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White-on-white decorating goes well with the natural tone of wood floors

June 14, 2013

The use of a white-on-white palette in home design may seem simple, like the classic good looks of hardwood floors such as Anderson's Mountain collection. But simplicity can be a challenge for homeowners who aren't sure how to take a white motif from bland to beautiful.

Shari Hiller, the co-host of the PBS series Around the House with Matt and Shari, said one misconception about all-white decorating is that it can look sterile. But she believes it also creates an airy atmosphere that can be warmed with the right choice of accessories. By choosing white for wall colors, window treatments and the major pieces of furniture, a dark space can be brightened and a small room can be made to look larger.

As a monochromatic palette that reflects a great deal of light, for instance, white allows accent colors in the room to stand out prominently. And those accent hues can be easily shifted with a new selection of pillows or different pieces of artwork.

Creating visual interest
According to, it's important to create visual interest in a white room by layering different textures and patterns. One way to achieve this is through a faux paint method such as striping, ragging or combing in different tones of white.

The website suggests adding patterns by upholstering accent chairs with a print in shades of white and off-white or by adding print pillows to a white sofa. Rely on artwork, lamps and decorative items to provide contrast.

White curtains, by themselves or combined with window shades, can be the primary window treatment offset by a valance in another color. While white shutters are often used in country or cottage style decor, soft sheer shades have an elegant look that fits both contemporary or traditional room design.

How the room is used
The decision to go with white-on-white decor should take into account how a room is to be used. A family room where children play and family members eat snacks might leave too many stains on white fabrics.

Country Living magazine reports that this monochromatic approach works well in bedrooms, because it conveys a restful atmosphere, and in living rooms with classic colors and the natural contrast of wood floors.

One special characteristic of a white color scheme is its ability to accommodate decorating for special occasions. A white-on-white room may be the only room that can easily accommodate all the hues found in different seasons and holidays.