The puzzle of how to decorate with white and still make a home that works for all the family is an eternal decorating dilemma. White is enlivening, inspiring and works in almost every space. It can turn living room colour schemes into timeless backdrops for cocktail hour, and beats all colour schemes for the bedroom for making a pure, slumber-friendly haven. But used without skill, it can result in cold, joyless spaces that feel flat and unfriendly. So how do you get all white right?
1. It’s All About Texture
White on white is usually saved by the introduction of texture: A white rug (machine washable if you can), or white fabric in accents, such as white curtains that are heavily lined or with a band of hessian. White blinds that have different textures through them, the subtle weft and weave of white linen, or fluffy cushions in a chunky wool knit – these are your silent weapons that reduce the sense of hard edges and absorb noise to soften your space. The best place to start with your room is by looking down; white flooring can be a stunning addition but only if you know how to handle them. White wood flooring will bring in the texture of the grain and painted wood floors can become appealingly distressed.
But, blonde wood floors can give a similar affect of space and light, with the strain of trying to maintain ‘perfect’ white wood flooring. Painted concrete (or raw sealed with a resin) can give some industrial edge and cope with a lot of hard maintenance (on a kitchen floor for example).
2. The Right White
People often try to answer the classic ‘How to make rooms look bigger?’, another oft-spoken design query, with white. However, all white rooms can look like they are ‘floating’ so adding in different shades of white can eliminate this sense (as can an ‘anchor’ colour, such as a dark wooden floor). Using different shades of whites is easy if you stick to one rule: only choose something with the same ‘temperature’. A good example is white paint, which tends to have either a blue or a yellow base; try putting two sample cards together to see how tones differ. A ‘vintage white’ usually has a yellower base and gives a softer, homelier feel. ‘Brilliant white’ is more blue and colder in feeling making it more suitable for offices or work spaces; in a home, it can feel chilly rather than fresh.
White kitchen cabinets or bathroom sanitary ware often have a cooler tone so you need to match your paint carefully. A shade or two of a similar white hue is usually a better answer to warming things up, as is painting a washable matte texture to contrast with a high shine finish.
3. Find Fabric & Finishes to Flatter
White fabric such as white bed linen plays a very important part in decorating with an all-white scheme. These schemes work best when they are used to allow the aspects of individual objects to sing. For white bedroom ideas, start with good bedding. A high thread count of linen or cotton (say 400 percales or above) is incredibly soft and soothing to the skin. Changing the types and shapes of fabric creates quiet interest, such as layering blankets, giving the eye something to rest on and the body to recline in to. For living room ideas consider a sheepskin rug (or a faux fur rug if you have messy toddlers or pets) and a white sofa with oversize covers that drape sensually, or a gauzy, shimmering blind to cover your patio doors.
4. Control the Light
Another way to add interest to your scheme is by framing the scene through your windows. If you have a bucolic view of trees and large windows, a window covering such as Vertical Blinds that can retract fully is a huge win, and creates a calming seasonal counterpoint. However, when decorating with white, even if your white bedroom furniture and crisp white sheets are your pride and joy, you’ll need to control the light to stop it ruining the effect. Window coverings can move beyond white curtains and create a focal point of pattern and play, such as the new Twist®Roller Shades range that combines privacy and light control with a graphic design.
Roller black out blinds can still be white if you want the simplest style option combined with a deep sleep or better still, control the light as it changes through the day with a sheer such as Facette® Shades so the light becomes filtered and soft; hard light in a white room can leave visitors wanting to run for cover and can undo all your good work trying to make a calming retreat. Just follow our simple rules and your white home design will be spotless.
Like our tips for decorating with white and looking for more colour inspiration? Check out our recommendations for decorating with blue.