This all-white bedroom looks fabulous and restfully cool with its...

This all-white bedroom looks fabulous and restfully cool with its trendy white palette. Black accents add just the right touch of graphic color. Credit: Handout

In the context of interior decorating, few colors provoke the extremes of reaction that white does. Some regard white as unimaginative, boring or sterile. Others love the open palette it creates and all the design flexibility it affords.

To the casual observer, white might seem like a single color, but that's far from the case. White can have a variety of tones and hues, each conveying a different feeling in an interior. White that tends toward ivory, for example, has a more casual feel. Stark white seems just right for contemporary designs.


One of white's best qualities is the way colors play against it as a backdrop. Using white as the major color scheme creates a blank design canvas that makes any color put against it more dramatic and important. White furnishings against a dark wood floor look crisp and current. White walls as a backdrop make colored furnishings pop. But white doesn't need to be restricted to upholstery or walls.


Accessories in white are cropping up in catalogs and design centers. Far from being colorless, white adds a punch of drama that falls on the light side. Perfect for any season, white is especially at home in summer. Make a fresh decorative statement by filling a white porcelain bowl with sunny lemons or bright green apples for an easy summer accent. Swap out accessories and add a dose of white in the room. Even a collection of simple white plates arranged on a wall has a clean, simple aesthetic that looks great.


When using white as a major decorating color, decide first if white will be the primary color in the background, with color added in, or if another color will be the dominant hue with white as the accent color. Whatever you decide, white is perfect for pairing. What is more classic than a blue and white motif - or more trendy than white and black? White combined with almost any color is appealing.


One of the hottest decorating trends right now is white painted furniture. Flea market finds are transformed with white paint. A beat-up sideboard gets new life with a coat of white paint and some black glass pulls. Give an old chair a shot of white for a snap of brightness in the corner of a room or at a dressing table. Try some throw pillows with a full white print for a fresh look. Feeling extra daring? Go with white and use black as the accent color. It's graphic and bold and looks especially imaginative with an accent color thrown in. Be sure to add some white above with a bold, contemporary light fixture or chandelier to finish out the look.