Interior design using all white in the room designs is a look that many clients are drawn to. Perhaps there is a sense of serenity and an escape from the hectic portions of our lives. The reality couldn’t be further from that idea. We’ve all see rooms that are painted white but have missed the mark because they are too stark and boring. They may even seem quite harsh and uncomfortable. Room designs done all in white are not necessarily an easy style to achieve. High end interior design is shown in various interior design magazines. The images of white rooms in these magazines are more often than not successful versions of this all white style of room design. Sometimes they are not successful. Success in room design is a subjective thing, because we all have different tastes and expectations for home décor.
The fact remains that many clients are drawn to the idea of white room designs. They show well in magazines. The images of these rooms lend an air of serenity and calm, as well as elegance and refinement. The reality of keeping such a room looking that way may involve anything but serenity if the home owner’s living style at home is busy, child or pet centred, or if they are prone to collect decorative objects. Sometimes we have had requests for white sofas from clients with small children. We try to find an alternative to the idea of white décor, or white seating, in these cases, if possible. White leather can withstand significant wear and soiling, but it does have its limits. Felt pens applied while the parent or baby sitter is looking the other way would cause permanent damage.
How should we approach designing our homes around using white? We must analyse our lifestyle in a realistic way before we embark on all white for our home. If we are not consistent with house keeping and are unwilling to hire help it may not be the choice for us. If we have small children, teenagers or we, ourselves love a casual lifestyle, we will only make ourselves and our families unhappy trying to keep up to an impossible standard. Compromise by choosing a room decor style that is still very pleasing but more realistic for daily living. White shows the dirt that is there. The dirt is still there with a more colourful room design, but it is not as easily seen. Since the dirt is still there, more colourful design styles still require regular cleaning and maintenance. Many elements of the room could be white such as walls, artwork, lamps, accessories and even flooring that are not often touched or are easy to keep looking clean, while other elements such as seating can be coloured to hide soil. The use of plenty of white in kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense because the elements in these rooms are washed regularly. We have often been in homes where white has been used extensively in the décor and no one is allowed into that room. Some people are quite happy to live this way. If there is enough excess space in the home so that not using a room but simply looking at it creates happiness, where is the harm? After all, many people never use their dining rooms, feeling that that room should only be used for formal dinners. It’s a similar concept. There’s no reason that the dining room cannot be used several times a day. It would often be preferable to having the whole family cram into a too small kitchen to eat, while there is an entire room with a table and chairs available. The key is to have functional, cleanable surfaces that can withstand some daily use without noticeably deteriorating. This works for any room in the home.
Small spaces appear larger with all white room design, and the look is light, clean and airy. More attention is drawn to attention to the unique shapes, textures, and characteristics of all of the items within. This is a huge advantage in today’s smaller home environments. It is very refreshing to live in a home that is coloured in light, fresh tones and is free of clutter as well. We are able to use large, comfortable furniture pieces even in small rooms. We need to choose them carefully, though and consider choosing armless styles for a more airy look. When we lower the contrast in a room design by means of a monochromatic palette such as all white, or light neutrals, the eye flows easily from one object to the next and there is a feeling of ease and of spaciousness. These light coloured room designs need not be bland. The addition of a dramatic element such as a fabric, wallpaper, large accessory piece or artwork will make all the difference.
Common theory is that white goes with everything. Not so. White applied to a room’s décor with no thought or design process results, most often, in a room which has a complete lack of style, interest or sense of fun. This does not have to be the case if contrasting tones and textures are used. If you look at the white portion of a paint deck, you will see a myriad of choices of shades of white. White is not just white but dozens of shades ranging from cool to warm. All this choice may be overwhelming to the faint of heart, when, in reality, all this choice is our friend. The warmer whites do the obvious by taking the chill off. Mixing ivory with taupe adds contrast and interest, and lends a softness to the décor (some photos courtesy of Better Homes or Houzz). Glass or silver items add sparkle and grace. Mirrors reflect light and open up the space. When mirrors are placed across the room from a window, they add the illusion of a second window. A touch of black or dark brown will ground the space. The eye needs a place to rest. Light fixtures, picture framing and accent pieces achieve this. White vases with white flowers add depth and design interest.
Once again, common thought is that white opens up the room, even if it is small and dark. Using white on all the architectural surfaces allows the eye to move around the room, providing a feeling of space where there is none. Very large rooms that are done in all white have a tendency to appear too stark and without much interest. Large, interesting furniture pieces or an interesting feature wall would make these rooms look and feel more livable, interesting and comfy. Large artwork pieces and accessories, as well as interesting furniture pieces can be extremely effective in these rooms.
Flowing draperies on the windows are also effective. On large windows in large rooms, some of the new types of blinds such as Hunter Douglas Pirouette or Silhouette shades can look terrific while controlling damaging solar rays. Shutters are also beautiful and effective window effective ways to control light.
In an all white room, any coloured accent will really stand out. A collection of white vases on a deep orange background can look stunning and really adds to the interest in the space. Less is more. Just one accent of this sort is likely enough to enhance room design; several would lend a note of chaos and lack of direction.This allows us to do toss cushions in a very high end or very dramatic fabric, or to choose a large art piece and showcase it dramatically. Sometimes one very high end accessory can make the room design really sing.
In an all white room bathed in shades of white in varying textures, slipcovers complement the scheme and lend a rumpled softness. Sometimes this looks good, and sometimes it doesn’t. Some clients at first think they want slip covers then find that they cannot stand the continually rumpled look. White leather is a much better choice for this type of client.
An eclectic mix of furnishings can work well in an all white room. Simple white drapes soften the windows. Rather than the college dorm look where little or no effort has been made to enhance décor, the all white scheme is somehow acceptable. Even a little clutter looks good in these rooms. Books in the bookcase covered in white butcher’s paper add cohesion and complete the look. As you can see, this all white style can be quite casual, quite formal, or something in between. When this style leans toward the casual, it can be very charming and family friendly. Portions of the room design that are rarely touched are the better choice to be done in white. If they are not touched, they become less visibly soiled and needing of care.
Furniture need not all be white. Soft wood tones add a natural element and soften a tendency to looking too stark. Shabby chic pieces that are white rubbed back to a wood tone are beautiful in these rooms. This is where well loved inherited pieces can shine. They can be refurbished by reupholstery and repainting to make them look cared for. Found elements from nature or long forgotten treasures in our cupboards can be used as accents. The room design can event spring from the inspiration of these items.
Walls can simply be painted white of covered in tone on tone white wallpaper. Damasks, florals, and stripes are all glamorous and interesting. Stripes can be achieved with paint in vertical or horizontal stripes or damask stencilled patterns. Wood walls can be white washed for a chic modern look. White fireplaces are easy to keep looking good if the firebox is working right.
So, overall, white used with thought and care can be exactly the right choice for some clients. Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a design consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.
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