Decorate With Color – Bright White

It’s mid-summer, and in many parts of the world this means it is hot. You’re probably longing for something simple and cool, something to soothe your summertime blues, or at least to make you feel a little less sticky.

What’s better for this than white?

Rather than being a color, technically speaking, white is of course the absence of color, which is what makes it so cool. Instead of absorbing light rays, the way everything from yellow to purple does to varying degrees, white reflects light back, so that anything white doesn’t absorb the light, and therefore doesn’t absorb the heat, either.

This works not only in your clothing (which is why there remains the tradition of wearing white pants, shoes and jackets only from Memorial Day to Labor Day) but it also works in your home.

If you’re feeling dopey with heat, and yet you have the energy for a big home project, you may want to give one of your rooms a vacation from color, and try painting the walls bright white.

You can see in this first photo how striking a white-on-white room can be. Here, we see the white furniture placed against a white background, creating a clean canvas to which just a bit of color can be added. The look of this room can be changed just by adding throw pillows and an area rug; the color and style you choose for the accessories will then dictate the look of the whole room.

Imagine how this room would look, for example, with brocade throw pillows in a pastel floral pattern and a pink and white hooked rug. Then, imagine how it would look with square, bright orange pillows and a rug in a modern, geometrical orange and yellow print. You can see how the addition of accessories to an all-white room will give you a completely different look, offering you more control and versatility than if you’re committed to a color scheme dictated by the color of the walls and furniture.

An all-white room, of course, requires a great deal of care, so if you have kids, or pets, or even if you just lead a more casual lifestyle, you may want to opt instead for just painting the walls white and maybe having a white floor in a washable material.

In the photo on the right you can see how the green fabric of this chair stands out in the white room, giving a refreshing, springtime feeling to the room. And yet the chair’s slipcover is removable and washable, and any pet hair or spills won’t jump out as much as they would on a white slipcover. The same is true with this striped chair in the photo on the right.

The mattress-ticking stripe gives an old-fashioned feeling, which, when paired with the white walls and modern design of the chair, creates a look that’s both old and new at once.

Tip: Even if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of re-painting the living room, you can still bring in white’s cooling influence with just a few changes in your accessories. Try filling a tall glass vase with white stones, or swap your maroon or navy lampshades for simple white ones.

However you decide to bring white into your home, it’s sure to offer a cooling breeze on a hot summer’s day, and that and a tall glass of lemonade will get you to September in no time.

Decorate With Color – Black and White

We’ve chosen to look at a combination of colors – a combination that’s so popular, it’s seen everywhere from the kitchens of the humblest cottages to the entryways of the grandest homes.

Black and white is so popular, and has remained popular over the years, in part because it’s almost a neutral; you can use it as a backdrop for many different looks. Just as cream or off-white walls can look good with various styles, fabrics, and colors, so too does black and white. It lends itself to a variety of looks, and therefore it’s a good investment.

Not that you necessarily have to invest a fortune to get it right; you do find it in marble or ceramic tile, but you can, with a bit of preparation, paint a wood floor in the classic checkerboard pattern, or you can work with black and white with fabrics and other materials.

The classic use for black and white, of course, is in tiles, most often in a checkerboard pattern. It’s still found in the bathrooms of the great old Art Deco apartments in Paris and New York, with small ceramic floor tiles, usually no bigger than a half inch square with black or white trim.

Black and white is also seen in foyers of grand old homes around the world, which often utilize large tiles, sometimes made of ceramic, but more often marble or stone.

But just because that’s where you’re most likely to find black and white doesn’t mean you’re limited to using it in these rooms. Black-and-white tiling for a kitchen floor will give the room an old-fashioned, yet clean look, which can be repeated in tiling on the counter and backsplash.

Tip: In a living room or bedroom, you can work with black and white in fabrics, as well as with flooring. How about a white carpet, and a settee upholstered in black and white toile? Or for a modern, dramatic look, try using black-and-white striped drapes and matching wall paper, with white trim.

One thing to consider when planning for black and white is whether you want a true white or a cream. The brighter white will make the room a bit brighter, of course, and will be best for setting off bright colors in combination with the black and white motif. You can see here how the bright red chair pops right out against the black and bright white tiles.

However, if you’ll be using more subtle tones, such as peach, pale blue, or sage green, a cream or off-white for your “white” will provide a more soothing, elegant look to the room.

Whatever shade of white you use, black and white can give you lots of room to play, as anything else in the room – anything with a color – will really stand out. It’s the perfect way to show off a red chair, or a bright green rug, or a favorite brightly-colored vase, while giving the room a polished, pulled-together look.