The winter doldrums….why do we say that? Don’t we all admire a new coating of snow? It’s clean, fresh and invigorating! Sure, at first glance it’s just a mass of white; seemingly an endless blank canvas devoid of color. But, fresh white snow is quite energizing and full of color when you really look at it! And like snow, when white is used indoors, it has the same effect on us.
White, which is achromatic – a color without hue, contains the full spectrum of light. Maybe it’s because of this that we are energized by and draw optimism from it. From a design point of view, white is a neutral – and, yes, a “blank canvas” – that acts as a support for other colors. It also tends to take on the colors around it, lending it subtle to quite vibrant colors.
White offers the eye relief – a resting spot – when we are faced with many, bright or intense colors and patterns. And white adds a “clean”, fresh, and light feeling to a space, giving it an energy that lifts your mood. There are, of course, pitfalls if it’s used indiscriminately: a sterile, stark, weightless, cold, or glaring feeling is possible.
So, how to use white in your interior? A design professional knows all the “rules” and a few tricks that make for a beautiful use of white. Here are some tips you can use:
- Make white the base – A background (walls, carpet, major upholstered furniture) of white supports and accents your other colors, accessories, and furnishings. Choose these elements first, then the right version of white (warm or cool) to compliment them. This is especially good for highlighting artwork or fine furniture.
- White in a monochromatic scheme – White has a role in every monochromatic (single color) scheme as the lightest version of the color. Include white with just a tint of your chosen color to add energy and balance to the room.
- Use white as an accent – Rich colors in your furnishings, floors and walls are a great backdrop for accents of white, such as in drapes, pillows, throws, accessories, moldings, and artwork. This is a great way to bridge traditional architecture and modern design.
- Make white interesting – To keep white from being boring or stark, use warmer, textured, or patterned versions and mix them. Look for white-on-white patterns and textures in fabrics, carpets, wallpapers, window treatments and accessories appropriate to your style.
- Pair white with other neutrals – White used with other neutral colors makes for a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere. Neutrals may be basic browns and grays, or have hints of color (such as purple or green), and are enlivened with the addition of some variation on white.
- Use white to let the light in – White window treatments (even if they are heavy drapes) “open up” windows and brighten your room. White blinds or shades under colored drapes will have the same brightening effect.
- Give white the spotlight – An entirely white room, with just accents of color, make for bright and cheerful spaces ideal for sunrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. This is well-suited to minimalist, modern, or cottage-style spaces, depending on the materials and finishes used.
- Add elegance with white – From minimal modern to gilt-edged traditional, or distressed shabby-chic, white lends these styles a kind of elegance (refinement and restraint) that the richest colors cannot achieve. White highlights quality materials and details, regardless of their age or condition.
Harness the energy of white in one of the many ways you can incorporate this color in your home, office or commercial space!