If you’re thinking of walking in the direction of a muted colour scheme, then these white living room ideas will show you how to stop your scheme from feeling anything but ordinary. From soft and soothing to crisp and contemporary, there’s a way to channel white into every style of home.
How to Decorate your Living Room with White
It doesn’t get more classic than a white living room. Technically speaking, white isn’t a colour, but in fact an absence of all colour. Though, with all of its variations, from cooler blue-toned whites that look as though they’re tinted with grey, to the pink-toned whites that feel warmer and rosier in your room, most people regard it as a colour with a wealth of nuances.
Before you begin contemplating living room colour schemes, furniture choices and how to style and accessorise a white living room, the advisable place to start is to define which shade of white you want to work with. By understanding what the core shade of white is going to be, it will help to direct the rest of your decorating ideas. So research, try samples, create a mood board, and settle on whether your sitting room is going to be more of a modern white living room with whites like Farrow & Ball’s grey-hued Strong White – loved for its hidden depths. Or will it be comforting and cocooning thanks to a warmer white like White Dove by Benjamin Moore or his Swiss Coffee colour that’s creamier still? Or will you go bold and bright with a starker white such as PPG’s Pure White, which has no tint whatsoever?
Once you’ve settled on your principal shade of white, use it as your guiding light, and the rest of your scheme will begin to fall into place.
White Living Room Colour Schemes & Combinations
Unless an all-white living room is your end-goal, figuring out what secondary colour to bring into your palette is the next logical step. This is where white’s easygoing nature comes to the fore. Being a ‘colourless’ neutral, it’s incredibly adept at blending with other hues, from bright primary colours to sophisticated metallics.
Grey and white living room
One of the most tranquil looks of all is a pale grey and white living room. The lighter sorts of greys are just a few shades up from white, having had just a dip of black added to them. It’s what makes the relationship between light grey and white such a close, harmonious one. For a stronger contrast however, move further up the grayscale and select greys that are steely and full of depth. It’s a less dramatic interpretation of a black and white living room, because as dark as your grey may be, it’s always going to feel a bit warmer than pure, saturated black.
Black and white living room
If monochrome is the statement that you want your living room to speak instead of charcoal-like greys and white, then it’s important to get your ratios right. Black and white is a combination intrinsically linked to fashion and art; its pedigree is one of polish and panache. But, a 50:50 split of white and black will look contrived and manicured. Tip the proportions as London-based French designer, Guillaume Alan has done in the scheme pictured. By keeping the walls and ceiling in the same white and having white living room furniture sets, the black bookcase and fireplace feel understated and nonchalant, rather than commanding and imposing.
White and silver living room
A luxe extension of grey, a white and silver living room presents you with instant glamour. Tonally, it succeeds in the same way that grey does, but with silver in the room, the atmosphere becomes more confident and alluring. Weave silver into your white living room decor by laying a lustrous silver thread rug on the floor and silver silk cushions on the sofa. From here, look to the furniture and remember that chrome and stainless steel all count too. Mirrors, lamp bases and chandeliers are more areas that can build upon your room’s silver lining, remembering that mirrored finishes also appear silvered because of the way they pick up the light.
Blue and white living room
A blue and white living room is likely the colour duo that most people would put together. Connotations of nautical, beach house interiors are at the heart of this. From navy to celestial and pastel blues, put them next to white and the result will always be fresh and reminiscent of coastal climes. If this isn’t the story you want to attribute to your living room, be sure to use a few shades of blue and add to that an eclectic mix of pattern on any upholstery – pieces that are more unexpected and will break everything up.
White and gold living room
Back to the metallics theme. It’s not uncommon for people to fall into either the silver or the gold camp. And so, if silver isn’t for you, know that a white and gold living room will triumph just as much. Golden hues of mustard yellow, chartreuse, ochre and of course, metallic gold, are all warmer tones, so try pairing them with a warmer white with a yellow or pink base. Dark timber floorboards will provide your point of contrast and if you want to incorporate other gleaming accents, drift towards aged brass, antiqued bronze and blackened metals over polished brass or rose gold, which feel too close in tone to your room’s golden colourways.
Green and white living room
If any of these colour combinations were to be linked to a season, a green and white living room would be the partner to spring. It doesn’t matter whether it’s uplifting sage green and milky whites or verdant, deep and dark hues against a contemporary white – the relationship between the two colours is inherently fresh and rejuvenating. David Collins Studio presents precisely that in this small sitting room scheme, complete with moss green velvet sofa, filigree sage display cabinet and jade green rug.
Red and white living room
This final colour scheme initially sounds quite daring, and at risk of being brash. But the secret to a red and white living room is in choosing the perfect shade of red. Think deep ruby rather than scarlet or cherry red, and in very small doses. The less is more approach yields an ambience that’s sultry and composed and not in the slightest bit showy. The grand Elicyon sitting room pictured depicts this to perfection. The consistent scattering of plump, pillowy velvet cushions amidst a room of ecru white makes the colour palette abundantly clear, but confident, calm and composed in equal measure.
White Living Room Furniture
White living room furniture are four words that can instil fear and trepidation because of the associations with impracticality. This is, in part, a misconception, however. Darker fabrics might show up less marks and can age better, but darker fabrics and furniture finishes also highlight dust and specks more so than paler ones. A red wine spill on a white sofa is of course another story, but they shouldn’t be disregarded purely on the basis of their functionalism.
White living room furniture ideas might include a white sofa, a series of white-lacquered tables such as a decorative console table or a white marble-marble-topped coffee table – Bernhardt does multiple white coffee table designs from white-washed ash to marble-topped brass or white-bonded leather with a chrome base. Try to choose designs that don’t perfectly match so that you have different degrees of white in different materials spread across your room. It will make it feel richer and more intriguing.
White Living Room Accessories
In any style of sitting room, the accessories are what help to bind everything. Think of these as the punctuation in the room; accessories help you to pause in all of the right places, to break up an area, and to ultimately create a cohesive design.
White living room accessories extend to vases (combine matte and glazed finishes for textural contrast) and sculptures and statues. Not only will art further your white palette, but it helps to theme your room, such as John-Richard’s great barrier sculpture that will inspire a beach-house aesthetic. Sculptures also can add sharpness or fluidity to balance out your room. For example, his enamel piece would add a creamier, curved variation of white in a sharp-lined, contemporary living room using a cool white as its core colour.
Mirrors are also an essential accessory in any living room, but in a white one, they maximise the abundance of brightness, throwing the light across the entire space.
And finally, we must never underestimate the effect of textiles. The simple addition of a strewn cushions in white fur (see Chalet Affair for ideas) to the drape of a white cashmere blanket over the arm of a sofa, these are the accessories that ensure your white colour scheme is both seen and felt – literally.