White Hot Rooms: How to Decorate with White
White rooms are everywhere. From museums, to our own homes, to drool-worthy beach homes; white is white hot.
For some, a white room might leave you cold. For many others white creates a classic, comfortable and relaxing space. How do you avoid bland and boring? Stark and uncomfortable? It's all about texture, tone and textiles.
Here are some tips for decorating with white:
- Warm whites and soft lights relax the room and lend a sense of comfort. Perfect for a bedroom.
- Cool whites brighten the room and make a streamlined room even more modern. Living rooms and kitchens can pull off bright, cool whites well.
- Don't confuse beige with white on your walls. Be bright with your white.
- Warm up even the whitest of rooms with wood. Floors, tables or headboards of any tone can warm and bring texture to a white room.
- Plain white is boring. Bring on the texture and pattern. White herringbone tiles in a kitchen, tone-on-tone chevron pillows in a living room, textured bedspreads and natural fibre rugs. Museums choose a white background because it makes focal objects stand out. Create your own museum wall with black and white art, or even white art that is textured. White walls will create focus on your most beloved pieces for instant impact.
- If you want a modern white room, try black and grey as accent colours. For a more beachy look, add some outdoor-inspired turquoises, corals or yellows.
- If you want a more classic look, try adding mouldings (if you don’t already have them) and painting them white too. It adds texture to what could be a Plain Jane wall.
- Mix and match finishes in an all white room. If your floors are wood, try a lacquer end table in a living room, Or if your floors are white tile, pair it with a rustic wooden hutch or cabinet.
Where to Start
- For an entire white room pick your big pieces first. Do you have a white sofa? Will you slip cover something? Side chairs; will they match the sofa or be of a different material? Then pick a paint that will complement the white. Make it slightly different, but still in the same colour family. Some well-loved whites include Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White, Farrow & Ball’s Pointing, or Para Paint’s Crysler Hall White.
- Select a floor covering that brings in texture and tone. Perhaps a sisal rug with a white band, or a nubby wool off-white carpet that’s comfortable and durable.
- Window coverings should flow with the wall colour, but you can happily add embellishments like a coloured trim or a band of fabric on the top, sides or bottom. Depending on the mood of the room you could use modern black, sparkling silver or simple white rods and hooks.
- Accessorize carefully. Some whites don’t work together and can look yellow when placed in a white room, so try before you buy! Keep your paint chips and fabric samples handy.
Unsure if white will work for you?
- White walls and window treatments let you take the room anywhere you want to go. Use a punch of colour in swappable accessories and artwork, rather than committing to a colour on your wall. (Might be great for a child’s room who changes his or her mind on a favourite colour every year.)
- Slipcovers can give you a temporary (or permanent) white look on currently dark furniture.
- Durability and wipeability is key. If you have a young or just a messy family, avoid linen or silk, but vinyl on a banquette or heavy bleachable cotton on a sofa or chair could work.
- If you think white won’t be enough punch for you, try painting your ceiling. I’ve seen some spectacular coral and blue ceilings that will warm and cool your room respectively, and create some beautiful contrast. Then rely on your accessories to add texture and tone.