Decorating with White | Midwest Living

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Decorating with White

White is the go-to neutral in everyone's paint box. Though it goes with everything, it can also be bland. Here are decorating tips for using white without being boring!
  • Use texture

    Horizontal paneling lends texture and interest to the bright white walls in this Michigan cottage so the entryway doesn't feel boring or washed-out. 

  • Paint small spaces

    This tiny entryway looks bigger because of its white walls, which visually expand the space. Painting the chest of drawers and mirror frame white helps them recede into the background, creating the illusion that they take up less space.

  • Unite collections

    If you are an art collector or flea-market junkie, white is the perfect backdrop for collectibles. Paintings and pillows pop with color in this room but don’t clash with each other. The unique lines of a sculptural lamp and two wire chairs stand out against the white walls.

  • Play with pattern

    Here’s a secret about white: If you choose patterns that are just one color plus white and vary the scale of the patterns a bit, you can mix almost any colored patterns for a cheerful, playful look. In this room, striped chairs, an oversize diamond-patterned rug and an assortment of patterned pillows bring lots of energy within white walls.

  • Consider the tone

    Tints of white can look warmer or cooler depending on whether they have slight yellow or blue undertones. Before choosing a white, look at the colors of the other elements in your room and determine if they are cool- or warm-toned. In this Iowa home, the cool accent colors of green and blue inspired the homeowner to choose a cool-tinted white for a background.

  • Go for contrast

    Rooms will feel more sophisticated with color contrast. In this Illinois home, rich brown adds drama to a neotraditional dining room. The dark finishes of the furniture and the iron chandelier offer large-scale shape and color silhouettes against white walls and upholstery.

  • Clean and crisp

    Pure white is perceived as clean and crisp, so it works nicely in the kitchen (or bath), where cleanliness is a priority. In this Missouri kitchen, pops of red accents in barstools, appliances and dishes keep the all-white kitchen from feeling antiseptic.

  • House tours: Decorating in white

    Click on the links below to see houses decorated primarily in white.

    Vintage Vignettes

    Light and Bright Dream Home Decorating

    Decorate in Snow-White Style

  • More about decorating with colors

    See a color you like? Most home improvement stores are happy to mix colors if you show them a picture or a fabric sample you're trying to match. They're also usually able to match discontinued colors. Remember that colors can look different depending on factors such as light and the size of your room—plus colors can look different on a computer screen or a printed sample. Always buy a small container first and try the shade out before painting the entire room. Get more color inspiration by browsing any of our slideshows below.

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