Designing with white is an advanced move. Although it is beautiful and many default to white in rooms, as walls, trim and ceilings, white is not the “blank canvas” or “friendly neutral” that many believe it is. Not by ANY means.
Like snow in winter or on the distant mountain tops, white is cold, sterile and stark. If that is what you are designing for, that crisp urban feel, then white is a good bet. But beware, If you have a white room, notice your behavior, and that of those around you: have they become demanding, rigid, unrelenting and dictatorial? If so, it’s time to reconsider your color scheme.
White quickly will activate our bodies and exhaust us. Because of that, makes a space and our relationships crisper, less soft and more overwhelming and can lead to being “cold.” White will put us on edge, the knife edge that is, and just like the surgeon’s knife will help us cut through and be inspired to meet deadlines, commerce, honor and duty. All good things, of course, yet too much of anything is dangerous – and exhausting – to the body.
This room photographed by Julia Sperling at JuliaSperling.com does white well. Even so, notice where your eye is drawn as you scan this image. I also LOVE the way the ceiling line and base trim disappears making the room seem taller (to balance the length) and allowing the visual clutter to be gone. Great job!
Some Things About White You Should Know:
White will make everything more noticeable…and more stark. White also fights for attention of other colors, meaning that if you place white next to any color, you will notice the white first and the color next.
White will also make muted colors look dingy and dull. To make sure you don’t hate your room and want to now change the carpet, sofa or chairs, pair white walls with crisp versions of accent colors or better yet, use blue, which pairs well according to the way our eyes read it.
There are thousands and thousands of “whites” and each “white” has “undertones” that can make even the “whites” fight with each other. Select whites the same way you would select other “colors” making sure that the undertones are aligned and don’t fight with each other. (Stay tuned or take a class at FawnShui.com to learn about how to do that with confidence.)
If you are looking to design with white, consider this:
- Have plenty of perfect sunlight as in this image by @juliasperlingcom
- Be sure your room has no imperfections in the walls or layout. White will highlight the imperfections that is why architects use white to construct their models – they want to evaluate the design devoid of color because color is used to “create architecture” and white exaggerates the “too long” “too tall,” “too short,” or “too much.”
- Use texture to give the body a sense of warmth
- Use accents in three points around the room to give a sense of place.
- Warm it up with burnished gold.
- Be aware that black and white color scheme will create an environment that will polarize thinking and relationships, seeing everything as “black and white.” This can be good if someone has difficulty making decisions or gets lost in the details, but as always, be aware of the behavior effects that will usually show up in 2 weeks to 2 months. If the changes are not healthy, change the color scheme.
- Make sure that furnishings and art have space around them to take advantage of the “white space” so that the brain/body can read the space without exhaustion.
Check in with your body, your behavior and your relationships often and notice how your life is going.
Change your spaces and you will change how much love, time, health and joy you will have in your life.