The One Thing an Interior Designer Would Never Do in an All-White Space
While we aren't prone to playing favourites, there's one room style that makes our design hearts burst every time: an all-white interior. While in theory, a bleached-out space should be stark and cold, the visual reality tells a very different story. A milky-hued foundation is the perfect blank canvas for creating a striking space that never gets old. Have you ever seen a white room you didn't like? We thought not. But there is an art to making it look this effortless. Unlike Beyoncé, these rooms didn't wake up like this.
Just ask Leanne Ford of Leanne Ford Interiors, who specialises in decorating insanely-cool texture-rich, ivory-infused homes. "White is having a well-deserved moment, though it will never be outdated," she told MyDomaine. While colour trends come and go, Ford says all white is timeless. "Even when you see a white space and you have no idea what country, year, or era it was designed, it will still look relevant and modern. Because white is universal. It's forever." We couldn't agree more. Ahead, Ford shares her tips for creating the ultimate all white interior along with the one thing you should never do.
Texture is your friend
When it comes to decorating a white interior, there's one rule Ford swears by for visual interest and warmth: texture. "A space can feel good and look nice in all white no matter what, but the texture is what makes it feel warm and inviting," she notes. "It can be anything—wood, brick, tile, molding, marble, cowhides, furs, cotton, silk, wool—it's all texture. These elements combined make a room feel special and alive. Small or large (room), the rule doesn't change."
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Picking the best white paint is a veritable minefield. But those subtle differences in shade can make a huge difference when you apply it to your wall.
Don't Be Precious
While we don't like telling anyone what to do in their space (you're the one whose going to live in it after all), there is one thing Ford would never do in a white space, and that's "be precious." She explained: "White is actually a very livable colour. It's easily repainted, washed, or bleached, and it is not as precious as people think it is. I never understood the concept of not using white because 'it gets dirty.' If you love it, use it! And let it wear and live a little. White brick gets better over time as it starts to fade off, and white wood floors get better over time as the paint wears off. Even white fabrics [age well]. Once you get past that first oh so painful spill or mark on it, you realise it’s going to be lived in and it's meant to be enjoyed. I am not much for rules."
White Makes Everything Else Look Better
If you didn't get the gist already, Ford is kinda obsessed with the all-white look. In fact, she even goes as far as calling it her "secret weapon." Or not so secret now… "White has more power and more importance than you realise," she notes. "White is like this special secret service man doing his job without you even realising it. Painting a space white makes you notice the texture, the brick, the wood, the room. It makes you notice the light coming in through the windows, the art, the furniture, and the people in the space. It's pretty magic actually."
Add Warmth With Natural Pieces
If you want your white space to veer into comfort, not cold territory, then Ford recommends introducing natural décor items and furniture to welcome in the warmth. "Anything natural and from the earth—wood, stones, marble, plants—will bring warmth into any space, no matter what colour it is," she said. "I use them throughout all of my projects. It’s the camp counselor in me. No matter how glam the space, you will always find an element of the outside that I've brought in."
Ford's other go-to is vintage. "Lived in, weathered, just plain old," she said. "These are the things that bring life, character, and warmth in. You always need something from the past to ground the space. Also, cowhides, sheepskins, textiles, and blankets are great to layer in."
It's a White Out
Mismatch Your Whites
This sounds like a major no-no, but layering light, tonal hues will diversify the overall look of the room and add dimension. It's one of Ford's favourite things to do. "There's nothing more beautiful than layer upon layer of mismatched whites and creams living together," she said. "I even mismatch my bedding, different shades and fabrics living together feel so luxurious." The best part about this process is there are no rules. Just play. "Whatever it is that's beautiful, special or interesting (and makes me smile) is welcome," she mused. "I think if I had to come up with a rule for layering whites it would be, the more the better. Don't be shy."
Don't Be Afraid of Colour
If you just can't resist throwing a splash of colour in there, then go for it. Playing with all white in a room can be tricky to get the balance right, so don't be afraid to experiment with other tones. "Personally, I'm not drawn to colour, and maybe that’s a phase (though it’s been a while), but I wear black and white, cream, and naturals in my everyday wardrobe, and I decorate in the same colour story," Ford said. "Where color comes in for me is in the woods and the natural elements, all those never-ending shades, but I'm not afraid of colour. It's fun for me when a client wants to play with colour. It actually gives me an excuse to experiment and come up with creative solutions. I love clashing shades together, but I always keep white handy somewhere somehow in the space."
Let Your Art Do the Talking
When you need to mix it up, artwork is the perfect complement to a monochromatic space. "That’s the best part," said Ford. "Any and all art will work in a white room. Think of a gallery. The white on the walls lets the art do the talking. Any style, any size, any colour, it looks right. So my tip would be, support the arts. Paint your walls white, and buy more original pieces." If you need advice on how to hang it, this is how the cool kids are displaying their art.
Add Visual Interest With Sentimental Objects
Finally, in order to break up the monotony of a white interior, Ford says it's important to sprinkle in sentimental objects and personal mementos. If you're not sure how or where, she also has the perfect tip for that. "I think that visual interest comes naturally when you let yourself relax about the concept of white," she explained. "Your books, your vacation finds, your shoes—all of these things in a home will help it come to life and make it feel good. When done right, white simplifies the space but doesn't dull it. With white, it's all about the lines, the shapes, and the lighting (always on a dimmer, please)."
Do you agree with these tips? What is your number one rule for decorating a white space?