Interior Style

An essential 5-step guide to creating a stylish all-white interior

Living in a clean, serene, white interior is a dream for many. Make this look work for you with our five-step guide

1. Choose your white

Grey (cool) whites. Pale grey can seem a little cold for interiors but, with the right warm or bright accessories, it looks sensational. Try it in a bedroom or living space with accessories in terracotta or sand, or swampy and khaki greens.

Yellow (warm) whites can range from rich, buttery creams to subtle, fleecy whites. These are particularly good for south-facing rooms or those with lots of reflected green from trees or plants. Warm and aged whites are often best for older homes with character details and trims.

Green (in-between) whites tend to change with the light, appearing warm one minute and cool the next. Because green is made up of blue (traditionally a cool colour) and yellow (a warm one), these green-based whites have the ability to morph with the mood.

2. Bring in texture

An all-white interior can sometimes feel blank, sterile and stark, and may lack personality. There’s one way to avoid this effect: texture. Introducing different textures will always make a room feel warm and inviting. Texture can include anything from wood, brick and tiles to wool, linen and silk, but adding texture to the walls themselves can also make a big difference.

There are lots of ways to create texture on your white walls, including:

A vertical ‘tongue-and-groove’ effect – this look can add height to a room when painted white and works especially well in coastal or traditional interiors.

Boiserie or wainscoting – this panelled look can be created using beading or mouldings and mimics the style of heritage European homes.

Textured wallpaper can add subtle variation to a wall surface. Wallpapers that are designed to be painted over will ensure you can get exactly the tone of white you want.

Brick wall – paint an existing brick wall white or use a faux brick cladding product to create that ‘urban loft’ look.

Textured tiles are a great way to add variation to a white bathroom or kitchen.

Pressed-tin panels bring bold pattern and detail to walls when powder-coated in the colour of your choice.

3. Create a gallery wall

Big, white walls make a great backdrop for art, and by creating a gallery wall, you’ll add yet more warmth and variety to your white space. You can display precious photos and artwork, favourite postcards, images from your travels, or buy artworks and prints you love.

Choose frames that will stand out against the white and, when you find a frame you like, buy it in groups of three or five so your arrangement looks cohesive. Before hanging, place artworks on the floor, play with the layout until you’re happy with it, then transfer to the wall. Try leaning a few large pictures against the wall for that authentic art gallery effect.

If you don’t own much art or prefer a simple arrangement of family photos and decorative objects, you can create a gallery effect with these, too. Add them to your wall with picture hooks or, for bulkier items, decorative hooks or a small floating shelf or two. Anything made with natural materials such as a small mirror framed by feathers or shells, a straw hat, a woven hanging or a dried palm frond can all add texture and interest to a large white wall.

4. Add warm wood

Natural timber and white work so well together, and wood is an easy way to warm up your all-white space. Rather than opting for whitewashed or pale timber floors, choose warmer wood tones that will offset the coolness of your walls.

Wooden furniture will also bring warmth and texture. Timber bookshelves, chairs, bench seats and coffee tables will create visual interest and add a hint of nature without detracting from your white palette. You may also like to explore wooden light fittings as a way of continuing this theme.

5. All-white styling

When it comes to styling your home, adding tonal white furnishings will add dimension to a space and give it a sense of being lived-in and loved. A white or off-white sofa will come to life with a collection of textured cushions and a throw. A snowy armchair will seem more inviting with a sheepskin or hide draped over it.

Aim for a mixture of accessories in both white and natural finishes. Baskets in wire or rattan, textured vessels, picture frames, decorative pieces such as coral or crystal, wooden stools or stumps, and lamps with textured bases or lampshades are all good items to use in your white space.

If a rug is required, look for something in a natural material such as jute or a textured style such as a shag pile. In bedrooms, a wooden or leather headboard and natural linen bedding are great options. Once again, add cushions and throws with textured elements such as tassels and chunky knits to create a serene yet cosy bed you’ll want to lounge in all day.

And as always, don’t forget to add indoor plants – our leafy friends have the power to make any space come alive.

All-white tips

Keep texture in mind when selecting your window treatments – white shutters, linen curtains and blinds can all play a part in adding warmth to a white space.

Check the compass when choosing a shade of white paint – rooms that face south tend to feel colder and will need a warmer tone, whereas north-facing rooms may benefit from a cooler tint.

Choose warmer wood tones for your floors to offset the coolness of your walls.

In bedrooms, a textured headboard in wood or leather and natural linen bedding are great options.

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Words by: Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by: Bauer Syndication. Additional text courtesy of Resene.

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