Design Recipes: White in spotlight as decor color

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

It happened to the color gray, and black has always been a staple. Now it’s time for the color white to shine. White has often been ignored as a color, considered more of a backdrop or a background color for a blank canvas. However, white is indeed a color that can create not only a soothing and restful atmosphere, but also an impressive statement.

Shades of white

White surprisingly is a complex color with dozens of shades. One of the potential challenges is even a slightly different tone or shade can have a different impact on a space. Some whites have cool undertones such as gray, blue or green, while others may have more of a warm undertone such as yellow. When selecting a shade of white for your space, be sure to pay close attention to the colors you plan to place around it. White can also be a color that can both reflect as well as absorb color. For instance, when certain colors are placed next to the color white, the properties of the white object can take on a hue similar to that of the neighboring color.

White and taupe

When considering using white and taupe in your space, remember it is OK to use tints, tones and shades.

White and taupe are essentially related to each other. The combination is popular because they blend well with other colors, while also being great foundation colors on which to build an entire color palette. The result is often one that feels sophisticated, fresh and luxurious. Don’t be afraid to mix white and taupe with rich chocolate brown or even caramel to create a warm feel or to mix white with cool colors such as gray and blue.

Want to make a bolder statement? Black is a great choice and is often used as a contrast color. Black, like white, blends well with other colors, is a neutral color and also adds an element of luxury.

Ideal rooms

White and taupe are ideal for any space in which you wish to create a neutral palette or soothing atmosphere. Bedrooms are natural choices as spaces where relaxation is desirable. When looking to create a versatile bedroom, you will never go wrong selecting pure white bedding.

Pure white bedding doesn’t have to be bland. In fact, pure white or neutral bedding is the darling of the design world in large part because it allows for so much creativity. Add faux fur toss pillows or a sumptuous faux fur throw and neutral pillows for a soothing, elegant feel, or take that same pure white bedding and mix it with bold bursts of color for a more lively look. Beyond the bedroom, the living room is another great option to incorporate white and taupe and use them to begin your color or design story.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at