Styling Trends

White Done Right: Styling Tips for the Home

Penelope Herbert
Written by Penelope Herbert

White is as scary to some home decorators as colour. You want a fresh, clean feel, but you don’t want it to be cold and bland. Yes, it is a balance, but then such is the case for any decorating project.

1. Wida Design - white done right

There are many different shades of white; from snow-blindness bright to whites that are closer to grey, plus creamier shades like winter white which is very popular.

So how do you do white right?

1. Use the expertise of your local paint shop.
Ask your friendly local paint shop about the subtle differences between whites. Share with them your ideas, the room you want to paint and its aspect in relation to the sun. They will be able to give you great advice, as well as some paint chips and test cans. DO compare different paint brands even if colours look the same. Test all the whites you think you may use on the wall and make comparisons.

2. Claudia Lujan - white done right

2. Play glossy off against matte.
One way to prevent a white room from looking cold and bland is to use a combination of glossy paint and matte paint; use a chalky matte on the walls and a hi-gloss on architraves, doors and trims. If you don’t have these types of architectural features in the room, then paint wooden furniture with a hi-gloss version of your wall paint, or a whiter or darker hue.

3. Avoid super whites.
Builder’s grade white WILL make your room look, and feel, cold, so avoid these. Use warmer ‘off-whites’ with a tinge of honey and sync the white on your walls and trims with the colour undertones of the room’s furniture. For example, add a little blue to white if your room has blue fabrics or accents.

3. Marina Dagenais - white done right

4. White masks architectural quirks.
If you have walls, windows or trims that are uneven, white will visually unify them. Use white to play up curves on furniture.

4. Milton Architects - white done right

5. Paint the floor.
You can successfully use ‘porch paint’ on interior wooden floors, but avoid heavy traffic areas.

6. Add colour.
If the white on white look doesn’t appeal to you, add some colour. An all-white scheme bursts to life with the addition of neon cushions in a tactile fabric such as velvet. Pile up electric and fluorescent colours in one spot and encourage your decor to not take itself too seriously.

5. Cathy Phillips - white done right

7. Add texture.
White rooms don’t look cold if you use textiles to roughen up the look. Sheepskin, wool, mohair, faux fur, linen, silk and cotton as throws, curtains, rugs and even lampshades add interest and warmth to a white room. Wooden floors add warmth and reflective surfaces, such as mirrors.

6. - white done right

White doesn’t have to be scary and it certainly doesn’t have to mean a bland decor style. Take some of these styling tips and bring a clean, fresh new feel to your space!

Feature image: miltonarchitects
Image credits: Wida Design | Claudia Lujan | Marina Dagenais | miltonarchitects | Cathy Phillips & Co. | houzz

About the author
Penelope Herbert
Penelope Herbert

Journalist / Style Editor
If it’s cool, quirky, chic or unique then I’m interested in writing about it, interviewing it, promoting it, or trying it out. An inveterate fashionista of wardrobe and home, I should have become a designer (fashion, interiors or homes) but instead I became a writer. It’s something I love, writing about my lifelong passions.
It was a convoluted path interspersed with work in the film industry, corporate marketing, public relations, magazine publishing and radio broadcasting. Yet here I am. I write a weekly Home + Interiors newspaper column, blog at (where I offer specialist writing and promotional services to design based businesses) and I interview people in design from across the globe on Please e-mail me if you’d like to chat about your passions in design and home.