How to Design an All-White Home (You Can Actually Live In)
Ever admired a gorgeous home and wondered, ‘how can I get that?’. That’s where our column ‘Nail the Look’ comes in! Every month, we dissect your favourite interior themes and projects, down to the materials, colours and furniture used – so as to bring you one step closer to achieving the style you love.
With the ability to brighten and visually open up any space, it’s no wonder why an all-white space might appeal to most homeowners (and their space-starved homes). True, white hues make the perfect canvas, but going head-to-toe white isn’t as simple as it looks. We’ll say it again – these ivory shades aren’t the most easygoing; and if not done right, your whitewashed space can end up feeling like an unfinished project instead.
So, how does one actually design the perfect, all-white space – without going full-on OCD (or tearing hairs out)? Simply follow these 6 tried-and-tested rules for designing a white abode that you can actually live in:
1. Know the Difference Between Whites
Architect: LLARK Architects
Yes, white is a single colour. But if you’ve ever browsed through a paint catalog, you’d know that ‘white’ comes in a ton of hues too. In fact, choosing the wrong shade can make a home look sloppily designed. And the two key areas that determine which shade is right for your space? A white’s undertone and its finish.
Interior Designer: Authors Interior & Styling
Whites with cool undertones (blue or green) work great for homes with ample afternoon sunlight. As the space takes on an orangey tone, cooler whites to help balance hues out. Alternatively, whites with warm undertones (orange) are better for homes that are slightly dimmer, to mimic that natural sunlight ‘glow’ in a space.
Interior Designer: Third Avenue Studio
Likewise, the type of finish (matte or glossy) counts too. For something that’s a little muted and cosy, go for matte finishes. If you’re looking for something easier to clean, a glossy finish takes less work to wipe down (and help to reflect light!)
2. Match Your White Wall with the Right Materials
Interior Designer: Corazon Interior
it’s important that your white paint matches the undertones of your built-ins and furniture. As a rule of thumb, whites with warm undertones work well with rustic/ traditional pieces, or natural materials like wood. On the other hand, whites with cool undertones complement ‘colder’ finishes like glass, steel or marbles.
3. Keep Things Looking ‘Unfussy’ with Textures
We’ve mentioned it before - white can be an unforgiving colour as dirt, scratches or any unsightly marks are most obvious on this shade. And when you’ve got four plain white walls, it’s easy to spot the smallest imperfections quickly.
From left to right: Bellini Blanco Subway Tile | Ceramiche Provenza Kottobrick Gesso Tile | Cinca Factory Branco Tile | Jennings Laminate in Dulce Glamour Walnut | EDL Fenix NTM Laminate in LS2200FX Negro Ingo | Any mirrored surface
As such, one way of masking or ‘distracting’ the eye away from these boo-boos is to bring in various textures that add visual dimension. Think white subway tiles, pale, bleached woods, exposed white bricks or even cement screed to achieve that effect.
Interior Designer: akiHAUS
Similarly, an all-white space doesn’t necessarily have to live up to that name. Complement whites with other subtle off-white or grey finishes or go dramatic and high contrast with black or mirrored highlights.
4. Cosy Up with Natural Elements
Interior Designer: Create
Worried your all-white home might come off a little too sterile? Whether it’s a sleek, modern space or a homey, Scandinavian-style interior, touches of natural elements and greenery will help to make your space feel more livable and welcoming. Try bringing in potted plants or flowers for a hint of leafy warmth. Or, consider rustic materials like linen, ceramics and leather for a polished yet down-to-earth vibe.
5. Don’t Forget Artwork!
Interior Designer: Schemacraft
Much like art galleries, white walls make the perfect canvas for featuring various works of art. Add a little fun, creative flair to your otherwise minimal (and boring) all-white space with large, hanging artworks that work as a feature piece in a room.
Best part? There are no rules as to what kinds of art you should frame – let your tastes shine!
6. Finally, a Pop of Colour Never Hurts
Interior Designer: Bowerman
1. Scandinavian Design Center Elvang Classic Cushion | 2. Scandinavian Design Center Klippan Samba Wool Throw | 3. Society6 Mischka Art Print | 4. Danish Design Store Normann Copenhagen Circus Pouf in Velour | 5. Originals Nomad Home Blue Hexagon Rug
Rather, colours help to define and complete an all-white space, not stray it away from its theme. Incorporate one or two colourful pieces of furniture; or, you could paint your door in a different color (that also doubles as a visual feature at home). If you’re feeling less adventurous, bring in these colours through smaller accessories or soft furnishings. Just remember, add tinges of colour – not bucket-loads of them.
Your ultimate all-white abode is just a tap away.
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