(Edited from AP) When interior designer Betsy Burnham redecorated her office recently, she made a decision that surprised her staff: She focused on the color white. White walls, white ceilings, white furniture, even white chandeliers.

Decorating with white can be intimidating. But, says designer Brian Patrick Flynn of decordemon.com, “used correctly, white lets other things truly work as the breakout stars.”

(Edited from AP) When interior designer Betsy Burnham redecorated her office recently, she made a decision that surprised her staff: She focused on the color white. White walls, white ceilings, white furniture, even white chandeliers.

Decorating with white can be intimidating. But, says designer Brian Patrick Flynn of decordemon.com, “used correctly, white lets other things truly work as the breakout stars.”

WHY WHITE WORKS
The backdrop of a white floor and walls makes familiar furniture, window treatments and accessories stand out in a new way. White can feel traditional when paired with ornate pieces, or utterly modern with streamlined furniture and chrome.

Most surprising, white items can be easy to care for. Many white fabrics are chemically treated to be stain-resistant (or you can have them treated), and all-white slipcovers can be laundered with bleach. White vinyl, a favorite of Flynn’s, doesn’t stain. And white tables can be protected by glass tops.

Be careful in selecting upholstery, of course, and especially carpeting. A white carpet is “a train wreck waiting to happen,” says Flynn, unless you can easily clean it (surprisingly, fluffy flokati rugs are often machine washable) and won’t mind doing that often.

HOW TO APPROACH IT
If you prefer something preppier, try white and navy with a bit of bright green. (Other color combos: Rooms done entirely in black and white, or white with gray and chartreuse accents.)

If you have a room with large windows, you’ll make the view more of a focal point by doing a very white room. The view will become your art.

Designers say the options for working with white are numerous. White decor contrasts well with textured stone or concrete floors, and looks glamorous paired with lots of green plants.

TREADING CAREFULLY
Choose your shades of white carefully. “You want it to be livable, not like Liquid Paper,” Burnham says. “If there’s too much blue in it, it’s just going to be blinding.”

Some whites are warmer, with a slightly yellow undertone, while others have a cool, bluer tinge. There are also greenish whites, purplish whites and many other varieties.

If you’re using several white elements in one room, a mix of cool and warm whites can clash. And remember that changes in daylight (from golden sunshine to the gray light of a cloudy day) may change the way a particular shade of white appears. One worry about very white rooms is that they can feel cold or impersonal. Anything from a pale natural wood to a darkly stained finish can work with white.
 

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