Anyone who thinks that white doesn’t “count” as a color hasn’t spent much time exploring the possibilities of using white on white decor. And anyone who thinks there is only one shade of white hasn’t been in a paint store lately, where you can find hundreds – literally, hundreds – of shades.
So what tips can we give you about white on white décor?
First, recognize that whites come in a wide range of shades and tones. There is a bright, flat white that you find often on walls, and a bright, glossy white that is often used for trim to contrast against a bright or dark wall color.
There are eggshells and creams and off-whites.
The best way to get a handle on white on white décor is by simply going to the paint store and getting a fistful of white paint swatches. Bring these home and tape them to the wall, and you’ll see how wide the range of whites there really is. Try looking at the swatches under different lights, from a bright overhead light to natural window light, to a faint light coming in the window at light. You’ll see not only how many different whites there are, but also how they change depending on the light.
Here, let’s look first at this all-white bedroom. This is an example of using one shade of bright white. Note how flat everything appears here; you can barely make out the line between the wall and the ceiling. The only color in this room is the doorknob and the edge of the dresser, and the room looks anything but inviting.
What could we do with a room like this? Even without painting the walls, an off-white spread on the bed would help, and then piling on pillows in various whites would also change the whole look.
The trick with using a lot of white on white décor in a room is to make sure you have a variety of tones, shades, and textures. A room with a a woven white rag rug, white ceramic lamps with handmade paper shades and slipper chair in brocade eggshell with a throw pillow in raw silk cream gives a room enough variety so that it looks elegant, not stark.
Take a look at this living room, which is done mostly in whites. The draperies have plenty of heft to them, creating folds which add interest. They contrast nicely with the smooth white rug, and the detailing on the mantel adds interest as well. The tones of this white on white decor blend nicely together, and yet they are slightly different from one another.
Having an all-white room also allows you to really make a statement with the color you do have in the room. Here, the potted tree and the piano are real eye-catchers. Any time you want to draw attention to something with color, such as a work of art or a special chair, just create an all-white room around it, and it will really stand out.
Of course, white living rooms must be reserved for people who can take meticulous care of keeping everything clean. Even with advances in stain-resistant fabrics and cleaning solutions, white furnishings will indeed show the strain of living with children and pets.