Open any home décor or design mag and you’ll be blinded by the white. Get the most from the trend that has us all lightening up with these five tips from the pros. As an added bonus: with white as your foundation, you can perform an easy and inexpensive makeover every season by switching up pillows and other accessories.
1. Make white your foundation, not your focus.
White makes a versatile base but you should never feel like you just stepped into an operating theatre. Let white be your neutral backdrop and choose another focal point to anchor the room and create your ‘wow.’ Give white walls, ceilings, upholstery, and bedding visual interest and warmth with pillows, rugs, light fixtures and art. Depending on the feeling you want to create, you can repeat the colour a number of times in the room or simply make one big statement with a single pop of colour—such as a set of bright red stools in an otherwise white kitchen. Once you remove the visual distraction of a multi-coloured room you may discover a new focal point you never expected, such as the view from a window or an architectural feature in the room, that you can play up.
2. Pair white with natural fibres, wood and metal.
Let nature be your guide—white blends beautifully with natural materials and colours from the landscape around us. It’s also stunning combined with reflective metals—think of the impact of stainless steel appliances in a white kitchen. Create rhythm in your white space by repeating the same natural colour family throughout the room—a gold gilt mirror, wicker chair, wicker baskets and sisal rug, for example. Another advantage of pairing white with naturals is it gives the room a calm, grounded feeling.
3. Play with texture.
A room that’s predominantly white will need something else to create interest, and texture is a design-forward choice. Shiny mirrors, natural fibre baskets, shag rugs and even flock wallpaper (yes, this English decorating style of the 18th century aristocracy can have its place in a hip 21st century home) are all excellent sources of texture. By using texture, you can keep the room from feeling boring while maintaining the sereneness of an almost all-white palette. Another take on texture is to use subtle pattern in your room’s fabrics to add much-needed dimension without distraction.
4. Mix little and big.
When you aren’t relying on colour to jazz up your space, you’ve got to create contrast and drama in other ways. One sure-fire strategy is to play with scale, mixing delicate chairs with a chunky coffee table or featuring an oversized piece of art on one wall. The feeling of “big” can be created by using a single piece with visual weight or grouping smaller pieces together.
5. Embrace the variety in white.
White isn’t one colour—it’s a myriad of shades from dreamy cream to kitten grey. Every white has an undertone, whether that’s yellow, green, blue, pink, violet or grey. By pairing different shades of white, your spaces will feel inviting, fresh and interesting, not sterile and cold.
One clear advantage of an all-neutral room is its longevity. White may be the colour of now, but it won’t go out of style quickly, meaning you can afford to update your accessories rather than visiting the paint or furniture store when next year’s ‘it’ colour hits the magazine stands.