Decorating with white is a timeless classic. It’s the light it brings to a space and the feeling of calm it can induce that makes it such a popular paint color, not to mention it makes a room appear bigger. White is also the number one choice as part of the minimalist, neutral aesthetic we’re all chasing at the moment in the hope of achieving serene homes and peaceful minds. Opting for a palette of whites can have this effect, however, there’s an art to picking the right shade, and there's a risk of a space appearing too cold and clinical if we get it wrong.
While we do love a minimalist look, we still want to keep a feeling of warmth and coziness in our homes. Choosing any old white won’t do that. We’re looking for creamy off-whites that project a naturally soft aesthetic, not a stark one. I spoke to paint and design experts to get their tips on how to choose the coziest white and what to pair it with for a warm and welcoming paint idea.
1. Choose the right undertone
White has the power to soothe the soul and be very calming when the right shade is used, especially when used for white living room ideas. ‘Warm whites like creamy beiges are usually very welcoming and balanced colors,’ explains Sue Wadden, color expert at Sherwin-Williams.
For such a color, Sue recommends 7005 Pure White, the brand’s most popular white shade. ‘The versatile, bright white hue has the slightest yellow undertone that keeps it from appearing too stark,' she goes on to explain. 'It's a timeless white that doesn't lean too cool or creamy, so it acts as the perfect neutral backdrop for any interior space. You can also use it on trim for the perfect complement.’
‘Whites and off-whites allow you to begin each day with a clean slate and a clear mind,’ adds Helen Shaw, Director of Marketing at Benjamin Moore tells me. ‘White continues to be a popular choice for people looking for a more minimalist and uncluttered look for their homes. To avoid the clinical feel of a pure brilliant white, opt for shades with a warm undertone such as White Dove, as these will still create a clean and understated look without feeling cold.'
Helen goes on to explain that there's a ‘right’ white for each space, you just have to find the one that works best for your interior. ‘Whites that have a subtle yellow undertone will make a space feel warm and sunny without looking too creamy. The lack of any grey pigments keeps the colors feeling clean and fresh,' she says.
North-facing rooms can feel a little cool, so Helen recommends opting for whites with a yellow or red undertone to warm up the space. 'They also help to balance the natural light that is coming into the room,' she adds. 'Our warm whites such as Simply White, Mountain Peak, and Cotton Balls create a soft glow and welcoming mood.'
2. Pair white walls with contrasting textures
Choosing the best white paint is vital, but the work doesn't stop there. Once that’s ticked off, styling your chosen white (or whites) is the next most important thing to look at. The accessories and textures you’re bringing into your design can greatly impact how the space feels overall.
Sue tells me that warm whites usually pair well with natural materials like wood, cozy throws and pillows, wrought iron, and nature-inspired colors to create an organic flow throughout the space. ‘One way I recommend homeowners incorporate a palette of white in their homes is by layering white décor mixing different textures, fabrics, and patterns to add dimension to an otherwise all-white bland look,' she says. 'It’s also important to note that a white palette can still be white even if you add a bit of color to it – like on an accent wall, ceilings, trim, or other places that will give it a subtle pop of color!’
Helen tells me that combining white with wood flooring and inserting color through elements such as cabinetry, furniture, and accessories will also stop a space from feeling clinical. ‘Natural materials are a fail-safe way to bring warmth and texture into a room,’ she explains. ‘If working with a small space, embrace a clean white color scheme to open up the room, then use accents of black on paneling, skirting boards, or as a linear divide to the room to make a real statement.’
3. Don't forget soft furnishings
Home organizing expert and minimalist Shira Gill tells me she has a minimalist home with a white palette, but she prides herself on it being cozy, too. The secret to achieving that is texture and soft accessories, especially in her white bedroom.
‘I don’t have a ton of color in my home, but on my bed and my couch, for instance, I have lots of cozy pillows and blankets,' she says. 'A lot of it is about adding texture and also adding personality and items that are actually meaningful to you and have a story. It’s about personalizing your home so it doesn't feel like a stark white box which nobody really wants.'
Once you've chosen a warm white for your space, bringing in natural materials and textures, comfy soft furnishings, and a curated selection of your most beloved items is the perfect, fool-proof recipe for a white interior that's cozy and welcoming. Now you're ready to create your own!
Create a cozy white decor by bringing in texture. This pillow cover in soft fleece will look good and feel super comfortable on your sofa or bed.
Keep your white decor interesting by bringing in plants. Warm whites will look great next to natural greens and create a welcoming feel.
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Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.
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