It’s a hard scheme to pull off — but when it’s done right, it looks UHmazing! I’m talking about the white-on-white colour scheme ... which is actually somewhat of an oxymoron when you think about it; white isn’t really a colour at all! I’ve been hemming and hawing over this one for a few years myself — can I take a room in my house and pull off the all-white look? If you’re brave enough to take the plunge, here are a few things you need to know to make your space sizzle.
TONE ON TONE
The super-duper ultimate rule of doing a white room: use varying shades of white, cream, platinum, pearl and linen. If you don’t layer your white ‘colours’, you may end up with a hospital room for a living space. Rooms that lack dimension in the form of tone-on-tone layering often feel stark, harsh and institutional — so unless you’re aiming for a pure and contemporary aesthetic, don’t get too matchy matchy with your materials and finishes.
Crucial in almost every environment (not just the white ones), texture is a perfect way to add depth and interest to your monochromatic palette. Play up combinations of glossy, ruddy, knubby, sleek, watery, shimmery, lineny, leathery, woody, knotty, and cozy for a warm and inviting atmosphere ... crucial again when trying to avoid stark and cold design.
THE PERFECT WHITE(S)
I have a go-to white I use in almost all of my spaces that require some hint of a softer, warmer undertone: CC-40 Cloud White by Benjamin Moore is a design favourite across the board, and it’s no secret why. When paired with other colours it still retains its ‘whiteness’, while melding softly into the colour scheme. When used in contrast with other white finishes, CC-40 will act as the perfect backdrop. Another few faves you’ll often see in magazines are: OC-17 White Dove (Benjamin Moore), Swiss Coffee 1812 (Behr), Powderface CLW 1034W (General Paint), and Antique White (CIL RM 43YY 78/053).
NOT SO KID FRIENDLY
Like most situations in life, there is a catch-22. Children — as loveable and adorable and all that jazz as they are — do not make great accessories to the all-white room. So for those of you eyeing the cotton duck sofa or pearly cashmere pillows ... perhaps it might be wise to consider a different option. I love beautiful-looking spaces, but don’t think it’s fair to constantly be hawking and keeping your kids out of any space in your home for the sake of its design integrity. That might sound like a no-brainer, but I’ve been in houses where little ones weren’t allowed to sit or play or enjoy the comforts of some of their own spaces ... how totally moronic is that!? So you basically have two choices here: decide on warmer and more texturized pieces (so wear and tear over time is camouflaged best), or wait for college!
You can’t pull this look off if you only go half way with it, otherwise you might end up with a mish-mashy mess of a colour scheme! If you want to add some pops of colour here and there absolutely do so, but stick to the 80:20 ratio: 80 per cent white and tones of white, and 20 per cent accent colour(s). Take the white throughout for walls, furniture, drapes, and maybe even flooring, but add in a hit of colour with the odd pillow, frame, throw, lamp shade, or small decor item.
In May I painted a large blob of off-white paint over my current living room wall colour (which happens to be a rich golden-ochre), just to see if I could handle the huge change from dark to light. It’s a major jump to instantly go from what I’ve been comfortable with to something I’ve been wanting for years, and sometimes even designers get cold feet! Stay tuned....
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 25, 2012