Over the years of helping clients decorate their homes and design their spaces, I have encountered a recurring theme of the utter fear to use white in their home, and then once they get passed that, there follows the disbelief in my talent when I mention the idea of mixing whites. GASP! But finally, thanks to some serious interior pioneers, the idea of white and mixing whites has become accepted and dare I say a timeless trend.
The most common response or comment about decorating with white are:
- “White?! It’s so boring.”
- “White?! It’s so hard to keep clean.”
- “White?! It’s so harsh.”
- “White is White? What’s the difference?”
Stop! White is ELEGANT, it’s CLEAN, and it’s EASY, and even easier when you can push away the notion of having to be matchy-matchy. When decorating with white, consider looking passed the color of this page; there is a never-ending amount of whites out there with undertones from every color. White can be cool, warm, bright, or muted; the possibility of decorating with white are limitless. White provides a balance between stylish elegance and simplistic comfort.
So how do you execute this without meeting the critics comments?
Start with the paint. White paint is not just white paint; paint provides the largest variety in whites, which makes it the easiest place to start. Every color tone you can think of, has a white. To emphasize this, grab a white paint swatch with a yellow undertone, put it up against a darker warm color and see what tone the white pulls out. It will most likely look grossly the same as the wall tone. Now grab a paint swatch with a blue undertone and compare that to the same dark warm color; see the difference? Picking a white paint that is right for space can seem like a daunting task, but by holding samples up to the permanent aspects of your room (ie: floor, cupboards, specific furniture, etc.) will help to determine what tone of white is right for you.
Next up, the soft things! Rugs, cushions, seating, window coverings, and textiles. How to pair these white things with a white wall? Just do it. If you have selected a warm white tone and you really love that silvery white linen sofa, just add other elements throughout the room to mirror or mimic the cool and warm tones. This will ensure that there isn’t a color or tone that is out of place; by adding elements that share similar textures, tones or features, it makes the items appear purposeful rather than an awkward addition.
Keeping it clean. I love white, but I am convinced that stains are actually magnetized to white! Whether I am wearing it or decorating with it, I can nearly guarantee that it is going to get stained; this is a common concern and deterrence for most people when considering white in their home. But there are solutions! Personally, I have purchased a stain warranty for my high-ticket items that are commonly used and likely to be stained. A lot of these warranties include stains, burns, rips and tears, which gives me more peace of mind. For those other items that don’t come with a warranty, I tend to rely on my good old friends Oxy Clean, Resolve, and the trusty vinegar and baking soda trick. Depending on the material or textile, will depend on what type of treatment is best suited for that product; check out the little washing code on the tag to ensure you aren’t ruining your favorite cushion or throw.
Check out our Polyvore for details on these items.
So we have covered the non-committal items; paint, accessories, décor, and textiles. But my personal favorite place to use white-on-white is on more permanent household features. White subway tile backsplash, paired with a variant white stone countertop, and a bright airy paint creates the perfect kitchen palette; adding chrome features and a pop of color that can be changed seasonally will give the space fresh look whenever you are looking for something different. White cabinetry is nothing new, but now there are a plethora of options; rather than the traditional white country cabinets or the flat-pack cheapies, there are endless colors, finishes, and details that are great options.
Remember, white is timeless and easy! Just choose where to start and build off that; it will come together with ease once you build your heavenly palette.