one wall above the headboard and the pictures and objects are within reach to change out regularly.

• In the second photo, the ledge was installed higher up on all 4 walls as a purely decorative element. This is great in a contemporary home that doesn't have crown molding.  Make sure you allow enough space for a mirror or TV to hang on the wall.

– Another idea is to add really special elements that don't make you miss the architectural details. These uniquely beautiful pendants make a statement all on their own.

• Just because you don't live in a loft doesn't mean you can't achieve the look. This home is in the middle of a brand new development outside of San Jose.  No lofts for thousands of miles. The brick wall adds a much needed urban element to the space.

• A basement is really an extension of your home and offers much needed entertaining space. Boring white walls and extra high window sills left this vast lower level feeling lifeless even after the furnishings arrived.  My solution was to add beadboard paneling up to the windows on two major walls. We painted it a rich caramel color which tied into the color scheme and immediately warmed the whole room.  Topped off with a picture ledge full of personal accessories and this room has been transformed into an inviting family space.


• Another area to consider is the coffered ceiling. More often than not, the builder stops with just the soffits that step up. Adding in crown mulding and even painting an accent color will make such a finished statement to the room.

Some of these projects you could tackle in a weekend, others require a professional. With the right amount of imagination, you too can be proud of your home's unique appeal!

Read more of Kimberly's work at


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