How Do I Decorate With White?

There are three types of whites: warm whites have yellow undertones; cool whites have blue undertones; pure whites have no undertone. Here are three ways to use white in a living room.

All White

A white-on-white scheme has a soft, pretty look, which can also be used in a modern room. To create a pleasing visual tension, paint walls, trim and wooden furniture in a variety of whites. Using all warm whites will keep the room from looking cold and sterile; DO NOT use only cool whites. Finish the floor in a glossy white paint to imbue a farmhouse-rustic effect. Don’t forget to use a variety of textures, and include ultra pale colors, which can easily be considered part of the white family.

Accent your space with a mirror or pictures in silver frames; a ceramic or glass-based lamp with a pleated shade or a collection of cream ware or milk glass make for great décor pieces as well.

White With Color And Pattern

Using more than a few accents can turn a “white” room into a “blue and white room” – a different style altogether. For this scheme, paint walls a pure white, and introduce warmth with white accessories and a pale, natural wood floor.

Inject just one strong accent color to liven up the look; cool colors, like cobalt, aqua blue and grass green work best as they keep the white looking fresh. Incorporate patterned pillows in the accent color. Top the side table with colored glassware in a variety of shapes for punch or cool lighting pieces for dimension.

White With Naturals

Pairing whites with warm natural materials, like wood and raffia, creates a clean-lined, modern aesthetic. Texture is key to the look. Walls can be painted either a pure white or a warm white that’s not too creamy.

Finish floors in a sophisticated light or stain to ground the space. Top the sofa with pillows in materials like woven raffia or cork, and linens, cottons or chunky wool knits in different shades of white. Introduce wood pieces with chocolate-brown, dark walnut or wenge stains. Also, accessorize with contemporary pieces to tie everything together.

Gaelle Le Boulicaut House & Home August 2014
Barbara Bendix Becker and Jacob Holm
House & Home Decorating 101