Decorating with white
Simple, clean, elegant and timeless – white can make a lot of sense as a decorative choice. But anyone who’s thought about decorating with white as a base has fretted over problems such as the tendency of white to give off a sterile vibe. But as with most interior design approaches, getting a white palette to work for you is all about balance – and personal taste.
A blank canvas for your ideas
Opting for white as the main hue for your home can be like working with a blank canvas. It’s the perfect backdrop for you to fill in with splashes of colour or bold decorative ideas. The possibilities are endless.
Against such a neutral base tone, ornate furniture, textured cushions and vivid window coverings become eye-catching features.
You can even go a step further than white walls and surfaces and furnish your home predominantly with white, letting easily swapped items such as throws, cushions and rugs do the colour ‘work’.
This allows you to change the look of your home to suit new trends, the changing seasons, or simply your current style and preferences.
The trick with a primarily white colour scheme is to ensure that the white creates space for other types of decoration – rather than feeling empty or sterile.
Cool and calming is the aim
Balancing white’s ability to calm and soothe with its potential to give off a stark vibe is an important goal for any home decorator.
Because white is associated with cleanliness, it’s been historically used in medical settings, and is beloved by minimalist designers.
As a result, it can have connotations of sterility and harshness. However, bear in mind that white is not just one shade, but a series of shades that can range from cool to warm tones.
Choosing warmer shades of white is one way to avoid a sterile feeling in your home, as is offsetting white surfaces with floor and window coverings in softer, warmer colours.
Opting for furnishings with tactile textures can also soften the overall look of your décor.
White decor to suit all types of homes
Too often white is conceived of in a very narrow way – bright, high gloss and hard – which limits its appeal and versatility in home décor.
In fact, different types of white surfaces and finishes can be used in a wide variety of contexts.
French Provincial-style décor makes use of elegant white-painted wood and brick, using white on cupboards, fireplaces, and window frames. These features contrast with rich, sumptuous textiles and plush, brightly coloured furniture, providing balance.
White is also seen widely in Scandinavian décor, where it is often used as a complement for the unvarnished and untreated natural wood used in flooring, and furniture.
Hamptons beach house-inspired décor also makes use of white tones, typically incorporating a textured, distressed or ‘shabby chic’ look to give a sense of laid-back comfort.
When considering decorating with white, don’t be put off by the thought that it will be too sterile. Go for tones from the warmer end of the spectrum, and use it as a backdrop for stunning decorative pieces and bold splashes of colour.