White is an incredibly versatile color and one of the most commonly adopted hues for its widespread appeal. From warm-toned to cool-toned variations of this classic shade, decorating with white is known for pairing well with pretty much all other colors.
'There's a reason why whites are the most popular color family – they make your home feel clean, airy, and spacious,' explains Ashley McCollum, color expert at Glidden. 'The beauty of white paint is that it’s the most versatile, it coordinates with all existing decor and it creates a blank canvas, allowing for furniture and decor to take center stage.'
Despite its versatility, white can be complex with so many variations of the color to choose from, which will heavily impact which other hues it looks best with. 'White is often thought of as a simple color, but with so many tints and tones to choose from, this classic color proves there’s more than meets the eye than just stark whites,' explains Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing at Sherwin-Williams.
The best color combinations for white
We spoke to the color experts to get their recommended color pairings for white, guaranteed to look stylish in any space. Continue reading to learn about these color trends, to help you on your way with white room ideas in your home.
1. Contrasting dark hues
'To create a punchy and modern feel, opt for a dark, bold hue such as deep purple, forest green, or navy blue,' advises Elizabeth Sherwin, Creative Director at Naked Kitchens. 'The dark shade will pop against the white elements of your kitchen creating a bold look.'
To style other elements of your white kitchen ideas around a pop of dark color, Elizabeth recommends extending the white hue to the furniture to create an uplifting look: 'White features such as marble worktops and countertops will offset the dark hues and reflect natural light around the kitchen.'
Sue Wadden also suggests opting for a contrasting look by pairing dark hues with classic white paint ideas, saying: 'Cool crisp whites pair well with contrasting colors such as a true black.'
With a strong background in design and color leadership, Sue Wadden was appointed director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams in 2016, and has been with the paint brand since 1998.
2. Sage green
Pairing whites when decorating with green is a guaranteed way to create a relaxing atmosphere, according to Elizabeth: 'For a calming environment pair white with natural, light and organic colors such as sage green.'
She notes that combining white and green room ideas looks particularly effective with wooden accents: 'This combination, with wooden flooring, rattan accessories and plants will achieve the ultimate tranquil space.'
Elizabeth Sherwin is the creative director at Naked Kitchens, a bespoke kitchen company with a focus on contemporary and functional design.
Patrick O'Donnell, Color Consultant at Farrow & Ball also recommends pairing white with green, explaining: 'For white shades with a touch of subtle green or yellow pigment, consider pairing with a relaxing green shade.'
3. Versatile neutrals
'Neutrals and earth tones always go well with white,' observes Amanda Wiss, Founder of NYC-based home staging firm Urban Staging. 'Depending on what theme or feeling you’re going for, white with a warm beige will be the most versatile,' she continues.
Opting to pair white with neutrals such as a beige as Amanda suggests is a good option if you want your decor to look understated whilst ensuring more interest is added compared to leaving the room fully white. If you do choose to embrace decorating with neutrals and white, make sure the undertone of the white is warm as this will look best with beige hues, as Sue explains: 'Warmer whites, such as Dover White, look their best when paired with a more saturated version of the shade, like Dakota Wheat.'
4. Earthy pink
Warm-toned whites can look equally good next to earthy pink hues, perfect for creating a soft and relaxed feel in the home. 'If you’re using a warm-toned white, pair with a nuanced, earthy pink like Setting Plaster or Templeton Pink for a perfectly balanced combination,' suggests Patrick.
This delicate color combination can work particularly well in white bedroom ideas as it creates a calming atmosphere. Opt for other natural materials, such as wooden furniture in the rest of the room's decor to complete your pink room ideas.
5. Cheerful yellow
For a bolder approach to color, pairing white with vibrant yellow is guaranteed to create an uplifting and energizing feel in the home. 'Nothing says sunshine more than a cheering yellow,' says Patrick.
You don't need to go all out with decorating with yellow though; subtle additions of the color can be just as effective, as Patrick suggests: 'Whilst a whole room can feel like too much commitment, think about flipping the convention and use yellow on your woodwork for a nod to optimistic cheer but subtle enough as a counterpoint to a soft white wall.'
Patrick O’Donnell is Farrow & Ball's color consultant & brand ambassador and has been with the brand since 2012. Patrick works with designers in the UK and North America, helping to bring their projects alive with the iconic, F&B color palette.
What shade of white is best?
When choosing the best white color for your space, it's important to consider the tone of the white, as this will make a big difference to both warm color schemes and cool color schemes. Devon Wegman, Design Director at Devon Grace Interiors says: 'There are so many different shades of white and it's important to make sure that the undertones in the white you've chosen will coordinate with the rest of your palette. Warmer whites can help balance cool blues and greens but can feel yellow or brown when paired with a warm palette. On the other hand, cooler whites will help a warm palette pop and feel fresh.'
Joshua Smith, Founder of Joshua Smith Inc agrees, but adds that it may take some trial and error to find the most suitable tone of white, saying: 'When I pick whites, I first think of the overall palette and if it’s warm or cool, then I know which white to pick. Mixing warm and cool colors is so tricky and can take multiple tries to get just right.'
Ashley McCollum suggests that the best way to find the perfect white hue for your space is to use color swatches before making a decision: 'We always recommend you hold up a color swatch of your color against your decor before you paint so you can see how the colors interact.'
'Clean, fresh, and minimal; white offers a balanced look whilst providing the perfect backdrop to inject a little individuality into your home,' says Elizabeth Sherwin. When settling on your ideal color combination with white, don't forget to take into account your home's characteristics, as Elizabeth explains, such as 'the quantity of natural light the room receives and the size of the space, but perhaps most importantly – it’s all about your personal preference.'
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Emily Moorman is a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, working across a range of topics spanning interiors, celebrity and emerging trends. With a background in the fashion industry, Emily is well-versed in the world of design and trend cycles. Her undergraduate degree was in Fashion Communication and Promotion which she studied at Norwich University of The Arts, specialising in writing and digital communications.
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