Home Improvement

7 Tips for Creating a Glam Look With All-White Home Decor

  • white bedroom

    white bedroom

If you've been keeping up with our latest and greatest design news, you know that our experts promise that pristine white walls will be big this year.

But trying to create an exciting design scheme with white walls might seem impossible -- after all, you want to highlight the simplicity without getting too boring.

Don't worry! It's easier than you might think, and you don't have to ditch color completely.

"Choosing white walls only means your color will come from your accents," says Tracy Kay Griffin, the expert designer at real estate investment company Express Homebuyers. "White walls give a certain amount of airy lightness that no other color can accomplish, and it gives the occupants a completely blank canvas on which to decorate."

Here are seven designer tips on making the sexy yet stark look of white walls work for you.

1. Consider your undertone

"To accomplish a beautiful and comfortable space, choosing the right white wall color is key," says Jill Hosking-Cartland, the owner and principal designer of Hosking Interiors in Windham, NH.

To pick the correct tone, look at your flooring and furnishings. Are they cool or warm? We don't blame you if you're struggling to make that determination: Picking out undertones can be an advanced-level designer skill. Here's a good guide for choosing between cool and warm. If you're still confused, don't be scared to call in an expert consultation or visit the paint department of your favorite local hardware store.

2. Use different whites

Slapping the same shade of white on all of your walls might be a wee bit boring. Try varying the sheens or shades of paint you select to add dimension to your home.

"These are the things that differentiate the space if you are lacking color," says designer Joe Human of New York City firm Designs by Human.

If you're keeping the tone the same, Human recommends changing the sheen.

"Make the walls flat and the base semigloss to give a little more depth and interest," he says.

Or you can vary the shade of white itself. While you'll want to stick within the same undertones, "there is a reason there are hundreds of different white paints out there, and which one you pick makes a difference," says designer Jenn Carter of New York's Studio Envie. "When you're layering whites in a room, it's OK to use different shades and variations of the color to give the room some interesting appeal."

3. Use your accent colors

No one but the most daring and experienced designers should go all white -- as in, white couches, white floors, and white dcor. Accent colors bring life and definition to your crisp white house, breaking up the monotony with a bit of visual interest.

"To create a custom design look, choose one color and sprinkle it throughout the entire room," Griffin says.

For a little more dimension, find rugs, throw pillows, vases, and bowls in different tones of the same color such as sea-foam green and teal, and continue the theme through any connecting room.

Want to extend your color theme upstairs, or in another nonconnecting room? Griffin recommends selecting a secondary shade from your first room -- like the little hints of blue in your green pillow -- and use that as the accent color.

4. Add texture

All-white can get real monotonous, real fast, and accent colors alone aren't enough to add personality. You need texture, too.

"Without surface contrast or color to distract your eye, you have to make every single surface count," says Rebecca West, a designer and author of " Happy Starts at Home."

Not sure what counts as "texture"? Figure it out with your fingers: Does it feel rough or silky smooth or furry as your favorite pup? Throw it into the mix -- all of it.

"Layer different textures like woven tweeds, shag or fur rugs, or slubby silk," West says. "Go authentic with materials whenever you can, like using real silk or real linen."

5. Let white breathe

All these rules may seem overwhelming. Keep in mind that you're looking to complement your white walls -- not overwhelm them. Don't add so many accents and textures that the white walls are only an afterthought.

"People may start to overcompensate with pops of color, ultimately losing the effect of white on white," says Carter. "It's OK to let the white breathe, and it's OK to add items to the room in phases so you have a little time to get used to how it looks together."

6. Don't be scared to decorate

Stop letting your fear of tchotchkes keep your home from its full potential.

"A big mistake that people make is not incorporating enough decorative elements, leaving the room looking stark and unfinished," Carter says.

In addition to the usual vases and statuettes, try something unexpected.

"Throw a surprise in the room with one bold piece of abstract art and a bright, coordinating throw pillow," West says. "Or tuck a brilliant fuchsia orchid into the centerpiece, like a spring blossom peeking up through a field of snow. It can really make an all-white room feel special."

7. Keep it clean

With your dcor selected, the biggest long-term challenge of all-white rooms is keeping them free of dirt and smudges, which will stand out like beacons.

"Clutter can't hide, so you'll have to commit to clearing out all the extra stuff and make clever use of closed storage," West says.

You'll need to up your cord organization game, too. Dark cords will "stand out like a sore thumb against your lovely white walls," she says, so consider your layout thoughtfully to make sure any offenders are tucked out of sight.

If you're going all white, including your furniture (you brave person, you), regular maintenance (and emergency cleanup) is key to perfection. Invest in some fabric protector, and remember that removable pillow and seat cushion covers were sent to us from heaven for instant damage control.

Keeping on top of upkeep is essential to your crisp white home, but don't panic at the slightest drop of coffee: Imperfections make your house a home.

-- -- -- -- --

Video: How to Decorate a Coffee Table for Each Season