Decorating with white

The pure and pristine elegance of white can create a timeless style statement in any room of your home. We explore the opportunities white can offer in four key rooms of the house.

white room with black caravaggio style lights
ARTICLE Joanna Mathers

The pure and pristine elegance of white can create a timeless style statement in any room of your home. We explore the opportunities white can offer in four key rooms of the house.

The living room

living room with fireplace painted white and decorated with white furniture
As the social centre of the home, the living room may not seem to lend itself to white – but the right materials and furnishings can create a white space that’s both durable and dramatic.
The living room is a bustling space in the home – it’s where we entertain, relax, chat, listen to music, watch television and movies, and generally unwind. It also offers us many opportunities to freely express our own distinctive style.
White living rooms are a true statement of aesthetic intent, bringing a touch of understated chic to the busy space. Redolent of provincial France, the white living space is classical and elegant, but can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion.
It’s important to think carefully about the materials and furnishings you use in a white living room. Expensive white couches and tables may not be the best option if you have unruly kids, but they can work beautifully in homes where people are less likely to draw on them!
If you have young children, all-weather outdoor style seating can work well in rooms that are prone to wear and tear, in the example above, a white folding chair has been given a lift by a luxuriant throw that be stored safely when there are boisterous young ones about. Karen Warmen from Resene has some more great suggestions on how to make the most of white living rooms.
“It’s a good idea to team white with other colours to lift the space. In a formal lounge, white walls combined with black furnishings can be striking; if you’re looking for a more casual ambience, team your white items with more playful furnishings and colours so your guests feel more relaxed.”
She says that thick luxurious rugs, comfortable cushions and couches can also help to create a comfortable space that’s also truly elegant.

The bathroom

white bathroom with elegant freestanding bath and an animal skin on the floor
White bathrooms exude a sense of opulence and purity; and there’s nothing nicer than climbing out of the bath and enveloping yourself in a fluffy, fresh white towel.
Bathrooms offer us the perfect opportunity for some “me” time and pampering.
Bright, white bathrooms are expansive and airy; they exude an atmosphere of cleanliness and simplicity that is sure to lift the spirits.
Pure white bathrooms are very dramatic and striking, but you can also create impressive looks with the introduction of colourful accessories.
Duck egg blue or soft green both work beautifully as accents in white bathrooms, or you can change the colour of accessories to suit the season (bright reds and oranges are great warming winter colours).
White walls and ceilings also strikingly offset the metallic finishes of taps and showerheads, giving the bathroom a lavish day-spa feel that makes the time spent in it all the more enjoyable.
Karen Warman says that white floors can be hard to keep clean, but has some suggestions for alternative flooring options.
“While tiles in a bathroom are lovely to look at but difficult to keep clean on a floor as they tend to show up all marks and dust. Consider using a tile with a lightly textured or pattern effect, or choose a darker colour and save the white tiles for the walls.”

The dining room

white dining room decorated with white eames eiffel chairs
The chic simplicity of white creates fine-dining elegance in the spaces where we sit down to share food.
White dining spaces are ideal for showing off your beautiful culinary creations. The “blank canvas” look that’s lent by white tables, seating, floors and walls allow people to fully focus on the food and wine in front of them. It also brings a sense of “silver service” opulence to the room.
In this example, a glass table has been paired with white chairs – the metallic legs are the perfect counterpoint to the naturalistic look of the bamboo-coloured lampshade and cupboard doors.
Whitewashed wooden flooring can be a nice option in dining areas. Resene Colourwood Whitewash is a durable and easy-to-clean floor finish that works well in such a space. Wood is often a better flooring option than carpet in eating areas as food is likely to stain carpet, and this whitewashed look is an increasingly popular choice with decorators.
If you want to create a colour splash in the dining room; red candles, bowls and serviettes work well to whet the appetite (red is a renowned appetite inducer), and bring a touch of warmth to the space.
It’s worth investing in a range of cheap and cheerful dining room accessories (placemats, tablecloths and more), so that you can change the look of the room depending on the occasion and style of food you’re cooking.

The bedroom

white bedroom with white chandelier
Crisp white sheets are the quintessential bedtime luxury item, so why not extend the theme and choose white for the entire bedroom?
White bedrooms are fresh, clean and refreshing and can be easily accessorised to change the look and feel of this most intimate space.
Waffled white duvet covers and pillowcases are an elegant option for the bedroom – pair these with orange, yellow or red pillows for a warm colour splash, or cool down the room with blues and greens when the weather is warmer.
Chandeliers above the bed create a true feeling of classical French-inspired luxury, and plush throws extend the sense of decadence and encourage truly deep relaxation. Try adding cushions in your favourite colours and patterns for a little interest.
Two good white paint options for the bedroom are Resene Eighth Blanc or the creamier Resene Quarter Villa White. These are softer whites that will create a sense of warmth in winter, and look bright and summery when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.

You might be interested in reading: Choosing the right white for your walls.

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This article by Joanna Mathers featured on page 77 of Issue 012 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.


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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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