Getting White Right

Four things you should know about decorating with white.
Text by Elizabeth Raines Beeler and Abigail B. Millwood

1. There's no such thing as plain white. As anyone who has flipped through a deck of paint chips knows, there are nearly countless shades of whites. (Even untinted cans of paint vary in color.) Choosing a shade with pink undertones will make a space feel warm and inviting, while a bluer white can feel cool and more formal.

2. White is the ultimate neutral. White furniture and walls invite a host of accent colors―from black to red, yellow to blue. As a backdrop, white allows an easy transition from season to season―simply swap out the accessories. You'll be amazed at the dramatic impact a few small changes can make.

3. The absence of color radiates light. Whatever tint you choose, white paint creates a spectacular play on light, constantly changing throughout the day. It also makes a small space appear large and airy, perfect for a tight guest room or powder room.

4. White interiors may look clean, but they can't hide dirt. When selecting furniture, choose slipcovered pieces rather than upholstered. They can be easily washed (and bleached, if necessary). For floors, go with an oil-based porch and floor enamel. It cleans with soap and water and resists scratches and stains.

ALSO: Color it Coastal

Color Palettes

The White House