Decorating with Summer Whites

Living Room with white chairs and armoire
Whatever your style, see how white can give your home a fresh, cool look that's perfect for the season.

Expansive White

White is an ideal color for a small space. The monochromatic palette opens up the room and bounces light throughout, visually expanding the perceived space. In this small nook, the contrast of textures -- the chenille fabric, airy draperies, and sparkling crystal -- pleases the eye. The beauty of decorating with white is that it changes shade as the light changes. A sun-bleached palette can become a warm and cozy ivory in the evening when lamps are turned on.

Paint It Perfect

Don't be afraid to get out the paintbrush. This Queen Anne-style armoire wore a dark finish until a few layers of paint and a bit of sanding gave it a distressed look that suits this all-white bedroom. Layer different shades of white to provide more texture and a sense of age to a room. Even an old metal chandelier found new life thanks to white paint.

White Slate

Color tastes and trends change, and in a child's room especially, it's nice to have the luxury of a new look fairly often. Opt for an all-white scheme for bedding, walls, and furniture. Swap out the coverlet, pillows, or throw on the bed. All are easy enough to change and will make it seem like you have a new room every season. Use a yard of fabric to add a shot of color and pattern to a headboard, as seen in the photo.

Classic Kitchen

Once a chopped-up jumble, this kitchen now unifies two spaces with white. Polished slabs of Carrara marble cover countertops and walls in a nod to historical kitchens of the early 20th century. Minimal wall shelving allows natural light from the many windows to flood the room. Ghost stools at the island keep the feeling light.

Old-World Patina

Keep color to a bare minimum to bring furnishings of all eras and influences together with style. Here, creamy whites and taupe unify the collected furnishings. The canopy is made with white mosquito netting and old bronze lamp base. The subdued palette, texture, and mix of found objects bring a worldly sophistication to this bedroom.

Set the Stage

When walls and furniture are all white, accessories take center stage. Have fun with accents and do away with the expected. A collection of compelling objects is so much more interesting as a dining room centerpiece than candlesticks, as this ensemble of colorful ceramics demonstrates. The light fixture gets to shine in a unique way, too. A store-bought chandelier goes glam with layers of old and new chandelier drops and old earrings in vivid color. The bright hues link to a rug made from recycled plastic.

Curtain Call

Frame an all-white room with doorway curtains that make the space look like a secret destination revealed. Gather a group of similar-scale chairs in shades of white around the dining table for a one-of-a-kind set that's anything but predictable. The massive flea market apothecary cabinet, with its dark back, creates a dramatic display space for the white ironstone collection.

Mirrored in White

A mosaic tile floor is the only departure from an all-white scheme in this bath. Strategically placed mirrors add shine and reflect outdoor views. A window seat with nubby terry-cloth pillows and a beaded-board back give the scene some texture.

Open Simplicity

Slipcovered in crisp white and dressed for dinner, modern chairs add a touch of minimalist formality to this white dining room. The shaded chandelier and simple window shades sum up the classic-modern style of the space. The white palette is enriched with a subtle ivory tone on the walls.

Depth of Interest

Layers keep a white room from being one-note. Prop framed mirrors against a wall or over a mantel. Look for interesting mirrors at thrift stores or tag sales and paint the frames in shades of cream and white. Slightly overlapped or placed against one another, the large mirrors will practically double the natural light in the room. Add another piece in front of the mirrors, preferably something with a similar tone and an interesting shape, such as this old French clock, to create depth.

Color in the Lines

Use white to separate and emphasize your forays into colorful decor. In this room, white walls and shapely textured furnishings set a chic neutral stage for vibrant ceramics, glass, and a collectible pink chair. A shelving unit creates a display grid on the white wall that adds dimension in the room and spreads the notes of pink and blue over a larger space.

Neutral Background

When decorating a room, expensive or difficult-to-change elements are best left neutral. For whites, consider the variety supplied by a creamy wool rug, white linen slipcovers, shiny silk pillows, and a furry throw. Contrast comes in the form of black accents, which can be as powerful as hot pink in an all-white room.

Traditional Outlook

Contemporary amenities are dressed in traditional design elements in this timelessly elegant white kitchen. Glass-front cabinets and thick marble counters confer period authenticity, while stainless-steel appliances add a modern counterpoint. Oak plank flooring grounds the room and brings warm, natural color to the mostly white space.

Old Meets New

White brings cohesion to a large room and its different layers of color and texture. In this bright and breezy living room, wide-plank pinewood floors and finishes emphasize the house's history, while the dark tones contrast with the contemporary white walls and slipcovered seating in an old-world/new-world combination.

Spa Treatment

Add signature flourish, intrigue, and even texture to an all-white bath. In this unique space, a quartz tile surface is embossed with a subtle wash of lace pattern that dances in the natural light. Augment the luxurious spa feeling with lots of white: towels, floor covering, and shower curtain -- it's a surefire way to refresh.

Light and Bright

This Victorian flat was transformed to give it the ambience of a modern loft. White paint coats the formerly dark wood architectural elements such as the fireplace mantel, allowing the relief carvings to stand out in greater prominence. Using white and black on furnishings allows the modern and Victorian styles to blend seamlessly.

The Right White

Springy greens in the fresh flowers and the muted sandy tones of timeworn accessories give this living area country charm. Slipcovers can be tossed into the laundry if spills threaten to ruin the pristine scene.

All-White Elegance

White in this space is interrupted only by an occasional plant or expanse of wood, and seems cool, calm, and collected. Subtle variations of white and cream add interest to this space, while fresh flowers and plants help unite the indoors to the outdoors.

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