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Dont underestimate the versatility of white in home design

May 05, 2014

Hand-Crafted Hardwood FloorsIn spring, white starts making its annual comeback into wardrobes and home design. It's the color that goes with everything, from bold accents to subtle pastels. When it's paired with painted floors like Anderson's Vintage Coastal Art collection, the pickle barrel finish evokes both the simplicity of a country cottage and the sophistication of an urban loft.

But home decorators ought to be careful when they're choosing which white will be the focus of a room design. There's not only one shade of white, but a range from crisp and bright to a creamy antique shade with a yellow undertone. Cool whites have a hint of gray or light blue.

According to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a bright white works best with contemporary decor when it's offset by gray, silver and its ultimate complement, black. For a traditional look, off-white goes well with dusty shades of blue, sage green and rose. In children's or family rooms, bright primary colors are the best accents against a white background.

The magazine featured a similar motif in a home office in which built-in shelves where painted white to match the walls, but a number of decorative accessories and boxes in bright colors were stored on the shelves.

Accessories can warm up white
One misconception about white is that it looks sterile. By using white for wall colors and window treatments, a dark space can be brightened and a small room can be made to look larger. Many decorators also use it to create an airy atmosphere that can be warmed up with the right choice of accessories, according to Shari Hiller, co-host of the PBS design show, Around the House with Matt and Shari. 

To make sure that all the whites in a room are well matched, Hiller suggested using the white that's in a room's soft furnishings - upholstery, curtains and area rugs - to determine the shade that should be integrated throughout the space.

When people are interested in developing a monochromatic color scheme in white, they should concentrate on different textures. In these cases, a variety of white shades can be used to play off each other in materials that range from smooth cotton and silk to nubby knits and linen.

A white theme can also feature accessories that are the same color. Whether, they're white flowers, ceramic pieces or clear jars filled with cream-colored candles, the variety of textures will allow each to stand out in the color scheme.