The humble color white has been wildly popular in the last few years, and for good reasons. White and off-white makes for a neutral backdrop that allows for a lot of versatility in décor options. White also opens up the space and presents an airy, serene quality of peacefulness.
However, white can also be boring and empty. It can feel clinical, which is why professional designers don't particularly love that monochromatic look.
Luckily, an all-white room is like a blank canvas over which you can let all your creativity roam free. You have many options you can play with to add color, warmth, and coziness to a room with white walls.
If you have been to a wood-paneled room, you know that you can never have too much of it. Wood adds natural warmth, and it matches beautifully with white walls and ceilings.
Start with a hardwood floor if you have that option, which will help to ground the space. You can also add wooden furniture in rich woods like cherry and walnut for their warm earthy tones. If you want to push it further, wooden stairs, picture frames, wooden prints, or even a wood chandelier.
Going back to nature for inspiration, woven materials are just as effective as wood to add warm texture and color to an all-white room. Rattan/wicker furniture is the perfect compliment to such a light room and can be placed in the dining area, kitchen, lounge, or bedroom.
You can also get creative with woven baskets, woven rugs, and various display accessories to touch up different spaces.
A stark white room can feel like it lacks character and texture, which is exactly why you should add some luxurious textured furniture, fabric, and rugs.
Rich textures have an inherent quality of warmth in them, and they also make the room very cozy and inviting. Paired with wood, they add a classic, rustic feel. Even if you're going for a contemporary or clean look, you can never go wrong with textiles.
Metallics such as bronze, copper, brass, and gold are the definition of warmth. Even better, white loves metallics. They represent a similar contemporary and modern feel. However, you will need to go slow on them because metal décor can quickly become overwhelming.
Another great idea is to get some authentic earthenware pots to grow indoor plants. Greenery contrasts very well with white, and plants like fern trees or kitchen herbs make a perfect addition to a modern, lively room. Houseplants love lots of light, and white walls reflect enough light to help them flourish
If you don't care for the maintenance, faux plants or green furnishings here and there will also do the trick. But, as far as nature goes, there's no substitute for authentic plants, because they also clean up the air and add a feeling of restfulness.
Remember that statement about white being a blank canvas? Museum walls are also painted white for the same reason. You can do a lot to create a sophisticated, urban space with lots of artwork and bold graphics.
Some people opt to have a large, dominating statement piece or art to capture the space. Others like to accent the space with many little works such as paintings, folk art, or even framed photos. The adventurous ones will go as far as to cover up some walls with wallpaper to create beautiful contrasts.
Antiques make a white room even more interesting. A large bookcase (with lots of books, of course) is the perfect statement furniture to complete the look of progressive décor. Handwoven, richly textured rugs are especially luxurious when put in an otherwise bare room. Antique seats, ottomans, pottery, and wall hangings can all complete your space.
This is probably the easiest way to transform the look and feel of an all-white room. Shades, draperies, and curtains are perfect candidates to help break up the white space, especially when they are layered up expertly.
You can experiment with the textures, colors, and design of various draperies to change the room as you like, which also allows you to play with the room's natural lighting. A big part of white's power is in how it reflects light, so you can filter it with various opaque and transparent treatments to transform the appearance of a white room.
Speaking of lighting, the last and probably most important trick in the book is the use of lighting to warm up a plain white room. To start with, natural light is the warmest of all, so you should let in sunlight as much as possible.
The next thing is to make sure that your artificial lighting is just as warm as sunlight. Warm light looks yellowish and occupies the 2700K-3000K range on the spectrum, which is the color of traditional incandescent or halogen lights.
At the same time, consider layering the lighting for a sophisticated look. You can have direct, ambient, accent lighting all in different tones, shades, colors, and depths to create that warm twilight effect. With white walls, you don't have to try very hard to light up the room, but make sure to put each circuit on dimmer switches to maintain control.
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