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Different shades of white are as timeless as hardwood flooring

July 02, 2013

Hardwood FloorsSavvy home decorators know that not all whites are alike, and careful matching of the shade is needed for the best color combinations. But like the timeless quality of wood floors in Anderson's Eagle Lodge collection, some of the most effective color schemes in home design feature white prominently because it's the hue that goes with everything.

Creating atmosphere
Better Homes and Gardens magazine states that white can brighten a space by reflecting natural light into rooms. It also create an airy atmosphere while showing great personality when paired with bold hues.

TV designer Shari Hiller advises home decorators to take care when choosing a shade of white or off-white depending on whether they want a contemporary or traditional look.

Bright white with blue undertones coordinates well with modern decor that may include charcoal gray, silver and black. However, off-white with gray-based tones works best in a traditional design scheme with classic hues such as wedgewood blue, sage green or dusty rose.

Color families
Homeowners trying to decide on the right shades to combine with white furnishings will find the decision easier if they stick with a color family, which simplifies the selection process by focusing on different gradations within a spectrum.

The late designer David Hicks was an early advocate of using related hues to come up with the best color combinations. His advice is still a good guide for room design.

"There are a set of loose rules, which when applied to color cannot fail," wrote Hicks in his classic design book, "David Hicks on Decoration." "All reds go together, all pinks go together, just as all blues, greens, yellows, browns and all grays do."

For accent, brighter members of the same color family work well in a variety of ways. They may be used singly or to accentuate the overall scheme in different accessories.

White as an accent
As with other colors, white can be easily coordinated within a color family either as an accent or a neutral. Hiller's guide for off-whites in traditional design and bright whites for contemporary styles is a good rule of thumb when matching them to a color family.

One of bright white's best uses is as an accent for other whites. Bright white trim will make beige-white walls appear slightly darker by contrast, while cool whites will appear clear and fresh when outlined with the brighter shade.