Window treatments add to texture in a white-on-white decorating palette

Mar 15 2011

A white palette in home decor is challenging, but can be offset with accents in any color.
A white palette in home decor is challenging, but can be offset with accents in any color.
A white-on-white palette can be a challenging color scheme that takes some effort to strike the right balance among variations of white. But it comes with one big advantage – white goes well with any accent color.

"White works well as a monochromatic palette because it reflects a great deal of light, allowing accent colors in the room to pop," writes interior designer Shari Hiller on "Since changing the accent colors in a room can be as simple as changing a few pillows and pieces of artwork, an all white room can easily be accessorized for every season."

Hiller, the co-host of the PBS series, Around the House with Matt and Shari, said one misconception about all-white decorating is that it can look sterile. But she believes it also creates an airy atmosphere that can be warmed with the right choice of accessories. By choosing white for wall colors, window treatments and the major pieces of furniture, a dark space can be brightened and a small room can be made to look larger.

White curtains, by themselves or combined with window shades, can be the primary window treatment offset by a valance in another color. While white shutters are often used in country or cottage style décor, soft sheer shades have an elegant look that fits both contemporary or traditional room styles.

According to the website, it's important to create visual interest in a white room by layering different textures and patterns. One way to achieve this is through a faux paint method such as striping, ragging or combing in different tones of white. Texture can also be added through a choice of floor coverings. suggests adding patterns by upholstering accent chairs with a print in shades of white and off-white or by adding print pillows to a white sofa. Rely on artwork, lamps and decorative items to provide contrast.

The decision to go with white-on-white decor should take into account how a room is to be used. A family room where children play and family members eat snacks might cause too many stains on white fabrics, but this monochromatic approach works well in bedrooms or in living rooms that aren't used on a daily basis.

One special characteristic of a white color scheme is its ability to accommodate decorating for special occasions. "A white-on-white room may be the only room in which every traditional holiday color actually looks good," wrote Hiller.
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