Decorating with White
Nothing says bright, fresh and clean like white. This versatile neutral works well in a variety of color schemes and design styles, and it's hardly sterile and boring. Read on for inspiring ways to decorate right with white.
Everything In This Slideshow
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Base of White
In this living room, white creates a solid base, followed by a lighter application of natural woods and fibers, as seen in the floor, raw beam, rug, framed mirror and more. With these two constants in place, the eclectic variety of colors, metals, and finishes sprinkled throughout play together with casual ease. The crisp white also brings a modern edge to the room's vintage stylings.
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White’s association with fresh and clean is an especially good thing to have in a kitchen. Here, white curtains, cabinets, walls, tile, and countertops all mingle nicely (and that last one’s not as difficult to keep clean as you might think). A natural rug and baskets, plus sassy red stools help create a fun and totally livable vibe.
White Cabinet Picks
Give your kitchen a timeless update by painting your cabinets white. Here are our favorite paint picks.
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There’s a reason art gallery walls are generally white: They ensure that the artwork remains the focus. You can do the same if you have a piece or grouping of pieces you’d like to command the room. Add somewhat less magnetic splashes of color -- like this straightforward rug and the small-print fireplace tile -- to keep things cozy enough to welcome everyday life.
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Wash 'n Wear
White sofas aren't as scary as you might think. As long as they come in slipcover form, it's easy to treat and wash spills and spots. Here, white walls and curtains make the room feel bright and clean, while dark wire tables, rugged layered rugs and the textured shades and lamp keep it from feeling too pristine.
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Lovely & Lived-In
Use a variety of shades of white in the room to help it feel comfortable and fresh, rather than rigid and sterile. In this living room, white shifts from the palest of grays on the walls, to a warmer white on the loveseat slipcovers and into creamery tones on the woven basket coffee table and other accents. Corralling color to a few small, choice accessories lets the white scheme take center stage.
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Using white sparingly can be using white right. In this bedroom, the pale wall color stops just short of gray. Add a textured flooring, wall art in many-colored frames and a variety of throw pillows, and the true white that does exist in the room -- in the trim, bedside table, comforter background, and curtains -- gives the eye a perfect little rest.
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Variety Is the Spice
When you decorate with all white, you need something besides color to keep things from looking too boring and clinical. The secret to success in this all-white bathroom, for example, is bold texture, as seen in the vanity and wall treatment, which doubles as art.
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Create the feeling of sleeping in a cloud with an all-white bedroom. This one stays true to the theme with decorations that are either white or crystal-clear Lucite, as in the drawer pulls and lamp bases. It’s easy to adjust the look ever so slightly by swapping out pillows and throws.
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No Gray Area
White is one-half of the simple recipe to easy elegance -- just add black. In this bathroom, bold large-print black-and-white wallpaper is the only decoration necessary when set against white cabinetry, trim, and tile. When the mood strikes, a little bit of one bright color makes a big impact, as this yellow tray and bunch of tulips demonstrate.
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White & Bright
Have a room that feels hijacked by a brick fireplace or wall whose color you don’t even like? Here’s an easy solution: Paint it white! It’s an instant room-brightener. It feels especially modern in this room, when paired with lots of gold, midcentury furnishings, and dashes of black.
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A small, narrow space always looks bigger and more open when painted white. Here, the dark wood floor topped in white all the way to the ceiling keeps the eye moving up. Lots of long vertical and horizontal lines -- in the rug, on the cabinetry, along the subway tile and on the ceiling -- is another visual room-extending trick.
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Paint’s an instant room-freshener, as is white, so white paint is a double whammy, but don’t limit its application to walls. The bedframe, furniture, and antique picture frames in this room all got a lift with white. Gauzy white curtains and a canopy, plus barely blush accents in the throw pillows and antique glass, keep the room sweet and dreamy.
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The more neutrals you add to your white base, the more collected and layered your look becomes. Here, many shades of brown play together in the curtains, upholstery, wood furniture, and natural rug, creating a relaxed feel, while shots of black give the room an upscale edge. Multicolored accessories keep the vibe solidly casual.
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A room wrapped in white is the perfect foundation for a two-neutral mix, plus a dose of color. In this living room, cream and brown introduce variation to the neutral side of the color palette, which is tied together by the abstract zebra print rug. Dusty aqua club chairs really stand out in the light-filled and neutral space.
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In a white room, placing all color squarely in the center creates maximum coziness right at the room's heart. Here, the dark, wispy overhead light fixture, a light blue rug, matching blue pillows, and a table just big enough for drinks make for a nice, comfortable seating grouping. The red brick fireplace adds visual variation to sea of white, but a white wash tones down brick color, so the fireplace doesn't stick out awkwardly.
Next Slideshow Neutral Paint Colors
Neutral Paint ColorsWith tones as varied as driftwood gray and creamy latte, neutrals are anything but boring. Browse our top neutral paint color picks to find the right hue for your rooms. Plus, learn the best tricks for decorating in neutrals.Begin Slideshow »