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Photo courtesy of Studio McGee

White is the antithesis of color, but it still packs a punch in indoor and outdoor spaces. As part of our annual color issue, we’ve taken the renegade move of asking three designers to tell us what they love about decorating with white and pale neutrals.

Shea McGee, Studio McGee, Salt Lake City, UT

What are your thoughts about using white as an alternative to color or a way to complement color?

White is a great way to give other colors a way to shine. It provides your eye with a visual rest. Some of our favorite treatments are with dark tones to create contrast, or paired with lighter neutrals for a tonal look.

Is white coming back into style, going out or always amazing?

White is timeless! What’s trendy is what you add to it (e.g., the lighting, finishes or décor) that can make it start to look overdone and like everyone else’s space. I think going white in every single space might be its trendiest use and we might see more color in confined spaces like bathrooms, bedrooms and offices coming back.

What is your top tip for decorating with white?

Lately, we’ve been loving a tone-on-tone look for decorating with white. It feels clean and bright, and definitely not boring. Try mixing whites, creams and different shades in between while playing with texture and patterns for some subtle contrast.

When you use white for draperies, what is your favorite type of fabric to use?

Linen is our go-to for drapery. It’s soft, luxe and natural.

Julie Peyton and Michaela Barrett, co-owners, Two Hens Design, Franklin, TN

Why do you like decorating with white? What about it appeals to you? 

White is just so fresh and airy. It visually removes weight from the space, making it feel more serene.

Decorating with white seems intimidating to some people. What if my kids or pets wreck it? What if it’s too blinding? How can designers convince clients that using white in a home is OK?

Start with white walls or white painted furnishings, such as a side table or dresser. These elements are easier to keep clean and receive less wear as opposed to a sofa or bedding. Choose warm or neutral whites, or creams to avoid that bright white look. 

What is your top tip for decorating with white?

White paint and décor is available in warms, cools and neutrals. Like with any other color, it’s important to recognize which of these three will work best with your current décor and taste. For example, if you want to mix silver metals, navy or red into the décor, try using cool whites, whereas with browns or earth tones, try warm or neutral whites. 

When you use white for draperies, what is your favorite type of fabric to use? 

We love a good white linen curtain, and cottons in general, but for fall and winter stylings there is nothing like neutral white draperies in velvet. 

Leanna Patton, Owner, The Whole 9 Yards Design, Dalton, GA

Is white coming back into style, going out or always amazing?

White never goes out of style. When we built our first house 26 years ago, we installed a white kitchen. I can’t even think of how many white kitchens I’ve installed since then. It’s classic and timeless. I also love the way white looks with other neutral colors. I think it provides good balance.

What do you say to people who are afraid white furnishings will get too dirty?

White is your BFF. When you’re using white on an upholstered piece, it works best to have slipcovers that you can easily remove and wash and bleach. Once you do that, they’re good as new. You can’t do that with color.

What do you see as some of the benefits of decorating with white?

I like to change things very often, and I’ve found that starting with a neural base allows you to keep color more intentional. When you start with white, you can add trendy pops of color and accessories to create a current, up-to-date look. You have the option to make small changes and have a big impact.

When you use white for draperies, what is your favorite type of fabric to use? 

My favorite fabric is a linen-cotton blend. One hundred percent linen is gorgeous, but I’ve found when it’s mixed with cotton it still has a great look but it’s a lot less likely to wrinkle. It has a little more body to it.

Sophia Bennett, Editor in Chief of Window Fashion VISION

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